Aurora Expeditions’ new cruise liner the Sylvia Earle will set sail at the end of 2021, with marine education and conservation ‘paramount’ to the voyages. Erica Jamieson reports
In November 2021, the newest cruise liner from Aurora Expeditions, the Sylvia Earle, is scheduled to embark on its maiden voyage.
Featuring a two-level glass lounge and science centre (pictured below), the ship will carry passengers through some of the globe’s most remote Arctic and Antarctic regions. Located in the bow, the lab will be the “perfect space from which to experience onboard citizen science programmes”, says Aurora Expeditions. The Sylvia Earle can carry up to 132 passengers in 70 cabins, with eight observation decks for soaking in the sights. Other facilities include a spa, lecture theatre, nonfiction library, and outdoor saltwater swimming pool heated by repurposed engine heat.The ship’s design incorporates the Ulstein X-BOW, which cuts through swell to decrease vibrations and turbulence, and reduces fuel consumption by up to 60 per cent compared to Tier 1 engines.
The X-BOW shape also facilitates expansive windows across the ship’s front, giving wide angle views of the approaching horizon from inside the Sylvia Earle Science Centre.GPS, steering, and engine technology enables virtual anchoring, which protects the sea floor from damage caused by conventional anchoring.
“Its innovative, eco-sensitive design captures the essence of small-ship expedition travel pioneered by Aurora Expeditions,” CEO Monique Ponfoort tells Cruise Trade News.
“Exploring the natural world is at the heart of what we do and elements of nature have been brought into the interior design of the Sylvia Earle. Education and conservation are integral to our DNA, and ensuring passengers immerse themselves in a destination is of paramount importance to us,” she says.Poonfort adds: “Our goal has always been to create lifelong ambassadors for the protection of the wilderness areas we travel to and we know that the Sylvia Earle is in a strong position to help us achieve those goals.”Named after marine conservation champion Dr Sylvia Earle, the ship pays homage to the first female chief scientist of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Aurora Expeditions state that Dr Earle will be involved in the development of her namesake.
Founded nearly 30 years ago, Aurora Expeditions specialises in expedition cruises around the two poles, along with a handful of other biodiversity and historical hotspots.Destinations for 2022 include the Russian Far East, Raja Ampat/West Papua, Alaska, the Northwest Passage, and Baja California.
Earlier this year, Aurora Expeditions made headlines when its Greg Mortimer ship, became stranded off the coast of Uruguay with 60 per cent of passengers and crew testing positive for Covid-19.
When cruises resume, the operator will introduce mandatory testing, travel and health questionnaires, enhanced sanitisation, and mask and social distancing measures to improve passenger safety. Both ships have been equipped with onboard testing facilities and dedicated isolation cabins, in the event of an outbreak.
All upcoming voyages have been delayed or cancelled. Passengers can currently schedule cruises for 2022.
“Despite the challenges facing the global travel and cruise industry in 2020, our many loyal and repeat guests tell us they are eager to set sail again, and we are excited and ready to welcome them back on board once international borders reopen,” Ponfoort tells Cruise Trade News.