The cruise industry continues to grow. The ships are increasing in size and are quickly booked up after being launched. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) estimates that some 30 million passengers will go on a cruise in 2019. For the Hamburg-based system integrator Amptown System Company, this development means an increase in maritime business – one of the key business areas of the specialist in the field of installing professional, customer-specific media technology.
Amptown System Company is always investing in the expertise and specialization of its highly committed team and showcases first-class media technology and virtual system solutions at its new, high-tech showroom at its Hamburg headquarters. Its technology and solutions are developed with the specific needs of its discerning target group in mind. The work of the ASC engineers is interdisciplinary as the innovative trends in technical media presentation on cruise ships are influencing the media technology specialist’s avant-garde solutions in its land-based business in the medium term. Malte Polli-Holstein, ASC Key Account Manager for maritime projects, and his team have just finished integrating media technology into the entertainment surfaces on the AIDAnova, the first cruise ship in AIDA Cruises’ new Helios class.
The ship was put into service in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in December 2018, has more than 2,600 cabins, and is the first cruise ship to be run entirely on liquefied natural gas in keeping with the concept of green cruising. “In the highly competitive cruise market, it’s important for a shipping company to set itself apart from its competitors. A great deal has been done with the entertainment offerings and the restaurants on the AIDAnova to wow the guests even more,” explained Malte.
“We and the shipping company literally started with a blank sheet of paper and began to develop tailored and innovative technical concepts. These were then fine-tuned in the engineering process together with the shipping company’s designers and planners and the Meyer Werft shipyard, and were realized together with renowned manufacturers using state-of-the-art technology. We were able to take the experience we gained with previous new buildings, for example in the areas of videos and projection or in the transmission of all multimedia signals in a fiber-optic network, and apply it to the AIDAnova spectacularly and in new forms.”
“The guests can therefore look forward to sensational shows performed on a 360-degree stage in the Theatrium,” Malte revealed. “The technical highlights include eleven Absen LED walls, seven different laser shows, and an LED tube featuring an ‘artists’ elevator’.
”The new, impressive show program was specifically tailored by AIDA Cruises to the AIDAnova’s clever technical features. We work hand in hand here in order to faithfully realize the creative team’s visions. Exciting system solutions also support the entertainment program in the Time Machine Restaurant, where guest can expect a world full of wonders and a spectacular three-course meal. The onboard sound system has been taken to a new level with high-quality components and custom solutions from d&b audiotechnik. The new building program includes another two AIDA cruise ships in the Helios class on which we will have the honour of installing the complex entertainment technology. The next cruise ship is planned for 2021, with the third vessel scheduled for delivery in 2023.”
The time between these ships isn’t time for the ASC system specialists to rest on their laurels, however. “The majority of our engineers are currently at the Meyer Werft shipyard installing AV technology on the Spectrum of the Seas, the first ship in the Royal Caribbean International shipping company’s Quantum Ultra class,” added Malte.
“It can accommodate 4,200 passengers and improves on the already impressive entertainment portfolio of its predecessors. Meyer Werft has scheduled its delivery to the shipping company for April 2019 so we are now entering the critical stage. It’s worth remembering the highlights of the sister ships like the Two70, the multifunctional room at the stern of the ship featuring breathtaking projections and moving screens on highly maneuverable robotic arms. In particular, the ASC Entertainment Network on the Spectrum of the Seas comprising an audio, video, and control network is a superlative fiber-optic network in terms of complexity, considering its dimensions.
“It runs independently of the rest of the ship’s network infrastructure and, with its extensive Q-SYS network developed by QSC, provides for efficient signal transmission and control as well as monitoring all of the media technology components onboard. Making use of fiber-optic technology is very interesting to cruise shipping companies in particular because it eliminates kilometers of cables and therefore also cable laying and weight – an aspect with a lot of positive effects in shipbuilding.”
Malte continued: “After this installation, we will prepare the technical follow-up project on the Odyssey of the Seas.”
Royal Caribbean International’s Spectrum of the Seas in the building dock at the Meyer Werft shipyard Meyer Werft To be able to handle these orders quickly, ASC has an ASC Papenburg branch in the direct vicinity of Meyer Werft. A team of specialists works at the Papenburg office as an interface, coordinating the logistics of the media technology products and the timely availability of the technical components currently needed for each ship. “We want to be close to the customer, so it was a logical step for us to expand our internal and external infrastructures in a way that offered us the advantage of short distances. This enables us to respond quickly and efficiently to the shipping company’s and the shipyard’s specific wishes and to modifications or approval processes,” explained Malte.
ASC doesn’t only work for Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Lower Saxony. Preparations for the integration of professional entertainment technology are also in full swing on the Costa Smeralda in Finland. “We are delighted to have been entrusted with this work and we also secured the media technology contracts for the onboard entertainment on the Costa Crociere shipping company’s first two new flagships,” reported Malte.
“The first cruise ship, the Costa Smeralda, is currently being built at the Meyer shipyard in Turku. It will set sail in October 2019 and it complies with the sustainability concept propagated by the shipping company and the shipyard as it is run on liquefied natural gas.”
“Here, too, we obviously wanted to establish professional proximity to the shipyard and to the ship,” emphasized Malte. “We, therefore, founded Amptown System Company Finland Oy in January and are currently establishing our office and logistics center in Turku in order to be able to handle the logistical and technical processes reliably, flexibly, and to the usual high ASC standards for the Costa ships, too.”
Last, but not least, in addition to refits (the technical modernization of existing cruise ships) and follow-up installation contracts, ASC has entered into new partnerships in the trend market of expedition cruise ships. “This is about a new generation of adventure trips,” explained Malte.
“Individualists in search of a blend of adventure and comfort can comprehensively explore new vacation destinations which are off the beaten track and can put intensive nature experiences, wildlife observation, or instruction from experts onboard on their ultimate travel wish list. These cruise ships are designed with fewer passengers in mind. We are installing first-class AV technology on these ships in the interests of connected education and entertainment, or edutainment for short. This is about discoveries and information that the guests onboard can access in the form of images and videos, and then share on social media using their smartphones or tablets. The first ship is scheduled for completion in 2022.”