Cruise has been recognised in this year’s Australia Day honours with Sarina Bratton, Orion founder and Ponant Australasian chair, awarded an Order of Australia.

The recognition comes as Mrs Bratton, a cruise veteran, has taken up a new position designed to promote a new French line in the region.

Mrs Bratton is often cited as having pioneered luxury international cruising in the Australian market. But perhaps the role that brought her to most prominence was founding and running the luxury adventure ship, Orion.

The vessel was sold to leading US expeditions brand Lindblad last year. She is to be rechristened National Geographic Orion in March. Mrs Bratton has been made a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) for “significant service to tourism, particularly the cruise ship industry, and to business”.

She said it was an “enormous honour to be recognised with such a prestigious appointment”.

Mrs Bratton’s CV bears out the citation. She spent 14-year career with Cunard Line, ultimately as Vice President and General Manager Asia Pacific, founded the first of her two cruise companies, Norwegian Capricorn Line, in 1997, in a joint venture between Australian interests and Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line, and four years later, pioneered luxury expedition cruising when she founded Orion Expedition Cruises.

Future plans for her role at Ponant include the positioning of a new expedition ship in and around Australia from late 2015 for a program of itineraries featuring Australia, Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Mrs Bratton’s mantle is already groaning with awards, including NSW Entrepreneur of the Year, Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year, the inaugural Australian Travel Innovators Award for “enhancing the way Australians, and the world, travel”, the Commonwealth Government’s Centenary Medal for business leadership.