Aurora Expeditions is an Australian-based company that has two purpose-built expedition ships and has been around for quite a while, but without much of a U.S. presence until recently. It consistently is highly rated both within the industry and by (mostly) Australian consumers. So when I was approached to consider Aurora I was interested.
However, honestly, its U.S. presence a few years ago was frustrating, so I wasn’t very enthusiastic when I was approached to rekindle my relationship, but boy has that changed for the better!
I actually saw the Sylvia Earle, the ship I will be on an expedition with, both in Ushuaia, Argentina and during one of my Antarctica expeditions earlier this year.
Because Aurora Expeditions is a smaller company, is truly focused on the expedition experience, and carries a relatively small number of guests, it can take advantage of, and has, some pretty unique itineraries.
As you know, I am never going to endorse a cruise line or expedition experience until I have experienced the product. And as nice and responsive as everyone at Aurora Expeditions has been, and no matter how good their expedition team seems to be, there is only one thing I must do: Check out the product! (NOTE: You are welcome to check it out with me!)
First, where the heck will I be going? Taking advantage of one of those unique itineraries, I will be on the June 13, 2023 expedition visiting the western shores of Iceland, the remote and unique island of Jan Mayen, and finishing up with my return to Svalbard (an amazing archipelago far off the coast of Norway, approaching the North Pole). I have been to Iceland three times, and it remains one of my favorite places to explore, but this time I get to do it from the sea…which I am confident will give me an entirely new perspective and the opportunity to see ecologies and geological wonders not accessible by land.
The expedition includes a one-night pre-expedition hotel and a Golden Circle & Geothermal Energy land tour around the Reykjavik area before embarking on the Sylvia Earle. I did this a few years ago, but it is worth doing again. Iceland is never a “Been There. Done That” kinda place!
It is then setting sail to Westfjords, Iceland. Here are two articles from my recent land explorations. (Trust me, it is worth scrolling through the photographs so you can understand why this expedition is going to be just amazing!):
It is then off to the island of Jan Mayen, home of the world’s northernmost active volcano. While it is a great spot for bottlenose, fin, and bowhead whale sightings in the pack ice, as well as breeding harp seals, there is a 3-hour hike that I am really looking forward to…if the conditions permit our landing.
It is then off to the Svalbard Archipelago with its amazing bird life, and, if we are fortunate, polar bears, walruses, and arctic foxes.
Ending in Longyearbyen, it is then a flight to Tromso, then an overnight in Oslo, Norway, followed by my flights home. (It is a bit of a journey to get home, but think of the expedition you will have just experienced!)
As I mentioned, I will be traveling on Aurora Expeditions’ new ship, the Sylvia Earle, launched in 2022, carrying an average of only 132 guests, is technologically advanced, including dynamic positioning. She offers not only land expeditions, zodiac tours, and kayaking, but also diving, snorkeling, ski touring, and climbing all of which are launched from four sea-level docks.
There is a Citizen Science Center with active participation by the guests, state-of-the-art Lecture facilities, and a well-stocked Library.
On the creature comfort side, Sylvia Earle has a combination of staterooms and suites, two restaurants, two bars (one inside and one al fresco), a heated saltwater pool and jacuzzis, a sauna, a spa, and a fitness center.
For me, no matter how beautiful a ship is, or how good the service and cuisine are, what really matters is the delivery of the expedition. I have a very good feeling about Aurora Expeditions; especially with the excellent level of pre-expedition service.
I am very much looking forward to experiencing Aurora Expeditions; especially after its rough US start years ago, its expansion with the introduction of the Sylvia Earle after its original ship, the Greg Mortimer, and its focus on really getting you out there.
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