Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani SpA is one of the leading cruiseship and ocean liner constructors in Europe. It has been responsible for the construction of some of the world’s best-known ships, including Carnival Destiny, which was the first cruiseship to exceed 100,000 tonnes.

Business for Fincantieri is going well – the orderbook is full, enough to keep its shipyards working at full capacity until 2009–10. What does it do so well that keeps customers such as Costa Cruises, Holland America Line, Carnival Cruises and Cunard coming back with repeat orders? Maurizio Cergol, cruise vessel chief designer for Fincantieri’s business unit in Trieste, explains.

“The success of Fincantieri is based on their whole package approach to vessel construction,” he says. “The customer receives an excellent ship with top-quality decoration and internal fit-out. We believe we provide exceptional value for money in the contracts we undertake for many of the world’s top cruise line operators. The quality and standard of workmanship comes from years of experience in cruiseship construction, and a loyal and contented workforce.

“The high quality of materials used in construction comes from knowing the market, what the customer wants and an excellent network of suppliers and contractors. We pride ourselves on delivering the finished product on time and within budget. This degree of commitment to providing a high-quality product requires excellent communication between the customer, the designer/ architect and us. This is a business where experience counts and we have over 200 years of experience in shipbuilding.”

NEW ORDERS

“There has to be an element in the design of knowing who your passenger is and what will be functional.”

Fincantieri recently won a new order from Costa Cruises for two ships: a one-plus-one option worth €840m. The 92,700 tonne panamax vessels will be built at the Marghera shipyard in Venice with delivery of the first due in the first quarter of 2009, and the second in the third quarter of 2010. The dimensions of each ship will be 294m (length), 33m (beam), 8m (draft), with a passenger capacity of 2,260 with 1,130 cabins, of which 68% will have a private balcony and 84% will be outside cabins.

Fincantieri currently has five ships on order for Costa which was delivered at the end of June 2006, and which, at 112,000 tonnes, is the largest passengership ever built for an Italian owner. Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri’s chief executive officer, is happy with the new orders for the company. Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

“We are very pleased with this new success, which further consolidates our position as world leader in the sector with a market share of nearly 50%, as well as strengthening our already excellent relations with Costa Crociere,” he says.

“Over the last six months we have gained orders for a total of 14 vessels, most of which are for the export market. This is an unrivalled commercial and industrial performance in terms of product diversification, which ranges from cruise to naval vessels and includes mega yachts.

“In economic terms, it amounts to around €5bn and guarantees that our shipyards have a continuous workload for 2009.”

PASSENGER DYNAMICS

When it comes to cruiseships, Fincantieri has built some of the finest with the most lavish and state-of-the-art fittings and decoration. For Cergol, the successful formula for interiors is simple.

“The process begins with the customer, a good understanding of the current cruise market and what products the customer is going to offer,” he says.

Once the basic concept is agreed then the services of a first-class cruiseship architect are required. For Costa and Carnival, the usual suspect for this is Joseph Farcus of Miami, USA, who recently worked on the design of Costa Concordia. The architect understands from the design concept or customer requirement how the interior needs to be designed to get the maximum flow of passengers around the ship.

Passenger flow dynamics are important since on even the largest of vessels all space must be used to its full potential. It is no good fitting out a ship with two restaurants and several bars when only one or two of these facilities are used. Owners can easily determine how well public areas such as restaurants, boutiques, spas and bars are used by the amount of money taken at each. Thus the owner and architect will know what constitutes a successful ship for them and the type of cruise passenger they cater for.

Farcus maintains several basic principles in design. For example, he worked on three Carnival ships during the late 1990s with Fincantieri: Destiny (1996), Triumph (1999) and Victory (2000). One of the first impressions guests have as they arrive on Victory is of an impressive laminated-glass atrium, ten floors deep, which dominates the main lobby, photo gallery, shops and a four deck-high, decorative mural.

“Design principle number two – making the best use of space and maximising its potential through a better perception of the public areas.”

On a cruiseship, claustrophobia can be a problem, so Farcus created the atrium, which opens up the interior of the ship to the sky and lets in lots of natural light. The first principle, according to Farcus, is to introduce wide, open spaces and light to the ship interior.

This is made easier by the availability of special laminated glass, which is an excellent material for use in ship interiors. Cergol agrees: “The passenger should be to a certain extent made to forget they are on board a ship and made to think that they are in a regular hotel.”

Victory also features a dichroic laminated-glass dance floor, 10m in diameter, which, as cruiseships are always restricted in space, gives the effect of making the space seem bigger than it is. This is design principle number two – making the best use of space and maximising its potential through a better perception of the public areas.

Farcus’ principle number three is to always try to use the function of the room to suggest how the room will reflect the central design idea.

CREATING NEW EXPERIENCES

Cruiseships are famous for their interior design themes and this has to account for part of their success in keeping cruising a fresh and growing market for the tourist industry. A good example of this is the 110,000 tonne Carnival Freedom, which is being constructed by Fincantieri, and is due to start hosting cruises in Europe in March 2007.

This new 2,974-passenger ship will feature an interior design theme in its public rooms that will take guests on a ‘journey through the centuries’, decade by decade. The themes will run from the ancient civilisation of Babylonia to the contemporary style of the 1990s. This design concept is Farcus’ brainchild.

One of the major problems with cruiseship interior design is that it is ultimately for the passengers, and as such, it is difficult to find a design suited to everyone’s taste. “In any one cruise, particularly with Costa Cruise, there could be five different nationalities with varying tastes in decoration, atmosphere, entertainment and food,” says Cergol.

“There has to be an element in the design of knowing who your passenger is and what will be functional and pleasing to the eye. With our ships all nationalities are happy – obviously some decoration is not to everyone’s taste, but the passenger is paying for a different experience over one to two weeks. And that is what the cruise business is ultimately about – providing new experiences.”

DESIGN PRINCIPLES

Cergol believes that Fincantieri provides a design and construction service that not only encompasses the basic ship design, including hull, engines, services and ancillary equipment, but also the provision of the interior’s lavish fixtures and fittings according to the exact specification of the owner and architect.

“Cruiseships have to be more flexible,” he says. “A ship may be operating in the Baltic, Alaska, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean; the ship’s facilities and design must reflect this, such as the provision of a glass-roofed pool for use in all climates.

“Also many cruise companies are now providing specific products for specific ships, such as spa packages where passengers are given priority spa use and their own elevator to the spa area. Obviously they must also have specific cabins, and the ship is designed to accommodate this.”

Cruiseships are often used as conference and business venues and the design must include business facilities, private conference rooms and private party rooms for entertainment. “The cruise business is complex and so is the design of interiors,” says Cergol.

“Therefore Fincantieri has to be flexible and be able to handle every design requirement and possibility with the same efficiency and professionalism.”