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Conventional cruise ships continue to become larger with even more choices of where to dine and more sources of entertainment, but recently smaller specialised ships are also being built. Designed for expedition cruising, these ships can go to places inaccessible to larger ships while those aboard are more interested in active pursuits than relaxing entertainments.

In May, a new ship for the polar adventure cruise company Aurora Expeditions was launched in China to a design by Ulstein. To be named the Greg Mortimer, the ship will appear strange to many people because the front looks more like that of a bullet train. Ulstein, originally a Norwegian shipbuilder but now with international connections, developed the ‘X-bow’ 13 years ago and since then it has been used in more than 100 ships. Eliminating the flare of a conventional bow reduces the vertical acceleration when rising to a wave and the slamming experienced on dropping into the next. The ship is therefore more stable in heavy seas, increasing the comfort of those aboard. As it passes through waves with less effort it uses less fuel, which reduces costs and is better for the environment. A comparison of a conventional bow and an X-bow can be found at

The Greg Mortimer has been built with a hull strengthened for operating in the icefields of the Arctic and Antarctic. A small vessel with a length of 104m, she will have 80 passenger cabins, a restaurant, a space for lectures, a lounge, a 180-degree indoor observation deck, outdoor viewing areas, a gymnasium, sauna and spa. A large range of facilities will be provided to cater for expeditions ashore using the ship’s zodiacs. Climbing, ski touring, snowshoeing, diving, snorkelling, camping ashore, sea kayaking and photography are just some of the experiences that will be available to expeditioners. Though many cruises will be in polar regions, the Greg Mortimer will also provide cruises to South America and the Kimberley coast of Western Australia.

Two more ships to the same design have been ordered by other expedition cruising companies.


President, Peninsula Ship Society

T: Maurie Hutchinson 9787 5780


The Peninsula Ship Society meets at Hastings Yacht Club on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 10am. Visitors always welcome.


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