Swiss-based MSC Cruises’ newest venture comes in the form of this striking 333 metre long, 205,700 gross tonnage, futuristic mega-ship named MSC World Europa, accommodating up to 6,762 passengers and 2,138 crew over 22 decks.

The vessel is an incredible feat of engineering which features a 104-metre-long external promenade, showcasing the record-breaking 11-deck high stainless-steel sinuous dry slide, the longest at sea. This creates a spectacular centrepiece in the evening when the ‘illuminated trees’, a stunning configuration of homogenous LED lines which clad the structural steel, introduce an energetic and dynamic component to the drama of this vast outdoor space.

The ship was constructed at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France and MSC’s brief was to characterise, with well considered lighting design, the vessel at night so as to act as a signature for their world-class cruise series and further reinforce their brand within the market place. MSC have been targeting a lower age demographic and understand the importance and role that lighting plays in the success of the onboard passenger experience.

The ‘wave’ longitudinal profile springs from the arrow-shaped G-bow and a Y-shaped architectural stern with panoramic views, which leads to the ‘illuminated tree’ LED lines. These are designed to have a rounded edge profile so as to maximise the lit impact and extent of viewing angles from within the Outdoor Promenade and adjacent cabins, which enjoy a sequenced lighting show during the day and evening. The lighting equipment is neatly integrated within a channel and the lighting maintained via the glass balustrade cleaning cradle. A secondary layer of smaller ‘illuminated trees’ are designed into the aft elevation, offering a more human scale form to the outer deck.

The homogenous lighting product was supplied by a local manufacturer to the shipyard and underwent extreme testing to ensure its suitability for the harsh marine environment. It consists of an RGB + White LED strip which is encapsulated within an epoxy resin material and has a rounded profile to maximise the viewing angles from both the forward and aft positions on the ship, as well as from the adjacent cabin balconies.

Within the cruise industry, we are now merging architectural and theatrical typologies to striking effect. This project combines the utilisation of bespoke linear LED lighting products to visually clad the otherwise bare structural elements, with a dynamic lighting control system and audio sequencing. The design creates a cost- effective and highly visual lighting solution which is both architectural and artistic against the monumentally scaled outdoor promenade. A sense of perspective is therefore achieved by the form of the ‘illuminated trees’ and the ambience and energy that results in combination with the control system and theatrical lighting equipment. When the lighting is operated ‘off’, the vertically mounted linear LED lighting becomes invisible to the eye and the lines are appropriately disguised from view to calm the space, before the ‘show’ modes commence.

The design of the vessel seeks to address the otherwise overuse of inner facing cabins, the aft of the vessel is sculpted to create an outdoor space, lined with restaurants, retail outlets and cabins. The ‘illuminated trees’ maximise the impact of the volume by way of expressing the sheer verticality of the structure and ship’s profile, for all to enjoy.

This eco-friendly and efficient ship is powered by Liquefied Natural Gas, the cleanest fossil fuel, and connects to shore power, recycles water and dampens propeller noise to avoid upsetting marine life.

Ultimately the ‘illuminated trees’ add an intriguing dimension to the exterior presentation of the ship both by day and night. The design is creative and fully integrated with the ships structure, whilst maintenance is achieved via cleaning cradles used to also access the cabin balcony glass balustrade panels and exterior elevations. The result is spectacular and ground breaking for the MSC brand, a real live stage set for passengers to enjoy.

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