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Eco Abrolhos - the 'active' Kimberley adventure cruise

Posted by Guest Post - Paul Hogger, Eco Abrolhos Cruises on April 10, 2019

This special guest blog (and photography) was kindly provided by Paul Hogger – Eco Abrolhos Guide and Photographer

 

Last year, Australian television's SBS broadcast a 'Slow TV' series with The Kimberley featuring as one of the showcased journeys with a cruise from Broome to Darwin spanning some 15 hours of television time. While the voyage was portrayed as somewhat relaxing this is not reflective of the pace onboard the Eco Abrolhos.

You don’t have to be young and super fit, or a marathon runner, but aboard Eco Abrolhos the crew offer a vast range of activities that reward guests with a fantastic cross section of all The Kimberley has to offer.

 

Eco Abrolhos in the Kimberley

 

Why The Eco Abrolhos Itinerary?

At Eco Abrolhos we don’t offer seven or nine day 'Snapshots' or even five day 'Tasters', all eight of our annual Kimberley cruises are the same duration – 13 nights – and this is for a very important reason. We pride ourselves on taking each guest on a complete Kimberley journey – starting at Broome and finishing at Darwin or vice versa. By visiting the key sites regularly the Eco crew know the hotspots, where’s safe to swim, where the wildlife lives, the best fishing holes and where to find the largest variety of birdlife.

Our 13 night journeys are not just thrown together on the run. These expeditions are planned over 18 months in advance to correspond exactly with the best tides and moon phases for each voyage. The 13 night duration also enables Eco Abrolhos to set off on a spring tide (the largest tides) and finish 14 days later also on a spring tide. This planning is critical to provide the ship the greatest water depth (and assistance from the currents) to get into places like the Berkeley and King George rivers and give our guests the maximum “Wow factor” and water movement at iconic locations such as Horizontal Falls and Montgomery Reef, all of which are at the start or end of each expedition.

The neap tides (smaller tides) during the middle of the trip make for better fishing and crabbing opportunities in the central section and longer stops at the scenic areas like the swimming waterholes, indigenous rock art sites and onshore hikes. 

With a maximum of 11-metre (37ft) tides, timing is a critical factor everywhere we go in The Kimberley. Each and every one of our eight 13 night Kimberley Expeditions is planned like this; we’ve been doing it for years – and it works!!

 

Eco Abrolhos Itineraries

 

Eco Abrolhos's expedition tenders

The four  custom-built expedition tenders allow us to intimately explore the Kimberley. We don’t just drive up the rivers and watch the world go by. Our tenders allow us to put you in the action. With 140Hp engines, forward facing central seating and high sides, these are the perfect viewing and photo platforms. The folding front stairs makes boarding comfortable and easy and the full walk-around sides make fishing a breeze. 

Having multiple tenders allows Eco Abrolhos to cater to the various needs of our guests. Perhaps some of our guests wish to climb the waterfall while others would prefer to explore myriad creeks spotting wildlife. That’s no problem on the Eco Abrolhos.

 

Eco Abrolhos excursion tenders

excursion tenders eco abrolhos

 

Fishing aboard the Eco Abrolhos

Fishing is always a favourite activity. Our four tenders allow us to split the guests into 4 groups. Usually each tender heads to a different hotspot with their guide. It makes for some friendly banter both over the radio while the fishing is underway and afterwards back onboard the Eco Abrolhos. With all the guides being equal fisherman, the result is never the same.

 

Fishing aboard Eco Abrolhos

 

Indigenous Rock Art

Our captain is very passionate about the art and has over 35 years’ experience in The Kimberley guiding guests to remote art sites. We visit a mixture of Gwion Gwion (Bradshaw) and Wandjina rock art sites. The hikes to get to the art sites range from under a minute to 20-minute climbs up a rocky cliff side. Some of the views from the art sites are just as worthy of the climb. Typically, we visit six to eight art sites during each 13-night cruise.

 

Eco Abrolhos rock art

 

Hikes and exploring ashore

Hikes, treks, bushwalks; call them what you will but they are popular during our cruises and the rewards are well worth the effort. In addition to hikes to the art sites there are multiple walks to fresh water swimming holes, hikes up side tributaries with small waterfalls and rock races, walks into areas to see stunning bird and wildlife and even a walk over a salt flat to an intact DC-3 plane wreck. One of the most active hikes is at the King George River. We only conduct this activity during the first half of the season when there is enough water flow above the falls. The hike starts with a steep incline up the side of a rocky slope before coming out on the rim of the 100-metre high gorge. The walk takes you past colourful wildflowers and along the rim before coming to the top of the iconic 88-metre high twin waterfalls. From there it’s a little further on to a delightful swimming hole on top of the world.

 

Walking excursions aboard Eco Abrolhos

 

And that's not all.....

We could keep going but by now we hope you get the idea. From pre-dawn starts to capture magnificent sunrises, to full action-packed days and backed up with a large range of post-sunset activities both on and off the Eco Abrolhos, your 13 Night “ACTIVE” Kimberley Adventure Cruise will leave you completely fulfilled with your voyage along the Kimberley Coast.

 

Eco Abrolhos after hours

 

See more about the Eco Abrolhos

 

Solar Eclipse in Antarctica aboard the Greg Mortimer

Posted by Andrew Castles on January 19, 2019

Australia’s leading polar expedition cruise operator Aurora Expeditions has this week announced the 2020/21 Antarctic and Arctic cruise schedules for their new state-of-the-art expedition ship the Greg Mortimer.

A highlight of the announcement was more detail about their once-in-a-lifetime 22 day ‘Solar Eclipse in Antarctica’ expedition which will depart Ushuaia in Argentina on 24 November 2021. Although total solar eclipses occur somewhere around the world every 12 - 24 months, it is indeed a very special opportunity to experience one over the white continent on a cruise that also calls in at the wildlife-haven that is South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.

 

 

Departing from Ushuaia in Argentina, the Greg Mortimer will cross the famed Drake Passage, putting her unique X-Bow design to good use (the innovative bow design promises to reduce up and down movement and ‘roll’ in rough seas). On arrival at the peninsula guests will enjoy time to land on the ice, calling at sites including Lemaire Channel and ‘Kodak Alley’ and having close up encounters with Gentoo Penguins. 

From the peninsula, the ship will get into position at the centreline of the eclipse in the northern Weddell Sea, where up to four minutes of totality is expected during the eclipse on the morning of 04 December 2021. Details of the eclipse,courtesy of NASA, are as follows:

 

Nasa solar eclipse Antarctica map 2021

 

The next stop on the voyage will be four full days spent exploring the iconic South Georgia islands. South Georgia is renowned for incredible wildlife experiences, including Salisbury Plains, home to one of the largest King Penguin populations at over 100,000 pairs. There’s also the opportunity to pay respects at the grave of legendary polar explorer Ernest Shackleton and Godthul, replete with its bleached whale bones, colonies of fur seals and penguins just ‘hanging about’.

The Falkland Islands mark the final stop of the voyage, before the expedition wraps up back in Ushuaia on 15 December 2021.

See the full itinerary here: https://www.expeditioncruisespecialists.com/destinations/antarctica/antarctica-eclipse-aurora

 

Greg Mortimer Solar Eclipse Map

 

About the Greg Mortimer

Launching in October 2019, the 104-metre Greg Mortimer is Aurora Expeditions’ first purpose-built expedition vessel. Most striking is her unique X-Bow design, a feature said to ensure even the most fearsome crossings (such as the Drake Passage) can be made in relative comfort. 

On the inside, travellers will savour all of the comforts of home, include spacious staterooms, all with private en suite, and many with private balcony. There’s also an open seat dining room that accommodates all guests in one sitting, and a top deck bar / lecture room to sit back and enjoy panoramic views.

 

Greg Mortimer Suite

 

Experiences expeditioners will appreciate the dedicated mudroom (with individual lockers for all travellers) and innovative hydraulic viewing platforms which slide out from the side of the ship allowing up-close experiences with passing whales and icebergs.

Prices for the 22 day ‘Solar Eclipse in Antarctic’ voyage start at USD 23,700 per person in a triple share stateroom through to USD 29,600 per person in a twin share Balcony Stateroom and USD 51,200 per person (twin share) in the Captain’s Suite – which we should point out is not actually sharing with the Captain!  And, when you book before 31 March 2019 there’s also some great Earlybird Savings on offer – call us for details today.

See more about the Greg Mortimer at: https://www.expeditioncruisespecialists.com/ships/greg-mortimer-aurora

Limited to no more than 120 expeditioners aboard the new Greg Mortimer, this unique journey is sure to sell quickly. For more information contact our Antarctica Cruise Specialists today on 1800 90 20 80 or send us an email for pricing and availability.

Click here to read about three more great Antarctica Eclipse cruises aboard the new Hondius, Ortelius and Plancius.

 

 

Hondius the latest new ship for Antarctica

Posted by Andrew Castles on March 23, 2018

Hondius cruising in Antarctica

 

Over the next two years we’ll be seeing some exciting advancements in expedition cruising, with several new ships taking to the water. And, if you’re planning a trip to the polar regions this will be particularly good news for you, with at least three state-of-the-art ships due to launch during 2019/20.

Previously we’ve told you about the new polar ships currently being built for both Aurora Expeditions (The Greg Mortimer) and Lindblad Expeditions (National Geographic Endurance), and today we’d like to provide you with an update on the new Hondius, currently under construction in Croatia for Dutch polar operator Oceanwide Expeditions.

Hondius is set to become the fifth ship in the Oceanwide fleet and - upon launch - will become the first ever vessel to achieve Polar Class 6 standards. Her ice-strength means she can venture into the deepest of polar regions, beyond the capability of other ships. She’s also designed to be exceptionally friendly to the environment as well, exceeding the latest green requirements imposed by the International Maritime Organization, using only bio-degradable paints, LED lighting, steam heat, and flexible power management systems to keep fuel consumption and CO2 emission at the absolute minimum.

 

Hondius Antarctica Cruise Lounge

 

Onboard, Hondius will accommodate up to 174 explorers (and 72 crew) in style, and just because you’re sailing through the least civilised locations on Earth doesn’t mean your on-board experience has to be uncivilised. As a Hondius guest, you will enjoy cuisine, surroundings, and service that starkly contrast the rugged world just outside your window. A sizable observation lounge, fully provisioned bar, and separate library room guarantee that what time you spend on board will be spent comfortably entertained.

Hondius also offers a choice of eight different levels of accommodation, with porthole cabins (quad, triple and twin) available for the budget-conscious and families, through to Superior Cabins, Junior Suites and the ultra-luxury Hondius Suite. Custom-designed and impeccably outfitted in stylish mid-century modern décor, you’re sure to be impressed by the look and feel of your cabin.

 

Hondius Superior Cabin Antarctica Cruise

 

Hondius 2019 Antarctica Cruise Schedule

 

Hondius’s 2019 Antarctic schedule has just been released, and you can be one of the very first to experience this new state-of-the-art vessel. Her inaugural voyage is a 20-night expedition departing 3 November 2019, and there’s still cabins available, starting at USD $12,500 per person in a Quad-Share cabin or USD $15,700 in a Twin Window cabin through to USD $24,900 per person in the exclusive Hondius Suite.

Here’s Hondius’s full 2019 calendar of Antarctic sailings:

 

03 November 2019 - 20 Nights - Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctica

Puerto Madryn to Ushuaia / From USD $12,500 per person

 

02 December 2019 - 9 Nights - Antarctica Discovery & Learning Voyage

Ushuaia to Ushuaia / From USD $6,500 per person

 

11 December 2019 - 9 Nights - Antarctica Discovery & Learning Voyage

Ushuaia to Ushuaia / From USD $6,500 per person

 

20 December 2019 - 9 Nights - Antarctica Discovery & Learning Voyage

Ushuaia to Ushuaia / From USD $7,200 per person

 

29 December 2019 - 9 Nights - Antarctica Discovery & Learning Voyage

Ushuaia to Ushuaia / From USD $7,200 per person

 

07 January 2020 - 19 Nights - Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctica

Ushuaia to Ushuaia / From USD $15,350 per person

 

05 February 2020 - 10 Nights - Antarctica Discovery & Learning Voyage

Ushuaia to Ushuaia / From USD $8,950 per person

 

15 February 2020 - 9 Nights - Antarctica Discovery & Learning Voyage

Ushuaia to Ushuaia / From USD $7,200 per person

 

24 February 2020 - 22 Nights - Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Elephant Island, Antarctica Polar Circle

Ushuaia to Ushuaia / From USD $15,350 per person

 

17 March 2020 - 13 Nights - Antarctica Whale Watching Discovery & Learning Voyage

Ushuaia to Ushuaia / From USD $8,500 per person

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL CALENDAR OF SAILINGS

 

For more information about Hondius’ inaugural Antarctica season - and her soon to be announced 2020 Arctic season of sailings - call the expert team at Expedition Cruise Specialists today on 1800 90 20 80 (within Australia) or +61 7 4041 2101.

 

Hondius in Antarctica

Orion heading to Russia & The Far East

Posted by Andrew Castles on February 15, 2018

orion russia far east

 

The 102-passenger National Geographic Orion is a familiar expedition ship to many Australians, having been based in our part of the world for several years while she was operating under the Orion Expedition Cruises banner to locations including the Kimberley, Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific.

After farewelling Australian waters a few years ago now, Orion was integrated into leading North American expedition company Lindblad Expeditions’ fleet as the National Geographic Orion. She has quickly become a staple down in the Antarctic region, offering cruises from South America during the peak Antarctic months of November to March, filling in the rest of the year with a series of European cruises during 2017 and a full schedule planned for the South Pacific (Tahiti, Fiji, Kiribati) between March and September 2018.

And now, just this week, we’ve been handed details of an exciting new schedule of departures for National Geographic Orion in 2019, focusing on the Bering Strait and Russian Far East. What’s particularly exciting about these voyages is that they are to regions which have been notoriously hard to reach in the past. For example, the Siberian Coast and Wrangel Island are bucket-list destinations for expedition cruisers, however there’s only ever been a couple of departures a year aboard the sturdy little Spirit of Enderby to cater to the growing demand.

Here’s details on the three different programmes on offer. If you’re interested in securing a berth we encourage you to get in early as there is only limited space and we expect these new programmes to be filled quickly by Lindblad’s large North American customer base.

 

13 Day Bering Sea Wilderness

Nome (Alaska) to Seward (Alaska)

Departing 9 July and 4 September 2019

Price from $20,290 per person

This 13-day itinerary explores the Bering Strait, a body of water separating the United States from Russia. While most of the voyage is spent in US waters, there is a brief crossing into (and landing) in Russia in the town of Provideniya. Other highlights of the expedition include exploration of the Pribilof Islands – home to about half the world’s population of fur seals, brown bear spotting in Katmai National Park and rarely-visited Kodiak and Shumagin islands.

 

Orion Russia map

 

 

13 Day Russia’s Far East and Wrangel Island

Nome (Alaska) to Nome (Alaska)

Departing 11 August and 23 August 2019

Price from $20,290 per person

This is the voyage that we’re perhaps most excited about. Not only does it cross the Arctic Circle into the Russian High Arctic, there’s also time spent exploring remote villages and towns on the Siberian Coast and, to top it all off, a four-day expedition around Wrangel Island Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site dubbed the ‘polar bear nursery'.

 

Orion wrangel Island cruise

 

22 Day Across the Bering Sea: From Katmai to Kamchatka

Seward (Alaska) to Nome (Alaska)

Departing 18 June and 21 July 2019

Price from $32,320 per person

For those with a bit more time, this 3,800-nautical mile journey almost circumnavigates the Bering Sea and explores one of the most rugged and wildlife-rich regions of the planet. You will have the chance to spot coastal brown bears from Katmai National Park to the Kamchatka Peninsula, search for Steller’s sea eagles along the scenically stunning Zhupanova River and marvel at the abundance and variety of marine mammals and seabirds from the Aleutians to the Commander Islands. 

 

Orion Russia Cruise bering sea

 

About the National Geographic Orion

National Geographic Orion accommodates just 102 guests in 53 staterooms and suites, nine of them with balconies. She is equipped with a full complement of cool tools to explore the environment, including kayaks, 14 heavy-duty Zodiacs, and an ROV. Her size and nimbleness offer the perfect combination of safety and the liberty to voyage untrammeled locations, where large cruise ships and less experienced expedition teams cannot go.

Click here for full details on National Geographic Orion

 

Orion cabin cruise

The Greg Mortimer - a New Polar Ship Unveiled

Posted by Andrew Castles on January 29, 2018

Greg Mortimer Aurora Expeditions

 

In the last few days, one of Australia’s pioneers of polar expedition cruising, Aurora Expeditions, has unveiled plans for a new expedition ship to operate alongside their current vessel Polar Pioneer, along with a raft of exciting itineraries making use of the advanced technologies and capabilities of the new ship.

Named after adventurer and original founder of Aurora Expeditions’ the new 104-metre Greg Mortimer looks nothing like a lot of the other expedition ships we see today. Her unique X-BOW design promises to make open water crossings (like crossing the notorious Drake Passage) a lot more comfortable than on similar size ships, and her onboard facilities pull together many decades of experience in planning and operating polar cruises to some of the most remote locations on earth.

 

greg mortimer zodiac launch

 

The Greg Mortimer will accommodate up to 160 travellers, although she will be limited to just 120 in Antarctica to ensure that all guests are able to spend as much time ashore as possible. There’s 80 suites and staterooms aboard, and all rooms will feature a private en suite. All but 15 cabins also feature a generously-sized balcony. Staterooms feature multiple personal storage options, a choice of twin or double-bed configuration, international power outlets and a daily cabin service, as well as all the basic amenities that you'll need onboard.

 

Greg Mortimer cruise stateroom

 

We love the amount of space offered in the ship’s common areas, many which offer commanding views outside. A popular gathering point will no doubt be the 180-degree lounge and outdoor 360-degree open deck, both high up on deck 8. There’s also a 270-degree open sundeck on level 7. If these are full, then you can take up a spot on one of the two unique hydraulic viewing platforms on deck 5 which magically open from the side of the ship.

There’s a beautifully-appointed dining room that can accommodate all guests in one sitting, a lecturer lounge which will be home to presentations and briefings, a library with books and maps and a Wellness Centre complete with gym equipment, sauna and spa. Keen photographers and artists will revel in the ship’s multimedia room.

 

lecture lounge on greg mortimer

 

Aurora Expeditions also invites guests to take in all the action in the bridge, their open bridge policy meaning that at any point you can come up to the bridge and check out what the captain and officers are up to. From watching navigational practices to observing mapping techniques, you can get a first-hand look at the inner workings of the Greg Mortimer. 

When it’s time to head ashore, a great deal of planning has been put into the design of Greg Mortimer to ensure zodiac operation is as smooth as possible. Greg Mortimer will carry 15 heavy-duty zodiacs, all launched independently from four specially designed launching platforms. This means adventurers will be able to spend more time exploring on the two to three daily landings rather than queueing up for zodiacs.

 

The Greg Mortimer's inaugural schedules

The Greg Mortimer’s inaugural Antarctic expeditions are slated for October 2019. There will be 11 & 12 Day ‘Spirit of Antarctica’ voyages priced from USD $9,900 per person, followed by a fascinating schedule of South Georgia and Antarctic Odyssey expeditions commence in late November and running through the end of January 2020. These 21-day voyages are priced from USD $17,700 per person.

After the inaugural Antarctic season, the Greg Mortimer will head north to the Arctic for the northern hemisphere summer. There’s some great options available here too, including an 11-day Spitsbergen Odyssey (great for polar bear viewing) and also a 14-day ‘Jewels of the Arctic’ programme which takes in Iceland, Greenland and Svalbard.  

But for us, the undoubted highlight of the inaugural Arctic season is a new voyage into the Russian High Arctic and Franz Josef Land. This region has only opened up to expedition cruising in recent years as ice-conditions have changed, and we’re already getting lots of enquiries from guests about ticking this location off their bucket list.

Only a handful of ships have the capabilities to operate into this part of the High Arctic, and we reckon the Greg Mortimer’s 15-day Franz Josef Explorer will prove incredibly popular, so get in quick for this one! Departing from Longyearbyen on 12 July 2020, prices start at AUD $11,330 per person for an Aurora Stateroom. Click here to check out the full Franz Josef Land cruise itinerary.

To celebrate the announcement of the Greg Mortimer, there’s some fantastic launch deals on offer! These once-in-a-lifetime deals are on for a limited time only (you must book and deposit by 31 March 2018) and include free upgrades and savings of up to $6,000 per person. To find out which deals apply to each departure call the expert team at Expedition Cruise Specialists on 1800 90 20 80.

 

Greg Mortimer launch savings

 

*Terms & Conditions
Free upgrade from Aurora Stateroom to Balcony Stateroom valid on all 2019/2020 Antarctica and the Arctic voyages aboard the Greg Mortimer. Save up to $6,000pp offer based on booking a Junior Suite on a 20-day South Georgia voyage. Other savings apply to passengers booking and paying for Balcony Staterooms, Balcony Suites and Junior Suites on all 2019/2020 Antarctica and the Arctic voyages aboard the Greg Mortimer, subject to availability. Strictly limited number of staterooms available on selected voyages. Inaugural voyage deals available until 31 March 2018 only or until sold out or withdrawn. Passengers must book and pay a non-refundable deposit of $2,500 in the voyage currency to secure their booking by 31 March 2018.

 

kayaking from the Greg Mortimer