WHY IT RATES: With pioneering environmental scientist Dr. Sylvia Earle in attendance as the ship’s namesake and ambassador, Aurora Expeditions officially christened its second purpose-built polar expedition ship just before she set sail on her inaugural Antarctic Climate Expedition. — Laurie Baratti, TravelPulse Associate Writer
Earlier this week, Aurora Expeditions officially christened its newest purpose-built small ship, the Sylvia Earle alongside namesake and godmother, Dr. Sylvia Earle, who did the honors in Antarctica in recognition of the ship’s pioneering nature.
Dr. Earle is a world-renowned marine biologist, oceanographer and explorer. She was the first female Chief Scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and a National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998. Named by Time magazine as its first ‘Hero of the Planet’, her own conservation initiative, Mission Blue, is creating a global network of marine protected areas known as ‘Hope Spots’.
“Thank you, Aurora, for the approach that you use to keep people inspired about the ocean,” said Dr. Earle. “For exploring the ocean and using knowledge to take care of all this on our planet. This is an experience that I am happy to share with everyone here and I’m looking at Aurora as the voice of the ocean.”
Aurora Expeditions CEO Michael Heath said having Dr. Earle as the ship’s ambassador was an honor.
“We are privileged to have Dr. Earle as the namesake of our stunning second purpose-built expedition ship,” said Heath. “I thank Sylvia for joining us on board to officially christen the ship and be on board for the inaugural Antarctic Climate Expedition.”
Currently, Dr, Earle, in partnership with Aurora Expeditions and Ocean Geographic, is leading a world-first ‘Antarctic Climate Expedition’ on the ship to raise public and government awareness of the environmental importance of the Antarctic. This unique voyage aims to deliver resolutions to inspire transformative changes for global net-zero emissions by 2035 from an ocean perspective.
In another world first, each of the Sylvia Earle’s decks is named after six other pioneering female conservationists – Jo Ruxton (MBE), Dr. Carden Wallace (AM), Sharon Kwok, Bernadette Demientieff, Dr. Asha de Vos and Hanli Prinsloo – with a deck dedicated to Dr. Earle herself.
With its strong focus on education and conservation, the new Sylvia Earle is designed to accommodate an average of 132 passengers per voyage in an atmosphere of equality, fun and informality. A highly experienced Expedition Team guides passengers in small groups on myriad excursions by water and land, with exciting activities ranging from Zodiac cruises to walks and hikes, sea kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling, paddling, skiing, photography and birdwatching, among others. A dedicated Science Centre is the hub for a variety of participative and educational Citizen Science programs.