Interior view: Salamanca from Brittany Ferries

The Salamanca art collection includes street art murals by Spanish artist Rubén Sanchéz

Destinations play a key role in the modern navigation experience. This is particularly the case with Brittany Ferries’ Salamanque, which entered service in March 2022.

Named after the city in western Spain, home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Europe’s oldest universities, the ship celebrates centuries of history, art and to know.

The flavors of the city, the region of Castilla y León and Spain can be found in every space on board, from bold works of art to the choice of catering.

Swedish architect Richard Nilsson was awarded the interior design of Salamanca, having created the original layout and design of the E-Flexer for Stena RoRo. German marine interior specialist Rheinhold & Mahla was involved in equipping and building cabins at the China Merchants Jinling shipyard in Weihai, China. In addition, the Greek company Aluminox Marine fitted out the galleys and the bar, and the Spanish marine architecture company Oliver Design installed the artwork and specific fittings and finishes.

“Our ultimate goal is to provide the best onboard experience,” said Catherine Querné, strategy director at Brittany Ferries, who oversaw the entire project. “The beauty of sea travel is that your vacation begins as soon as you set sail. Our priority is to surround the passenger with authenticity, relaxation and well-being. The journey aboard Salamanca will inspire them before their visit to this wonderful destination.

Querné, Nilsson and artistic advisor Kimberly Poppe spent time in the city of Salamanca before beginning the interior design process, allowing everyone to bring their own experience aboard the ship to life.

“Salamanca is so steeped in history that it sometimes feels like another world,” Querné said. “But because of her famous university, she also looks incredibly young and vibrant. The artwork of bridge 10, for example, is inspired by the modern street art that animates the old working-class areas of the city.

Onboard artwork is central to the Brittany Ferries passenger experience and connects its ferries to the location and culture of their namesakes. It’s a tradition that dates back to 1989, when the first bespoke super-ferry on the Brittany line featured commissioned works from Scottish painter Alexander Goudie, inspired by the region from which the ship and company take their name.

In keeping with tradition, Salamanca features colorful murals inspired by street art by Spanish artist Rubén Sanchéz, who has previously worked with Facebook, YouTube and Nike.

“Sanchéz reflects that lively, younger, hipper side of Salamanca, especially with his bold graphic style,” Poppe said. “He is Spanish, originally from Madrid, and much of his iconography is rooted in everyday Spanish life. He is inspired by Picasso and other cubist painters, but he also has this past as a skateboarder and graffiti artist which makes him unique.

Spanish culture is strongly rooted in its cuisine, so the ferry is also home to several lounges, restaurants and bars, including Azul Restaurant, Taberna de Tapas, Commodore C-Club Lounge and Plaza Mayor.

“The ship’s bar is based in the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca, which is one of the most famous squares in Spain,” Poppe said. “I spent a lot of time there hanging out and photographing the comings and goings at different times of the day, which you’ll see in the bar footage. Our hope is that when you sit down and have a drink at the bar, you’ll be transported to that feeling of relaxation in a Spanish square.”

With such a focus on destination, Salamanca is sure to delight its passengers. “We try to awaken all the senses on board, to give passengers a taste of Salamanca: the soft colors of the sandy beaches, the seaside restaurants, a tapas taberna that makes you want to taste Spanish flavors, the photography of the city, comfortable cabins, cultural information and, of course, the warm welcome of our colleagues on board,” said Querné.

This article first appeared in the 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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Betty K. Park