Aurora Expeditions new ship

Updated, 20 November 2017, 2:09 p.m. -- The ship will be named Greg Mortimer after the Australian adventurer and Aurora Expeditions' co-founder.

(11:45 a.m. AEST) -- Australia’s Aurora Expeditions has announced it is building a new style of high-performance vessel for polar cruising. The company, which currently charters Polar Pioneer for its Antarctica and Arctic cruises, expects to deliver the small ship in 2019. It is expected to carry close to 100 passengers.

The 104-metre ice-class 1A ship will be built to the latest polar code specifications, offering high levels of safety and environmental protection. A custom-designed platform will cater for kayakers and divers, as well as a mud room for easier preparation for climbers and skiers. Small inflatable Zodiac crafts will continue to carry expeditioners between ship and shore, with a dedicated sea-level Zodiac loading platform for easy boarding.

“With the development of our purpose-built expedition ship, we stay true to our small-ship philosophy where the focus is on the experience and engagement with the environment while at the same time providing the most comfortable form of travel in these challenging environments. In the polar regions, we will have the ability to reduce passenger numbers so we can continue to visit existing landings sites as well as explore new areas where strict regulations enforce no more than 100 people ashore at any one time.” says Robert Halfpenny, managing director of Aurora Expeditions.

Aurora Expeditions’ yet-to-be-named ship will be the first in a new series of high-performance vessels designed to make the ocean-going experience as safe and comfortable as possible in the polar regions.

“We are excited to be the first to market with this exciting new design,” Halfpenny said. “The vessel is the first to use the patented X-BOW technology which has the ability to pierce waves with much greater stability, making open sea journeys -- like Antarctica’s notorious Drake Passage -- more pleasant for passengers than what is currently available from other small ships on the market today.”  

Because it uses less fuel to get through the waves, the ship saves energy versus a conventional bow designed vessel, the company said. Other features include private bathrooms, cabin balconies, gymnasium, sauna and spa, a 180-degree indoor observation deck and plenty of outdoor viewing areas.

2019/2020 itineraries for the new ship are due for release later this year.

--By Louise Goldsbury, Australia Editor