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Aurora Expeditions triples business in a single year

January 31, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Famed Australian mountaineer Greg Mortimer, founder of Aurora Expeditions, was on hand at an event in Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens yesterday to launch the expedition cruise company’s latest program, featuring the company’s new ship, named after him.


Aurora Expeditions managing director, Robert Halfpenny, revealed the astonishing demand for expedition cruises and for the new Aurora program.

In short:

  • Aurora Expeditions’ business tripled in 2018.
  • 95% of Aurora Expeditions’ 2019/20 Antarctica program has already sold.
  • 65% of Aurora’s 2020 Arctic program has already sold.
  • Of Aurora’s 2020 program, just released, 10% is likely to be sold by the end of this week.

The company has opened offices in North America and London to help cater for demand.

Halfpenny said yesterday that Aurora Expeditions was distinguished from other operators by factors including:

  • Small ships; average 120 passengers.
  • Daily excursions.
  • Over 25 years’ experience.
  • 25+ years of experience in polar regions.
  • Australian owned and the first polar operator in Australia.
  • Expert guides; leaders in their fields.

Greg Mortimer, founder of Aurora Expeditions, in Sydney yesterday

Halfpenny said Australians comprised about 70% of Aurora’s clients, with Americans, British and Canadians making up most of the rest.

Yesterday’s media launch marked the start of a series of trade events to celebrate Aurora Expeditions’ new 2020/21 program. These will include events in Perth (6 February), Gold Coast (12 February), Brisbane (13 February), Melbourne (13 February), Newcastle (20 February), wrapping up in Adelaide (20 February).

Greg Mortimer (the man, not the ship) will attend the Brisbane launch, accompanied by his wife, Margaret.

Greg Mortimer was one of the first two mountaineers (with fellow Australian Tim Macartney-Snape) to successfully climb Mount Everest without oxygen. The ascent, in 1984, was the first via the North face and Great Couloir – now an established route used to climb the mountain.

Mortimer was also the first to climb Annapurna II by its south face (1983), the first Australian to climb Antarctica’s highest peak, Vinson Massif (1988) and the first to climb Mount Minto in the Admiralty Mountains of Antarctica (1988).

Greg Mortimer, the new ship

Mortimer went on to found Aurora Expeditions – named in honour of the ship sailed by renowned Australian explorer, Sir Douglas Mawson.

In 1992, Mortimer and his team embarked on their first voyage as Aurora Expeditions to Antarctica. Mortimer sold the company a decade ago ago but has remained closely involved with it.

Greg and Margaret Mortimer will lead the maiden voyage of Aurora Expeditions’ new ship, departing 1 November 2019 from Ushuaia to the Antarctic peninsula. Some berths remain on this voyage, but they are selling very fast. Aurora Expeditions’ diverse mix of new itineraries was awarded “Best Itineraries” in 2018 by Cruise Critic.

Mortimer said yesterday he sold the business “because it needed to grow” but Aurora Expeditions retained its core philosophy of strong environmental commitment.

“I’m proud of it and it runs deep,” he said. From 54 passengers on the original ship,  the new ship “Greg Mortimer” could carry 120.

Mortimer said that when Lars-Eric Lindblad commissioned the Lindblad Explorer in 1969, it was the ship of its day. The new Aurora Expeditions ship would be the ship of the modern day.

Privately, Mortimer said it would be an interesting experience to sail on a ship named after him.

Some trips and prices released yesterday:

  • Spirit of Antarctica, 12 days, maiden voyage from Ushuaia Argentina, departs 30 October 2019, from USD 9450 per person twin share.
  • Antarctica Complete, 23 days, leaving from Ushuaia Argentina on 22 January 2021, from USD 20,720 per person twin share. The “ultimate bucket list” trip, including a visit to wildlife-rich South Georgia.
  • Iceland Circumnavigation, 11 days, departing from Reykjavik, Iceland on 2 June 2020, from AUD 8560 per person twin share.
  • Costa Rica & The Panama Canal, 12 days, leaving from San Jose, Costa Rica on 25 April 2020 (with Greg Mortimer aboard) from USD 4320 per person twin share.

Written by Peter Needham

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