The cruise industry is a $150 billion business. Today’s average age of the ships in a fleet is 26 years old, and we’re building new ones at an astonishing rate. They are being made faster than at any time since World War II!
So how long does it take to create one? And what goes into designing them? We talked with John Wenzloff, Senior Naval Architect for Design/Build and Project Management, on some projects over the last three decades.
Building a cruise ship can take anywhere from one year to 18 months, depending on the size and luxury factor.
The time frame varies significantly because many factors are involved in designing a specific request for an ocean-going vessel. Things like how fast you want it built, if any scaffolding will be needed during construction, and the number of luxuries and amenities required throughout the ship will play a vital role in the total design and build time.
However, rest assured that no matter what clients desire lead time, projects typically stay on time, and pre-purchased cabin reservations and sail dates will remain intact.
There was recently an article about a couple who spent nearly $100,000 to get their dream honeymoon cabin – only to find out later that no such cabins were available anywhere. That got us thinking about whether or not it costs as much money to travel first class these days.
Why don’t more people look around before deciding where to book? Or maybe it’s because most people aren’t sure exactly what they want until after seeing everything anyway. Whatever the reason, here’s another way to save big bucks while traveling the world. Read on if you know exactly what you want from your next vacation.
Cruise lines will often tell you that the price of a particular room has increased dramatically over time, but if you’d like to see firsthand why this might be true, all you need to do is visit a few different rooms on the same line.
You’ll quickly discover that many people booking similar accommodations pay very different prices based on which part of the ship they choose to stay in. This isn’t surprising, considering each cruise ship has unique attributes and characteristics, but each vessel also shares certain common elements.
For example, every ship features public spaces designed by well-known architectural firms and interior designers worldwide. These spaces help set the tone for the entire boat and dictate the overall layout and configuration of each deck level.
They also contribute significantly toward the general maintenance fees paid by passengers. Another thing that sets sail vessels apart from airplanes, trains, or automobiles is the sheer amount of space available to accommodate guests’ needs. Most cruise ships offer between 100 and 200 staterooms daily, depending on size, capacity and itinerary.
Even luxury liners that cater exclusively to high rollers still provide amenities catering to nearly everyone. Of course, individual carriers always offer special ” extras, ” including premium upgrades (like private balconies), complimentary champagne breakfast buffets, extra gratuities, and free drinks in the lounges. But once again, these perks come down to personal preferences.
Each guest chooses their preferred location based on proximity to restaurants, shopping areas, nightlife venues, and laundry facilities. Some people love staying on top decks to enjoy views of majestic mountains, glaciers, or beautiful beaches during shore excursions.
Others prefer staying closer to mid-levels to avoid having to climb stairs. Even more minor details make a difference, like the placement of elevators versus escalators, the number of showers and toilets shared among multiple floors and the availability of specialty shops versus mass-market stores. These factors combine to determine the final destination for travelers looking for lodging aboard a specific vessel.
So now you understand that cruising offers something for everyone, regardless of budget.
How Long Does It Take To Design A Cruise Ship?
Most large cruise companies spend approximately two months researching potential locations and vendors before officially entering negotiations for customizing a boat. Once a decision is made, the company usually spends roughly six weeks working directly with suppliers to complete the initial planning phase.
During this period, lead designers work closely with the client to ensure that the desired experience is achieved through various configurations and layouts.
After plans are finalized, the client typically pays for preliminary drawings, including basic structural schematics for lifeboats, engines, fire suppression systems, electrical wiring, and plumbing systems. Additional information regarding the proposed concept is sent to technical consultants experienced in naval architecture and civil engineering disciplines.
From here, clients wait patiently as the team works diligently to create detailed conceptual plans and renderings.
Technical teams review the documents submitted by the client and respond accordingly with recommendations and suggestions concerning materials, equipment, finishes, and fixtures. When satisfied, the client receives approval from the technical experts to proceed further.
At this point, the client must decide whether to move forward with construction or modify his original proposal. Typically, this process lasts about four to five months.
Once the design process is completed, construction begins in earnest. Onboard crews begin preparing shipyards and laying the foundations for dry dock operations. Larger cruise operators employ subcontractors known as General Contractor Managers to oversee the project.
Smaller businesses hire separate professionals responsible for managing critical aspects of the development cycle. Interior Designers, Building Supervisors, Fabrication Foremen, Electrical Technicians, Plumbing Installers, HVAC Engineers, Structural Iron Workers, Deck Supervisor, Mechanical Engineer, Security Guards, Electricians, Surveyors, Painters, Landscapers, Decksmiths, Divers, Cleaning Crews, Elevator Operators, Maintenance Mechanics, Cooks, Wait Staff, Office Assistants, Hostess Team Members and Merchandisers all play critical roles in helping deliver a quality product on time and under budget.
A typical turnkey cruise ship construction project requires several thousand workers and hundreds of specialized tradespeople. Depending on the complexity of the project, the duration varies greatly. Some small boats need less than 30 employees to construct and launch.
Other ships may involve upwards of 300 crew members. Therefore, determining the right balance between size and scope is essential. As stated earlier, larger cruise ships feature complex interiors created using leading-edge technology and state-of-the-art techniques.
However, smaller vessels utilize traditional manual labor methods rather than automated machinery. Both approaches yield excellent results, yet each plays a vital role in delivering an exceptional customer experience.
One question we hear frequently is how long it takes to convert a sketch into a functional blueprint. The answer depends on the signed contract type and the contractor’s capabilities. Generally speaking, it takes 2-3 weeks to prepare rough sketches for presentation purposes.
Rough drafts and concepts are reviewed by senior staff and approved by upper management before full-scale drawings. Full-scale blueprints generally contain more detail than rough sketches and are used primarily for marketing purposes. Construction contractors rely heavily on these prints when bidding on jobs and submitting proposals.
Another popular misconception is that interior designers and architects don’t communicate effectively with owners and managers. Let me dispel that myth immediately. I would say that communication is essential to ensuring success.
Owners and executives expect regular updates and changes to meet their expectations. Communicating clearly with stakeholders helps them feel confident that decisions won’t be rushed or compromised.
One of my favorite examples involves a recent shipyard project where a client requested additional balcony railings. He thought he had ordered enough rails to cover existing balconies but discovered otherwise after receiving delivery confirmation letters confirming receipt.
Upon inspection, he found that the railing pieces were stacked vertically instead of horizontally. Unfortunately, there wasn’t sufficient slack to adjust the bars’ angle properly. Since the owner didn’t notice the error beforehand, she contacted the manufacturer asking him to correct the problem.
Fortunately, the supplier responded promptly and fixed the issue with minimal delay. Had the owner waited longer to notify him, the mistake wouldn’t have been caught. Communication makes all the difference.
Now let’s discuss what happens when you have to go back to the drawing board. What’s involved in designing a cruise ship?
In addition to meeting budgetary requirements and providing outstanding service, a reputable cruise line strives to achieve excellence in maritime safety, security, comfort, cleanliness, and efficiency. Many manufacturers must adhere to strict standards established by organizations such as Underwriter Laboratories International Inc., American National Standards Institute, and Intertek Testing Services. Quality control is paramount to maintaining brand image and reputation.
Quality control personnel monitor production activities daily to detect problems, issues, and discrepancies. Critical components undergo extensive testing procedures to confirm compliance with performance specifications.
Inspections conducted by certified inspectors ensure adherence to industry regulations and improve efficiencies across departments. Failure to comply could result in fines and suspensions imposed by governing bodies.
Every aspect of the manufacturing process is carefully monitored. Productivity levels are tracked meticulously to identify bottlenecks and delays. Employees receive ongoing training to increase productivity and improve their skills. New hires are introduced gradually to minimize disruptions. Process improvements are implemented incrementally to reduce the risk of errors and maximize output.
Production schedules are adjusted according to demand to prevent shortages. Workflow processes are streamlined to eliminate unnecessary steps and repetitive tasks.
Skilled artisans use precision tools and sophisticated machines to produce superior products. Although it sounds simple enough, creating a flawless finished product is far from easy. Every step along the way demands expert attention. Materials are inspected constantly for defects and deficiencies. Corrective measures are taken immediately to maintain high levels of quality.