Ship to shore

Aurora Expeditions

With its state-of-the-art, small-ship expedition vessels, Aurora Expeditions takes its passengers to places where only low-impact cruises can go

The world is an extraordinary place. From the frozen beauty of Antarctica to the lush tropical jungles of Costa Rica, there is far more to be enjoyed then can ever be experienced from the comfort of a sun lounger or a gargantuan cruise ship. Few people knew this better than Greg Mortimer, one of Australia’s greatest explorers and mountain climbers, who with his wife, Margaret, founded Aurora Expeditions. Together they decided to share their thirst for adventure with those travellers who want to go beyond the typical bucket list and, safely and securely, experience some of the most beautiful extremes on earth.

Since the company was formed in 1991, Aurora Expeditions has become a global leader in small-ship, expedition-style travel to unique and breathtaking destinations. Indeed, in 2020 it was named the World’s Leading Polar Expedition Operator at the prestigious World Travel Awards. Alongside Antarctica and Costa Rica, the company journeys to countries as diverse as South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, Alaska, the Northwest Passage, Panama, the Canary Islands and Norway. Passengers travel on one of two purpose-built, ultra-modern expedition ships, the Greg Mortimer and Sylvia Earle.

Aurora Expeditions’ desire to inspire and satiate a love of adventure comes directly from Greg’s own experiences. In 1984, he was one of the first two Australians to climb Mount Everest, on a new route and without supplementary oxygen, and has ascended K2 and the two highest mountains in Antarctica –the southernmost continent where the company took its first trailblazing passengers. Trips expanded to include the Arctic and Australia, with further tours added over 30 years, including the remote coastal regions of the British Isles in 2005. Each destination is chosen for its outstanding natural beauty, awe-inspiring biodiversity, geological magnificence or rich archaeology.

Unlike the mega cruise ships that trawl the Caribbean and Mediterranean, Aurora Expeditions accommodates around 132 passengers. This small-group experience makes for a relaxed on-board atmosphere, one that is instantly welcoming for solo travellers, who have the choice of being accommodated through a cabin-sharing service if they wish.

Led by expert guides who are recognised in their respective field and love to share their knowledge and enthusiasm, travellers can try a broad range of activities such as ice camping, sea kayaking, scuba diving, paddleboarding and wildlife photography. And because the groups are relatively small, there is a degree of flexibility and freedom to adapt the tour, for example, to view an unexpected wildlife display. The truly adventurous can take part in “Shackleton’s Crossing” – a chance to repeat the epic three-day trek across South Georgia undertaken by Ernest Shackleton and his team in 1916; as the route traverses glaciated and mountainous terrain, this once-in-a-lifetime expedition is perfect for those with alpine trekking or mountaineering experience.

The company’s pioneering boats have been designed specifically to access the most remote places on earth in the maximum possible comfort, with a pioneering design that cuts smoothly through the waves with fewer vibrations while retaining expansive observation decks. The boats also have unsurpassed environmental credentials, with high fuel efficiency and on-board desalination of water, and are equipped with a gym, sauna and top-deck Jacuzzis. As well as inviting communal areas and panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for wildlife spotting, there are lecture theatres and libraries for those seeking to learn about the areas they are visiting – ready for the next unforgettable adventure.