Monday, May 11, 2009

GAP’s Expedition enters service

Canadian polar cruise specialist G.A.P. Adventure’s latest vessel, the 105m Expedition, entered service last week following a US $15m conversion at the Rauma facility of STX Europe in Finland.

Bought as a replacement for the ill-fated Explorer, which sank in Antarctica in November 2007, Expedition, which meets the requirements of Swedish/Finnish Ice Class 1B, is the former Viking Line ferry Alandsfarjan and sailed from Portsmouth on 1 May on a 13-day ‘Britain & Ireland in Bloom’ cruise, on charter to UK operator Nobel Caledonia.

This is the vessel’s first cruise after a 10-day Azores cruises was cancelled due to main engine problems. The cruise ex-Portsmouth has calls at Alderney & Sark, Herm & Guernsey, St. Michael’s Mount and the Helford River, St. Mary’s & Tresco, Waterford, Bantry Bay, Clifden, Portrush, the Isles of Islay & Gigha, Colonsay & Iona, Siel & Craignure, and Oban where the cruise ends.

The conversion of Expedition in Finland has seen the former 1972-built ferry transformed into a modern polar expedition cruise vessel with accommodation for 120 passengers in triple and double cabins, as well as higher end doubles and suites. Singles are available in all cabin categories and all cabins are outside facing. Onboard facilities include the Polar Bear Pub, Expedition Lounge/Albatros Bar, dining room capable of accommodation all passengers in one sitting, a Barbecue deck, a 360° observation deck and a fitness centre/sauna. Toronto-based G.A.P. says that Expedition is one of the first polar vessels to be fully 2010 compliant with the new International Association of Antarctic Cruise Operators (IAATO) environmental recommendations.

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