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Polar discovery

Discover the most remote lands on the planet with Antarctica & Arctic cruises

Aurora Expeditions unveiled its incredible 2023 and 2024 cruises this month, with an amazing array of once-in-a-lifetime adventure voyages to the Arctic, Antarctic and beyond.

Arctic and Antarctic expeditions are on the bucket list of many intrepid explorers, visiting lands of great fascination and mystery on which only a fraction of the globe has ever stepped foot.

Aurora Expeditions is opening up these majestic realms to jet setters and offering even more options for exploring the white continent with its new 2023/24 Antarctic season as well as new Arctic and British Isles voyages next year.

So, what do you need to know about the expedition cruise line and its new and exciting itineraries?

What is Aurora Expeditions?

Aurora was co-founded by Australian adventure-lovers Greg and Margaret Mortimer over 30 years ago and has since racked up decades of experience taking small groups of travelers on inspiring voyages of discovery.

The company specialises in small ship expedition vessels which accommodate an average of 132 passengers per voyage and focus on sustainability.

Holidaymakers are spoilt for choice when it comes to optional activities with Aurora Expeditions – you’re guaranteed adventure on both land and sea, ensuring you explore deeper. There’s kayaking (from polar to tropical depending on where you are in the world), scuba diving (yup, even in the icy waters of Antarctic and the Arctic where you swim amongst icebergs and unique marine life), snorkelling, stand-up paddleboarding, rock climbing, camping and more.

Plus, some of the best expedition specialists in the business accompany Aurora voyages and will be there to share their wisdom at onboard lectures and answer your burning questions.

Aurora Expeditions ships

The first Aurora expedition ship was the Greg Mortimer (after the well-known mountaineer behind the company) with the Sylvia Earle (after the world-renowned oceanographer and explorer of the same name) launching in November 2022.

A perk of the smaller size of these purpose-built expedition ships is they can go where larger vessels cannot, they have greater flexibility should schedules need to change and more landings can be made. Fewer passengers onboard also means more solitude (should you so desire!) as guests explore these remote corners of the earth.

Aurora also boasts fly/sail options to add greater ease and variety to vacations. For example, the fly/sail Antarctic programme sees voyages bypassing one or both legs of the Drake Passage, with explorers flying into the Falkland Islands and King George Island to make sure their adventure starts even sooner.

Aurora Expeditions Antarctica cruises 2023/24

The new Aurora Antarctica expeditions season features dozens of departures on both the Greg Mortimer and the brand-new Sylvia Earle.

Expect classic voyages as well as six new and innovative itineraries that cater for both travelers looking for shorter breaks and those after full-fat getaways.

The new Antarctic Explorer Express itinerary is just nine days and offers a condensed version of the longer Antarctic Explorer itinerary for those seeking a briefer adventure to the Antarctic Peninsula.

If eager to indulge in the ultimate expedition to Antarctica, however, you’ll want Antarctic Peninsula in Depth which includes visits to well-known locations plus opportunities for surprise discoveries.

Join Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs while keeping an eye out for whales, seals and porpoising penguins. Keen for the most exhilarating dip of your life? Take a polar plunge! With 18-24 hours of daylight in this most southern of continents, there’s plenty of time to make the most of your experience.

Another new and exciting Aurora Expeditions Antarctica offering is the 18-day Circle and Weddell itinerary after which you can cross two major Antarctica boxes off your travel list – traversing the Antarctic Circle (think pack ice, towering icebergs, ice-clad mountains, whales and leopards seals) and venturing into the infamous Weddell Sea if conditions permit.

Frozen ice can often block the entrance – Sir Ernest Shackleton and the crew of Endurance discovered the frozen perils of this area the hard way in 1915 after becoming trapped in sea ice – but it’s well worth the adventure if the weather gods allow.

En route on these Aurora Antarctica expeditions you can enjoy Zodiac landings and spot fur seals and baby penguins as they take their first swim. The Weddell Sea region is home to crabeater, leopard and Weddell seals thanks to the abundance of ice, while a big Adélie penguin colony lives just outside of Antarctic Sound. Meanwhile, bird watchers should look out for Antarctic blue-eyed shags and Wilson’s storm petrels.

To explore the Weddell Sea and its historical associations in further detail, the new Deep Weddell Following Nordensköld itinerary focuses on the region more than any other of Aurora’s voyages. Alternately, other new Aurora Expeditions itineraries visit the Falklands Islands, South Georgia and even the seldom-visited, far-flung South Sandwich Islands.

Aurora Expeditions Arctic cruises 2023

At the other extreme of planet Earth, there’s the Arctic, and the good news is, Aurora Arctic expeditions to this northern magical region are just as diverse. It really says it on the tin for Svalbard in Depth which offers an extended exploration of the Norwegian archipelago; look out for polar bears and walruses – two of the Arctic giants that reign in this polar land.

The Iceland, Jan Mayen, Svalbard itinerary also takes in this High Arctic region – you might even reach N80 ̊latitude if conditions allow. Keep your eye peeled for whales!

Alternatively head to Scoresbysund, the world’s largest fjord system, on the East Greenland Explorer itinerary. Hop into a Zodiac to soak up the majesty of these waterways and imposing icebergs or take a guided hike to cross the arctic tundra and hope for a glimpse of musk ox and the elusive arctic fox.

To follow in the steps of the great explorers of old, Aurora Expeditions’ Arctic sailings include the Complete Northwest Passage itinerary which was inspired by Roald Amundsen’s historic expedition from 1903 to 1906. Cruise through Arctic Canada to the Beaufort Sea, visiting historical sites, meeting fascinating locals and searching for wildlife en route.

For something closer to home, Aurora Expeditions also offers Ireland & Scotland Discovery, on which travelers can explore the country’s rugged coastlines, discover unique flora and fauna, marvel at archaeological treasures and natural phenomena, and visit key historical hotspots.

So, north or south – which one will you choose?

Published 06.17.22