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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stricken by Disease and Pestilence, Wretched Port Abandoned

Despite twelve deaths and the grounding of HMS Pelorus in a ferocious cyclone, Port Essington was rebuilt and continued to struggle against the elements for a further ten years before the inevitable. In 1849, the tragic settlement was abandoned.

Port Essington, or Victoria Settlement, is located on the rugged Coburg Peninsula, part of the Northern Territory's Arnhem Land and all that remains of the ambitious mid-19th Century village is a few stone ruins.

An excursion and exploration of this poignant site is part of North Star Cruises' annual "Over the Top" itinerary, exploring some of the lesser-known, more adventurous destinations our great country has to offer.

Departing Darwin on 18 October, the journey can be experienced as a single 14-night adventure or as a 6-night expedition beginning in either Darwin or Thursday Island. Either way, the cruise culminates in Cairns on November 1.

Other highlights include helicopter flightseeing from the ship's own helicopter (extra cost), Great Barrier Reef snorkeling or scuba diving, great fishing, guided nature hikes and, of course, North Star Cruises' famed cuisine.

Prices for either of the 6-night itineraries start from $8,995 per person, twin share and from $13,995 per person for the full 14-night adventure.

Bookings can be made by contacting North Star Cruises on (+61 8) 91921 829 or by email to Website:


For more information, images or brochures, please contact North Star's Adventure Partners.

Ph: (+61 8) 91921 829 E:

About North Star Cruises

Broome-based North Star Cruises is a wholly Australian owned company operating the 840 tonne, 36-passenger luxury expedition yacht, True North. The multi-award-winning company operates exclusive adventure cruises along the West Coast, the Kimberley, across the Northern Territory to Cape York, Papua New Guinea, Sydney and Adelaide. Apart from ecologically sensitive shore excursions and activities, guests can also indulge in fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving. True North is one of the very few such vessels to operate with its own helicopter on selected itineraries.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Join Ken Duncan for an Orion Antarctic photographic odyssey

Join Ken Duncan, world renowned photographer, onboard the luxury expedition ship Orion for an unforgettable voyage to Antarctica this December.

Ken Duncan, widely regarded as Australia's premier panoramic landscape photographer, will be joining Orion's specialist Antarctic Expedition Team for a 16 night Antarctic Continent expedition to Commonwealth Bay, home to the site of the historic Mawson's huts built for his 1911 Antarctic expedition.

Although panoramas are his signature style, Ken Duncan is also an expert in using a multitude of different formats and media and he will be sharing his expertise with Orion's guests to help them make the most of capturing the myriad of photo opportunities afforded on this Antarctic voyage.

With convenient embarkation in Bluff, New Zealand, Orion will head south with her 100 passengers (and 75 crew) to visit remote sub-Antarctic Snares and Auckland islands en-route to World Heritage listed Macquarie Island, with its vast breeding grounds of penguins and seals. The remnants of the old whaling station provide a dramatic photographic contrast to the wildlife in this remote sanctuary.

Orion is scheduled to cross the Antarctic Circle and head further south to Cape Denison located at 67 degrees south. Time ashore, weather permitting, will provide guests with a rare chance to visit Mawson's huts and have a look inside this icy time-capsule, left as-is after Mawson's departure.

New found photographic skills promise great opportunities to record the extensive wild life, huts, and historic debris and artifacts still to be found here.


Ken Duncan has produced numerous books and received many awards for his work. He has been published by National Geographic and Time magazines and he has undertaken assignments for The Passion of The Christ and World Vision.


Fares Guide:

16 nights Antarctic Continent – Commonwealth Bay departs Bluff (Invercargill) NZ 11th December 2008, arriving in Hobart 27th December 2008. (Ken Duncan voyage)

Fares begin from $15,790per person twin share for an ocean view Category B stateroom

Suites begin from $21,775 per person twin share for a Junior Suite

Owners' Suites with French Balcony are $33,055 per person twin share

Ranked #2 expedition cruise ship in the world in the current Berlitz Cruise Guide, Orion is the world's latest purpose-built luxury expedition cruise ship, featuring an unmatched range of onboard facilities.

With 75 crew and a maximum of just 100 passengers for Antarctic expeditions Orion offers the highest staff to guest ratio and guest to public space ratio of any ship based in Australian waters.

Further information on all Orion Expedition Cruises to Antarctica, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, Asia, New Zealand, the Kimberley and Arnhem Land can be obtained by visiting the website

For reservations or to obtain a brochure call Orion Expedition Cruises: 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate) or your travel agent. Email:

Monday, May 19, 2008


SYDNEY (20 May, 2008) – Sarina Bratton, Founder and Managing Director of Orion Expedition Cruises today announced the purchase of the company by KSL Capital Partners, a leading private equity company in the USA.

Following several unsolicited approaches to purchase Orion Expedition Cruises, the current shareholders have agreed to an offer from KSL Capital Partners, a Denver based private equity company specialising in high end travel and leisure enterprises. This majority shareholding will provide the capital and opportunity for Orion Expedition Cruises to expand beyond its one ship operation (through the building of new ships and/or other acquisitions), ahead of the original business plan.

Founded in early 2004, Orion Expedition Cruises is the only world class expedition cruise line operating from Australia to pristine wilderness areas in Antarctica, the Kimberley, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia and Asia. After three years of operation, OEC has achieved a reputation worldwide for its new and diverse itineraries and sustainable operations. Sarina Bratton will continue as a significant shareholder and Managing Director.

“Consumer desire for experience driven, sustainable tourism is not a passing trend,” Sarina explained today. “Experienced travellers globally are seeking small, niche, culture and nature based experiential tourism products that allow for a more informed and in-depth interpretation of, and interaction with, the destinations. It is considered that Australia and its close neighbours are well positioned for growth in this area. I am very excited about the opportunity this partnership presents and look forward to working with KSL to take Orion Expedition Cruises to the next level.”

Steven Siegel, Partner and Chief Operating Officer of KSL Capital Partners said, “We believe Orion Expedition Cruises can be much more than a one ship, or even two ship company. Our investment in Orion Expedition Cruises will see the company grow to a multi-ship operation, fulfilling the potential of the brand in the Asia Pacific region. Our investment in Orion is a testament to the strength of the business, the management team and the growth opportunity in the sector. There is great synergy between Orion and our other tourism and hospitality businesses and we are looking forward to working with Orion and its management team.”

About KSL
KSL Capital Partners is a private equity firm specializing in travel and leisure enterprises in five primary sectors: hospitality, recreation, clubs, real estate and travel services. KSL Capital Partners is headquartered in Denver. For more information, please visit

Notable investments made by the principals of KSL include:

* ClubCorp, Inc., the world’s largest owner and operator of golf, country and business and sports clubs
* Western Athletic Clubs, headquartered in San Francisco, California
* Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas
* The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia
* Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, California
* Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone Mountain Resorts
* La Quinta Resort & Club and PGA West in La Quinta, California
* Doral Golf Resort & Spa near Miami, Florida
* Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa on Maui in Wailea, Hawaii
* Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona
* La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California
* Hotel del Coronado near San Diego, California

For more information about Orion Expedition Cruises please visit our website or contact Michael Corbett, Public Relations Manager Orion Expedition Cruises on 02 4572 1885.