Entertainment on the High Seas

Entertainment Technology
Live Production
Media Infrastructure
Published 24. September 2021

Best-of-breed multimedia solutions for one of the world’s largest and most modern cruise ships

The planning and implementation of an extensive entertainment infrastructure within a spacious building complex should make the heart of every full-service provider beat faster.

To be commissioned to equip one of the largest and most modern cruise ships in the world can only be described as a dream job, even for an experienced company like SALZBRENNER media, a sister company of Qvest. But it also demands organizational, technical and logistical superlatives.

The "Iona" cruise ship

Named after the picturesque island of Iona in the middle of the Scottish Hebrides, the cruise ship is currently not only one of the largest, but also one of the most modern of its kind. The excel-class ship, which is equipped with an innovative liquefied natural gas propulsion system, was built by the MEYER WERFT shipyard. In addition to a crew of almost 1,800, this cruise ship offers accommodation for a total of over 5,000 passengers. This obviously requires provision of an extensive infrastructure, including sophisticated lighting, sound and video installations.

Planning and logistics

In accordance with the contract awarded by MEYER WERFT, the project included technical equipment of a total of 35 public areas of the ship, including one theater, four cinemas, several pubs & bars, restaurants, the fitness center, spa and crew areas. Given an installation phase envisaged to take less than 12 months, this required meticulous planning and preparation in order to ensure the ultimate smooth commissioning of almost 20,000 individual units at the desired time. One of the biggest challenges of the project was getting the technical installations done in all areas of the ship at the same time and the task of having tens of thousands of AV components in the right place at the right time.

theater auditorium
theater IT equipment
lona ship deck
movie lounge
lounge area
restaurant with live music area

Precise coordination on board

One challenge that should not be underestimated when installing technical components on a ship, is the very long distances over which the equipment has to be transported piece by piece to the respective installation sites. Since all trades are usually working simultaneously on board during the completion of a ship, precise coordination with other companies and teams and adherence to exact schedules were absolutely essential.

Exclusive installations and in-house developments

Based on the own in-house metal manufacturing facility as well as outstanding expertise in the development and production of highly specialized circuit boards, exclusive customized products of all kinds are part of the technology expert’s permanent portfolio. In this context, the service provider implemented seat allocation systems for a total of four cinemas as well as special working light control systems and self-developed mechanical mounting solutions for display walls, lasers and subwoofers with regard to the client's individual requirements. In addition to junction boxes and the installation of control cabinets comprising more than 120 hand-assembled racks, the Iona's equipment also included the design of an audio muting module for guitar amplifiers, an HDMI-based audio mute unit for game consoles and DMX-based mains switching modules. Specially designed working light controls, signal lights and traffic light systems were also installed as essential comfort and safety features of the infrastructure. The defining architectural signature of the cruise ship is also reflected in beautifully integrated light strip elements, which underscore the ambience with their color coordination.

Lights and laser under the stars

The absolute – and literally – highlight of the Iona is the SkyDome, which extends over three decks and is unique in its design with its huge glass dome. Thanks to the implementation and installation of the coordinated event technology concept, it is one of the most exclusive and extraordinary floating event locations in the world. The dome roof was fitted with the staggering number of 280 custom-built show spotlights from SGM, each measuring one meter in length. The installation is crowned by a 300-kilogram, two-meters in diameter laser from ER Productions, which was fixed at a height of 8 meters. Another real eye-catcher on board is a transparent multimedia display wall consisting of ten individual 49" displays, where four panels can even be converted into elegantly swiveling door elements. Showlight systems by Robe are part of the highly elaborate lighting concept. Installed in almost all event areas, with their scanners, moving heads and LED spotlights, they maintain a common atmospheric theme throughout the individual theaters, clubs and live locations of the cruise giant. In addition, the ship's interior was enriched with a total of almost 125 square meters of high-quality mounted LED walls by Absen, some of which are mobile, and a total of 720 circuits reserved exclusively for lighting technology.

Sound in a class of its own

From the line array inside the dome to the theater and cinema sound systems, around 600 PA loudspeakers from d&b and 10 state-of-the-art audio mixing consoles from DiGiCo ensure excellent sound in every last corner of the ship. On the visual side they are supported by grandMA series lighting consoles from the manufacturer MA. For the ship-wide distribution of audio and video content, the expert team installed an extensive entertainment network which connects all areas of the Iona cruise ship to the overall system. 

Thanks to the commitment of a highly professional team of technicians, media specialists and installation planners, an innovative ship concept was successfully translated into a media and event technology lighthouse project in a class of its own which inspires passengers and spectators of all ages from 2021 onwards.

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