US-based shipbuilder SunStone Ships has teamed up with Australia’s Aurora Expeditions to create a design for the cruise operator’s first purpose-built expedition vessel.
This comes on the back of news that SunStone Ships and China Merchants Industry Holdings (CMIH) have signed a framework agreement for the construction of four expedition cruise vessels ꟷ with options for an additional six vessels.
CMIH has entered into an agreement with Ulstein Design & Solutions, who will supply the vessel’s design and equipment package and supervise the vessels’ construction.
Aurora Expeditions 104m ice-class 1A vessel will be built to the latest polar code specifications – and is the first to use shipyard Ulstein Group’s patented X-Bow.
“We are excited to be the first to market with this exciting new design. The vessel is the first to use the patented X-BOW technology which has the ability to pierce waves with much greater stability, making open sea journeys – like Antarctica’s notorious Drake Passage – more pleasant for passengers than what is currently available from other small ships on the market today,” Aurora Expeditions chief executive Robert Halfpenny said.
The tapered fore ship shape results in a wave piercing effect in all wave heights, reducing pitching and bow impact loads in big seas compared to conventional bulbous bow shapes.
While a traditional bow vessel rises on the waves and then drops violently onto the surface of the water, an X-BOW vessel, less subject to the vertical motions induced by the waves, continues on course more smoothly, while maintaining its speed. Because it uses less fuel to get through the waves, it also helps to save energy versus a conventional bow designed vessel.
He added: “With the development of our purpose-built expedition ship, we stay true to our small-ship philosophy where the focus is on the experience and engagement with the environment while providing the most comfortable form of travel in these challenging environments.”
Aurora Expeditions’ new ship will be the first in a new series of vessels aimed at the polar regions.
The yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in time for Aurora Expeditions’ 2019/2020 Antarctic season (November to March).