About Aurora Expeditions

  • Registered in Sydney, Australia
  • Operated in Antarctica since 1992
  • One of the early pioneers of polar travel
  • Number of ships: 2
  • Length of partnership with Swoop: Since 2015
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What our customers think about Aurora Expeditions

Ashley was a fantastic expedition leader. She exuded confidence in all of her decisions and was very hands-on and proactive about adjusting our itinerary as needed. Lea was quite the animated personality who kept things fresh and fun. Heidi's passion for citizen science projects was infectious. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2024

David Flack - Japan

My tip for people planning an Antarctic trip? Go with Aurora. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2024

Bryce Malsbary - USA

The expedition team were incredibly knowledgable, friendly, patient, excellent educators, incredible backgrounds. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2024

Kristie Collins - France

Everyone was so upbeat, kind, open, and open to learn and teach about any topic discussed. It almost felt like they were just another person on the trip with us, rather that “being at work”. We were so happy with everyone that we met! Read the full review

Travelled: December 2023

Katie Hantke - USA

WOW! They were all so incredible. I can't pick a favorite staff member as they all were kind, informed, and each had their own area of expertise. They made a wonderful team. I felt safe with each and every member, and felt free to ask any questions that I may have had. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2023

Wendy Williamson - USA

Everyone was so nice and passionate about their work. Mario: I miss his morning wake-up calls. I was lucky to get a hug from him on my birthday! Read the full review

Travelled: December 2023

Vera Hui - USA

Excellent service and a company committed to doing right by the planet. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2023

Annie Ferguson - UK

The new ship Sylvia Earle was outstanding, very comfortable in rough seas, service and food outstanding and we will consider another trip on that ship. The Expedition Staff were very friendly, professional and extremely experienced. Read the full review

Travelled: March 2023

John Youngblood - USA

Sylvia Earle can be very proud of her namesake. I felt safe on the vessel and appreciated that different women were honoured on the different ship levels. I took the time to read about each of them and to look at all the photos throughout the vessel. My cabin was excellent. Read the full review

Travelled: March 2023

Adelle Kopp-McKay - Canada

Greg Mortimer could not have been more delightful. Every part of the ship was beautifully designed and tastefully furnished. And our room was totally lovely, spacious and comfortable. We would choose this ship again. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2023

Violetta Gianaras - USA

Aurora was excellent in all ways, and I loved the sail/fly combination.

Travelled: February 2023

Pamela Morris - USA

Aurora Expeditions is an Australian company, and as an Australian I couldn't be prouder in what they have achieved and what they delivered on my trip.

Travelled: February 2023

Mary Hockaday - Australia

10/10 - The Sylvia Earle is beautiful, very comfortable and plenty roomy that you never feel crowded. The large picture windows are wonderful to keep an eye out, wherever you are on the ship. The Staff & Crew were friendly, upbeat and fabulous. We felt well taken care of. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Leah Rumbough - USA

Most memorable moment? The landscape, PENGUINS, Sylvia Earle, PENGUINS, seals, the ship team, PENGUINS, other guest we met, how welcome we felt on the ship, PENGUINS... Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Leslie Viens - USA

The vessel was excellent and the service levels from all staff were perfect. There was plenty to do, indeed the activities were relentless, hardly had time to use the library or the observation deck before we were off on another expedition, briefing, lecture or dinner with new friends. Aurora are very accomplished at what they do.

Travelled: January 2023

Rick Greer - UK

10 - Aurora was just what we wanted. On ship experience was great. Service, knowledge, captain, Expedition Team. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Susan Boehlke - USA

The Sylvia Earle was a lovely ship, it lived up to my expectations, the trip surpassed my expectations. The cabin was great, the food was amazing, the special nights were very memorable, meeting the Captain, his crew, all the expedition team was wonderful. I loved the Cocktail Hour! I would choose this ship again. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Mary Hockaday - Australia

The trip was absolutely fantastic! We had an amazing crew that jam-packed as many landings, activities, and zodiac cruises as possible into just 6 days on the peninsula. I enjoyed the citizen science and many lectures about Antarctic natural and human history. This is an experience that I will never forget! Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Maricela Alaniz - USA

I was looking for a casual, more science-oriented expedition cruise. Aurora Expeditions gave me exactly the experience I was looking for! Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Maricela Alaniz - USA

Aurora, the ship, the itinerary, the service, and the expedition team and lecturers were all excellent. Really outstanding. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Rebecca Klein - USA

It was the right combination of luxury and comfort and excellent expedition leaders and lecturers. We also appreciated Aurora's years of experience in Antartica. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Rebecca Klein - USA

The Greg Mortimer provided first class accommodations in my private cabin. There were fine dining choices, perhaps too many, as I was concerned about wasting food. Definitely would recommend this ship. Read the full review

Travelled: March 2022

Doris Sweet - USA

The Greg Mortimer was the perfect size ship for this adventure and the cabin was quite nice. Food was good but probably ate too much! Most important was the staff - they were absolutely wonderful. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Tom Crowley - USA

The staff on the Greg Mortimer exceeded any expectations for the entirety of the trip with their desire to give us the best experience possible in every way, from caring for us, our comfort, our nutrition to our desire for fun, and to see the micro and macro fauna. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Teresa Targosz - USA

The SS Greg Mortimer was a great ship - very new and offering wonderful amenities. The cabins were spacious and offering lovely views and a deck, the food was spectacular and the gym was great as well, top notch, I'd sail aboard again! Read the full review

Travelled: December 2021

Christopher Norton - USA

Review:

What makes Aurora Expeditions special?

  • Founded by Greg Mortimer, one of Australia’s most famous mountaineers, Aurora Expeditions’ pioneering spirit of adventure still burns brightly today 
  • The company's conscious decision to limit the number of guests to only 135 passengers on a ship large enough to accommodate 180 reflects their commitment to delivering the best experience over commercial gain. The staff to guest ratio is also one of the lowest in the business
  • Alongside a polished and quality product, Aurora deliver excellent value for money. You certainly get a lot of bang for your buck and the included add-ons are generous 
  • Aurora offers a wider choice of optional adventure activities than almost any other Antarctic operator, making them the perfect choice for active travellers. They remain unique by offering polar snorkelling, which they pioneered
  • It's immediately obvious when stepping on board an Aurora ship that all the staff are passionate about their job. From the hugely experienced expedition team to the incredible personnel who look after the hotel side, you couldn’t be in better hands
  • After receiving hundreds of glowing reviews over the years from Swoop customers who have travelled with Aurora, we’ve got full confidence that they'll look after you
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Alex says

The strength of the Swoop-Aurora partnership pivots around our shared commitment to ensuring that every one of our travellers experiences the very best of Antarctica. We also enjoy Aurora’s Aussie roots (unless we’re talking about cricket!).

Alex Mudd Head of Swoop Antarctica

Fun facts about Aurora Expeditions

  • Alex Mudd, our Head of Swoop Antarctica, has worked with Aurora since 2007
  • Aurora was the first operator to launch an X-bow ship in Antarctic waters, the Greg Mortimer. Since then, a number of other operators have followed suit
  • In August 2022, Expedition Leader Howard Whelan positioned the Greg Mortimer so guests onboard could see a volcano eruption at night. Now that's spontaneous!

Aurora Expeditions' ships

Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle, Antarctic vessel

Launched in Autumn 2022, this state-of-the-art ship honours the highly accomplished marine biologist and oceanographer, Sylvia Earle. Sister ship to the Greg Mortimer, this ship …

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Greg Mortimer

Greg Mortimer Ship

With its eye-catching futuristic design and advanced onboard technology, the Greg Mortimer is unquestionably redefining the look of expedition ships in the Polar Regions. This ship…

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Swoop says

Swoop has had 16 staff members travel with Aurora over the years, giving us a more detailed understanding of their operational competency and uniqueness than any other agent.

Why Swoop

Expert Impartial Advice At No Extra Cost

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Antarctic travel options are complicated. We help you choose the right ship, the right cabin, and at the right point in the season.

A Depth Of Knowledge On Board

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As a team of ex-guides, tour leaders, & polar adventurers our Antarctic knowledge is leagues ahead of the rest.

For The Ends Of The Earth

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Swoop is proud to be B Corp Certified as we know sustainability is more than our carbon footprint (but we’re reducing that too).

We’re With You At Every Step

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We’ll make sure you have the adventure of a lifetime.

Meet the Aurora Expeditions team

The outstanding calibre of Aurora’s onboard expedition staff remains one of their superpowers. The company has an outstanding stable of team members. 

  • Aurora’s expedition staff to guest ratio of 1:8 is low and ensures everyone has access to plenty of 1-2-1 interaction
  • The company attracts an international staff, but the backbone of their expedition team is typically Australian, which makes for a fun atmosphere

Introducing a few key members you might meet on your voyage:

Aurora Expeditions staff

Howard Whelan

  • Expedition Leader 
  • Senior Polar Tourism Guide and Fellow of the Explorer’s Club
  • Part of the Aurora Expeditions team since the company's launch two decades ago 
  • One of the first people to walk the 4000km Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico
  • Cameraman on the first Australian ascent of Mount Everest
  • Led the Antarctic filming expeditions that culminated in the Oscar-winning animation Happy Feet
Aurora Expedition Leader Howard Whelan

Dr Roger Kirkwood

  • Expedition Leader & Naturalist
  • First travelled to Antarctica as a krill research assistant in 1984 on an Australian marine science expedition
  • Returned nine more times to study zooplankton, seals, penguins and albatrosses
  • Spent a year beside an emperor penguin colony 60km (37.3 miles) from Mawson Station and did his PhD on emperor penguin foraging ecology
  • Published more than 100 research and public articles, as well as four books
Aurora Expeditions Roger Kirkwood

Nina Gallo

  • Historian
  • Spent four years at university studying everything from literature and politics to science and Chinese medicine 
  • Worked as a canyoning guide and climbing instructor in the Blue Mountains, a first aider and volunteer manager on events in the Simpson Desert, and a guide and lecturer in Antarctica
  • Has travelled to far northern Canada, the Himalayas, the Alps and deserts in America and Australia 
  • Authored Antarctica, which was published by Australian Geographic in September 2020
Historian Nina Gallo of AE Expeditions
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What our customers think of Aurora's guides of Introducing Aurora Expeditions

Ashley was a fantastic expedition leader. She exuded confidence in all of her decisions and was very hands-on and proactive about adjusting our itinerary as needed. Lea was quite the animated personality who kept things fresh and fun. Heidi's passion for citizen science projects was infectious. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2024

David Flack - Japan

My tip for people planning an Antarctic trip? Go with Aurora. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2024

Bryce Malsbary - USA

The expedition team were incredibly knowledgable, friendly, patient, excellent educators, incredible backgrounds. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2024

Kristie Collins - France

Everyone was so upbeat, kind, open, and open to learn and teach about any topic discussed. It almost felt like they were just another person on the trip with us, rather that “being at work”. We were so happy with everyone that we met! Read the full review

Travelled: December 2023

Katie Hantke - USA

WOW! They were all so incredible. I can't pick a favorite staff member as they all were kind, informed, and each had their own area of expertise. They made a wonderful team. I felt safe with each and every member, and felt free to ask any questions that I may have had. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2023

Wendy Williamson - USA

Everyone was so nice and passionate about their work. Mario: I miss his morning wake-up calls. I was lucky to get a hug from him on my birthday! Read the full review

Travelled: December 2023

Vera Hui - USA

Excellent service and a company committed to doing right by the planet. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2023

Annie Ferguson - UK

We expected an experienced expedition staff, but the staff was beyond even our high expectations. The leadership and most of the staff were such highly qualified individuals with outstanding experience in Antarctica. Besides leading the various expeditions, they provided outstanding information in programs on the ship about numerous topics to prepare us for what we would be seeing and doing. The staff on the ship were extremely well trained and friendly. Read the full review

Travelled: March 2023

Dan Stewart - USA

There were no words; the entire cruise was simply amazing. The expedition team over the top - the expertise of Howard Whelan got us everywhere we needed to be safely with just spectacular landings. The ship was beautiful - new yet understated. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Elizabeth Braman - USA

The team were so energetic and passionate. Howard the expedition leader was a marvel and having him was truly special. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2022

Stephanie Krolick - USA

Really great team. Howard did a nice job as leader of the expedition. The staff was friendly and very approachable. Really enjoyed John's insights into the birds and other animals. All expedition staff really seemed to enjoy their jobs and interacting with the guests. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2022

Mark Golan - USA

John and Isabelle were great, extremely knowledgeable, and fun! The rest of the staff were great as well, each offering unique perspectives and fun tales along the way. Wes led a great camping trip. Alena was a great spa manager. David was a hilarious lecturer. Howard ran a tight ship. They were all fantastic. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2021

Christopher Norton - USA

Review:

Swoop offers the following Aurora trips

Special Offers:Swoop has access to the widest range of offers and can help you find the right trip, cabin, & price.

Antarctic Peninsula Explorer

Explore the White Continent onboard one of the newest additions to the Polar fleet, a state-of-the-art expedition vessel combining adventure with comfort. Limited to only 132 passengers, there’s also a wide range of optional adventure activities on this classic Antarctic…

  • 12-15 Days
  • $12,795
Discover South Georgia, Antarctica and Falklands

This voyage stands out by visiting the Antarctic Peninsula first and keeping the wonders of South Georgia for the second half. Plus you’ll be travelling on board one of the most exciting new Polar ships with spacious cabins, state-of-the-art technology…

  • 19-25 Days
  • $22,595
Crossing the Antarctic Circle

Spend 6 full days exploring Antarctica with the Polar Circle at 66 degrees south as your most southerly objective, on board one of the most exciting new vessels. With an average of just 132 passengers with spacious cabins, state-of-the-art technology…

  • 12-15 Days
  • $16,195
Immense Discovery: Falklands, South Georgia & the Peninsula

This fantastic trip covers all the must-see highlights of an extended Antarctic expedition. With 21 nights aboard, you will venture far south past vast icebergs to cross the Antarctic Circle before taking in jaw-dropping king penguin colonies in the wildlife…

  • 23 Days
  • $31,495
Antarctic Fly & Sail Combination

A rare and popular voyage which flies one way and sails the other, maximising both expediency and experience. Spend 5-7 days exploring Antarctica on a small, newly-built expedition ship, with kayaking & snorkelling available. January - March…

  • 9-14 Days
  • $16,195
Fly & Cruise the Antarctic Peninsula

For maximum time in Antarctica with flights both ways, this trip really stands out. An extended fly & cruise voyage spending eight full days actually in Antarctica onboard a small, state-of-the-art expedition ship. Optional kayaking & polar…

  • 12 Days
  • $14,795