Australia-based polar adventure cruise company Aurora Expeditions has ordered its first purpose-built, ice class 1A expedition ship, which will debut in late 2019.
One of four expedition vessels ordered by US-based company SunStone Ships at China Merchant Industry Holdings earlier this year, the 104-metre newbuild will be built to Polar Class 6 standards.
The yet-to-be-named ship will also be the first to use Ulstein Group’s patented X-BOW hull design, which has a tapered fore ship shape so it can pierce waves of all heights. This reduces pitching and bow impact loads in rough seas, preventing the vessel from rising on the waves and dropping violently onto the water’s surface as it would with a traditional bulbous bow. It also takes less fuel for the vessel to cut through the waves, reducing fuel costs and energy use.
“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,” said Robert Halfpenny, managing director of Aurora Expeditions.
Aurora Expeditions’ newbuild is likely to include between 80 and 95 passenger cabins with private bathrooms and balconies, as well as a restaurant, a space for lectures, a lounge, a 180-degree indoor observation deck, outdoor viewing areas, a gymnasium, sauna and spa. Other highlights will include a custom-designed platform for kayakers and divers, a dedicated sea-level Zodiac loading platform, and a mud room for climbers and skiers.
“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,” said Halfpenny. “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.”
Aurora Expeditions will launch the new ship ahead of its November 2019 to March 2020 Antarctic season. Itineraries will be revealed later this year.