Friday, 27 June 2008

Orion's Antarctic Expedition: A Christmas toast to Douglas Mawson

Imagine spending the days leading up to Christmas, including Christmas Day and Boxing Day, onboard the purpose-built expedition cruise ship Orion, being part of an Antarctic expedition of a lifetime. A Christmas toast to Australia's greatest Antarctic explorer, Douglas Mawson.

This amazing voyage will take intrepid modern-day adventurers from New Zealand (Bluff) through the Great Southern Ocean, crossing the Antarctic Circle before heading for Cape Denison and a memorable visit to Douglas Mawson's historic huts built for his 1911-1914 'Australian Antarctic Expedition'.

These timber buildings are rare in a world context, being one of just six complexes surviving from the 'Heroic Era' of Antarctic exploration: a period of great human adventure, exploration, research and discovery on the last continent to be explored.

Regarded as the windiest place on earth, regularly whipped by ferocious katabatic winds, it is a wonder that there are any remnants of buildings left at all. Yet, remarkably, in addition to the historic buildings, there are plentiful examples of clothing, food, crates, sleds, ropes and kerosene tins remaining, literally frozen in time.

Mawson’s Huts are located at Cape Denison, 67° 0’ south, further south than the position of the south magnetic pole. Magnetic compasses are useless in these waters, an area that remains mainly unsurveyed.

At over twice the length and 10 times the weight of Aurora, Douglas Mawson's wooden ex-whaling barquentine, Orion (with the benefits of oversized stabilisers, retractable sonar and ice strengthened hull) provides her 100 guests with the needs of today's adventurers: technology, safety and creature comforts that include fine food and wines, a gym, boutique, hairdressing, sauna and massage facilities - as well as 75 staff and specialist expedition crew to look after every need.

Orion's 10 Zodiacs, the perfect expedition transport, will be put to good use for landings ashore in both Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic Snares, Auckland and Macquarie Island, breeding ground for countless wildlife.

On Macquarie the King penguin colony alone has some 3,000 birds. So rare are visitors here that they are usually ignored by birds, seals and penguins alike as they go about their daily business. See Elephant seals, some weighing as much as three tonnes - more than a car - and the massed gathering of Royal penguins coming and going from the sea.

This 16 night expedition concludes in Hobart, Tasmania, 27th December, 2008.

A never to be forgotten Christmas expedition to one of the most pristine and wondrous places on earth.


Orion’s Antarctic Continent – Commonwealth Bay 2008

16 night expedition: Bluff / Antarctica / Hobart

Expedition departs 11th December 2008 (ex Bluff, Invercargill, NZ). Bluff/ Snares Islands/ Auckland Islands/ Macquarie Island/ Commonwealth Bay region/ Hobart

NOTE: Please note that all Antarctic voyages are subject to possible variation according to prevailing weather conditions and as such are opportunistic in nature. On occasion intended destinations will need to be changed for safety or other reason.

Fares from $15,790 per person for an Ocean View category B Stateroom

Suites from $21,775 per person for a Junior Suite

Orion’s spacious Owners’ Suites are $33,055 per person