Cruise & Ferry Interiors 2021

3 8 Breaking new frontiers Tomas Tillberg and Nedgé Louis-Jacques tell Rebecca Gibson about Tomas Tillberg Design’s first projects in China and why they predict fair weather ahead for the nation’s cruise ship building industry G reg Mortimer broke new frontiers when she debuted as part of the Aurora Expeditions fleet in November 2019. Not only was she the first of seven new Infinity-class, purpose-built expedition cruise vessels for SunStone Ships, but she was also the first-ever cruise ship to be built in China. Despite breaking shipbuilding tradition by choosing a Chinese yard, SunStone Ships wanted to ensure that its vessels would offer the same high quality as those delivered by European shipyards. To ensure this, it enlisted the help of veteran cruise ship design firm Tomas Tillberg Design, which has more than 50 years of experience in the business. “China Merchants Industry Holdings (CMIH) has around 7,000 employees, huge dry docks and the capacity to handle about 5,000 tons of steel per day,” says Tomas Tillberg, managing partner of Tomas Tillberg Design. “It’s much bigger than any of the European shipyards that regularly build cruise ships, so SunStone Ships knew it could easily handle the technical and steel requirements of a cruise ship project. However, it had never built a cruise ship before, so it didn’t have any experience of delivering the hotel side. “Our team has designed interiors for some of the world’s biggest cruise brands and we’ve been refurbishing SunStone Ships’ vessels for a long time, so we had the skills and experience for this project. However, we’d never worked with a Chinese yard or designed the interiors of an expedition cruise vessel that was being purpose-built for the polar regions, so it was a new challenge for us too.” Carlos Reyes, one of Tomas Tillberg Design’s managing partners, was instrumental in helping SunStone Ships to identify which Chinese shipyard would be best suited to carry out the project. He also played an important role in bringing together the other parties involved in the project. Once all the main partners were secured for the project, Tomas Tillberg Design’s team began by developing general arrangement (GA) plans for the interiors of the guest accommodation areas and public spaces. “Expedition cruise guests aren’t looking for a huge ship with aqua parks and glamourous entertainment options; they want a ship that sails smoothly and has warm and comfortable lounges, dining venues and cabins to relax in after a long day of outdoor adventures,” says Nedgé Louis-Jacques, partner and vice president of design at Tomas Tillberg Design. COVER STORY