March 14, 2012
The Australian-owned, one-ship cruise line doubled the size of its fleet in 2011 with the addition of a second vessel, which was chartered from a private owner, refurbished and named Orion II. The idea was the new ship would broaden the range of expedition cruises the company could offer, focusing mainly on southeast Asia. However, the ship encountered difficulties including technical problems, not the least of which was engine trouble, and an episode in September when the 20-year-old vessel ran aground in Borneo.
Sarina Bratton, founder and managing director of Orion, commented in a press statement: "We have not been satisfied with some performance aspects such as the fuel efficiency of the vessel and therefore have decided to return the ship at the completion of the first charter term." The company will hand the ship back to its owner in November, and Orion will not operate a ship in southeast Asia in 2013.
Bratton said that the company would look for an alternative vessel and that she hoped to make an announcement "soon". Until November, Orion II's voyages in Asia will continue to operate as scheduled. Cruise Critic has contacted Orion and we are waiting for confirmation from the company as to what will happen to guests who had booked on the vessel beyond November.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor