True North founder and owner Craig Howson is ready for the competition as rival operators National Geographic Orion and French luxury liner Compagnie Du Ponant gear up to take on the long established Australian adventure cruise vessel.

“I am not worried about the competition. We have a unique offering and I pioneered the Kimberley,” Howson says at the launch of True North’s 2014 itinerary in Sydney on Sunday.

Howson knows what he’s talking about. He has been in the business for almost a quarter of a century, having started off by ferrying fuel to America Cup’s super yachts in Perth back in the 1980’s before taking passengers on fishing expeditons to remote areas in WA in a converted crayfish trawler.

He saw the potential of a luxury adventure cruise business and his first upmarket ship, North Star, was born.

The ship specialised in taking passengers to explore the wild adventures of deep sea fishing, snorkelling and diving in the Kimberley – uncharted waters so vast and undeveloped that only a local Perth man like Howson could undertake the journey.

Today, the Australian-made, 50m long, 10m wide True North not only navigates around the rugged coastline in the Kimberley, it has ventured to Papua New Guinea, Raja Empat, renown for the best diving destination in West Papua, Cenderawasih Bay – one of the best spots to view whale sharks – the Sepik River and the Melanesian Islands.

The ship has a no shoe policy throughout its decks.

One of the attractions of True North is its ability to take passengers on the forward deck up to half a metre of the rugged rocks along the coastline so they can have their own “Titanic moment” – under a showering waterfall.

Frequent North Star cruiser Ruth Vincent recently took her family of 16 on board the Kimberley cruise and everyone still talks about the fabulous time they had.

“I have just come back from the Sepik River cruise and it was simply amazing – I was not bored at all – there was so much to see and do,” she says.

North Star is on a “road show” after guests enjoyed its Christmas and New Year cruise in Sydney Harbour.

She can accommodate 36 passengers and 22 crew.

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