Australia’s Aurora Expeditions takes SunStone's first X-BOW newbuild from China

Aurora Expeditions has ordered its first state-of-the-art ice class 1A ship to be built in China Aurora Expeditions has ordered its first state-of-the-art ice class 1A ship to be built in China

Australian-owned Aurora Expeditions has ordered its first cutting-edge, ice class 1A newbuild. The yet-to-be-named 104mtr ship, to be built by China Merchants Heavy Industry (Jiangsu) Co. Ltd. near Shanghai, is one of four that Miami-based SunStone Ships has arranged at the yard.

Aurora Expeditions is the first operator to be disclosed for this multi-ship SunStone order and it has options on the other three.

The ship will be delivered in time for Aurora’s November to March 2019/2020 Antarctic season.

Aurora's md Robert Halfpenny said the company is excited to field the first cruise vessel to use patented X-BOW (pronounced ‘crossbow’) technology that will make the ocean-going experience as safe and comfortable as possible in the polar regions.

The design is in service for non-passenger ships; currently, more than 100 vessels with this bow concept are being constructed or in operations around the world.

Instead of a traditional bow, the tapered fore ship will allow the new vessel to pierce waves with much greater stability.

Halfpenny said that while a traditional bow vessel rises on the waves and then drops suddenly onto the surface of the water, an X-BOW ship is less subjected to the vertical motions induced by the waves and continues on course more smoothly, maintaining speed and using less fuel.

He said the new technology will make open sea journeys, like Antarctica’s notorious Drake Passage, more pleasant for passengers ‘than other small ships on the market today.’

At a time when the cruise industry is focused on six-star luxury and on-board activities to attract passengers, Aurora Expeditions remains steadfast in its belief that its destinations are best-experienced by small groups.

A custom-designed platform will cater for additional numbers of kayakers and divers and a mud room for the easy preparation of climbers and skiers.

Small inflatable Zodiac craft will continue to carry expeditioners between ship and shore, with a dedicated sea-level Zodiac loading platform for quick and easy boarding.

‘In between adventures, passengers will return to the warm, friendly and inclusive onboard atmosphere for which Aurora Expeditions is well-known,’ Halfpenny said.

‘Add to this private bathroom facilities, cabin balconies, a 180-degree indoor observation deck, wellness facilities including gymnasium, sauna and spa and plenty of outdoor viewing areas for additional enjoyment and comfort,’ he said.

Itineraries for the new ship are expected to be released later this year.

Posted 16 May 2017

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Helen Hutcheon

Australasia correspondent