Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Orion: not for sale and still strong


Orion Expedition Cruises has slammed reports that it is planning to sell its 106-guest Orion, saying that the vessel is definitely not for sale.

THE rumor mill went into overdrive last week after an international ship brokerage website posted a listing for Orion Expedition Cruises' (OEC) much loved small ship expedition vessel Orion, with a price tag of $50m.

This week, OEC Founder Sarina Bratton told Cruise Weekly that the company is not selling Orion, and that the website in question had put the photo and details up in the hopes of being able take an offer to OEC and score a commission.

Following a warning from the expedition specialist however, the website has since withdrawn the listing and apologised.

"We have the most coveted and profitable expedition ship in the world," said Bratton.

"There are lots of people who would love to have this ship, but we are not looking to sell," she added.

In fact, Bratton said that rather than looking to sell Orion and change its format, the company is thriving and has more independent cruise bookings now than in any previous year.

In addition, the company has also clocked a 33% booking increase for the next financial year, and is up a whopping 300% for the fiscal year 2014.

"We are seeing significant business coming through," Bratton said, adding that domestic sales are currently at their highest levels post GFC.

Sales are also growing healthily outside of Australia, with American and Japanese cruisers responding strongly to OEC's offerings.

MEANWHILE, the company will hand back Orion II in 2013, meaning that next year it will not be running voyages in Japan, Russia and the Far East, and Vietnam.

That does not however mean that OEC has given up on those itineraries, with Bratton saying that the feedback from passengers who have cruised those voyages has been fantastic, and that when the company acquires a second ship it will look to reinstate these offerings.

As for news on a second ship, Bratton confirmed that the company is still on the lookout for the perfect vessel to fit with the OEC brand, but has not yet found it.

The company is also looking forward to releasing its new 2013 brochure in the next couple of weeks, as well as a brand new website and a new Orion App for iPhone and iPad users.

The new website, according to Bratton, will be more interactive than the current site, and with more maps, satellite images, photos, and video footage, will give viewers a really great insight and appreciation for the expedition cruising experience offered by the company.

"We offer a very different product to traditional cruising," Bratton said.

"We travel to very remote places, and offer in-depth destination experiences, and the new website will help people to understand the value of what Orion stands for," she said.