Adam: How is Orion's cruise program for PNG shaping up for 2012?
Bratton: For the first time both Orion ships will visit PNG in 2012. The two ships have been chartered by US organisations for the Solar Eclipse off Port Douglas. The Orion II will have her maiden call in Australia in November 2012, and then we will operate from Cairns to Rabaul on our established 11-night PNG Cultural Highlights itinerary.
Adam: How many voyages will Orion make to the destination in 2011 and 2012?
Bratton: We had seven voyages in 2010 and have four in 2011 and six planned for 2012. We usually operate in PNG every spring and autumn, however due to charter activity now and again, our plans get altered.
Adam: How has demand for the destination been in recent years and how important is PNG to Orion?
Bratton: For Orion, positioned in this part of the world, we consider PNG part of our shoulder season, with Antarctica and the Kimberley being our peak seasons. PNG is not considered a mainstream tourism destination. However, our well-travelled and inquisitive guests' feedback informs us that being able to visit and interact with diverse cultural communities means the destination provides rewarding experiences.
We work very closely with a number of communities, providing equipment, aid, medical assistance, building school houses and building community work centres. We contribute in a corporate sense and guests contribute personally.
Adam: What selling points can you suggest to agents, for clients considering an Orion trip to this destination?
Bratton: The few large ships that do visit are restricted on where they can operate, making access difficult in shallow waters or remote areas. No other operator in PNG has the strong community links that Orion has forged over the last six years.
Orion also operates a convenient charter flight between Cairns and Rabaul (and vice versa) to transfer guests to and from the ship at the beginning or end of each voyage. And Orion has the highest rated ecologically responsible cruise operation in PNG.
Source: Travel Weekly