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Friday, August 12, 2022

YSA Design uses creative solutions for river cruise ships

YSA Design has carefully considered each piece of furniture and a decorative element to optimize the space when designing the Explorer rooms on a Viking refinement deck.

After gaining 13 years of experience designing spaces aboard ocean-going passenger ships, YSA Design (YSA) received its first commission from a river cruise company in 1998. The mission was to design the cabins and public spaces aboard the first ship of Viking River Cruises, the Danube The Viking has 150 guests.

Since then, the river cruise operator has called on YSA’s expertise to design all of its vessels built for operations in Europe, Russia, China and Egypt. Mainly thanks to this fruitful relationship, YSA now has rich experience in the sector, a diverse portfolio of riverboat projects and an in-depth understanding of the challenges involved in vessel design.

The need for space efficiency on board will always be a significant factor influencing the design of river vessels. According to Jan Crafting, a senior partner and architect at YSA, the tension between the demand for greater vessel capacity and waterway boundaries has been particularly pronounced in recent years because of the consequences of climate change.

“In addition to size restrictions associated with waterways, river cruise ships face challenges such as changing seasonal water levels, bridges and locks,” he explains. “Even though ships have grown, there are still strict limits on how long, wide, deep and high they can be – and that required creative solutions and smart utilization of space.”

Vessels with a small gym or shallow pool on board, for example, will require windshields, but they add height to the ship. “One solution is to reduce the height of the cabins below, but we don’t want guests to feel crowded or claustrophobic,” says Crafting. “A better solution is flexible shading that can be collapsed before the ship passes under the bridge and lift it again afterwards. However, these structures also add height and even 100 millimeters in height affect the decks below.”

Contemporary projects sometimes require the body of the riverboat to design to maximize deck space. Viking River Cruises, for example, builds its European ships with a flatter and wider bow similar to that of a freight carrier, leaving room for more space ahead. This place – called Aquavit Terrace – now appears on all Viking Longships ships and was designed by YSA to offer picturesque 180-degree views.

The low surface area of ​​river boats also affects the types of routes that cruise companies can offer.

“The combined entertainment venues are limited, and guests spend more time on land,” says Crafting. “While passenger ships are basically all-inclusive resorts on the water, cruise ships on the river are more like small, floating hotels. Passengers descend into the heart of the city and visit local bars, restaurants, shopping malls, museums and theaters.”

This type of vacation experience enjoys a stronger connection between the identity of the ship and the itinerary it serves, says Crafting. Thus, the design and interior of the vessel must be in complete harmony with the brand aspirations.

“YSA creates an authentic experience for guests by interior design that reflects the culture and architectural style of the area where the ship cruises, but we also take into account the preferences of each audience,” he says. “While European travelers generally prefer a deck experience that is more representative of the area they are visiting, the American market tends to cherish its home comfort, so flexibility is essential.”

Other regional considerations are related to necessity and not style. However, sometimes it can result in a more harmonious design. “For example, in China, Southeast Asia and Egypt, heat and humidity require mosquito nets to prevent uninvited visitors from tarnishing the deck experience,” explains Crafting. “Fortunately, with the right application, mosquito nets can be used to emphasize the exotic atmosphere that cruises to these destinations provide.”

Crafting believes that one of the unexpected results of Cubid-19 may be that it encourages growth trends in smaller-scale river cruises that go beyond its ocean-going counterparts. “New drivers include a greater willingness among domestic tourists to experience the sailing experience and a preference for sailing that is not far from the point of getting off the plane.

“River cruises have traditionally appealed to older generations, so operators have always placed special emphasis on safety and hygiene. For example, we worked with antimicrobial agents on Viking River Cruises’ ships long before Covid-19 eruption. Now, such holidays attract a younger audience, and after. An epidemic, this clientele may give priority to these matters as well. “

Crafting adds that cruise operators are expected to further improve safety and hygiene, especially in terms of air quality and testing and insulation facilities on board.

“These solutions will help river cruises return to pre-epidemic occupancy levels, hopefully in the very near future. With its relative safety and economic benefits, this form of tourism will go from strength to strength.”

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