Chelsom’s take on the Cruise Industry

Given that the cruise industry has boomed in excess of 30% in the last 8 years this illustrates that life is becoming more about the journey not necessarily the destination where the world of hospitality is concerned. A distinct shift in the mechanics of our lives in terms of how we sleep, rest and play has spurred hospitality brands to broaden their offer.

The lines between the once-disparate sectors of hotel, F&B, business and leisure are blurring and hospitality brands are becoming fully-fledged lifestyle brands providing all the necessary services for everyday life.

Symphony of the Seas - Aerials at sea, offshore Barcelona (Spain) on April 6, 2018 Symphony of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International

The travel industry is increasingly adding to that mix with the likes of Virgin, Ritz Carlton and Minor hotels all strengthening their brands through investing in non-traditional hospitality models by launching their own marine brands alongside the key marine operators such as P&O, RCCL and NCL who have dominated the sector until now. The two sectors are converging in other ways with operators turning to the hotel design community  to bring a new aesthetic to their vessels which is where Chelsom comes in.

Given that a lot of the interior design practices they work with in the global hotel market also now design high end cruise ship interiors, Chelsom have embraced all the challenges of working in such a fast paced sector and have successfully established themselves as one of the leading lighting designers, suppliers and manufacturers for the international marine sector.

Design Insider Chelsom Cruise Stairs

Having worked on many projects for the world’s major marine players such as RCCL, NCL, Disney, P&O, Cunard and Crystal amongst others, they have a marine a portfolio to be proud of and one which has earned Chelsom years of invaluable experience in creating lighting solutions for the specifics of the maritime market.

With this in mind, BCFA member Chelsom thought it was about time they shared their expertise in this complex market and so have written a feature on key considerations for a successful marine project ranging from product design, technical considerations, installation and team work.

Marine Expertise

Sailing the world’s oceans on one of today’s state of the art cruise ships is just as luxurious and flamboyant as it was on one of the great liners from a hundred years ago. The boundaries of marine interior design are constantly being expanded by the world’s top design practices and the scope of things to do on board surpasses most land based hotels and resorts.

Royal Theater - Royal Promenade - Deck 4/5 Forward Center Symphony of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International

It’s no wonder the whole cruise industry is booming with millions of satisfied passengers returning year after year. However, in terms of decorative products which contribute to such amazing interiors, there could hardly be a harsher environment with its pitching seas, salt air and constant motion. It takes a certain kind of design, a certain range of skills, an amount of specialist technical knowledge and a lot of commitment to successfully service such a demanding industry.

Product design

The interior designers who create the spectacular interiors of today’s ships are real specialists in their field. They have an overall brief to be extravagant, breath taking, original and awe inspiring and in the case of public areas they can work on a massive scale within the huge spaces which can sometimes transcend three or four decks.

Subtle and understated are rarely the design watchwords so there is often the need for sparkle, drama and statement. The product designer must embrace these interior concepts and interpret them so that they function perfectly within the marine environment.

Coastal Kitchen - Deck 17 Midship Portside Symphony of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International

Nothing must be allowed to sway about in rough seas, components must not vibrate, everything must be bolted down so it never falls over, weight restrictions must be considered and installation or maintenance must be as simple as possible.

For cabins, space is often a driving feature so scaling down individual components whilst still maintaining perfect ambient light levels is important. Switching and dimming options are also usually essential.

Team work

As a specialist marine lighting supplier, Chelsom respects their role as just one of the huge teams of contractors ensuring that a cruise ship has stunning interiors with product that functions perfectly over a long period in a challenging environment.

Design Insider Chelsom Cruise Spa

Their teamwork extends to collaborating with interior designers, lighting designers, shipyards, outfitters and cruise operators all around the world. Whereas a hotel stays where it is, there is a date on which a ship sails away and everybody in the team focusses 100% on that date which is final!


Some of the manufacturing and structural technicalities of marine lighting are testing to say the least but lighting technology itself plays an ever increasing role in cruise interiors. Energy saving light sources are of course mandatory but colour rendering, colour changing, easily controlled dimming and remote switching are all increasingly important and indeed successful.

Design Insider Chelsom Harmony

Mostly it’s about creating the most luxurious and inviting ambience but it’s also about ease of lighting control and ease of maintenance. Chelsom  works as part of the team of marine experts to bring all the lighting requirements to fruition.


There can be literally thousands of contractors on a ship at any one time when it is in build. Every one of them is working diligently to complete their own task whilst cooperating with all those around them so nothing gets in the way or delays some other part of the process.

Chelsom has their own specialist and qualified marine installation team who will be on board at the right time to take delivery of their lighting products, assemble on site, install and commission. This on board presence not only allows successful installation but also allows any last minute adjustment or changes which can occur due to the sheer scale and complexity of the working environment.
Design Insider Chelsom Cruise Lounge

Chelsom is a 70 year old company with vast experience in the cruise ship sector. Their knowledge of and close relationship with the industry’s specialist interior design practices, shipyards and operators gives us the closest possible understanding of what the industry needs.

Chelsom’s own in-house marine specialists in product design, manufacture and installation ensure they meet those needs. They feel proud to be one of the world’s leading manufacturers of marine lighting today.

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