Urn-terior Design

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013

We chose the new Carnival Legend for our most recent CruiseMates group cruise because she's in a size range I've taken a liking to -- large enough to offer many amenities, yet smaller than some of mega-behemoths coming out of the shipyards of late. She also offers a couple of excellent eight-day itineraries out of Ft. Lauderdale; the extra day allows her to get farther south and out of the typical Eastern/Western Caribbean routines that most ships sailing from Florida operate with seven-day sailings.

In most of my writing I rarely comment on interior design elements, other than in passing. I normally concentrate more on the cruise experience and related shipboard anecdotes. However, in the case of The Legend, Carnival's legendary ship designer Joe Farcus grabbed me by the collar and gave me a shake -- figuratively speaking.

After crossing the gangway and entering the ship I was immediately accosted by the urn-usual design -- everywhere you turn, there are urns. This ship does not feature the Las Vegas-style glitz and neon of some earlier Farcus designs. In fact, the neon storm so common on earlier Carnival ships is basically nonexistent. About the only neon on the Legend is in some of the signs directing passengers to the various lounges onboard.

However, I felt the overzealous dedication to Urnterior design throughout this ship was distracting from some very pleasant and interesting decor. The ubiquitous urns are used for all kinds of things -- table legs, bases of bar stools, lamps, door handles.. I thought Farcus could have at least shown some humor and had signs on the doors marking them Urn or Out.

I did make some Urnquiries onboard to try and track down the story behind the urns, if there was one. I'm told that if you go diving off the coast of the Greek Islands, you can still find massive urns on the ocean floor that were part of the cargo on ancient sunken ships. It seems Greek urns are most certainly a part of Greek mythology, and this may offer some insight as to why Mr. Farcus chose to use them. It is their overwhelming presence in the decor that I would question.

Throughout the ship's public areas, furnishings, wall and floor treatments, upholstery fabrics, and lighting appeared to be of good quality, and in many cases, even luxurious.

Even the color schemes, which on earlier Carnival ships would be described as bold, or even gaudy, are toned down. Carpeting and wall treatments in the hallways on passenger decks are somewhat muted. The color schemes of the passenger cabins can easily be described as reserved.

Truffles Restaurant is the ship's two-story dining room. The room is broken into sections by long walls with booths on either side, and high glass dividers separating the booths opposite each other.

This design didn't appeal to me at all. Seated in one of these booths, we felt cut off from the rest of the dining room and any ambience it might offer. I could only see myself feeling comfortable with this sort of seating arrangement if I was in the Federal Witness Protection Program.

These booths are appropriate for use in a diner, but not in a dining room. A couple of my personal favorite public rooms onboard are the Odyssey Lounge on Deck 3, just outside the entrance to Truffles Restaurant's upper level; and the Atlantis Lounge, in the same location, outside of Truffles Restaurant on Deck 2. While they are located in the open, in high traffic areas, they seemed to give the feel of smaller, more intimate lounges. Yet they offered excellent venues for pre or post dinner cocktails and people watching.

If one can ignore the urns (a somewhat difficult task) many of the ship's other public rooms are quite well designed and attractive.

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