Massive cruise ship hull art provides character and recognizability when pulling into port.
Cruise ship hull art provides character and recognizability when pulling into port.
A SIMPLE WHITEWASHED HULL HAS LONG BEEN A CLASSIC CHOICE FOR cruise ship exteriors, but more and more cruise lines are employing bold designs to don their ships’ bows. So when a ship pulls into port these days, chances are you may recognize it from quite a distance, thanks to massive and vibrant hull designs. These appliqués are not only attention grabbing, they are, themselves, beautiful works of art.
DISNEY CRUISE LINE _ Disney Cruise Line refers to its bow tips as “filigrees taking inspiration from the figureheads of historic sailing ships and rendering sinuous art nouveau waves off of a medallion” — with none other than Mickey Mouse featured in the center. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find other Disney characters incorporated as some ride personal watercraft over the crests. Also interesting is how Disney Dream and
Disney Fantasy specifically include four stars in their designs to represent the current count of ships in the fleet. Further differentiating the existing vessels is the nature of Mickey at the bow of each. “Sorcerer Mickey” is seen on
Disney Magic, “Helmsman Mickey” on Disney Wonder, “Captain Mickey” on Disney Dream, and “Sorcerer Mickey” on Disney Fantasy. Particularly playful, though, are Disney ships’ aft sections where Disney characters are sculpted three-dimensionally in service of painting the name on the stern. Goofy is on Disney Magic; Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie (only the eyes of the last two are seen) are on Disney Wonder; Sorcerer Mickey and the Magic Brooms are on Disney Dream; and Dumbo and Timothy Q. Mouse are on Disney Fantasy. After all, “What’s more fantasy than a flying elephant?” asked Bob Zalk of Walt Disney Imagineering (the company’s design team), especially one with an impressive “ear-span” of seven feet.
INTERNATIONAL CRUISE COMPANIES _ German cruise line AIDA Cruises uses geometric lips and eyes on its hulls that equally take cues from the art world. German artist Feliks Büttner drew from the princess of Giuseppe Verdi’s namesake opera when approaching a blend of Egyptian-inspired motifs and modern art for the line’s first ship, AIDAcara. Of course, the main goal then was to be striking and garner interest in cruise travel — an objective that continues to this day — with the welcome smile since applied to the brand’s latest AIDAperla.
Generally, AIDA’s ship lips measure around 16 meters (52 feet) overall while the eyes encompass some 150 square meters (492 feet) with about 140 meters (459 feet) of eyeliner at its longest.
Other international cruise companies that feature hull artwork include P&O Cruises UK, whose ships boast the Union Flag along their hulls; Dream Cruises ships feature whimsical and intricate Asian motifs; and Star Cruises’ hull art reflects the astrological signs of the ship names: SuperStar Virgo, SuperStar Libra, SuperStar Gemini, SuperStar Aquarius, and Star Pisces.
PRINCESS CRUISES _ Taking a graphic approach is Princess Cruises, which has newly begun applying its iconic Seawitch logo on its bows. First introduced for its new Majestic Princess, the flowing female silhouette and her wavy hair will eventually be painted expansively across every bow in the fleet.
“For nearly half a century, our Princess logo has represented the adventure of cruise travel around the globe,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “Now our ships sail to more than 360 ports of call worldwide and will be instantly recognized from afar.”
On the newest Royal class of ships, that has meant blue paint wrapping nearly the entire front edge and surfaces as the graphic opens back up to white amidship, but on some older vessels, the logo has been added with more negative space around it.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE _ Norwegian Cruise Line hulls showcase the most varied canvases of all. It might seem that its ships have always sported such vivid patterns, but its implementation only dates to 2002 when
Norwegian Dawn first launched with its graphics, the Statue of Liberty included. Every new ship since has received similar treatment, and existing ones prior to Norwegian Dawn have retroactively received full paint jobs including Norwegian Star, Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Sky, and Norwegian Spirit.
Interior architecture design firm SMC was charged with the exterior art of those ships entering service in or prior to 2008.
Norwegian Epic’s bow design was handled inhouse by the Norwegian Cruise Line creative services team. And the line has teamed up with a variety of world-renowned artists to apply their distinct touch to Norwegian Breakaway in 2013 and on each ship since.
Pop artist Peter Max once more utilized the Statue of Liberty, bringing it full circle to cruises from New York City, on Norwegian
Breakaway with his signature “Liberty Head” featured prominently on the bow. Later, Miami’s David “Lebo” Le Batard went from cosmopolitan to tropical on Norwegian
Getaway. Then, Guy Harvey showcased ocean conservation externally on Norwegian Escape with beautifully rendered marine animals, and internally with the line’s support for his Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. Norwegian Joy brought Chinese artist Tan Ping, who created a large red phoenix for the ship’s Chinese market. And soon, Norwegian Bliss will boast an artistic rendition of conservation efforts by Wyland, as the artist’s marine life is featured on the ship’s hull when it sets sail for Alaska in June 2018.
But whether you’re sailing in Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, or anywhere else in the world, the next time you pull into port, look around and see if you can distinguish the ships by their colorful canvases.
P&O Cruises’ Britannia Norwegian Getaway
More than 400 liters (105 gallons) of paint were required for AIDAdiva’s lipstick.