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Spirit of the Wild, Gordon River Cruises
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Case Study /read

Spirit of the Wild, Tasmania

Unique silent custom fridges for a uniquely silent tourism experience…

When it comes to fitting out the Southern Hemisphere’s first hybrid cruise vessel the typical space considerations of nautical design aren’t the only things that could leave you all at sea.

 

This is because Spirit of the Wild has been designed and specified to run as silently as possible.

 

The vessel is the new flagship for touring the UNESCO Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area for Gordon River Cruises, which is owned and operated by the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT).

It is a duty that requires great forethought for the customer experience, as visitors come from all over the world to take in the Gordon River in all its pristine, untouched glory.

 

“In designing the Spirit of the Wild we wanted to create an experience for visitors to the Gordon River like they have never had before,” RACT Group Chief Executive Harvey Lennon says.

 

“When we enter the river, we will turn the large diesel engines off, and be propelled by the electric motors on-board, creating the quietest cruising experience possible. To that end, it was important that the refrigeration systems on-board were also as quiet as possible.”

"In this kind of serenity it’s not much good if you’re in a silent space and you have fridges whirring away in the background."

-David Quon, David Quon & Associates

Delivering this experience was the challenge facing hospitality consultants David Quon & Associates, which was chosen by RACT to design the food concept and fit-out the Spirit of the Wild with a custom kitchen and café.

 

As part of David Quon’s concept, passengers are treated to a menu featuring the best of local Tasmanian wine and produce - including salmon and ocean trout – as they silently cruise along.

 

 “In this kind of serenity it’s not much good if you’re in a silent space and you have fridges whirring away in the background,” he says.

To solve this problem, David turned to the Custom Refrigeration Team at SKOPE, one of the world’s leading experts in designing and building unique commercial fridges, and knowledgeable local distributors Medhurst Equipment.

 

SKOPE Product Support Engineer Richard Goldsbury and the rest of the Customs Team worked closely with David on the brief to deliver three custom fridges, one of which was a roll-in chiller which was pivotal to delivering refrigeration in complete silence.

 

“The roll-in chiller was an interesting challenge,” Richard says.

 

“Many iterations of the layout were required until we had a plan which would allow the chiller, and its half height trolleys, to be used in the compact galley space. The food is prepared in a kitchen on land, loaded onto trolleys and rolled onto the boat, and into the chiller.

 

“To keep the cabin area quiet, remote cabinets were chosen with the condensing sets located in the hull. Both the Backbar fridge and the roll-in chiller were on tight space restrictions, so we gave them internal evaporators rather than SKOPE external cassette remote evaporators.”

Sound wasn’t the only challenge facing David and Richard, however. Being a boat, the location presented some extreme spatial challenges as well.

 

“Richard and the team were fantastic. The whole can-do attitude that came from that team was amazing because I kept throwing things at them,” David says.

 

“For example, one of the three custom fridges was a Backbar that had to be smaller. We needed it to be three doors but we couldn’t have anything taking up space on the outside. That meant the blower had to go inside, which in itself had to be a different style of blower to fit the space.

 

“Richard just kept saying ‘We’ll figure out a way and come back to you.’ And they did. It all came back and it was done.

 

“With the big three-door roll-in unit, we also needed front access rather than top access. I wanted to be able to put shelves in it if, further down the track, the client decided they didn’t want a trolley going into one of the bays. But that wasn’t a problem at all.

 

“All of it can be shelved or none of it can be shelved – which is great because it’s on those kinds of little things I need to give the client options for the future. And obviously, on all of this, the Customs Team needed to know where I wanted the pipes and all that technical sort of stuff, so the patience they showed in getting every detail just right was brilliant.”

David Quon & Associates boasts more than 30 years designing food concepts and infrastructure for remote sites as diverse as luxury wilderness lodges, oil rigs and specialist ships like Spirit of the Wild.

 

But if there’s one thing David always keeps in mind when it comes to fitting out an oceangoing venue is the incontrovertible reality that you only get one shot at getting it right.

 

“The truth is that once the equipment is on the vessel it ain’t coming out! It’s got to work for a very, very long time. So obviously I only go for the best when I’m specifying equipment into ships.”

 

Spirit of the Wild custom units:

  • 1 x custom three-door roll-in chiller
  • 1 x custom Backbar three-door glass swing door fridge
  • 1 x custom internal remote bar fridge

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