company insight

Dynamic market bringing the best out of YSA Design 

The MSC Meraviglia is the first of a new fleet of high-tech ships MSC Cruises is launching over the next decade. Frances Marcellin went on board to speak to the team behind the ship’s cutting-edge technology

YSA Design has gone from strength to strength since its rebranding in 2016, melding the reputation for innovation earned over 30 years as Petter Yran & Bjørn Storbraaten with a fresh management approach. Now, the company is staying ahead by investing in new design talent and 3D modelling tools.

It is an exciting period for those designing new cruise ships, as owners aim to meet passenger desires more precisely in mature markets, and the Chinese and expedition cruise markets create opportunities for fresh ideas.

The developments are certainly bringing the best out of YSA Design. The exterior and interior architect YSA is strongly engaged in all three newbuilding opportunities.

The rewards for matching design experience with fresh ideas can be seen in the company’s growing participation in projects for MSC Cruises. The relationship has quickly blossomed, as MSC Cruises has tapped into YSA Design’s experience in satisfying cruise brands renowned for keeping children of all ages happy at sea.

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The Norwegian design company secured a significant body of work on board MSC Seaside, the 160,000-t MSC Cruises flagship newbuilding which is the first of a pair set to be homeported in Miami. Designed to satisfy sun lovers and those appreciating the on-deck experience of ships underway, Seaside features the largest ratio of outside spaces for any cruise ship at sea. However, the ship’s strong emphasis on family was also a focus at its naming ceremony in Miami at the end of 2017.

YSA Design undertook a complete project to incorporate LEGO facilities onboard, with separate spaces for ‘Mini’ (3-6 years) and ‘Juniors’ (7-11 years) clubs, in a first collaborative project with the toy giant, which also saw the debut of LEGO zones on an MSC Cruises ship.

Flame Retardant Carpet Protection Film protects carpets on floors, steps and stairs and is certified to the Marine Equipment Directive (Wheelmark).

YSA Design’s wider expertise has also been called upon on MSC Seaside to devise zones that please distinct age groups within integrated spaces that offer seamless flow-through. For example, the concept and specifications for the zones connecting the ship’s Aqua Park and kids’ areas was conceived and developed by YSA Design. The zone includes an outside area and a six-deck high enclosed area featuring bridges, adventure trails, four slides, two ziplines and stairs up to a basketball court that creates a very busy, high energy area used by all age groups.

The ziplines are worthy of separate attention, as the longest at sea - a pair of 130m length wires which descend from Deck 20 to Deck 18. Again, YSA Design devised the solution for the ship’s basketball court to be located within the distinctive MSC Cruises wrapround funnel shield, and decorative rings aft of the funnel that draw the eye from a distance to a pleasing perspective of on-deck activities. In addition, the company’s involvement took in interior designs of five 40-seater upscale pay restaurants on Deck 16 connected by a common welcome area.

As hinted earlier, the seeds are being sown for YSA Design to offer its expertise to new-building projects in China, although in this case the owner must remain undisclosed. The designer has already been part of a radical main deck conversion for a European-built ship to meet Asian cruising tastes at a Chinese yard, and the same owner is following up with a European build conceived for Chinese cruisers. Closer to home, but also fast-moving, is the developing market for newbuild expedition ships, where YSA Design’s neighbouring yards in Norway have made concerted efforts to attract orders as oil prices have led their traditional offshore customers to close the books on new construction.

Several projects to build smaller luxury cruise ships capable of operating in polar expeditions are either underway or in the pipeline, and many of the firm contracts have been secured by Norwegian yard groups.

These ships are special in type from the outset given that many are being built to Polar Code guidance for reasons of safety and environment, and some feature innovative propulsion, but the small number of passengers (capacities are mostly between 150-250) mean that they also need to be distinctive by brand. If spectacular surroundings are the draw, use of space onboard and innovative interior design can provide the individuality that brings repeat business.

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They are also designed for cruisers seeking to take home an experience of a lifetime, and must deliver close encounters with nature, whether through ‘touching the sea’ in retractable marina or the ability to walk around the vessel to follow views or sea creatures in their habitats.

Though small and rugged, expedition ships also need to punch above their weight in terms of luxury; guests will also expect to enjoy a panoramic view during their dining, relaxation and fitness experiences. In this case, YSA Design has worked behind the scenes to support several Norwegian yards as they have developed the General Arrangement drawings to convert a business opportunity into firm contracts. 

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