Cruise

Aurora names new CEO following first Antarctic season in two years

Aurora Expeditions has appointed Michael Heath to take over from Monique Ponfoortas the company’s CEO from 1 June 2022.   

Heath, a highly respected executive with 25 years of broad and extensive international experience, has been CEO of Surf Hardware International since 2014 and previously held key leadership and top management positions for global active outdoor brands including O’Neill, Hurley and Nike.  

“It is a privilege to take on the role at such an important time in the business’s history and lead Aurora into the future,” commented Heath. 

“I have experienced first-hand the Aurora Expeditions difference and was incredibly impressed – not just by the awe of Antarctica, but by Aurora’s outstanding expedition experience and highly talented expedition team.

“I’m looking forward to joining the Aurora family, building on Aurora Expeditions’ pioneering heritage, actively pursuing growth with purpose and capturing the expanding opportunities ahead”. 

Aurora Expeditions recently celebrated a successful return to operations in Antarctica this year, and Heath joins at a time when the business is well-positioned for continued growth, with a deep commitment to sustainable travel and the imminent debut of its second ship, the Sylvia Earle, due to launch in Antarctica in November 2022. 

The news comes off the back of Aurora celebrating a 100 per cent success rate for its first Antarctic season in almost two years.

Hundreds of adventurous expeditioners from around the globe joined Aurora Expeditions on the Greg Mortimer across eight voyages, ranging between 10 and 23 days from January to April.

The mix of passengers included passengers from Australian (including us! Read about it HERE), the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Singapore and more.  

“Aurora Expeditions is thrilled with the success of our return season to Antarctica, getting back to what we do best in our 30th year of operation,” commented Aurora Expeditions’ VP of operations, Tomas Holik.  

“Our exceptional safety record and lack of interruptions during this season is a testament to our team’s commitment, planning, and expertise in ensuring that our expeditions were as safe and enjoyable as possible for our passengers.

“It was undoubtedly a combination of our strengthened health and safety measures, and the fantastic cooperation of our passengers that ensured our incredibly successful return to operations.”

Expeditioners on a landing (Credit: Scott Portelli)

Hayley Peacock-Gower, chief marketing officer for Aurora Expeditions, said that no one comes back from Antarctica the same – it changes them.

“We know that travellers are increasingly returning to their ultimate travel wishlists and looking to make up for lost time, explore and push their own personal boundaries,” Peacock-Gower said. 

“Expedition travel is a type of travel like no other, taking passengers on true adventures to some of the wildest and most remote reaches of our planet.

“Aurora Expeditions has been leading perspective-altering expeditions for thirty years, and with our successful return to operations and imminent launch of our second ship, we are incredibly well placed to meet the increasing desire for people to take that once in a lifetime trip.” 

Aurora Expeditions’ 22-23 Antarctica season commences in October 2022, and forward bookings are in high demand, with many voyages close to sold out.

Still upcoming for this season include voyages to Costa Rica & the Panama Canal, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Greenland, and Canada’s Northwest Passage.

The company also recently released its 2023 Arctic season with new itineraries including the Jewels of Coastal UK, Across the Arctic Circle and Canary Islands, Cape Verde and the Azores, all of which have so far seen an overwhelmingly positive response.


Featured image: Michael Heath on his recent Antarctic expedition (supplied) 



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