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Orion reaches the parts that no other cruise ship is allowed to ...

Sarina Bratton, the highly personable founder of Orion Expedition Cruises, breezed into the UK last week for her annual get together with assorted hacks and travel agents to outline what's in store next year.

And after her short outline of the 2012 programme, followed by a more in depth presentation by expedition leader Alastair Newton of the amazing places that Orion will be visiting , I was left feeling fed up as usual.

Sarina Bratton of Orion cruisesSeeing all these wonderful places that hardly anyone else gets the chance to visit being offered on a pair of expedition vessels more akin to a Abramovich yachts, makes me want to spend the rest of my life on board.

Trouble is, I need to win the £100 million Euro Lottery to afford it - well, maybe not quite as much as that - because the truth is, Orion cruises don’t come cheap.

And nor should they. You sail in six-star comfort, are pampered throughout, with all-inclusive ingredients covering just about everything, and once off the ship, you are led by experts to new wonders of the world.

In 2012 these will include a return to the Inland Sea of Japan - the welcome for this year’s inaugural viit was truly memorable in the wake of the tsunami - the natural treasures of the Russian Far East, cultural highlights of Papua New Guinea, Pure New Zealand - a first - and and MacQuarie Island and New Zealand sub-Antarctic islands.

Not forgetting to mention, of course, the flagship cruises around The Kimberley for which Orion is renowned.

Many cruise lines pride themselves on being able to reach the parts that the large cruise lines can’t reach. Orion prides itself on being able to reach even smaller parts that the smaller cruise lines can’t reach either.

Orion guests land by zodiac on Papua New Guinea
Orion guests land by zodiac on Papua New Guinea

Accessing these areas - many of them exclusive to Orion -  isn’t just a case of bowling up, taking a look and heading off to the next sight to see. Sarina Bratton, pictured, and her team spend many months negotiating with governments and environment organisations to gain permission to visit, especially in places like the Antarctic and Borneo.

For example, just 500 visitors are allowed to land on Macquarie Island and less than 200 people have stepped inside Mawson’s Hut at Cape Denison. All thanks to Orion.
And here sre some of the exlusive, or near-exclusives, that are on offer to its guests

  • Sub Antarctic Islands - Orion holds the majority of the limited visitors permits to thesde remote locations
  • Arnhem Land – Orion is the only operator offering annual voyages
  • Papua New Guinea - occasionally visited by others but Orion is the principal operator by water.
  • Orion’s voyage across the northern coast (14 April 2011 West Papua and Malaku) was a first for Orion and may have only been done commercially once before
  • Kimberley - most of the points of call are replicated by only a few others
  • Spice Islands – Orion is the only operator other than small boats operating locally
  • Antipodes – exclusive to Orion
  • Tasmania - some local operators will visit one or two locations but this complete itinerary is exclusive to Orion
  • Antarctica - as only five per cent of all visitors travel to this side of the continent it is pretty much Orion’s exclusively
  • Russian Far East - there are occasional visits by other operators but it is a big area and itineraries vary
  • Inland Sea of Japan – virtually exclusive
  • Borneo - most itineraries are exclusive
  • So although on average the entry level for a 10-night Orion voyage is £5,000, cruise only, you will be introduced to spectacular sights that few people have the opportunity to experience.

    Posted on 26th September 2011 at 10:00 am in Cruise News | Cruise Lines |

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