Poles apart: life-changing experiences with Aurora Expeditions

By Helen Hayes 24 November 2022
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Founded on a pioneering spirit, Aurora Expeditions is continuing to go beyond, sharing passion for our planet. In 2024, the new Arctic & Global program will offer new itineraries that will open up even more life-changing experiences for intrepid travellers.

For three decades, Aurora Expeditions has been sailing the oceans of the world, with the pioneering spirit of its founder, Greg Mortimer, and that of the early Australian explorers, embedded into the DNA of the company. In 1991, when the company was founded, Greg named it in honour of Sir Douglas Mawson’s ship, truly setting the tone for this award-winning Australian company.

Fast forward to 2022 and Sir Douglas would be astonished at the sleek, high-tech ships that carry today’s pioneering passengers. Aurora Expeditions was the first company in the world to launch a passenger vessel featuring the Ulstein X-Bow®, the game changing Greg Mortimer, which was launched in 2019 and purpose-built for expeditions to the far corners of the planet. And now, Aurora Expeditions has its brand-new sister ship, the Sylvia Earle, about to set off on her groundbreaking first voyage to Antarctica in December. Both ships carry an average of 132 expeditioners in 79 cabins on the Greg Mortimer and 70 cabins on the Sylvia Earle, and many design elements for education and enrichment to make the most of the places these ships will take you.  

From the beginning, Aurora was different. The aim was to take small groups of travellers to some of the planets most wild, remote and beautiful places, and most importantly, sending these travellers home with a passion to help preserve and protect these destinations, and others like them. With less passengers on these  purpose-built ships, there is greater flexibility when changes need to be made, due to tides or weather conditions, it is more intimate, and with fewer people to move around, multiple landings per day are possible.

Go polar

Aurora Expeditions new, hot-off-the-press program is an expanded schedule with new, enhanced, and reintroduced itineraries featuring multi-destination voyages in some of the world’s most remarkable and remote places. While the company has been known for its Arctic and Antarctic journeys for more than three decades, the ships will continue to travel to the polar regions, while also venturing into warmer waters.

Choose an expedition across the Arctic Circle to Svalbard, Spitsbergen, and the Northern Lights, opt for an immersive adventure in Antarctica, or journey into the fabled Northwest Passage.

A unique Founder’s Voyage in 2023, led by acclaimed Australian explorer Greg Mortimer (OAM), will take guests on a 15-day expedition from Scotland to Norway, visiting the wild Orkney and Shetland Islands, cruising along the Norwegian coast, and exploring the frozen wildernesses of Bear Island and Svalbard, before arriving in Longyearbyen.

Illulissat Ice Fjord, Greenland. Image credit: Tina Rolf

Go beyond the poles

If you have ventured to the polar regions before, explore new destinations with Aurora Expeditions 2024 itineraries including a 15-day Patagonia and Chilean Fjords expedition; 11-day Circumnavigation of Iceland; 15-day sailing in Costa Rica and the Panama Canal; 12-day Wild Scotland Adventure, and a 17-day Greenland Odyssey.

The Patagonia and Chilean Fjords expedition will take you through the majestic mountainous and glacial landscapes along the Beagle Channel. In Francisco Coloane Marine Park you can spot whales, and you will spend a night in the luminous Torre del Paine National Park and discover its sheer beauty on a number of hikes. Be mesmerised as you journey through the Chilean Fjords, and in Chiloé, marvel at the UNESCO heritage listed unique timber churches.

The 11-day Iceland Circumnavigation allows you to see many of this intriguing country’s most interesting and beautiful places. Visit Vatnajökull National Park, home to Europe’s largest glacier, along with iceberg-dotted glacial lakes, black sand beaches and reindeer. Admire tranquil Mjóifjördur, a beautiful fjord loved by locals, and see the Látrabjarg bird cliffs, the largest seabird cliffs in Europe.

The 15-day Costa Rica and Panama Canal is rich in experiences, including traversing the mighty Panama Canal – a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Explore some of Costa Rica’s incredibly biodiverse regions, including tropical rainforests abuzz with wildlife, colourful birds, and vibrant flora. In Panama, meet the indigenous people of the Emberá Mogue community, and learn the remarkable history of the Panama Canal on a guaranteed daylight crossing from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea. In Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, discover the vibrant Afro-Caribbean culture and fall in love with the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city centre. 

The Wild Scotland itinerary will take you from the wild and windswept Hebrides, with its 8,000 years of habitation, to the historic Orkney Islands, where you can walk in the footsteps of ancient civilisations at Neolithic and Viking sites. Visit the highest sea cliffs in Britain at the World Heritage-listed St Kilda and be touched by the beauty and spiritual feel of the world-famous Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa. In the Shetland Islands, take in the rugged landscape of its charming and quirky islands, including the amazing bird life on the wild coastal cliffs on the island of Noss, and you’ll see Muckle Flugga, Britain’s most northerly point – only 274 kilometres from Norway.

The 17-day Greenland Odyssey will fill your camera’s memory card and imprint spectacular sites in your memory. Just a few highlights include a visit to Skaergaard Intrusion at Kangerlussuaq Fjord on Greenland’s remote east coast, known for their unusual layering that occurred 55 million years ago. Cruise along Prince Christian Sound, with soaring mountains and calving glaciers, and be awestruck by the jaw-dropping beauty of Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World-Heritage Site.

The new ship – Sylvia Earle

This purpose-built new vessel is named after acclaimed marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer, and conservationist Dr Sylvia Earle, the first woman to become chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is the perfect base camp for adventure, a wonderful, warm, and welcoming place to return to after a mind-blowing experience ashore. The ship is certified 100 per cent climate neutral and has a fully equipped Citizen Science Centre on board, along with, expert lectures and Citizen Science programs for passengers to enrich their knowledge and connection to the places the ship visits.

Each public deck is named after a pioneering female conservationists – Dr Carden Wallace AM, Joanna Ruxton, Sharon Kwok, Bernadette Demientieff, Dr Asha de Vos and Hanli Prinsloo – all inspiring leaders in their fields, making a difference to our planet.

The Sylvia Earle features a heated open-air swimming pool and Jacuzzis, a gym, sauna and wellness centre, a state-of-the-art lecture centre, a library, mudroom, and to watch the world go by, the Glass Atrium Lounge in the revolutionary X-Bow is a stunning space to immerse in the majestic landscapes, or to watch the ocean.

Sir Douglas Mawson would most certainly approve.

For more information contact your preferred travel advisor or Aurora Expeditions: 1800 637 688, email [email protected] or visit auroraexpeditions.com.au