Onboard Costa Crociere's 'next generation' cruise liner
On February 23, Costa Deliziosa became the first cruise ship in history to be inaugurated in an Arab city. The 294m-long, state-of-the-art, luxury cruise liner was named during a lavish ceremony at Dubai’s Port Rashid.
Built in Italy, at Venice’s Fincantieri shipyard, Costa Deliziosa is the third ship to be delivered to owner Costa Crociere in just nine months, and represents part of a EUR2.4 billion fleet expansion programme for Italy’s largest tourism company. Along with sister vessel, Costa Luminosa, Costa Deliziosa is also the most innovative and exclusive member of the Costa fleet – essentially, a whole new breed of cruise liner.
“Costa Deliziosa represents the upscale part of our offering,” explained chairman and CEO, Costa Crociere, Pier Luigi Foschi. However, in spite of its size and advanced features, it is a ship that was designed to make its guests feel comfortable, he continued. “Above all, it is a ship that transforms a normal, ordinary holiday into a dream come true.”
Hence the name, derived from the Italian word delizia, meaning ‘reason or cause for great pleasure, joy and satisfaction; something cherished that uplifts the body and soul’.
It fell to Miami-based designer and architect Joseph Farcus to create interiors to match these lofty principles.
“Pier Luigi Foschi gave me an idea of what the guest should be feeling, in a general, spiritual way,” Farcus explained. “He didn’t say, ‘Make this red, make this blue’ or anything, but he talked to me about who his guests were going to be, and what they would expect onboard in terms of their experience. Because that’s what I’m doing, I’m designing experiences.”
The design process was very natural, said Farcus, who has produced ten cruise ships for Costa Crociere, and first entered this niche segment of the market working with Carnival Cruise Lines.
“How I approach it is very personal. I sit down with a blank piece of paper and start drawing. I draw by hand. We have a very small office, just a couple of people and, basically, I design almost everything myself,” he added.
“When I first started off in my career, I made more of an effort to come up with a central idea and then build a design around colours, or impressionist paintings, or Italian villas, or something like that. But, over the years, that has progressed and now, I just design the ship as a whole,” Farcus detailed.
“What I did do was take the ideas that Pier Luigi Foschi has of appealing to higher-end travellers who have had more experience of going on cruises, and maybe made the design a little more refined in that respect.”
As a result, premium materials were employed throughout the ship. Marble and granite were complemented by stucco, applied using a spatula in the traditional ‘spatolato veneziano’ technique.
Other high-end finishes included parchment scroll lamé, refined Zebrano wood and wenge timber, Murano glass, and polished and glazed steel. In support of the ship’s distinctly Italian roots, the design called upon high-end Italian brands, such as Rubelli for fabrics, Molteni for furniture, and Sicis, a specialist in art mosaics, which appear in some of the most exclusive parts of the ship.
A total of 970 La Murrina chandeliers appear in Costa Deliziosa’s public areas, alongside chairs and couches designed by Italian designers Rossi D’Albizzate, Moroso and Baxter.
The ship is also home to an exclusive art collection, curated by Milanese architecture firm Casagrande & Recalcati. The permanent collection brings together a total of 340 original works and 4,756 reproductions, by old masters and emerging artists alike.
For example, the ship’s central atrium is dominated by the Sphere, an arresting gilt bronze sculpture by Arnaldo Pomodoro. This space is also notable for its scale, and in the way it embraces natural light. “The atrium is topped by a skylight so that natural light comes all the way down into the main lobby. Having the light so that it is coming in from above also draws you to look up and that gives you an initial feeling for how big the ship is,” said Farcus.
With a gross tonnage of 92,600, the ship can carry up to 2,826 guests. Facilities include 1,130 cabins, 772 of which have verandas, four restaurants, 11 bars, three pools and four jacuzzis. A 1,300m² theatre show lounge covers three levels and has a seating capacity of over 800. Its centrepiece is a giant 18m² screen flanked by giant, statuesque lampshades.
Another highlight is the Samsara Spa, one of the largest and most luxurious wellness centres ever built on a cruise ship. The facility covers 3,500m², and is perched on the two highest decks of the ship, directly overlooking the sea. It is home to a thalassotherapy pool, an aromatic Turkish bath, a trepidarium and laconium, and a fitness centre kitted out with Technogym equipment. Dedicated cabins and suites, along with a special restaurant, can be found within the wellness area.
Other innovative features onboard the Costa Deliziosa include a ‘4D’ cinema; a golf simulator, which offers 37 18-hole virtual courses along with a 100m² outdoor area with a putting green; a Grand Prix driving simulator; a roller skating track; and Playstation World, an area of the ship dedicated to PS3 gaming, which is a complete first for the cruise industry.
But, while the ship is full of progressive features, it is still on the right side of ‘gimmicky’, Farcus noted. “Certain companies, and we are not one of them, believe in going in for more gimmicky things – rock climbing walls and ice skating rings and so on. My feeling is that we should concentrate on the things that people come on a cruise for: sitting out in the sun, being entertained, having great food, being in an interesting environment.
“Moving forward, you will see more and more gimmicks in the design of cruise ships, but I think the ships that I do will always be more orientated towards what cruising has always been all about,” said Farcus.
After all, with a limited amount of space on offer, it is important that every available inch is used effectively, Farcus pointed out. “If you do something here, it means that you can’t do something else over there.”
This is one of many challenges that are totally specific to cruise ship design. Fire safety is another extremely important factor, and means that ships are highly compartmentalised, with stringent exit requirements. Every single material onboard has to be fire-proof – and certifiably so.
Sustainability is also playing an increasingly important role in the design of ships. Costa Deliziosa prides itself on being a leader in the sustainability stakes, and is one of the first cruise liners in the world to be equipped for ‘cold ironing’, a system whereby vessels can be plugged into shoreside electrical power, enabling generators to be shut down during stopovers in port.
A series of other sustainable initiatives have been introduced onboard, including 100% waste separation, recycling of aluminium, glass and other waste, and the production of water from desalination plants. Meanwhile, low-power LED light bulbs are used, and the ship has been fitted with an automatic control system designed to adjust external lighting in accordance with sunlight intensity.
“This is what’s going on in the world today. More precious and rare materials are no longer used,” Farcus said. “For example, the open decks of ships used to be all teak, and then the teak forests were in trouble so now we use a resin floor that is made to look like teak. And I have to admit, although I’m not generally in favour of fake materials, it looks pretty good,” he said.
Ultimately, a good interior will enhance the overall cruising experience, Farcus explained. The idea is to create a series of unique, highly individual spaces that are able to maintain the interest of the guest over an extended period of time.
After all, uniformity leads to familiarity, which is not ideal when people are confined to a given space. So, rather than creating seamless interiors that promote a common theme, it is best to apply eclecticism, Farcus explained. Interesting, creative, non-repetitive design is the order of the day.
“Even though you look at the Costa Deliziosa and it is huge, it is still a confined space. When people come on one of these cruises, they should still be seeing something new until the very last day,” Farcus pointed out.
“My feeling has always been that if you make one uniform design throughout, it can be beautiful, but if people get used to it within a day or two, that then makes everything else harder. The food has to be better and the service has to be better,” he continued.
“The more stimuli that people take in, the better the whole thing is. Then it’s just the opposite – the food is immediately better, the service is better, the entertainment is better, because everything is linked to your frame of mind when you experience it.”