Australia's only international-standard, five-star expedition cruise line, increases the size of its fleet with the addition of the Orion II, a second expedition ship joining the line’s existing 106-passenger Orion. The 100-passenger, 50-suite luxury Orion II will commence expedition voyages under the Orion Expedition Cruises banner on Friday, June 10, 2011.

Orion II’s inaugural 24-night voyage from Vancouver to Otaru will be followed by expeditions to the Russian Far East, Inland Sea of Japan, the Ryukyu Islands, and then a series of varying 10-night itineraries around Borneo. Later voyages in 2011 include Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

“Orion Expedition Cruises is now able to provide exclusive expeditions from Antarctica to Asia, and the Kimberley to Micronesia and New Zealand, with the two ships offering a balance of onboard service and luxury combined with unique personal experiences in environmentally and culturally sensitive parts of the region.  Together, Orion and Orion II are two of the most comfortable and capable expedition cruise ships cruising in Australasia,” comments Orion’s Founder and Managing Director, Ms. Sarina Bratton. 

Originally launched as Renaissance Four, later Clelia II, she was re-launched in 2009 after an extensive €13 million (approximately USD $19 million) refurbishment, with emphasis on technical enhancements and upgraded environmental systems.  With a crew of 70, the private yacht-like cruise ship accommodates just 100 guests in 50 suites. Each suite affords ocean views and is appointed with a sitting area or separate living room, twin or queen-size beds, spacious closets, flat screen television and DVD, and air conditioning. 

“Orion II represents another step on a journey that has included many fascinating destinations since Orion’s first expeditionary voyage from Tahiti to Australia in March 2005. Despite difficult global financial conditions, our growth has been solid and this has been enhanced by the support of our loyal guests – many of whom are joining me onboard for the inaugural 24-night voyage,” adds Bratton.

The long term charter of a second purpose-built ship able to access remote regions in comfort is a further step to fulfilling the company’s original vision to have Orion Expedition Cruises regarded as the operator of choice in the Asia Pacific. Prior to commencing its inaugural voyage from Vancouver to Otaru, Japan, Orion II sailed up the West Coast visiting Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle for a series of travel trade and consumer events. While in Seattle, the official naming ceremony for Orion II took place with the ship’s three Godmothers, all past passengers of Orion.

The American sales and marketing for Orion Expedition Cruises is handled by David Morris International, headquartered in New York City.  “With the demand for experiential travel at an all-time high, Orion is one of the few cruise lines that consistently delivers an authentic, personal experience while still maintaining a level of onboard luxury that is usually mutually exclusive. We are confident that Orion II’s exciting destinations like Borneo and Vietnam will spark tremendous attention from seasoned travelers looking for their next vacation-of-a-lifetime or perfect bucket-list experience,” comments David Morris, president of David Morris International.