“We design small cities,” says Siegfried Schindler, CEO and co-founder of “Partner Ship Design” State of the Art Cruise Ship Design GmbH. Hamburg’s architectural office designs most areas on cruise ships. Partner Ship Design works mainly for the cruise operators Aida, Costa, P&O and Carnival Cruise Line. These brands belong to the Carnival Group, the world market leader in cruises.
“Basically, shipbuilding is much more complicated than ordinary building construction,” says Schindler. The first challenge is the lack of space. Since the shipowner wants to use the available space as efficiently as possible, every facility must be measured against the criterion of multi-functionality. “This thought led us to the design of Theatrium.” It is a meeting place by day, an atrium and a theater by night. The concept is now implemented on eleven Aida ships.
On the other hand, increased safety rules apply at sea, reports the managing director. “The layout of the cabins and public areas is always based on the definition of the watertight spaces and fire zones in the ship.” The interior can only be designed based on these. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) also prescribes the use of certified materials that have been tested for fire resistance.
Aida Cosma and Aida Nova
Most recently, Partner Ship Design has planned the two Aida sister ships Cosma and Nova, which are among the six largest passenger ships in the world. Partner Ship Design worked as the main architect firm on eight other ships of similar size belonging to the Carnival group. MS Deutschland, which served as a filming location for the ZDF series “Das Traumschiff” for 15 years, was also designed by the residents of Hamburg.
The interior architects designed 17 restaurants, 23 bars, 3,500 square meters of wellness area and 2,732 cabins for Cosma. The 337 meter long ship can accommodate up to 5400 passengers; in addition there are around 1500 crew members. The architects had a climbing garden built on the sister ship Nova. Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras has a slide on the outside deck that they designed. In terms of design, such projects can hardly be surpassed in terms of complexity.
Because of this complexity, the design of an entire cruise ship is beyond the skills of ordinary interior designers, says Schindler. “I have been in the business for 42 years, my partner for 37 years. With our experience, we can do it.” They had special expertise, according to their own statements, there is no other company in the world that designs cruise ships on this scale, from concept to construction at the shipyard.
Their reliability is another reason for their success. “The invoice amount we have calculated for the shipowner fits in 95 percent of the cases.” The schedule is also almost always adhered to. In a financial year, Partner Ship Design works on an average of eight projects of varying scope, according to Silke Förster, junior partner and one of five managing directors. This ranges from minor remodeling of cruise ship interiors to the complete design of a new building.
The architects and consulting firms involved in the development each account for 0.5 to 1 percent of the total cost of the project. The construction cost of a medium-sized cruise ship of around 140,000 gross register tons (GRT) is between 700 and 800 million euros. Ocean giants of 180,000 GRT or more cost more than a billion euros.