Cruise lines focus on the arts

It’s often a little-noticed detail on board today’s cruise liners: the artwork that adorns everything from stateroom walls to stairways. While passengers do everything from climb a rock wall to just enjoy a day at sea with a good book, all around them is art that has been carefully selected to create a theme or set the mood of a ship.

New Allure of the Seas stirs up quite the buzz on everything from the ship’s sheer size to the tiny details that go into much of what they do. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, a classic ocean liner with an elegant air, boasts the work of top-shelf artists from around the world. Carnival Cruise Line pays diligent attention to a theme for each ship that separates one from another in their fleet.

What was once simply a way to make a ship look less like a ship and more like a hotel has become a central focus of cruise lines that invest heavily in the arts.

Royal Caribbean’s new Allure of the Seas is one of those ships that has a central theme carried throughout. On Allure its all about “Wonders of our World Cultures” with artwork depicting scenes from all over the planet.

The artwork onboard Allure of the Seas, over 9800 pieces in all, has been created by artists from over twenty different countries such as Norway, Korea, Germany, South Africa, the Netherlands, Iceland, Spain, Colombia, Thailand and the United States. The diversity in artist nationalities in itself adds to the colorful and sophisticated aspect of the curatorial vision of Wonder of our World Cultures.

With pop-artist icon Peter Max along for the ride on inaugural sailings and an on-board Britto store with works from Romero Britto, Royal Caribbean is serious about what they do with art at sea. Sister line Celebrity Cruises has a similar focus on the arts, announcing recently some new additions to onboard programming on new additions to their Solstice-class ships. On those new-builds, the line will offer hands-on instruction from experts in drawing, painting and beading, as well as the art of food with culinary-themed classes.%Gallery-109473%

Cruise art seller, Park West, accused of fraud

It looks like Royal Caribbean just dodged a bullet. The cruise line announced last month that it wasn’t going to renew its contract with art auction provider Park West – and the timing couldn’t be better. Passengers who have purchased pieces from Park West are coming out of the woodwork with accusations that Park West was peddling “fake, forged and overpriced work and using phony appraisals and certificates of authenticity,” according to USA Today.

One passenger, Marti Szosta, picked up 21 pieces from Park West while on Royal Caribbean cruises from 2005 to 2007 – some of the art market‘s hottest years – and dropped $48,000 in the process. “I was sick, I could hardly breathe” she was quoted as saying when she learned of the value of her art investment.

Says USA Today:

Szostak tells the news outlet she worked three jobs to pay for the art and then decided to sell, only to be told by art dealers that the art was largely worthless. She says experts told her signatures on limited-edition prints by Dalí she had bought at the auctions were forged.

Several buyers are now suing Park West, which faces charges of racketeering, fraud and violating consumer protection laws. Albert Scaglione, Park West’s founder, denies the allegations and says, “We have never done anything wrong.”