Ensto, one of Finland's biggest lighting companies, has been supplying to cruise ships since the 1970s; in the past ten years, it has been investing heavily, with the ambition of becoming the number-one partner for the industry. Jukka Tiitu, the company's head of lighting, discusses Ensto's strategy in ship lighting - and why it's such a critical part of a cruise ship.
Good lighting is crucial to the way a passenger experiences the interior design of a cruise ship, from their cabins to dining and entertainment facilities. Putting together a plan for how it can work isn't simple - there are many considerations to be taken into account.
"Even the greatest interior design can be destroyed by a lack of concentration on lighting design and poor realisation of the lighting project," says Jukka Tiitu, Ensto's head of lighting. "It's an integral part of the interior design of a ship."
For decades, Ensto has been helping cruise operators make the most of interiors, with solutions and support covering everything from conceptual lighting design to commissioning over all areas of a modern ship, whether general house lighting or more decorative lighting. It's a competitive field, but Tiitu believes it is Ensto's close relationships with clients - and a commitment to technical expertise - that really sets it apart.
"With close cooperation and by listening to the different stakeholders in a project, we try to innovate to give clients high-quality technical performance and meet their economic targets," Tiitu says. "By being involved from the start to the finish line we have experienced that this is actually possible. We don't just deliver and forget; we follow and support the project until the vessel sails away."
Flexibility is essential to being the kind of partner that cruise operators are looking for in lighting. No two solutions are the same, and companies like Ensto need the ability to shape designs for all kinds of circumstances.
"Due to our experience and presence in the land installation market, we can also provide the standardised volume production in lighting," says Tiitu. "But we've learned that with cruises, that is not enough: with standardised products, you will get a standard solution, and that will not satisfy our customers.
"We need to be ready to innovate in projects and develop customer-specific solutions. We combine that with the demands of the interior design and the specific requirements of the installation."
Combined with the need to be conscious about the overall energy efficiency and cost of lighting solutions, all this isn't too different from the kinds of projects Ensto works on on land. There are a few critical differences, however.
"One factor that differentiates ship projects from land-based projects is the typical building schedule of a cruise ship," says Tiitu. "Typically, the vessel is built in under a year, which - considering they involve almost $1 billion in investment - is close to a miracle. Cruise ships also require the tight and accurate scheduling of deliveries for various technical systems that are to be installed on board: this is the case for lighting, as well."
This often means delivering lighting solutions consisting of up to 50,000 different single components on a schedule that is planned with shipyards in a typical time slot of between two and six months. "We cannot be late," says Tiitu.
"There are also often changes to delivery schedules - and even to the products themselves - during the actual project," he says. "This requires concentration and dedication, and we are able to provide that by putting specific project teams in place that cover all functions, from sales to logistics."
Ensto's latest references in the cruise-ship market include Royal Princess (Princess Cruises, 2013), Costa Diadema (Costa Crociere, 2014), Regal Princess (Princess Cruises, 2014), Britannia (P&O Cruises, 2015), Koningsdam (Holland America Line, 2016), Carnival Vista (Carnival Cruise Line, 2016) and Explorer (Regent Seven Seas Cruises, 2016). With a proven and varied track record of well-realised lighting projects, as well as some high-profile installations under its belt, Ensto has shown repeatedly that its position as a leading partner for the cruise industry is well deserved.