Holland America’s ms Oosterdam, the second in five planned Vista Class ships, joined her sister ship ms Zuiderdam on the high seas with a maiden voyage on July 10. Her first outing was a Viking and Czars themed cruise highlighting major ports from London to Oslo. After making her first transatlantic crossing from Lisbon to Fort Lauderdale in November, Oosterdam will begin sailing to Caribbean and Panama Canal destinations.

With capacity for just 1,848 passengers, Oosterdam has the highest passenger-space ratio of all Holland America ships and has a greater sense of intimacy than found on most large ships, but the same elegance Holland America is known for. A unique feature of the ship is the exterior glass elevators with sea views that carry the passengers to any of the 11 passenger decks.

Nautilus Entertainment Design (NED) designed the systems in the entertainment facilities, which include a multi-level main show theatre and a cabaret-style show lounge. The show lounge, dubbed the Vista Lounge, has two seating areas, with space for 504 on the main floor and 234 in the balcony area. The lounge encompasses 16,000 square feet, using three decks, plus a four-deck fly tower for scenery.

The Vista Lounge services three different productions, one of which was produced by Broadway legend Tommy Tune. Tune’s team included lighting designer Natasha Katz and scenic designer John Arnone, who worked with HAL Director of Entertainment Bill Prince to mount the spectacular. To facilitate the high-caliber on-board entertainment, Nautilus Entertainment Design (NED) designed fully computer controlled systems for audio, effects, lighting, and rigging to provide the flexibility and accuracy needed for the fast turn-around productions.

NED worked with production team early in the process to explain the concepts behind the on-board systems design. There are many restrictions found in maritime productions not encountered in most land-based entertainment, which can be a surprise to designers used to purpose-built systems. Most of the facilities are multi-purpose, with little time between the end of one activity and the beginning of the next. The systems must be highly extensible and extremely repeatable to meet all of the varied requirements for the production space.

“In dealing with most sea-going theatre,” comments NED project manager Denis McCubbin, “it is important for the production staff to realize that the space has to meet the needs of various types of events. In the course of a day at sea, six or seven different events may occur in the theatre space, in addition to the production shows. The technical systems are designed with all of these operational needs in mind.”

This year, the NED team has already commissioned the entertainment systems they designed for Carnival’s Glory, Costa’s Mediterranea and ms Oosterdam. Before the year is up, two other NED projects--the Costa Fortuna and Cunard’s much anticipated Queen Mary 2--will hit the high seas.