When passengers first board Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, eager to start their vacation, they notice the vibrant colors of its festive spaces and the subtle hues of its tranquil spaces. But the most important color might be the one most passengers don't notice at all: the one that dominates the stairs that take them to and from their stateroom for the duration of their cruise.
"Color is important to how we handle vertical flow, from the first day they arrive on board," says Kelly Gonzalez, the cruise line's assistant vice president, architecture and design. "All the guests arrive in a tight time window. They're tired, they're hungry, they're waiting for their luggage." And they're also trying to find their way around a huge, unfamiliar ship.
And Allure, launched in 2010, is huge, even by today's mega-ship standards. With 2,700 staterooms; a passenger capacity of 5,400; and a total capacity of about 8,000, including crew; Allure and its sister ship, Oasis of the Seas, are currently the largest cruise vessels in the world. "You're building, effectively, a city," Gonzalez says.
For that reason, architects and interior designers were deeply involved in the ship's design even before it was on the drawing board at the shipyard. "There are many aspects of design that are unique to cruising," Gonzalez says. "You have a captive audience, and you have to study flow and human patterns in much more detail, so the on-board experience is positive."
For design purposes, the 16-deck vessel is divided into four quadrants, with two vertical cores at fore and two at aft. Each quadrant has a stairwell with its own signature color, which appears on the accent wall and in the artwork, as a subtle, way-finding guide. "It's noticeable to some, not all," Gonzalez says. "We find ways to aid people. Some relate to visual cues, like color, more than others."