In all his prior work, Tihany had never been limited to a standard ceiling height of just 2.10 meters. 'In our business, the wow is from the height,' he said; you look up and are impressed by the space and volume.
His palette for Seabourn Encore was intimate—even though the ship has one more deck than the earlier Odyssey-class trio and expanded public areas to serve the 150 additional passengers (a total of 600).
For Encore, 'the sense of intimacy and the sense of closeness to the materials is the surprise,' Tihany said. 'It heightens your experience. When you touch the railing, it feels sexy. The materials feel like they respond to your body.'
The Odyssey-class trio have been a huge success and since Seabourn carries more than 50% repeat customers, it's clear they like the design. Plus, it's important for the fleet to be consistent. So Seabourn president Rick Meadows' mandate to Tihany was 'evolution, not revolution.'
Tihany quipped that he told Meadows: 'This is going to be a revolutionary evolution.'
He sailed on two cruises to observe how people use the ship and move in the spaces because Tihany considers himself 'a hospitality person first and a designer second.' Comfort is vital to hospitality.
Since Seabourn travelers are older, he decided to soften the angularity and reduce sharp corners. He moved away from the Nordic aesthetic of light woods and fabrics to use deep accent colors like browns and blues. He replaced some metallic details with wood veneers, shifted from edgy to soft and, in general, made square shapes round.
'My first design consideration is that I wanted everything to be sinuous and sexy and curvy,' Tihany told reporters visiting the ship. 'Second, I wanted it to look like a luxury yacht—a little more Italy, versus Oslo.'
So the changes are subtle but impactful. Take Seabourn Square, for example. On the original Odyssey-class trio, the center of this lounge/library/coffee bar houses the concierge in an area that's enclosed by a square. On Encore, there's no enclosure, and this simple change dramatically opens the space.
The actual bar of the Observation Bar is now round, instead of square, and it's topped by a skylight, bringing height and light to this high-up perch.
When passengers arrive at The Colonnade, the ship's casual dining spot, they're immediately drawn in by a colorful, market-like display of foods presented on round and oval stations, while the seating areas are beyond. On the original ships, the seating is close to the entrance and the buffet is beyond.
The Restaurant, Rick Meadows' favorite space, has arching columns that give the feeling of looking up through the boughs of a forest, and starburst chandeliers with balls of cobalt and aqua glass.
Tihany's fondest of a new space, The Retreat, nestled high on Deck 12, in what's a seldom-used AstroTurf sports area on the earlier ships. It's ringed by 15 cabanas (that go for $349 on sea days and $249 in port) and partially shaded by canvas sails.
Other new spaces on Seabourn Encore include The Grill by Thomas Keller and a Sushi Bar, both on Deck 8.
'I loved the Encore,' said Marni Becker, director of cruise sales, Protravel International in New York City, one of Seabourn's top retail partners. 'I especially like how Seabourn Square is no longer square but open and inviting. The restaurant is no longer stark but brought to life with blue elements reflecting the water on which it sails,' she added.
Australian passengers Gerda and Dennis Maister, who traveled 16 days aboard Seabourn Sojourn to Singapore then switched over to Seabourn Encore for its 10-day inaugural cruise, were also enthusiastic.
Gerda Maister extolled 'the space, the lightness, the freshness' of Encore, adding: 'The size is still good. It's not overwhelming.'