Cruising in a developing world

As the passengers of The Diamond Princess cruise are finally disembarked from their quarantine period, the Dwipbox lunch-hour discussion turns to a debate about whether the quarantine in Japan was an effective way to control the virus. While some say the quarantine was a necessary measure to contain COVID-19, others wonder if it facilitated its spread to other passengers and crew aboard the ship.

Japan, known for its management in the time of turmoil, was also astounded by the havoc turning their way. As the cruise industry face the challenges of nature and bio-weapons, the design of ships should incorporate facilities to accommodate and serve the people in times of seclusion.

To do so, we need to understand the basics of cruise ships and their design.

Modern cruise ships, also known as floating cities, are highly successful living environments designed for the people and their leisure.

Fig 1: Symphony of the seas, the largest cruise ship in the world

As we all know, designing an enormous vessel like a cruise ship is not an easy or one-person job. As designers, engineers and consultants specializing in different fields work together as a team to design and build a ship, Dwipbox takes a look at the different design practices followed around the world.

The development of a cruise is slow and subtle. The design is initiated by a question – whether to prioritize large public spaces over the facilities provided for the people, which may vary on the designers and the ship’s capacity. The design process is centered on making the ship as light as possible. The design team pays prominence to the silhouette of the ship. The daytime, nighttime, and silhouette are of utmost importance. As it is easier for a builder to weld in a downward direction, the ships are built upside down in separate sections before being transferred on water. The design instruction also comes with a “minefield of restrictions”. As wood cannot be used due to its combustible nature, the furniture boards are made of ceramic or metal. Ships are also quite tricky to build from a designer’s perspective. The structure features a series of web with every fourth web supported by a large steel sheet. Unlike the structures built on land, these sheets are an integral part of the ship’s structure.

The cruise industry plays an important role with major contributions to urban development, like, cruise goer expenditure, job creations, city’s image and aesthetics, lengthening touristic season, transforming abandoned port areas, etc.The ships also offer fascinating lessons for the cites and urban planners & builders seeking to overcome spatial limitations to growth and providing a high quality of life for the residents.

1. Intergenerational activities – Cruises offer numerous activities like, leisure and interactive facilities for people with an intergenerational twist, providing the latest technology for “working nomads” to combine remote working with a dose of leisure, and providing public spaces for the people who want to seek tranquility or read a book while contemplating the beauty of water body.

2. Indifferent together – Activities promote community building, especially among strangers. These activities in the public spaces boost spontaneous interactions between people.

3. Wisely designed spaces – Cruise ships carry over 8000 passengers and crew. With that kind of space ratio, cruise ships offer a lesson on designing in a confined space for urban development.

4. Simple movement – The movement of passengers is simple and easy, even for the mobility impaired with the help of clearly marked paths, good maps and app-based help combined with escalators, stairs and lifts.

5. A smart initiative – The cruise ships not only make use of high-tech internet but also make use of wearable tech devices for communication.

6. Sustainability is the key – Although the cruise industry were laggards in the sustainability movement, they are now making progress with the use of LNG fuel, better emission purification systems and cutting friction and energy use through bubble making hulls.

7. Safe and sound – The key role to keep everyone safe is not only to build a structurally strong and stable ship but also to foresee the kind of mishaps that might injure and cause chaos or panic between the people.

With the world facing new threats of biological warfare and biological weapons, designs should elevate to accommodate makeshift quarantine zones and other services required as part of health and safety measures.

Fig 3: The Diamond Princess quarantined due to coronavirus- 2020.






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