International Cruise and Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2019

Upfront International Cruise & Ferry Review 46 hen Saga Cruises approached SMC Design to create Spirit of Discovery, the first of two new boutique vessels, its brief was clear: to create an unashamedly British ship, aimed entirely at British passengers. “As a British company, we were extremely proud to be designing a ship for a British client. It was a truly unique opportunity,” says Andy Yuill, SMC Design’s managing director. Rising to the challenge, SMC Design has met the brief and more – delivering a 999-passenger ship which, according to Saga Cruises CEO Robin Shaw, sets a new standard in small ship luxury cruising. “This project gave SMC Design a wonderful scope of work, and we were absolutely determined to make it a success,” explains Ben Wilson, SMC Design senior designer and project manager. “We were responsible for all of the public areas – both the interior and the exterior, all of the crew areas, plus guest cabins and suites. We also looked after the exterior styling of the ship, the commissioning of artwork through our own in-house art consultancy, and the wayfinding and signage solutions onboard. Typically, this kind of workload would be split across multiple companies, so it’s been an absolute privilege to combine all of the departments at SMC Design together – the result of which has undoubtedly contributed to a more profound continuity in the final design and the evolution of the client’s brand.” The early stages of the project were spent creating the initial design concepts. “This was the most challenging time for us,” says Liam Kirk, senior associate at SMC Design. “Alongside creating our drawing packages, we were also creating CGI visuals in tandem with Meyer Werft shipyard’s engineering phases. This is when the enormity of the project really became clear. It was a careful balancing act – we had to ensure that everything worked together both physically and aesthetically.” The result was a revolution, not only in terms of ship design, but in Saga Cruises’ branding. “We wanted to create something that was a step apart from anything the cruise line had done before; something that reflected the Saga Cruises of the future and not necessarily what people had come to expect from the brand,” explains Liz Richardson, SMC Design senior designer and project manager. “We were asked to create a contemporary classic British design, which encapsulates the very best of Britain’s hotels,” Wilson explains further. “At the same time, Saga Cruises was keen for us to try to move away from its reputation of providing cruises that are solely for the older generation. They wanted to push down the age demographic from predominately 70s and 80s to 50 plus, but without alienating the existing clientele.” With Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Discovery, SMC Design has set out to showcase British style and excellence to the highest level. Lindsay James finds out how it has been achieved COVER STORY Designing contemporary a British classic