Sylvia Earle Review and Specifications
Specifications of Sylvia Earle
|Year built||2021 new ship|
|Builder||CMIH-China Merchants Heavy Industry (Haimen Shipyard, Jiangsu China)|
|Class||INFINITY ULSTEIN CX103 (ice-strengthened expedition ship)|
|Building cost||USD 65 million|
|Owner||SunStone Ships Inc|
|Operator||Aurora Expeditions Australia|
|Speed||16 kn / 30 kph / 18 mph|
|Length (LOA)||104 m / 341 ft|
|Beam (width)||18 m / 59 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||7400 gt|
|Passengers||120 - 160|
|Decks with cabins||4|
|Sister-ships||Greg Mortimer, Ocean Victory, Ocean Explorer, Ocean Odyssey, Ocean Discoverer|
|Christened by||Sylvia Alice Earle|
Review of Sylvia Earle
MS Sylvia Earle cruise ship is an ice-strengthened (polar class 1A / PC6) expedition vessel. The boat is owned by SunStone Ships (USA) and operated under charter by Aurora Expeditions (Australian company specializing in Arctic and Antarctic cruisetours).
Sylvia Earle is the 7th in a series of ten "Ulstein CX103" design (Infinity-class) expedition vessels, with sisterships Greg Mortimer (2019-Sept, fleetmate), Ocean Victory (2020-Sept), Ocean Explorer (2021-Feb), Ocean Odyssey (2022-March), Ocean Discoverer (2022-Sept), Ocean Albatros (2022-Oct) plus 4 more (TBN) units. The patented ULSTEIN X-BOW design is one of the unusual for expedition ship 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.
Aurora Expeditions cooperated with the US-based shipowner SunStone Ships Inc to construct a custom-designed vessel for expedition-type voyages in the polar regions, providing industry's best adventure travel vacation experiences and modern amenities.
Aurora Expeditions is among the pioneers of polar expedition cruising and a leading adventure travel company on the Australian market. The company was one of the first to introduce ship travel to numerous remote destinations in the polar regions. Established in 1991, in 2008 Aurora Expeditions was sold and the new owners remained true to the original expedition spirit. Initially offering small-group cruises to Antarctica, Aurora Expeditions now also operates expedition voyages to Norway's Svalbard Islands, Russia's Far East, Greenland, Papua New Guinea, Africa (Chobe River safari cruises in Botswana), Amazon River. For polar operations, Aurora Expeditions charters the ice-strengthened Polar Pioneer (fka Akademik Schuleykin), as well as the Russian research ships Spirit of Enderby (aka Professor Khromov) and Akademik Shokalskiy.
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 latest propulsion and return-to-port systems. It also has top-notch dynamic positioning technology - computer-controlled systems allowing automatic maintenance of the vessel's position through its own propulsion units (thrusters and propellers). This allows stable floating while maintaining the necessary stability for launching watercraft - and without using anchors.
With the highest for passenger vessel ice-class 1A (Polar Class 6 / PC6), MS Sylvia Earle 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. Exclusively designed for polar cruises, the ship allows Aurora Expeditions to continue to provide the company's authentic, top quality small-ship travel experience.
The cruise ship features dedicated outdoor observation areas (including fore-located Observation Deck with two Hydraulic Platforms / Viewing Platforms accessed from Deck 5), stern marina (watersports platform serving company's sea kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving programs), a fleet of 15x Zodiacs (large-capacity motorized boats used for passenger transportation - tendering and landings). The aft-located Zodiac loading platform (accessed from either side on Deck 3) is a new design launching platform that allows easier and faster boarding for sjoreside transportation. Sun Deck (top-deck forward) is furnished with premium garden furniture (sofas, armchairs, sunloungers) 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.
Sylvia Earle ship has a total of 80 staterooms for 120 passengers (max capacity 160). Most staterooms (80% of all, excepting only Aurora cabins with portholes on Deck 3) are with a private, step-out balcony 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 flat 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 cabins (balconied rooms) that can be booked as one stateroom ("family cabin") for up to 6 persons. The boat has no wheelchair-accessible cabins (for passengers with disabilities).
Aurora Expedition has not yet announced the MS Sylvia Earle ship's cruise itinerary program in details (dates and ports). What is known so far is that like Greg Mortimer, Sylvia Earle cruises for Aurora Expedition leaving out of Ushuaia (Argentina). Operations are planned to start sometime in October 2020 and the boat will be deployed for season 2021-2022 to Antarctica.
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Sylvia Earle Wiki
Ship's name honours Sylvia Alice Earle - 1935-born US marine biologist, world explorer, author (National Geographic books) and renown lecturer. She was the first female chief scientist of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / scientific agency within the US Department of Commerce). In 1998, Time Magazine named her "Hero for the Planet". Sylvia Earle is also member of the 2011-founded activist group Ocean Elders dedicated to protecting the oceans and wildlife globally. Ocean Elders includes renown scientists and many celebrities (including royalties, business tycoons, country leaders, pop artists).
On June 6, 2019, was signed the charter agreement between Aurora Expeditions (represented by Robert Halfpenny, company's Managing Director) and SunStone Ships Inc (represented by Niels-Erik Lund, company's CEO). Like all other vessels from the INFINITY ULSTEIN CX103 series, Sylvia Earle will be constructed in China - at CMIH-China Merchants Heavy Industry's Haimen Shipyard (in Jiangsu). The shipbuilding order for the 7th INFINITY Class unit was signed on May 29, 2019, in Hong Kong.
With a combined delivery and naming ceremony, the vessel was christened on September 6, 2019 (at the Haimen Shipyard) but the official naming ceremony was held on October 31 in Ushuaia Argentina. The ceremony was led by godmother Margaret Mortimer (co-founder of Aurora Expeditions) and attended by officials from the shipowner (SunStone Ships Inc), CMI Leisure Management, Ulstein Group, VIP guests, as well as the cruise ship's crew and passengers on the current voyage.
Following the delivery ()ct0ber 2021), the vessel's MMSI number (flag-state) will be changed from Belgium to Bahamas.
In late-February 2018, Aurora Expeditions announced a deal with "CMI Leisure Management" (Miami-based company). The MS Sylvia Earle ship management (by CMI Leisure) includes 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. The company was first contracted by Aurora Expeditions for managing the SunStone-owned ship MS Polar Pioneer.
On March 16, 2017, SunStone Ships Inc signed the 4-shipbuilding agreement with the Hong Kong-based company "China Merchants Industry Holdings" (abbrev CMIH) for construction of 4 vessels. SunStone is the world's largest (by tonnage) shipowner chartering exclusively expedition vessels to the cruise travel industry. , Since there is an option for an additional 6 units, by this so-called "ULSTEIN CX103" project could be built up to 10 vessels.
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 shipyard 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 weather). 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 the subsidiary company "China Merchants Heavy Industry".
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 the exhaust gas cleaning system "Wartsila NOR" (NOx gas reducing technology). 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 manoeuvring 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).
The USD 260 million shipbuilding order for the 4 boats was signed in June 2017. The first vessel of the series (Greg Mortimer) was scheduled for delivery in August 2019, followed by one ship every 6 months after.
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