Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning 2022

6 6 PL ANNER PERSPECTI VE 30 years of exploration Monique Ponfoort talks to Alex Smith about how Aurora Expeditions continues to provide a unique guest experience with its varied range of itineraries and destinations Australian expedition cruise company Aurora Expeditions is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2021, marking three decades as one of the leading providers of small-ship cruising to remote destinations. It’s a legacy that the cruise line is determined to continue, says CEO Monique Ponfoort. “We pride ourselves in being innovators in small group, expeditionstyle travel and we visit some of the most incredible and remote places on Earth,” she explains. “The destinations we travel to and our unrivalled opportunities for adventure and exploration, combined with our intimate and friendly onboard atmosphere, make for a one-of-a-kind experience that our guests won’t find anywhere else.” Though competition has increased with the continued growth of the expedition sector, Ponfoort is convinced that Aurora can continue to differentiate itself through the strength and variety of its itineraries, along with the unique opportunities it offers to explore rarely visited destinations. “We take great pride in curating unique adventures for our guests, allowing for endless opportunities for exploration and discovery,” she says. “This activity programme contributes to our differentiated itineraries, allowing guests to have a personalised experience on each of our voyages, whether they choose to participate in our sea kayaking programme, guided hikes, snorkelling, photography or even ice camping – without a tent! We are a pioneer in the activity space, and for our more adventurous guests, we are the only operator to offer polar scuba diving, as well as a regular Shackleton’s crossing experience.” Helping to enable these experiences are Aurora’s two new ships, Greg Mortimer and Sylvia Earle, which have been designed with a number of features to enhance the expedition experience. “Our modern vessels are purposebuilt for discovery, specifically designed and engineered to get into far-reaching and remote places that other ships cannot,” says Ponfoort. “And though our ships provide a very comfortable base camp, at Aurora Expeditions our aim is to ensure our guests are exploring and interacting with the natural world as much as possible on our expeditions. Our ships have been designed to enable this. Onshore exploration and activities are made easier and more convenient with four sea-level Zodiacloading platforms and our innovative floating dock, a mudroom and activity preparation area.” Sylvia Earle’s upcoming voyage to the far east seas of Russia is a particularly exciting prospect for Ponfoort. “The Russian Far East is one of the planet’s least explored destinations, but it is one of the greatest places in the world to observe wildlife and