Maritime & Marine

Published: January 14, 2022 | Updated: January 15, 2022

Shipshape success as marine interiors company celebrates its best year since launching in 2013

The team at Atlantic Marine Interiors (left to right) Sam Wheeler, Chris Head, Guri Blindheim, Paul Tedoré and Charles Clayton. Picture: Paul Collins/PC Visuals.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A company specialising in the complete interior refurbishment and upgrade of cruise ships is celebrating the most successful year since its launch in 2013.

Atlantic Marine Interiors says it enjoyed record turnover in an intensive eight-month period after co-ordinating, and executing, large-scale refit and maintenance projects on some of the world’s most famous vessels.

They included Cunard’s flagship liner, Queen Mary 2, and another member of the fleet, Queen Elizabeth, as well P&O Cruises’ Arcadia, Azura, Britannia, Iona and Ventura.

Chris Head, who started and developed the Christchurch-based business for Atlantic Contract Interiors, said: “Probably the ghostliest sight for us was all of those cruise ships at anchor off the coast of Dorset during the pandemic.

“But when the green light came for them to start operating again in May, planning started for their return to service, and our workload went off the scale.”

Atlantic Marine was also awarded the contract to modernise the historic RMS St Helena to transport the ground-breaking Extreme E electric motorsport teams and their cars across the globe.

The ship, pictured left, has been a familiar sight in Poole Harbour in recent weeks for the Season 1 finale – ‘the Jurassic X Prix’ – at Bovington last month.

The work by Atlantic Marine involved the bridge, VIP and owners’ suites, VIP lounge and bar, science laboratory, restaurant, galley and even fitting out suites used by Lewis Hamilton and Jensen Button, owners of two of the teams taking part in Extreme E.

The fitting took place in the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead on Merseyside during the height of the pandemic when Liverpool was under some of the tightest restrictions in the country.

Paul Tedoré, General Manager, attributed Atlantic Marine’s success down to a huge team effort.

He said: “We may be a small team, but we’ve got well over 100 years of experience between us.

“Our work ethic is intense.

“Where we’re different from most of our competitors is that our dedicated team is involved in the whole process of every project from conception to completion.

“This allows us to be flexible and reactive to sudden changes and builds a great working relationship with our clients.”

The backbone of the team was put to the test when the company had to juggle two massive interior projects aboard two different cruise vessels at once.

Chris Head, pictured above with Paul Tedoré, said: “I was managing Azura while Paul was managing Queen Mary 2.

“Between us, we had over 100 personnel involving at least 13 different trades – electricians, plumbers, metal workers, laggers, joiners, tilers, decorators, French polishers, stone masons, silicone specialists, wood floor, hard floor and carpet fitters –  it was an army of personnel.

“Added to this were all the complications of Covid restrictions which had to be managed so tightly aboard a ship.

“We were working in the perfect storm.

“There was not only all of the many Covid issues to contend with, but also a shortage of materials, supply delays with the fallout from Brexit and the issue of delivery drivers.”

Charles Clayton, Commercial Manager, said: “During this period, the team worked in over 4,500 passenger cabins and laid more than 60,000M2 of carpet, hard flooring, and AstroTurf, which is equivalent to about 15 football pitches plus over 1,000M2 of tiling.

“In addition, the team carried out stone repairs and polishing to over 200 granite and marble vanity tops and synthetic stone servery tops.”

With a background in the marine industry, Chris Head first managed a refit at the age of 24.

He met his wife Guri, a qualified Marine Interior Architect, in 2003 in the less than romantic setting of the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Germany, during the conversion of SeaDream vessels.

Guri, pictured above with Charles Clayton, now heads the interior design side of Atlantic Marine, with the challenging task of optimising spaces, while working with marine-approved and regulated materials.

Chris attributed the company’s long-term success to detail, loyalty and building relationships.

He said: “We couldn’t do these projects without our supply chain partners and sub-contractors.

“We hand-pick the right people to do the job and really try to look after them.

“Some have been working with me, Paul and Charlie for over 30 years.

“These well-established relationships have proved and helped us to maintain our high quality and stability.”

It’s already anchors away for 2022.

Atlantic Marine Interiors has just been awarded a prestigious design and build project with Ambassador Cruise Lines – the UK’s newest cruise company.

It involves fitting out the cruise line’s first ship – Ambience – which is scheduled to set sail in April.

She’s seen being inspected by the Atlantic Marine team in Croatia.

Fresh projects on vessels including Aurora, Arcadia and Queen Mary 2 are also scheduled for what’s set to be another buoyant year for Atlantic Marine Interiors.