Teijo Niemelä, one of the cruise industry's foremost chroniclers of shipbuilding (and editor of Cruise Business Review, which covers the industry from a business perspective) not only hails from Finland, but has also spent enough time over the years at Aker Yards' shipyard in Turku, home of Oasis, to consider it his official hometown.
What do you want to know about the process of building a ship? Niemelä can talk to any of Royal Caribbean's relatively recent new-builds -- all of which were built in Finland. He can tell you what the pre-construction design phase is like, especially the challenges, technical and otherwise, that ship designers must address (for instance, why designing a ship is so very different from creating a hotel). He can tell you what kind of training people who build the ships must have, what can go wrong and what complications can halt a project. And he'll be happy to discuss new-build successes ... and disasters.
By way of background, this occasional Cruise Critic contributor has covered the industry long enough -- 20-plus years -- to talk about how shipbuilding has evolved and become more innovative, why Royal Caribbean's Harri Kulovaara is a design genius, and what kinds of even wackier concepts you can expect in the future (you'll definitely want to ask him how much bigger ships really can get).
So: Got a question about the engine room? The steel beams? The paint on the hull? How designers eke out a new alternative restaurant with limited space (hint: kitchen is not always included)? Why all cabins these days are the same in size and design?
Post your questions below; Niemelä will answer as many as possible from 7 until 7:30 p.m. EDT on August 26 -- but feel free to post questions beforehand. Our Q&A will be available to read all through the week.
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