Four Florida International University grad students update design of Celebrity Cruises ship
By Meena Rupani
Four graduate-level Florida International University design students have a unique opportunity to make their mark on one of Celebrity Cruises' new ships They've been handed the project of updating the design of the fifth Solstice class ship debuting in 2012.
The four are part of the university's accelerated five-year interior design program, in which students transition quickly from undergraduate to graduate classes, according to Janine King, department chair. All four are in their second year.
The school offers a six-credit cruise ship design studio taught by Greg Walton of RTKL, one of the design firms that helped to create the Solstice-class ships.
"The students were chosen by Mr. Walton and were the ones that were performed the best at the design studio," Ms. King said.
All four reside in Miami but come from different backgrounds. Two are from Colombia, one from Argentina and the last from Cuba.
They returned to Miami June 26 from a seven-night cruise to the Caribbean aboard a Celebrity Cruises ship for their studies.
"The students as part of their training evaluated how the different features of the ship work and how certain things affect the design of the ship," Ms. King said. "I keep telling them this program is not just for fun, but it's a learning experience."
"Students also were educated on the flow of the ship and how the natural vibrations in the water can affect the design of the ship," said Tavia Robb, Celebrity's public relations manager.
Celebrity funds a "robust summer internship program every year," Ms. Robb said. "The internship program is at no cost to the students."
The design process the students will be involved in will include brand immersion, concept development and analysis of the space, according to Celebrity, mirroring any professional cruise ship design process.
"In the end, students will deliver a full design package. Celebrity Cruises' own Newbuilding Architectural Design team will then partner with the shipbuilder, Meyer Werft, to bring the students' plans to life. Construction will begin in 2011 at a Meyer Werft shipbuilding yard in Germany."
"Celebrity Cruises' Solstice ships are known for their extravagancy and feature stylish rooms, large staterooms inspired by spas, lounges equipped with MacBook Pros, etc.…," said the corporation.
Celebrity invested $3.7 billion in building five Solstice Class ships between 2008 and 2012.
Going forward, the students will now begin to organize the information and feedback they received during training.
"While on board, we interviewed the crew members and received their point of view on the design of the ship. After all, they are the ones that are present everyday," said Andrea Leano, one of the students chosen for the internship.
"They gave us their job descriptions and an explanation about how each system aboard the ship works. Everything works differently," Ms. Leano said. "We got an idea of what works and what doesn't, and what needs to be improved."
"All the information we got will help us with the design and how to improve guest experiences," said Sabrina Ocner, another student in the program.
Due to the interest in interior ship cruise design, FIU is looking to start a 15-credit certificate program in cruise ship interior design this fall, Ms. King said.
"It will be the only one of its kind in the nation," she said. "For the first few years we will only be choosing students already enrolled in the interior design program, and then we will open it to the public."
The 15-credit program will be comprised of two cruise ship studios and one industry-wide internship. One cruise ship studio will be taught in Miami and the other in Italy.
"The university has a partnership with the Universita degli Studi di Genova in Genoa, Italy, also known as UNIGE, and the students will be taking advantage of the relationships UNIGE has with shipbuilding yards throughout Italy," Ms. King said.
"Miami," she said, "is poised in a great position for these cruise ship design programs and internships".
"Cruises have their headquarters here, and with our relationship with Celebrity Cruises, UNIGE and the shipbuilding yards we are able to take cruise ship design from the corporation side to the building side. These are opportunities FIU couldn't pass up."