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The art of cruising: Multi-million art collections enliven the high seas

Art lovers don`t have to go to New York`s newly refurbished Metropolitan Museum of Art or Paris` storied Louvre to enjoy some of the world`s finest art…

Art lovers don`t have to go to New York`s newly refurbished Metropolitan Museum of Art or Paris` storied Louvre to enjoy some of the world`s finest art. Rather, a quick tour aboard any one of the today`s cruise ships illustrates that the art world is alive and well on the High Seas.

In addition to exotic ports, onboard entertainment and enrichment lectures, cruise lines offer vacationers an impressive variety of artwork in all its myriad forms. The ships of the 19 lines comprising the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) are resplendent with extensive and eclectic art collections – with some valued as much as $100 million.

From Pop Art and fanciful architecture to Murano glass sculptures and original paintings by Masters such as Renoir and van Gogh, many CLIA ships serve as virtual floating art galleries, offering cruisers a taste of some of the best art in the world, said Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of CLIA – the cruise industry`s chief marketing organization and North America`s largest travel industry association based on agency membership.

CLIA cruise lines with Italian heritage, such as Costa Cruise Lines, MSC Cruises and Silversea Cruises, boast murals and sculptures by Italian artisans, providing passengers with a distinct ambiance reflective of the country. Norway`s proud seafaring history is showcased on board the ships of Seabourn and Norwegian Coastal Voyages. And in the case of Holland America Line and Cunard Line, guests will catch a glimpse into venerable liners from the heyday of transatlantic travel.

Following are snapshots of what travelers can expect to see from the art world on CLIA-member lines.

Carnival Cruise Lines

The line commissions artists to reflect distinct onboard themes. Carnival Liberty, set to launch this summer, will feature the work commissioned to enhance the theme of great artisans and their work. The collection includes pieces by Israeli artist Calman Shemi, who created a series of large, colorful murals that feature depictions of ironworkers, glass blowers, jewelry makers, and sculptors practicing their crafts. Carnival Glory artwork offers interpretations of the onboard color theme. Carnival Valor art complements a hero theme while Carnival Conquest interiors pay homage to Impressionist and post-Impressionist painters.

Celebrity Cruises

The line continues its tradition of presenting permanent seagoing collections aboard its fleet. Its notable collection is curated by the prestigious Marlborough Gallery in New York and gallerists Tom Cugliani and Tara K. Reddi. Having for 10 years been a gallerist to young emerging artists in New York City, Cugliani brings to the Celebrity fleet a keen understanding of current trends within the contemporary art world. For her part, Reddi`s broad experience in the art world includes a career at Sotheby`s in New York and London for more than 13 years.

Costa Cruises

Art, in all its forms, has always played a major role on Costa ships. In addition to representing an important part of the history of Italian passenger navigation, the Costa fleet has been a showcase for Italy`s most modern art and architecture schools for more than 50 years. In fact, the line has always focused on the architectural, decorative and design aspects of its ships, taking full advantage of the talent and innovative spirit of prestigious architects and famous artists, including Campigli, Cerri, Luzzati, Pomodoro, Tadini, and Zoncada.

Cunard Line

The art collection on board Queen Mary 2 is valued at approximately $5 million with 128 artists from 16 different countries. In all, the ship features 565 original, commissioned works of art, 1909 works of graphic art and 3,500 limited edition prints in staterooms. A formidable element of the ship`s art collection is a 1,200-square-foot, bronze sculptural relief in the lobby, a trompe l`oeuil delicately painted on the ceiling of the Winter Garden lounge as well as a 300-square-foot tapestry that serves as the focal point in the three-story Britannia Restaurant.

Holland America Line

HAL ships are appointed in millions of dollars worth of antiques and old master artworks. In the case of Amsterdam, a $2 million collection of art and artifacts boasts such special pieces as an Astrolabe in its three-deck central atrium, which features a carillon in its base and four different faces: an astrolabe, world clock, planetary clock and astrological clock; the gold-plated Four Seasons sculptures originally created for Nieuw Amsterdam of 1938; and life-size bronzes of two brown bears fishing, created by British sculptor Susanna Holt, at the Lido pool.

MSC Cruises

The line`s MSC Opera and MSC Lirica both feature works of art by world-renowned Italian artist Raimondo Briata. A painter for 20 years, he has exhibited both in the U.S. and in Italy. His works are influenced by his experiences of living and studying in Africa, Europe and the U.S. Briata uses handmade papers from all over the world, which he places into his work through a lengthy layering process. Glazes and aging techniques are employed in an effort to depict the passage of time and the accumulation of experiences.

Norwegian Coastal Voyages (NCV)

The art on board NCV ships reflect Norway`s seagoing tradition, and its ships are veritable floating galleries that showcase Norwegian paintings, sculptures, and textiles. interior of the MS Finnmarken is decorated in Art Nouveau style, while the MS Midnatlsol and the MS Trollfjord are modern in design with extensive use of Norwegian wood, stone, and large expanses of glass. The line serves as a combination of first-class cruise ship, working ship carrying local passengers and cargo between ports, a lifeline to remote coastal towns and villages, and a major tourist attraction.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Aboard Norwegian Dawn, a single restaurant features four original works valued whose value is, for all intents and purposes, priceless. NCL is displaying a collection of original oil paintings by such 20th Century masters Renoir, Matisse, van Gogh and Monet in its signature Le Bistro restaurant. Elsewhere on the ship guests will enjoy a collection of original Pop Art, featuring original signed works by Andy Warhol. The artwork onboard Norwegian Dawn is on loan from the collection of Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman of Star Cruises, NCL`s parent.

Royal Caribbean International (RCCL)

Ships feature art collections ranging from $5 million to $10 million in value. Overall, RCCL`s 19 ships feature more than $100 million in artwork. In the case of Voyager-class collections, 6,000 pieces by internationally renowned artists are on display. Notable pieces include a 12-foot-high cedar totem pole carved for the ship by famous Native American artist Nathan Jackson aboard Radiance of the Seas, and a soaring sculpture in Mariner of the Seas` Centrum by American artist Larry Kirkland called Planispheres, depicting 19th-century star maps popular in the Victorian age.

Silversea Cruises

Silversea Cruises is placing an artistic emphasis on its Italian heritage and has added a new level of decor with the introduction of Italian Factory artwork aboard its four ultra-luxury ships. The first installation, aboard Silver Wind, features the works of such celebrated contemporary Italian artists as Marco Petrus, Federico Lombardo, Paolo Fiorentino and Alfredo Rapetti. The line is also adding pieces by acclaimed Italian realist sculptor Francesco Messina, whose bust of Giacomo Puccini graces La Scala Opera House. His work can also be found at Saint Peter`s Basilica.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Suites, stairways and companionways aboard The Yachts of Seabourn are brightened by fanciful, light-hearted original artworks by a number of Norwegian artists. The prints and paintings vary in subject matter from Norse legends and myths to land- and seascapes, but all reflect the Norwegian affection for their homeland and their heritage. The lobbies and spa entryways of all three ultra-luxury ships – Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend – also boast 360-degree, hand-painted murals, added by a team of artists in 2002.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.