Australian-owned expedition travel company Aurora Expeditions will soon welcome its third purpose-built small expedition ship, Douglas Mawson, to its fleet. 

Douglas Mawson’s inaugural 2025 season also marks Aurora Expeditions’ return to East Antarctica for the first time in 15 years.

The ship is coming to Australia and New Zealand. ‘Mawson’s Antarctica’ voyage from Hobart to Dunedin includes the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands to be included in inaugural season.

Douglas Mawson has a capacity of 154 passengers. It will be the newest Infinity Class vessel to enter the market. It joins Aurora’s sister ships, Greg Mortimer and Sylvia Earle, also named after pioneers in their field. 

Small ship’s revolutionary design

The small ship will feature the latest revolutionary Ulstein X-BOW designed for smoother and faster ocean crossings. It also features world-leading fuel efficiency.

The Nordic-style interior design features stylish and comfortable staterooms and suites across 11 different categories, most featuring private balconies.

Aurora will also offer several single berth cabins for the first time, catering for the growing solo traveller segment. 

An Aurora Stateroom Superior on Douglas Mawson.

Public spaces include two restaurants, two bars, outdoor heated swimming pool, pool bar and Jacuzzis, a gym and sauna, relaxation and wellness areas. There is also a library lounge, a citizen science centre and lecture theatre. Observation decks offer panoramic views of wilderness and wildlife.

“We’re thrilled to be launching the newest and final Infinity Class vessel, which we have named in honour of pioneering Australian geologist and explorer, Sir Douglas Mawson,” said CEO Michael Heath. 

“We are equally delighted to be offering passengers new itineraries departing from Australia as part of the ship’s inaugural season, including an exploration of Mawson’s Antarctica, which will visit Mawson’s Huts at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, and New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands. 

“Aurora has pioneered expedition travel to the world’s most remote places for more than three decades, and we know that exploration is not just about what you see, but how you see it. That is why we are committed to delivering life-changing experiences with the newest, most advanced technology available, and with the most experienced and passionate team in the industry,” he added. 

Naming inspiration

CMO Hayley Peacock-Gower said the naming of the ship was inspired by a great explorer in Sir Douglas Mawson. 

“It was Mawson’s SY Aurora vessel that inspired our founder, Greg Mortimer, to name our company Aurora. Like its namesake, Douglas Mawson will be a ship that’s on the forefront of global ocean discovery. 

“We also look forward to our partnership with the Mawson’s Huts Foundation – a custodian of Australia’s Antarctic heritage and advocate for Antarctic science education for children – and supporting the fantastic work they do to preserve the Mawson’s Huts complex and bring the stories and achievements of Sir Douglas Mawson and his Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911-14 to life,” she added. 

The Dining Room on Douglas Mawson.

“We can’t wait to welcome Douglas Mawson to our fleet of small ships. And we look forward to announcing the full program of voyages for the new ship, which will offer passengers incredible expeditions in the polar regions, as well as some exciting new destinations.” 

Douglas Mawson is designed to be a comfortable base camp for adventure. It has Zodiac access points, a changing room and mudroom for passengers preparing for off-ship and onshore activities. The dedicated science centre is the hub for a variety of participative and educational Citizen Science programs. 

Aurora Expeditions plans to commence voyages on Douglas Mawson in December 2025. The inaugural voyage and full program will be announced soon. 

Those who pre-register their interest in Douglas Mawson’s inaugural Antarctica 2025/2026 season before April 18, 2024, are eligible to receive an additional US$2000 (AU$3080) per couple off their trip. 

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Douglas Mawson will set sail in 2025.