Aurora: Newbuilds Response to Expedition Demand

Robert Halfpenny

Aurora Expeditions debuts the new Greg Mortimer in October, sailing from Ushuaia on its inaugural Antarctica cruise, and has recently signed for a second newbuild from SunStone Ships set to debut in 2021. 

By all accounts, the new Infinity-class SunStone newbuild is just a response to demand, according to Robert Halfpenny, managing director, in an interview in the 2019 Expedition Market Report by Cruise Industry News.

"We’ve sold 96 percent of the total capacity to date and the ship is being built ahead of schedule,” he said, in an interview with Cruise Industry News from his Sydney, Australia office.

The company has gone from chartering Russian vessels to the unique 54-guest Polar Pioneer to now a long-term charter of the first new SunStone ship, purpose-built for the expedition market and Aurora Expeditions.

he new ship has been configured for global deployment, according to Halfpenny, allowing the company to fill in the shoulder seasons with revenue-generating sailings with 80 cabins up for grabs. In the Polar Regions, capacity is trimmed to 120 to provide a premium experience.

Greg Mortimer

"Our differential in the market place is small groups, and the reason we are selling out is people are picking up on that,” he said.

Sixty-five staterooms will offer balconies, with CMI Leisure overseeing the hotel product aboard.

“Greg (Mortimer) founded the company under the principal of getting out there and dirty; we have so many activities … that is part of our difference.”

Doubling capacity and driving sales, the company has opened new sales offices in Vancouver and the UK. Sourcing has gone from 10 percent of guests being from outside of Australia and New Zealand to 30 percent, with Halfpenny targeting 40 percent by the end of 2020.

With the Polar Pioneer exiting the company’s fleet, Aurora will add a second newbuild in 2021.

“We’ve signed for a second ship,” Halfpenny said. “2021 is already 40 percent sold out."

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About the Expedition Market Report:

The 2019 Expedition Market Report by Cruise Industry News is a comprehensive overview of the booming expedition market, profiling 39 operators, over 40 new ships and projecting capacity growth through 2027. The 196-page PDF is a deep dive into all aspects of the expedition cruise market.

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