Ushering in a new era of cruising

3 min read
28 Oct 2020
Natalie Marchant

A partnership agreement between Wärtsilä and the Pastrovich Studio will create a new generation of boutique cruise ships.

The boutique cruise sector is setting sail into a sustainable future thanks to a partnership agreement between Wärtsilä and luxury superyacht designer Stefano Pastrovich

By combining the construction techniques of a cruise ship with Wärtsilä’s fully integrated hybrid propulsion system and solar panel technology, the sustainable vessels will be able to access ports that would otherwise be closed to large motor yachts. The upgrades will also provide passengers an enhanced at-sea experience. 

The design concept centres on a 60m-long catamaran with luxury accommodation for up to 36 passengers and space for a maximum of 25 crew. Rather than being aimed at the superrich, this vessel is instead targeted to the charter and luxury hotel sectors, catering to cash-rich millennials and long-time cruise-goers who want a new experience. 

Sustainability is key to the design concept, and Wärtsilä’s hybrid propulsion solution combined with fully integrated solar panels and an energy recovery system allows for both high-energy onboard efficiency and minimal environmental impact. The ship will use the Wärtsilä 14 high-speed engine – the most compact in its power range for the marine market and a key component of the company’s Smart Marine vision for the future of shipping. 

The design will also feature lithium battery sets in two separate engine rooms, which will be integrated with the ship’s energy management system in order to make the vessel more fuel efficient and reduce emissions. The advantages of the Wärtsilä power system also include low noise and reduced vibration, which make for a smoother, quieter passenger experience in addition to their environmental benefits. 

A vessel for today’s demands

Sustainability will also be a key feature of the interiors – all features and fittings will be made from natural and recyclable materials. Cabins will be light and airy and features such as dynamic management of the air conditioning system, skylights and a brise-soleil shading system, along with photovoltaic glass on the windows, will also help save energy. 

“This is the way we envision sailing in the future,” says Giammario Meloni, Senior Sales Manager, Wärtsilä Italy. “It matches Pastrovich’s visions as he is a very futuristic designer and pays great attention to the environment.” 

The timing of such a vessel’s creation could not be better, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Pastrovich believes it is the perfect moment for this kind of boutique vessel, which offers a luxury, safe cruising experience. 

Meloni agrees that at a time when many travellers have been put off traditional cruise ships, the more intimate nature of a smaller ship could prove appealing thanks to improved health and safety features. The design’s emphasis on sustainability also addresses an increasing public desire for more environmentally friendly travel. 

Superior alternative to large cruise ships

But creating a luxury experience for passengers remains key. Pastrovich’s superyacht concept is aimed at attracting wealthy travellers who want a boutique travel at-sea experience that’s superior to that of a standard cruise ship but within their means, unlike a private superyacht charter, which can cost around EUR 500,000 a week.  

One way the new vessel hopes to capitalise on this market is by incorporating technology that lowers emissions and reduces vibration. Those features will allow the catamaran to enter ports traditionally inaccessible to older, larger vessels, giving passengers the opportunity to experience various locations within a small amount of time while traveling in maximum comfort. 

For example, a cruise along the French Riviera could include stops at smaller ports such Cannes, Antibes, Cap Ferrat, and Monaco. Meanwhile, a trip along the Italian Riviera could take in sights in Portofino, La Spezia, and Deiva Marina with comparatively short times at sea compared to more traditional cruise ship routes. 

Driven by passenger experience

The project builds on previous collaborations between Pastrovich and Wärtsilä. The two companies already worked together on the 99m X-Vintage in 2011 and 101m X-Expedition in 2017, the latter of which bridged the worlds of cruising and superyachts. 

While their latest concept is undoubtedly innovative in terms of its construction and design, Meloni believes that change in the wider sector will ultimately be driven by passenger experience rather than technicalities. 

“Of course, technology is still important, but it’s not the first thing people notice or think about when they get on board a luxury yacht for their holiday,” says Meloni.  

“They are, first of all, attracted by a fantastic design, but there is an ever-increasing awareness of the environmental issues, meaning that sailing onboard a luxury yacht with a smoke-less engine and low noise levels ­is considered an added value.”

“People want to get away from the frenzy, so it’s a completely different approach."

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Wärtsilä 14

The Wärtsilä 14 is the most compact engine in its power range in the marine market, and serves both propulsion and auxiliary genset applications in the global marine and offshore markets.

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