AURORA Expeditions Managing Director Robert Halfpenny said the company had witnessed “immediate interest” from cruisers wanting to be part of the inaugural sailing of its new 104-metre, purpose-built expedition ship, the Greg Mortimer.
Making its debut in October this year, the new 120-passenger vessel is billed by Aurora as being designed “by expeditioners for expeditioners”, pushing the boundaries of cruising to remote hard-to-reach polar destinations.
“Within the first six months of its release we sold over 60% of the ship’s capacity across 2019/20 Antarctica itineraries, and over 40% of the 2020 Arctic season,” Halfpenny told travelBulletin.
“By 31 December 2018 we had sold 95% of the 2019/20 Antarctic program and over 77% of the 2020 Arctic program, completely exceeding our initial target,” he added.
The strong sales for the 2019/20 season look likely to be replicated, with the recent release of Aurora’s 2020/21 collection this month already gaining solid traction.
“Within the first few days, we have sold over 10% of the entire 2020/21 program’s capacity,” Halfpenny said.
The latest program includes voyages exploring the remote regions of Patagonia, Costa Rica, Greenland and Iceland among others.
One of the drivers for the quick uptake for trips aboard the Greg Mortimer has been a more active approach to the travel trade. Part of this strategy includes running a series of educational workshop events for agents across the country, as well as pre-releasing offers to the trade so that they can establish and synchronise their systems in advance.
“When I started in my role two years ago, over 85% of our sales were direct,” Halfpenny said.
“Part of our growth strategy, and the board’s decision to bring me into the organisation, was to develop a trade distribution network… we now make over half of our sales via the trade,” he added.
Upcoming milestones for Aurora include the launch of its 2021/22 program in Q4 2019, and the launch of a new vessel similar to the Greg Mortimer before the 2020/21 season.