Aurora unveils new ship Douglas Mawson

The cruise line's third vessel will mark its return to sailing to Antarctica from Australia

AURORA Expeditions will soon welcome Douglas Mawson to its fleet, as exclusively revealed by travelBulletin, with the cruise line’s third small ship to begin sailing late next year.

The ship, named for the Aussie geologist and Antarctic explorer, will also mark Aurora’s return to Australia, and its first cruises to East Antarctica in 15 years.

New itineraries will include a ‘Mawson’s Antarctica’ voyage to East Antarctica in honour of the ship’s namesake, departing from Hobart.

The ‘Mawson’s Antarctica’ voyage, which will also serve as her inaugural cruise, will visit Mawson’s Huts at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, and New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands.

Douglas Mawson will be the newest Infinity class vessel to enter the market, joining Aurora’s sister ships Greg Mortimer and Sylvia Earle; however the new vessel will be slightly bigger, featuring 11 different stateroom categories, with most accommodations featuring a private balcony.

Public spaces include two restaurants, two bars, an outdoor heated swimming pool, a pool bar and Jacuzzis, a gym and sauna, relaxation and wellness areas, a library lounge, a citizen science centre and lecture theatre, and expansive observation decks offering panoramic views of wilderness and wildlife.

Chief Marketing Officer Hayley-Peacock Gower, speaking exclusively to travelBulletin, said Douglas Mawson will “change the game” for Australian travellers, offering the opportunity to depart on an Antarctic cruise from their own country.

Peacock-Gower said market research had returned “overwhelming” demand for locally departing East Antarctica and Ross Sea cruises.

“As an Australian brand, for us to depart from Australia presents a wonderful opportunity for Australians who are interested in expedition travel to Antarctica,” she said.

“We have always wanted to provide trips from Australia to Antarctica…pre-COVID; we had an incredible Australia program, which was very popular and well sold.

“To be able to provide travellers an option where they don’t have to do a long-haul flight, they can actually go from their own country, will be incredible.”

The ship’s inaugural cruise will be joined by members of the Mawson family, as well as Aurora’s newest partner, the Mawson’s Hut Foundation.

It will also include a pre-cruise experience, which will feature a visit to the Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum in Hobart, and the opportunity to dine at Hadley’s Orient Hotel, where Mawson met his fellow Antarctic expeditioners prior to departure.

Aurora will also offer several single berth cabins for the first time aboard Douglas Mawson, to cater for the growing solo traveller segment.

Pecaock-Gower noted the growth of this piece of the market, which is filling out rapidly in Australia and the United States – so much so 40% of the quotes which come via Aurora’s website are requests for single staterooms.

“Having single cabins is a response to market demand, because it is really significant, and to be able to do that from Australia is even more fantastic,” she said.

“We already over-index in the solo traveller segment, we have a very large percentage of solo travellers, because expedition cruising is made for that – it’s a shared experiences, lots of camaraderie, instant friendships.”

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