Aurora Expeditions launches its new expedition cruise vessel 'Sylvia Earle'



The CX103 designs, Ocean Odyssey and Sylvia Earle, have been delivered from the CMHI shipyard in Haimen, China to SunStone. The final documents were signed on 21 October 2022, completing the delivery. This series of vessels is the first expedition cruise vessels to implement the X-BOW feature for increased comfort.

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All INFINITY vessels are destined for long-term, year-round charters. The Sylvia Earle will be operated by Aurora Expeditions, and the Ocean Odyssey by Vantage Travel.

Exterior and interior design

For all vessels in the INFINITY class series, Ulstein Design & Solutions is responsible for the exterior design, while Tomas Tillberg Design is responsible for the interior design.

Tomas Tillberg Design is responsible for the interior design, this photo shows the entrance to the library, lying on top of the stairs. Photo: Aurora Expeditions/Benjamin Tan.
Tomas Tillberg Design is responsible for the interior design, this photo shows the entrance to the library. Photo: Aurora Expeditions/Benjamin Tan.

The photo above shows the stairs leading to the library. "The library is at the top of these stairs. It’s on the mezzanine overlooking the stairs and the deck below," explains Tomas Tillberg.

The following text is based on a press release from Aurora Expeditions:

The expedition travel company Aurora Expeditions has launched its second purpose-built small ship, Sylvia Earle, which will embark on her inaugural voyage from Ushuaia, Argentina to Antarctica on December 10, 2022.

“We are beyond thrilled to announce our newest ship, Sylvia Earle, is in the water and on her way to Antarctica,” says Aurora’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Heath. “We cannot wait to introduce her to our loyal trade and consumer partners worldwide and, of course, a new generation of global expeditioners in search of adventure, discovery and extraordinary life-changing experiences,” he adds.

With its strong focus on education and conservation, the new Sylvia Earle is designed to accommodate an average of 132 passengers per voyage in a relaxed, fun and informal onboard setting.

X-BOW for smoother and faster crossings

Featuring the revolutionary ULSTEIN X-BOW, an inverted bow designed for smoother and faster ocean crossings, which helps to reduce fuel consumption, the ship offers stylish and comfortable staterooms and suites, most with private balconies.

Public spaces include multiple restaurants and bars, social relaxation and wellness areas, an outdoor heated swimming pool and Jacuzzis, a gym, spa and sauna, a library lounge, a lecture theatre, and expansive decks offering panoramic views of wilderness and wildlife, making it the ideal ‘base camp’ for exploring.

Zodiac docks, a changing room and a mudroom prepare passengers for off-ship and on-shore activities, while a dedicated Science Centre is the hub for a variety of participative and educational Citizen Science programs.

A highly experienced Expedition Team guides passengers in small groups on myriad excursions by water and land, with exciting activities ranging from Zodiac cruises to walks and hikes, sea kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling, paddling, skiing, photography and birdwatching, among others.

Antarctica penguins on the ice, photo: Torsten Dederichs.
Antarctica penguins on the ice, photo: Torsten Dederichs.

“Our goal is to immerse our expeditioners in some of the world’s most remote and fascinating places and, in doing so, create lifelong ambassadors for the planet,” says Chief Marketing Officer, Hayley Peacock-Gower. “More than 30 years in the making, Aurora Expeditions has a track record for pioneering adventure and discovery – and respectful travel is at the core of our ethos,” she adds.

This state-of-the-art expedition ship will be a floating ambassador for the conservation of the planet. A sister ship to the Greg Mortimer, launched in 2019, the Sylvia Earle is named after the renowned marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer and conservationist Dr. Sylvia Earle. She is a National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998 and was named by Time magazine as its first ‘Hero of the Planet’. In February 2023, Dr Earle, in partnership with Ocean Geographic will lead a world-first ‘Antarctic Climate Expedition’ on the new ship to raise public and government awareness of the environmental importance of the Antarctic. This special voyage aims to deliver resolutions to inspire transformative changes for global net-zero emissions by 2035 from an ocean perspective.
“Female scientists are leading the way in global conservation initiatives, and we want to honour these extraordinary women who work tirelessly to make the world a better place,” says Peacock-Gower.

End of press release.

The first to experience the X-BOW in expedition cruising

SunStone Ships contracted the first of the INFINITY class vessels in 2017, and Aurora Expeditions was the first to experience these with the first delivery, the Greg Mortimer.

Read the Captain's story: "In big seas I kept waiting for the slamming - it never came"

'Greg Mortimer', the first X-BOW expedition cruise vessel, in Antarctica. Photo: Ulstein Group/Kristian Yksnøy.
'Greg Mortimer', the first X-BOW expedition cruise vessel, in Antarctica. Photo: Ulstein Group/Kristian Yksnøy.

The INFINITY class vessels are built at the CMHI Haimen yard, China, and Ulstein's contracts include the ship design and power and automation packages for the vessels which include ULSTEIN BRIDGE, ULSTEIN COM, ULSTEIN POWER, ULSTEIN IAS and ULSTEIN BLUE BOX, the two latter based on ULSTEIN X-CONNECT.

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