Cruising speed: 15 knots.
Number of passengers: 106.
Where she cruises: Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, Melanesia, Papua New Guinea.
Described by Berlitz as “the latest in the quest to build the ideal expedition cruise ship” Orion is indeed a vessel which allows adventurous cruisers to explore far flung and remote destinations without the hardship. Elegant, environmentally friendly and appointed with five-star style, she was custom made for expedition cruising and boasts most of the facilities of larger ships, allowing for leisurely sea days as well as a host of unique activities on shore.
Who Should Go?
Things You Might Not Know
Orion’s hull has been ice-reinforced for voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic and some of her specialist expedition equipment includes 10 heavy duty zodiacs, 10 kayaks, and two passenger tenders. She was built at Germany’s Cassen’s shipyard, and the line’s founder is Sarina Bratten, a veteran of the cruise industry for more than 25 years.
Accommodations on board consist of 31 suites and 22 staterooms. Of the 31 suites, there are four spacious owners suites located on deck 5, boasting separate bedroom and living areas, a French balcony with sliding glass doors, and a large bathroom with a separate bath tub. There are also six balcony suites on deck 5 with French balconies, two deluxe suites and nineteen junior suites with large windows. Overall the decor is luxurious, with use of rich woods, burnished brass, plush carpeting and accented with contemporary artwork. Colours include blue, deep green and burnt orange.
The remaining staterooms, categories A and B, are spacious with ocean views, oval windows or portholes, and they are nicely appointed with use of wood, and a simple decor featuring light blue/green carpeting and drapes, with accents of orange. All staterooms have marble bathrooms and come with bathrobes, good storage space, a flat screen TV, Wi-Fi internet access, a hairdryer and a small refrigerator which is continually stocked with mineral water.
Facilities and Entertainment
As a small ship Orion has plenty to keep guests occupied when not ashore exploring, and boasts good facilities. They include a small gym with sweeping ocean views, a hair and beauty salon, and a Vega Health Spa complete with unisex dry sauna and a menu of spa treatments. On deck there is a jacuzzi which doubles as a plunge pool when the ship is in warmer climes, and a spacious sun deck. A key feature are the marina platforms, one at the stern and one on portside, where you embark zodiacs for touring ashore. There are also kayaks and snorkelling equipment for use in warmer waters.
Entertainment tends to be a bit more low key being an expedition ship, and a focus is on lectures and presentations made by the ship’s team and guest speakers in the elegant lecture theatre. There is a well stocked library with games and a laptop for internet access if you don’t have your own, and the Galaxy Observation Lounge on deck six with stunning views for an early riser breakfast of afternoon tea. For a cocktail, head for the Outdoor Bar on deck six adjacent to the sun deck and jacuzzi.
There are only two options, one of which is the Delphinus Outdoor Café on deck four for an al fresco buffe breakfast and lunch. During good weather you also have the option of booking a table for dinner, offering the same menu as the main restaurant.
The Constellation Restaurant is the main focus for culinary activities and a major drawcard are the signature dishes designed by Serge Dansereau of The Bather’s Pavilion fame in Sydney. Dining is open sitting allowing you to eat when and with whom you choose, and the environment is contemporary elegant without any formal dress required.
The Low Down
If you enjoy luxurious accommodations, a boutique sized ship which can truly venture off the beaten path, and like to be adventurous without doing it tough, Orion is a hard act to beat. She is ideal for would-be explorers and anyone who likes to cruise exotic destinations in style.
Visit www.orionexpeditions.com[nggallery id=84]