Room to experiment
As ships get bigger, they also get wider, which has allowed for several design innovations.
The Seven Seas Explorer is 102 feet wide, eight more feet than the Seven Seas Voyager. That allowed for, among other things, wider balconies on the all-suite ship, designers said.
On the Harmony, "We put effort into lengthening and expanding the size of the staterooms," Gonzalez said.
There are also more two-story spaces on the next generation of ships due to the extra stability a broader platform gives.
The Perfect Storm waterslide, coming to the Harmony of the Seas in 2016.
On the Norwegian Escape, five feet wider than the Norwegian Getaway, the segregated luxury area, the Haven, will for the first time have a two-story courtyard with an elegant spiral staircase connecting the two levels.
On the Koningsdam, the swimming pool, enclosed with a retractable magrodome, will also for the first time be a two-story space. The lower level will offer traditional poolside elements while the upper level will be a mezzaninelike lounging area new to Holland America.
The pool area becomes a theater at night, as the Koningsdam will get an outdoor movie screen, a first for the line. The addition of poolside movies is one of several ways that cruise lines have been changing the use of various ship spaces according to time of day.
The two-story Queen's Lounge on the Koningsdam will function as a theater and a night club with the ship's largest dance floor, Tatar said, as well as housing a B.B. King Blues Club.
"The nightclub [used to be] put on a ship, and it's a piece of real estate, and it's only used four hours a night," he said. Now, it is combined in a multifunction room that hosts dance lessons, late afternoon teas and a meetings space for groups, freeing room for other uses elsewhere on the ship. The Koningsdam will also have a culinary center for cooking lessons and demonstrations during the day that transforms into a farm-to-table restaurant at night.
The Carnival Vista's main theater, called Liquid Lounge, will have movable seats so it can be used as a dance club after shows. The concept was first tried on the Carnival Sunshine.
Kulovaara said passengers are comfortable with less formal rooms.
"Our homes are changing," he said. "We don't have a dining room and a living room and a kitchen anymore. That's all kind of blurred. And we see that trend coming."
But Royal Caribbean, he said, also believes in optimizing some space for a particular use, especially on a ship as large as the Harmony. For example, the ship's main theater is primarily intended to showcase Broadway musicals.
"We have had to learn in our company that multipurpose becomes multiuseless," Kulovaara said.
Another trend in ship design is an effort to get passengers back in touch with the sea. This is especially true on ships designed with the Caribbean in mind, such as MSC Cruises' planned MSC Seaside, due in 2017. Renderings show a promenade wide enough for cafe seating on the first passenger deck, with a broad fan of deck at the aft for a pool.
Also low to the water will be an aft pool area on Deck 5 of the Carnival Vista in a Havana area of the ship that will feature new "cabana" rooms with patios big enough for hammocks.
On Deck 6 will be the Vista's multiplex area, which includes a three-story movie screen big enough to display IMAX-format movies, the first at sea.
Other distinctive theater designs being planned include a dinner theater on the Norwegian Escape designed to present a show based on the films of John Hughes and a circular World Stage on the Koningsdam that will surround the audience with two-story, programmable LED screens.
Carnival's multiplex area will also offer a multisensory Thrill Theater with moving seats to provide kinesthetic effects and a themed concession stand for popcorn and candy sales.
"It's really going to be a one-of-a-kind experience onboard," Clement said.