Company Name: SMC Design
Project Name: Spirit of Discovery
Cruise Line: Saga Cruises
Our brief to provide a classic and contemporary interpretation of great British design as the basis of the hotel’s design. This was to interpreted over all disciplines, Interiors, Artwork and Signage.
Being responsible for all guest and crew spaces onboard, the main challenge was coordinating all the necessary requirements that these spaces demanded architecturally and operationally, whilst adding our own design flair to follow the design brief through. We accomplished this by having all three of the aforementioned disciplines within the office at SMC Design, communicating effectively with one another and the client to accomplish goals together.
Whilst classed as a small cruise ship, a challenge to overcome from the guest’s perspective was the size of ship itself. Through space planning and material selection, we created intimate breakout spaces throughout the vessel and within the bigger public areas to avoid guests feeling that they are lost amongst a sea of furniture. Having a continuous thread of materials within common spaces encourages the feeling of a consistent hotel design to the guests also.
Our greatest point of creativity lies within the Atrium space on entry to the ship. Over 12 metres tall, this bronze relief mural is a composition of industries, landmarks and popular culture that symbolise every corner of the British Isles – all of which came from the creative minds at SMC Design.
The application material itself has also never been used on cruise ships, of which our supplier Feathercast underwent IMO testing for so that we could have this spectacular centrepiece onboard Spirit of Discovery.
From the operator’s perspective, the most important guiding point was that all areas onboard must fit their purpose – this was in harsh contrast to their two older vessels. A new ship so a fresh start to do things properly. One area this is evident is the Playhouse Theatre, a 444-seater venue with raked seating giving everyone a great view of the show. Backstage there is ample storage and dressing facilities, a necessity to support West-end style performances.
Another example is within The Library, with dedicated rooms for playing Bridge and also Arts & Crafts – a demand that was not been met on their older vessels. All restaurants onboard are also properly supported with the sizes of galleys, bar pantries and waiter stations aiding the operational flow of the rooms.
Guest practicality was another sensitive subject addressed within the project. The client wished to move away from the “old people’s home” vibe in creating the contemporary classic hotel, but still had to be sympathetic to the needs of their guest demographic. We accomplished this by creating spacious cabins and bathrooms with accessible features blended into the interior scheme.
Walkways (including the Promenade deck) were made as wide as possible, and ramps were made as long as possible when required. And the great benefit to us as designers was that all of this was fact checked in guest focus groups throughout the project build, whether that was by CGI visuals or cabin mock-ups at the shipyard.
Designer’s Insight (Managing Director, Andy Yuill)
When Saga Cruises approached us in 2014 to tender for this newbuild ship we saw the project as a great opportunity to be part of an exciting and historic moment in the history of this client as they embarked on producing their first newbuild ship. Having one design company work on all aspects of the ship’s design is somewhat unconventional in this modern era of cruise ship design, but the teams responsible for the Interiors, Artwork and Branding relished in the challenge of designing and delivering everything from crew areas, spas, theatres, restaurants, suites – even the exterior styling of the vessel!
We take great pride looking back at the five years of design work produced and delivered for Spirit of Discovery and wish her and her fleet the safest of voyages in the future!