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Orion Expedition Cruises, based in Australia, has increased the size of its fleet with the addition of the Orion II, a second expedition ship joining the line’s existing 106-passenger Orion. The 100-passenger, 50-suite Orion II started service on June 10 with a 24-night cruise from Vancouver to Otaru, Japan, to be followed by expeditions to the Russian Far East, Inland Sea of Japan, Ryukyu Islands and, then, a series of varying 10-night itineraries around Borneo. Later voyages in 2011 include Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
“Orion Expedition Cruises is now able to provide exclusive expeditions from Antarctica to Asia, and Kimberley, Western Australia, to Micronesia and New Zealand, with the two ships offering a balance of onboard service and luxury combined with unique personal experiences in environmentally and culturally sensitive parts of the region,” said Sarina Bratton, founder and managing director. “Together, Orion and Orion II are two of the most comfortable and capable expedition cruise ships cruising in Australasia.”
Orion II spent a number of years as a private yacht before a $19 million refurbishment — with emphasis on technical enhancements and upgraded environmental systems — in 2009. With a crew of 70, she carries 100 guests in 50 suites. Each suite offers ocean views and a sitting area or separate living room, twin or queen-size beds and a flat-screen television with a DVD player. Orion II has an ice-strengthened hull for Antarctic voyages and a fleet of Zodiacs to enable easy shore access in remote locations.
“Orion II represents another step on a journey that has included many fascinating destinations since Orion’s first expeditionary voyage from Tahiti to Australia in March 2005. Despite difficult global financial conditions, our growth has been solid, and this has been enhanced by the support of our loyal guests — many of whom are joining me onboard for the inaugural 24-night voyage,” Bratton said.
“With the demand for experiential travel at an all-time high, Orion is one of the few cruise lines that consistently delivers an authentic, personal experience while still maintaining a level of onboard luxury that is usually mutually exclusive,” said David Morris, president of David Morris International, which handles American sales and marketing. “We are confident that Orion II’s exciting destinations like Borneo and Vietnam will spark tremendous attention from seasoned travelers looking for their next vacation-of-a-lifetime or perfect bucket-list experience.”