Our Vision: Founded in early 2004, Orion Expedition Cruises is internationally recognised for a wide range of voyages, each designed to encourage guests to intimately connect with the region they are exploring. Expeditions that appeal to travellers who prefer to participate rather than spectate; those who seek the mental stimulation of new experiences, places and discovery, whilst enjoying the extensive facilities of their floating base camp, Orion. Orion is a purpose-built expedition vessel designed to access the inaccessible, equally capable and at home whether it be voyaging in equatorial climes or polar ice cap. Technically and aesthetically, Orion is arguably the most sophisticated vessel in its class. Constructed by the world-leading Cassens Shipyard in Emden, Germany, and launched in November 2003, she boasts a host of advanced design features including technology that sets the standard in sustainable marine environmental practices. Expedition Cruising is different to 'deckchair' cruising. Life onboard and ashore is inclusive, not exclusive, involving a regular interchange of information, thoughts and ideas between guests and expedition team. As befits an expedition, experiences are occasionally mentally and, optionally, physically challenging. Cultural experiences and interaction invariably uplifting, sometimes confronting. Always stimulating. Onboard Orion the ambiance is intimate and subtly elegant and the international-standard of service warm and unobtrusive. Unlike typical mainstream cruise ships, Orion's guests are few, merely 100, cared for by an attentive crew of 75, including an expedition team who will inform, assist and guide you through these adventures. As part of our commitment to offering guests an enriching experience, specialist onboard lecturers have been selected to join us on each voyage to share their knowledge and expertise on the regions we visit. Varying by voyage these may include marine biologists, naturalists, diplomats, artists, historians, photographers, explorers and scientists. Our expeditions explore some of the most pristine and sensitive wilderness areas on the planet. More often than not, places that offer little or no infrastructure to support visits by a hundred people at one time (let alone greater numbers). In March 2013 Lindblad Expeditions, the U.S.-based small ship expedition company which partners with the National Geographic Society for expedition cruising, announced that Orion Expedition Cruises will become part of Lindblad's existing fleet starting with March 2014 itineraries, offering Orion past and future guests access to expeditions around the globe. "We are extremely excited about the opportunity to offer global expedition cruising to Australians and we intend to bring the full weight of our experience and that of National Geographic to the Orion organization and the ship", said Sven Lindblad, President and Founder of Lindblad Expeditions. Lindblad Expeditions owns five ships: the National Geographic Explorer, the National Geographic Endeavour, the National Geographic Sea Bird, the National Geographic Sea Lion and the National Geographic Islander. In addition, Lindblad other vessels for seasonal expeditions. Destinations include Arctic Svalbard, Antarctica, Alaska, Baja California, Central America, Galapagos, the Amazon, New Zealand, Africa, British Isles, Egypt, Europe, the Mediterranean, the Pacific Northwest and South America. Like Orion, Lindblad Expeditions has a strong affinity with the environment with the belief that a traveller's own, individual experience can be life-changing - leading to greater understanding, appreciation and stewardship of a place on earth. Plans are underway for the number of specialist expedition team members to be increased; scuba facilities will be added for specific 2014 voyages and a remote underwater camera will provide ship board guests with a better idea of what the underwater world looks like beneath the ship. All enhancements that reflect Lindblad's worldwide reputation as the most respected expedition cruise company in the world - now Orion's world as well. Orion would be delighted to have you join us on a voyage to some of the most wonderful but rarely seen places on earth.
Exploring your taste for lifes little luxuries: As Orion heads for some exotic port, or when you return after a day ashore, you can rediscover your capacity for relaxation and indulgence. Take a sauna or laze on deck in our Jacuzzi spa. A masseuse is on hand should those muscles need relaxing. Having freshened up you might like to browse the boutique, visit the hairdresser or perhaps send an email from our computer centre. Your next port of call might be the Observation Lounge: enjoy a cocktail with panoramic 270 degree views and relish the unassuming service delivered by a crew of 65 taking care of just a hundred or so guests.
Award winning chef: In contrast to the wilds of Antarctica, or rugged adventures in the Kimberley, the onboard cuisine is distinctly civilised. Award winning chef, Serge Dansereau of Sydney’s famed Bathers’ Pavilion, has created signature menus inspired by local culinary traditions featuring produce and flavours reflecting the regions you are visiting. Orion’s adventurous spirit is also reflected in our selection of Australian, New Zealand and European wines: some from exceptional, lesser-known wineries to complement our range of familiar labels. Dining at any time is an unhurried experience with a single, unassigned seating in the Constellation Restaurant. Dine with friends you made on yesterday’s exploration ashore or the couple you were chatting to on deck earlier. During the day, is the passing scenery is too spectacular to simply let pass by, take a seat for breakfast or lunch at our Outdoor Cafe. With room enough for all, and all as good things in life should be, dining aboard Orion need never be rushed.
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean: If one destination epitomises a path less travelled, it is our Antarctic expeditions. Mid-way between Australia and the Antarctic continent is amazing Macquarie Island, famous for its wildlife including elephant seals and a breeding population of more than a million royal penguins. It is the only place in the world where rocks from the earth’s mantle – 6km beneath the ocean floor – are exposed above sea level. Nowhere else on earth is the air so fresh, so light, so pristine as in Antarctica or the abundance of wildlife as extraordinary: fur seals, sea lions, whales, albatross, huge flocks of giant petrel. Rarely will an hour pass without some spellbinding sight. Then there are those towering glaciers, the chance to explore abandoned whaling stations and, incredibly, to do something many do not have the chance to do – step ashore on the Antarctic continent, the last to be explored. Walk in the footsteps of men like Shackleton, Scott and Mawson – and even to see the huts that served as their bases. The sense of awe and privilege that these experiences give will live with you for the rest of your life.
The Great Barrier Reef And Torres Strait Islands: The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living organism, and stretches along 2,300km of coastline to the very tip of Australia. World Heritage listed, this part of our world is spectacular no matter how you look at it – but the experience is all the more enriching when you sail one of Orion’s adventurous itineraries. Our 7-night expeditions include acclaimed islands like Lizard and Hayman in the north, and a selection of well-kept secrets in the southern reaches of the reef known only to passing yachtsmen. Each call reveals the reef and its myriad of islands in their spectacular diversity. From Kelso Reef to the Percy Islands and Kingfisher Bay to Cape Tribulation, you will see sealife, fauna and flora, unlike anything else on the planet. On every voyage you will have the chance to snorkel in waters home to a living a palette of colour. To the far, far north is the very tip of Australia. Step ashore on Cape York and explore the remarkably diverse Torres Strait Islands of Yorke, Thursday and Murray. Join us on an exploration of the unique.
Tasmania and the Tasmanian Sea: As the weather warms up, Orion migrates south exploring the riches of Australian verdant coastline. Spend Christmas Day at anchor in beautiful Jervis Bay, a place lined with beaches so pure that the sands have been converted internationally, and the following day experience the thrilling start to the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. New Year’s Eve, consider something very different: watch fireworks in Sydney Harbour from the very best vantage point, onboard Orion, before toasting the New Year as Orion heads out to sea. Orion ventures to Tasmania renown for its amazing diversity. Sample the distinctive cheeses produced on isolated King Island or explore the lower reaches of the Gordon River at Strahan, once the subject of a fierce legal battle between developers and conservationists that stirred the nation. Hike up Mt. Dove to view Orion riding gently at anchor in breathtakingly beautiful Wineglass Bay or delve into Hobart’s Salamanca Markets, in the old port town.