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Aurora Expeditions: Luxury cruise ships set bar for sustainability in action

Australia’s Aurora Expeditions have been delivering perspective-altering journeys to some of the most remote, pristine and biodiverse destinations on the planet for more than 30 years.

Aurora is champion of ‘sustainability in action’ and guided by its own Positive Impact Plan. The cruise line is deeply committed to responsible and respectful travel, alongside sustainability, conservation and care for the planet.

“As one of the world’s leading polar expedition operators, we are always seeking ways to innovate and educate with an array of sustainability programs that create a positive impact for our planet,” says Aurora Expeditions CEO, Monique Ponfoort, “and we will continue our sustained efforts to help preserve the beauty and majesty that nature possesses.”

The eco-friendly cruise ship line is 100 per cent carbon neutral, as certified by the leading environmental network, South Pole. And, with a new ship launching in 2022 and a world-first Antarctic Climate Expedition set for 2023, Aurora Expeditions are sailing ahead with their plan to make a positive impact on the planet.

Emperor pengin shooting with Aurora
Emperor pengin shooting with Aurora © Shutterstock

Aurora Expeditions Greg Mortimer

Launched in 2019, Greg Mortimer is Aurora Expeditions first purpose-built cruise ship for journeys to the most remote places on earth. Featuring a revolutionary Ulstein X-BOW® and vast observation decks, the Aurora Grey Mortimer can cross oceans with ease and bring passengers closer to the environment.

“Attaining a sustainable future has never been more important,” adds Ponfoort, “and we see expedition travel as a force for good.”

This belief in sustainable travel can be seen throughout the features of the Greg Mortimer. The luxury cruise ship has a streamlined design, with low energy consumption and high fuel efficiency. The ship also uses virtual anchoring instead of traditional anchors, helping to minimise damage to the sea bed.

Further sustainably features onboard the Aurora Greg Mortimer include efficient on-and-off-ship energy, water and waste management plans, eco-friendly products and reduced single-use plastics.

Sylvia Earle: Aurora Expeditions new addition

The Aurora Expeditions Greg Mortimer will be joined by brand new ship Sylvia Earle in 2022, named after the renowned oceanographer, marine biologist and explorer, Dr Sylvia Earle.

Looking over the Bow of the Aurora Greg Mortimer in Antarctica
Looking over the bow of the Greg Mortimer in Antarctica © Scott Portelli

The new ship pays tribute to Earle and her long-standing efforts for marine protection. The first-ever Hero for the Planet (as named by Time Magazine in 1998) and the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr Sylvia Earle has been involved in the development of her namesake ship. She will also be joining Aurora for a world-first Antarctic Climate Expedition in 2023 to deliver 23 key climate action outcomes. As well as the Women in Conservation Champions Program.

The Aurora Expeditions Sylvia Earle features the same innovative Ulstein X-BOW® as the Greg Mortimer. The ship also has a modern lecture lounge, multiple observation areas, Zodiac launching platforms and decks dedicated to Dr Earle and six other leading female conservationists: Dr Carden Wallace AM, Joanna Ruxton, Sharon Kwok, Bernadette Demientieff, Hanli Prinsloo and Dr Asha de Vos.

Aurora Expeditions: Eco-friendly cruise ships

The sustainable cruise line offers passengers the chance to visit the edges of human exploration, with care and conservation as a focus.

Aurora’s pledge for positive, impactful voyages extends to both land and sea. Aurora Expeditions ensures that passengers leave nothing but footprints behind. They guide expeditioners on specific walking trails and make sure boots are washed after each expedition in the field. Aurora ensures nothing is taken from the places visited and makes sure no new species are introduced on expeditions. To protect wildlife, photos are taken from an appropriate distance and that wildlife encounters are carefully managed.

Playful polar bears
Playful polar bears © Hans Jurgen Mager

In addition, passengers are also invited to learn about the environment and wildlife they encounter through the Comprehensive Citizen Science Program. There are seven projects for expeditioners to take part in. Plus, on-board lectures from a world-class expedition team and expert guides. Including naturalists, glaciologists, historians, ecologists, geologists and palaeontologists accompanying all expeditions.

Finally, Aurora Expeditions is in the process of developing a Global Sustainable Food Program. By screening suppliers for sustainability standards, offering passengers a farm-to-table experience and engaging with farmers in Chile, the Netherlands and the USA to deliver grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, pasture-raised pork and lamb and certified-humane eggs and dairy, Aurora ensures that regenerative farming practices and nature-based principles are at the heart of their onboard dining experiences.

Sustainability with style: Luxury eco-travel

Eco-friendly expedition travel doesn’t mean giving up on life’s little luxuries. Onboard the Aurora Greg Mortimer and Aurora Sylvia Earle, style and sustainability go hand-in-hand.

Kayaking at Port Lockroy
Kayaking at Port Lockroy © Al Bakker

When passengers aren’t busy on shore excursions, they can relax in beautifully designed staterooms, with décor inspired by the natural landscapes of the polar regions. Or warm up in the onboard sauna as you watch for wildlife outside the window. Keep active at the gym or book a luxury massage. On the top deck, passengers can soak up the incredible views from the comfort of the ships’ two Jacuzzis.

After a busy day of polar expeditions, guests can share tales of adventure over dinner in the open-seating dining area.

Each ship also features a lecture theatre and lounge. Plus hydraulic viewing platforms with unobstructed views, panoramic observation areas and a library.

Aurora Expeditions: Cruise File

Mission statement: “We take our responsibility seriously. We are curious and passionate. We care about reducing our footprint environmentally. We are taking real actions for the ongoing protection and conservation of the planet, and we are doing more to help make a positive impact on the Earth.”

Founded: 1991

Number of ships in fleet: 2

Ship Names: Greg Mortimer, Sylvia Earle

Number of passengers: 132 each

Destinations: Alaska, Antarctica, Arctic, Baja California, Canada, Costa Rica, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Panama, Patagonia, Raja Ampat, Russia, Scotland, Subantarctic Islands

Noteworthy: Global voluntary beach and city clean-ups, founding member of IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) and AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators) and a member of the AECO’s Clean Seas Work Group.

Find out more by visiting: auroraexpeditions.com.au

This article originally appeared in volume 40 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. Subscribe to the latest issue today.