Aurora Expeditions' new ship Greg Mortimer is about to sail on its maiden voyage. The state-of-the-art expedition vessel departs Ushuaia on October 31 for Antarctica. Named after Aurora's co-founder, Greg Mortimer, the 104-metre ship is the first passenger vessel to feature the patented Ulstein X-Bow, the innovative marine technology that allows for gentler sea crossings, improved comfort and reduced emissions. The 120-passenger ship's inaugural season features 20 expeditions in the Antarctica peninsula, South Georgia and Falkland Islands. It will then sail the Arctic, including Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, East Greenland, Iceland and Norway.
Phone 1800 637 688. See auroraexpeditions.com.au
Luxury expedition company Ponant has three new, in-depth itineraries in the Seychelles next year aboard Le Bougainville. The eight-night Essential Seychelles cruise, departing January 3 from Mahe, visits Sainte Anne Marine National Park and Curieuse, Praslin and Grande Soeur islands. A 12-night Seychelles and Aldabra Atoll cruise departing February 28 from Victoria also takes in the huge Aldabra Atoll. The third Vanilla Islands itinerary is a nine-night cruise departing March 11 from Mahe that also visits the little-known Comoros Islands and small French archipelago Mayotte before concluding in Madagascar.
Phone 1300 737 178. See au.ponant.com
A STAR IS REBORN
Windstar Cruises is in the middle of a $US250 million ($370 million) investment to transform its ships, with a new midsection for Star Legend under construction at shipyards in Italy. It will be the second of Windstar's ships (after Star Breeze) to undergo a transformation from a 212-passenger to a 312-passenger vessel. The new midsection allows the addition of 50 suites. The transformed ship will also have a new grill and Spanish restaurant, plus a new swimming pool and redeveloped spa and fitness centre. Star Legend relaunches in July 2020.
Phone 1300 749 875. See windstar.com.au
AN EASIER CYCLE
Guests on European Waterways' fleet of hotel barges have free use of regular bicycles during their voyages, but now the barge specialist is adding an option for e-bike rental for those who need extra help with hills or want to roam greater distances. The e-bikes will be available in Burgundy, the Canal du Midi and Provence in France, where the company will upgrade its tailored biking maps to provide more detailed and easier-to-follow routes, which will include historical context for self-guided bikes tours through towns along the barging routes.
Phone 1800 828 050. See europeanwaterways.com
Aqua Expeditions has appointed Australian chef Benjamin Cross as its consulting chef on Aqua Blu, a new luxury yacht that makes its inaugural voyage next month and will sail itineraries in Indonesia, including a 12-night Ambon and Spice Islands itinerary and seven-night Rajah Ampat cruise. Cross, who once worked with Neil Perry and in a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Spain, runs three restaurants in Bali and has created more than 100 recipes for the ship's restaurant, showcasing Asian and Middle Eastern flavours, and particularly Indonesia's role in the global spice trade.
Phone 1300 124 204. See aquaexpeditions.com