Ocean Discoverer

Specifications of Ocean Discoverer

Year built2023 new ship
BuilderCMIH-China Merchants Heavy Industry (Haimen shipyard, Jiangsu China)
ClassINFINITY ULSTEIN CX103 (ice-strengthened expedition ship)
Building costUSD 65 million
Speed16 kn / 30 kph / 18 mph
Length (LOA)104 m / 341 ft
Beam (width)18 m / 59 ft
Gross Tonnage7400 gt
Passengers146 - 200
Crew74
Beds186
Decks10
Cabins93
Decks with cabins4
Sister-shipsGreg Mortimer, Sylvia Earle, Ocean Victory, Ocean Explorer, Ocean Odyssey, Ocean Albatros
Christened bytba
OwnerSunStone Ships Inc
OperatorAmerican Queen Voyages, Aurora Expeditions

Ocean Discoverer Itineraries

DateItineraryDeparture PortPrice from
2023 May 12 13 days, one-way from Puntarenas to San Diego Puntarenas
2023 Jun 01 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Sitka Vancouver
2023 Jun 11 11 days, one-way from Sitka to Vancouver Sitka
2023 Jun 22 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Sitka Vancouver
2023 Jul 02 11 days, one-way from Sitka to Vancouver Sitka
2023 Jul 13 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Sitka Vancouver
2023 Jul 23 11 days, one-way from Sitka to Vancouver Sitka
2023 Aug 03 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Sitka Vancouver
2023 Aug 13 11 days, one-way from Sitka to Vancouver Sitka
2023 Aug 24 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Sitka Vancouver
2023 Sep 03 11 days, one-way from Sitka to Vancouver Sitka
2023 Sep 14 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Sitka Vancouver
2023 Sep 24 11 days, one-way from Sitka to Vancouver Sitka
2023 Oct 05 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Seattle Vancouver
2023 Oct 21 13 days, one-way from San Diego to Puntarenas San Diego
2024 May 12 13 days, one-way from Puntarenas to San Diego Puntarenas
2024 Jun 01 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Sitka Vancouver
2024 Jun 11 11 days, one-way from Sitka to Vancouver Sitka
2024 Jun 22 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Sitka Vancouver
2024 Jul 02 11 days, one-way from Sitka to Vancouver Sitka
2024 Jul 13 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Sitka Vancouver
2024 Jul 23 11 days, one-way from Sitka to Vancouver Sitka
2024 Aug 03 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Sitka Vancouver
2024 Aug 13 11 days, one-way from Sitka to Vancouver Sitka
2024 Aug 24 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Seattle Vancouver
2024 Sep 03 11 days, one-way from Sitka to Vancouver Sitka
2024 Sep 14 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Sitka Vancouver
2024 Sep 24 11 days, one-way from Sitka to Vancouver Sitka
2024 Oct 05 10 days, one-way from Vancouver to Sitka Vancouver
2024 Oct 21 13 days, one-way from San Diego to Puntarenas San Diego

Ocean Discoverer Review

Review of Ocean Discoverer

MS Ocean Discoverer cruise ship is an ice-strengthened (polar class 1A / PC6) expedition vessel that was originally scheduled for delivery/inauguration in March 2023. The vessel is owned by SunStone Ships Inc (USA) and was planned for seasonal chartering to Victory Cruise Lines (fully-owned subsidiary and travel brand of AQSC-American Queen Voyages) and also to Albatros Expeditions (Copenhagen Denmark-based company specializing in Arctic and Antarctic cruisetours, subsidiary and brand owned by Albatross Travel Group Ltd). Albatros Expeditions itineraries are in Arctic Europe (Svalbard Norway, Faroe Islands, Scotland), Arctic Canada (with Greenland-Iceland), Antarctica (with Patagonia/Chilean Fjords and SGSSI-South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands).

However, in mid-April 2022, Niels-Erik Lund (the Miami-based SunStone Ships' CEO) announced that "Unit 7" of the INFINITY-class (the series' last one/intended to be named "Ocean Discoverer") would not be built as the contract with the shipbuilder CMIH (China Merchants Heavy Industry, part of China Merchants Group) is now canceled (the reason was not disclosed). The CEO also added that SunStone will now focus to order new BOUNDLESS-class vessels (as their specs had been finished) and that SunStone had been negotiating with ~20 shipyards for the production.

BOUNDLESS-class vessels are designed by OSK-ShipTech (Denmark) and are larger than the INFINITY-class (12-13,000 GT tons/compared to INFINITY's 7400 GT) and with bigger passenger capacity (200-300, compared to INFINITY's 140

Ship technology

Ocean Discoverer is the seventh in a series of ten "Ulstein CX103" design (Infinity-Class) expedition vessels, with sisterships Greg Mortimer (2019-Aug), Ocean Victory (2021-March), Ocean Explorer (2021-Jan), Sylvia Earle (2021-Sept), Ocean Odyssey (2022-Feb), Ocean Albatros (2022-Oct) plus 4 more (TBN) units. The patented ULSTEIN X-BOW design is one of the unusual for expedition ships features, The vessel also utilizes the latest technologies in naval engineering. The ship is technically managed by Cruise Management International (Miami-based passenger vessel/fleet management company). CMI Leisure Miami handles hotel operations.

For the interior designs of this entire series of SunStone-owned ships was contracted the Weston Florida-based company Tomas Tillberg Design.

SunStone cruise ship design (ULSTEIN CX103) World-Class

With the highest for passenger vessel ice-class 1A (Polar Class 6 / PC6), MS Ocean Discoverer has icebreaking capacity 1 m (3 ft) and complies with maritime industry's latest polar code requirements and specifications. The boat offers unprecedented levels of safety and environmental protection.

The major advantage of the patented "ULSTEIN X-BOW" design is the ship's ability to navigate with improved stability in comparison to traditional bow-design vessels. X-BOW vessels are less subject to vertical motions (induced by waves), continuing on course smoothly while maintaining high speeds. The ship's engines use less fuel, which results in reduced air emissions and fuel consumption.

The ship is equipped with the maritime industry's latest propulsion and return-to-port systems, as well as dynamic positioning technology. These computer-controlled systems allow automatic maintenance of the ship's position via propulsion units (thrusters and propellers). This allows stable floating while maintaining the necessary stability for launching watercraft - and without using anchors.

Shipboard facilities

The newbuild expedition vessel features dedicated outdoor observation areas (including fore-located Observation Deck with two Hydraulic Platforms and two Viewing Platforms), stern marina (watersports platform serving company's sea kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving programs), a fleet of 20x Zodiacs (large-capacity motorized boats used for passenger transportation - tendering and landings). The aft-located Zodiac loading platform is a new design and allows easier and faster boarding. Sun Deck (top-deck forward) is furnished with premium garden furniture (sofas, armchairs, sun loungers) and used for both relaxation and wildlife viewing. The top-deck bow is the Observation Lounge (served by its own Bar) and midship is the funnel (with four stacks/engine exhaust pipes).

Other facilities include Medical Centre (Infirmary), Change Room (Mudroom), Bar Lounge (lecture theater forward on Deck 5), Dining Room Restaurant, Ship Shop, Lobby area (Reception Desk), Library, Art Room, Wellness Centre (Fitness, Spa, Sauna Room, Treatment Rooms for Massages), Lower Sun Deck (Deck 7 aft, with lifeboats and liferafts), Upper Sun Deck (Deck 8 midship, with sunbathing area and two whirlpool hot tubs).

Four Zodiac Docks (2 on each side, hull access at sea-level) serve as boat launching platforms.

Cabins

Ocean Discoverer staterooms (a total of 93) allow max capacity 186 passengers. Cabins include 68x Balcony, 9x French Balcony and 16x with Porthole Windows. The vessel is served by 100 crew/staff accommodated in 57 crew cabins. Most cabins (80% of all, excepting only Deck 3 cabins with Portholes) are with private, step-out balconies accessible from the living area via sliding, floor-ceiling glass door. Each balcony is furnished with a small table and two deck chairs. 60% of all cabins can be booked with triple occupancy (accommodate a 3rd person on pull-out couch/sofabed).

  • Hotel beds (King-size or two twin, size 200 x 160 cm, ample under-bed storage space for suitcases), sleeping couch (sofabed), bedside cabinets, mirrored vanity (writing desk / dressing table) with chair, built-in dressers with drawers, mini-bar / refrigerator, 42-inch smart HDTV (local and satellite reception), phone (onboard communication only), digital clock / alarm, seating area (small table with 1 or 2 armchairs), spacious wardrobe (closet with hangers, drawers, electronic safe), individual climate control, medical emergency button.
  • Each stateroom has a private, full-size bathroom with shower / WC, hairdryer, premium bath amenities.
  • Suites are in 3 categories - CS-Captain's, JS-Junior and BS-Balcony. These are the largest staterooms, with double-size balconies and offering extra amenities, such as in-room dining service (continental breakfast served on the balcony).

The ship has a total of 20 pairs of connecting rooms (balconied cabins) that can be booked as one "family stateroom" for up to 6 persons. There are no wheelchair-accessible cabins (suitable for passengers with disabilities).

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SunStone's shipbuilding contract with CMIH for Ocean Explorer (4th) and Ocean Discoverer (5th) Infinity-class vessels was signed on November 13, 2018, by Frank Zheng (CMIH's Vice General Manager) and Lars Stale Skoge (Ulstein's Commercial Director).

The ship-charter deal with AQSC for Ocean Discoverer (Victory Cruise Line's 4th ship) was announced on March 4th, 2020. The boat (scheduled for delivery in September 2022) will be chartered for 12-13-day cruises in Alaska in 2023.

The ship-chartering agreement includes a deal with the Miami-based company CMI Leisure Management. Ship management services include staffing, hotel services, housekeeping, onboard food and beverages, purchasing supplies, logistics. CMI Leisure is among the world's leading companies providing small-ship management services.

On March 16, 2017, SunStone Ships Inc signed the shipbuilding agreement with the Hong Kong-based company "China Merchants Industry Holdings" (abbrev CMIH) for construction of 4 expedition vessels. SunStone is the world's largest (by tonnage) shipowner chartering exclusively expedition vessels to cruise travel companies. Since there is an option for an additional 6 sisterships, by this "ULSTEIN CX103" project could be built up to 10 units. The USD 260 million shipbuilding order for the 4 units was signed in June 2017.

The company CMIH is a subsidiary of China Merchants Group (among the country's largest groups of companies). Following the contract with SunStone Ships, CMIH signed an agreement with the Norwegian company Ulstein Design (part of Ulstein Group, headquartered in Ulsteinvik Norway) to supply the ship design and equipment package (ULSTEIN COM / Navigation Bridge system, and the integrated automation systems ULSTEIN IAS and ULSTEIN POWER), and also to supervise the shipbuilding works. For the ship's hotel design was contracted the Florida (USA)-based company Tomas Tillberg Design International (specializing in passenger vessel design). The design features Ulstein's patented X-BOW (providing fuel efficiency and significantly improved stability in rough seas). The vessel complies with the 2009-issued SOLAS requirements for "Virtual Anchorage" and "Safe Return to Port" (SRtP) implemented via Dynamic Positioning System (computer-controlled, automatically maintains ship's position) and Zero Speed Stabilizers (roll reduction system).

CMIH also signed an agreement with the Finnish company "IS Makinen Inc" to pre-fabricate the vessels' cabins, wet units and interior public spaces. For this purpose, Makinen established a cabin assembly plant and an interior workshop facility at the shipbuilding yard in China.

Project's shipbuilder is CMIH's subsidiary "China Merchants Heavy Industry" (abbrev CMHI, shipyard near Shanghai).

The ship is powered by 4x Wartsila-20 diesel engines (two 6-cylinder plus two 8-cylinder) running on HFO (heavy fuel oil). The 6-cylinder engines are fitted with Wartsila-NOR (exhaust gas cleaning system, NOx gas reducing technology). The contract with Wartsila was signed in November 2017.

 

Vessel's propulsion system is diesel-electric (twin-screw) and designed by Brunvoll Volda AS (Volda Norway-based company specializing in marine propulsion, positioning and maneuvering systems). For the ULSTEIN CX103 project, Brunvoll contracted DMC (Damen Marine Components, Hardinxveld Giessendam Holland-based marine equipment manufacturer) to produce and supply the vessel's two rudders (model Van der Velden ATLANTIC) and two steering gear systems (model Van der Velden COMMANDER).

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