British-based Designteam was shooting for something completely different when it created the nightclub aboard Explorer of the Seas. The same space aboard the earlier Voyager of the Seas, designed by Yran & Storbraaten, featured a modern, high-tech motif. “So we looked at the opposite end of the timeline,” said Designteam partner Eric Mouzourides, “back to the 12th and 13th centuries,” to find the gothic medieval theme of Jester’s Nightclub.
After being given the thumbs-up by client Royal Caribbean International (RCI), Designteam’s plans were passed on to builder Kvaerner Masa-Yards. The yard then sourced Finland-based Hermann’s as the subcontractor with responsibility for the space, which in turn subcontracted out various systems and fittings to other suppliers. The total estimated cost was then compared to a reference room, in this case the aforementioned nightclub aboard Voyager of the Seas.
According to Mouzourides, one of the primary materials necessary to create the room’s feel “was a very cost-effective resin-based synthetic material,” supplied by Toronto-based Formglas, simulating walls of stone. (To use real reconstituted stone would have added an estimated 40 tons of deadweight to the ship, he noted.)
Other key elements of the decor: The room has four stained-glass windows, three of which are backlit, with a fourth installed in the wall between the club and the atrium. London-based Goddard & Gibbs created the windows, individually coating and staining all glass by hand, then adding a clear level of reinforcement behind the visible face.
London Contemporary Art provided the portraits adorning the room, each of which were commissioned and painted specifically for use in the space.
The Sound Issue
The nightclub’s space totals 6,890 square feet over two decks with an open central area for the dance floor. This centralized area houses the room’s primary concentration of high-tech sound and lighting gear, whose design was overseen by U.K.-based Wynn-Wilson Gottelier.
“The sound system is suspended in a balcony overlooking the dance floor,” said Mouzourides. “There is a technical ceiling above the dance floor with mid- and high-range speakers, which focus the music directly down into the dance-floor zone. Smaller speakers are located in the columns and the ceiling around the perimeter of the room.” This focused arrangement of sound allows passengers to more easily converse while at Jester’s two bars, while still providing elevated volumes on the dance floor.
The sound presented the greatest challenge of the room’s design. “I think these nightclubs (aboard the Voyager class) are some of the most unusual in the industry,” explained Mouzourides. While the vast majority of discos aboard modem- built ships are installed on the very top decks of the vessel and are surrounded by other public areas, clubs aboard the Voyager-class ships are located deep inside the layout, “in a very sensitive area, with passenger cabins on either side,” he explained.
Consequently, “Royal Caribbean went to extraordinary lengths to ensure there is no transmission of noise or vibration whatsoever to passengers in those cabins,” he said. This has been accomplished through special acoustic engineering of the space, and by essentially “suspending” the room inside the vessel to ensure no vibrational issues. “The floor is suspended 16 inches above the steel deck by rubber buffers and other mechanisms,” explained Mouzourides.
To further ensure that sound is contained, all entrances to the space are through special “sound locks,” whereby passengers pass through a first door, which closes behind them, after which a second door will open into the nightclub. The system used aboard the earlier Voyager of the Seas followed a strict interpretation of this rule, but this sometimes resulted in clogged traffic and lines at the entrance. Therefore, on the Explorer of the Seas, when a large group enters the room, both doors may be open at some point, allowing the occasional sound to escape. “Having said that,” Mouzourides explained, “the primary sound is focused down onto the dance floor” – which minimizes the impact of any errant sound passing through the front doors.
With its concept successfully proven during its first two years in service, Mouzourides has since been told by RCI that Jester’s has grown into the most profitable club in the fleet. Explained Mouzourides, “That’s our greatest reward – knowing that a room ‘works’ in every sense.”