It is the high life on the high seas.
MV Orion is more a floating palace than a mere cruise
And, with prices starting at just under $800 a day, it would
seriously dock the savings of the average landlubber. The
luxury expedition cruise ship left Dunedin yesterday on a
14-day trip to the subantarctic.
Boarding the vessel is like stepping back in time. The
interior is all burnished wood and polished brass. Original
paintings and sculptures hang from the walls, while the sense
of space and opulence is palpable.
Prices for the 14-day cruise may range from $11,030 to
$16,650, but all 106 berths were quickly snapped up.
''It's a very friendly and intimate ship,'' Orion Expedition
Cruises hotel manager Ian Vella said yesterday.
It is also very comfortable and every indulgence is on hand,
from a Jacuzzi, sauna and hairdresser to a gymnasium, lecture
theatre, library and boutique. Passengers are also given
every opportunity for adventure and exploration, with 20 sea
kayaks, 24 scuba diving sets, 10 Zodiac inflatables and a
glass-bottomed Zodiac available for use.
For the less intrepid explorer, an underwater camera plumbs
the depths up to 80m beneath the ship. MV Orion is
103m long, has a maximum speed of 28.71kmh and can carry up
to 106 passengers and 78 crew. It has been modified with a
reinforced hull for its adventures to the Arctic and
''We get a bit of ice and snow on the decks, but it's always
nice and warm inside,'' Mr Vella said.
The Germanischer Lloyd 100 A5 E3 class ship is based in
Sydney and operates in the Kimberley Region of Western
Australia, Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon
Islands, the Great Barrier Reef, Tasmania, New Zealand and
The ship was in the news on January 20 last year, when it
rescued round-the-world yachtsman Alain Delord from a
life-raft adrift in the Southern Ocean.
''We had to travel for 56 hours to get him,'' Mr Vella said.
''He was overjoyed when we got to him and was quite overcome
with emotion. You should have seen his face. That was quite
an experience. It was very satisfying.''
MV Orion was bought by United States operator Lindblad
Expeditions last year and will be renamed National
Geographic Orion in March, when a National
Geographic photographer, divemasters and undersea
specialists are added to the crew.
The ship docked in Dunedin at 9pm on Thursday and left the
T/U Sheds at 5pm yesterday. It is scheduled to return to
Dunedin from the subantarctic at 7am on January 17.