Have you heard about the ULSTEIN X-BOW®? As one of the core custom-design features of Aurora Expedition's new Greg Mortimer ship – set for launch in 2019 – the X-BOW® is set to "redefine expedition cruising".

Although technology is always moving forward, the X-BOW® is a true game-changer for the industry. In addition to the vast number of environmental benefits, the design is expected to make the cruising experience safer and more enjoyable for all on-board the Greg Mortimer. Regardless of whether it's navigating the challenging Drake Passage towards Antarctica or the European Arctic, the X-BOW® is set to make a huge splash in the coming years.

Launched in 2005 by Norwegian ship designer ULSTEIN, Aurora Expeditions is the first to use the X-BOW® design on an expedition ship, having been of excellent use in over 100 shipping vessels across recent years. So, what makes the X-BOW® so special? Here's everything you need to know about this proven, innovative custom design.

The innovative, Greg Mortimer

How does the X-BOW® work?

The bow of any ship is the same, right? Wrong! Instead of the traditional bow shape and design that punches through the water, the ULSTEIN X-BOW® hull is curved in a novel shape which increases the foreship volume. As a result, the bow penetrates the waves in a way where the water gently flows over the bow – reducing impact and slamming loads.

The X-BOW® extends the waterline to full hull height which splits the wave's energy rather than the traditional design where the water is crushed and creates a spray over the bow.

Here's a summary of the technical benefits of the X-BOW® on the Greg Mortimer:

  • Reduced bow impact and slamming loads
  • Reduced wave-induced vibrations
  • Lower acceleration levels
  • Lower pitch response due to volume
  • Lower speedloss

In conclusion, the main advantage of the ULSTEIN X-BOW® is that it can pierce waves with more stability than a traditional ship bow. Instead of simply rising on the waves and then dropping with tremendous force, the X-BOW® is able to absorb the force more consistency across its surface – enabling the ship to remain more stable during poor weather conditions, increasing comfort for passengers and crew alike.
 


How will the X-BOW® 'redefine expedition cruising'?

At Aurora Expeditions, our main goal is to provide passengers with a safe, comfortable and enjoyable cruising experience. Of course, as we all know, Mother Nature can often have something to say about this as we venture into some of the most isolated and dangerous waters on the planet. 

We can't change the weather forecast, but what we do have a say in is how our ships are designed and built to take on the roughest parts of the Southern and Arctic Ocean. The X-BOW® on the Greg Mortimer is a massive part of this endeavour, making even the roughest conditions on the Drake Passage manageable.

Why choose to travel on a ship with an X-BOW®?

Thanks to the X-BOW®, from 2019, passengers will be able to enjoy more gentle sea crossings, faster transit speeds, reduced vibrations and improved comfort and safety on board. This will make it easier for passengers to take advantage of the dedicated observation areas for photography or to utilise the on-board services, such as the fitness centre and presentation rooms.

As the X-BOW® allows the Greg Mortimer to absorb the impact of heavy seas, ocean spray is also reduced. This means that during safe conditions, it's possible for you to venture out to the many observation desks and take a photo of the scenery without being drenched by the spray of a rogue wave. We believe this technology ensures a safer and drier environment regardless of whether you're close to the shore or out on the Drake Passage!

Expedition cruising is all about seeing nature up close and personal, but is often also associated with long uncomfortable journeys. No longer! With the X-BOW® changing the way that Aurora Expeditions travels through Antarctica and the European Arctic, we are redefining what it means to experience our fascinating planet for yourself. Relax, enjoy your surroundings and make the most of your time on-board the Greg Mortimer!

Greg Mortimer & the X-BOW

How is the X-BOW® better for the environment?

Climate change and carbon emissions continue to be headline issues for the world and at Aurora Expeditions, we understand our responsibilities in protecting and preserving the environment for generations to come.

Again, this is where the X-BOW® is going to make a huge difference. The Greg Mortimer will have a higher transit speed through waves and experience fewer vibrations – getting passengers to their destinations in a timelier manner. What this also means is that the ship produces fewer emissions and overall lower fuel consumption. It's vital that we're actively working to reduce our footprint on the natural environment and the X-BOW® marks an important milestone in this effort.

In fact, the X-BOW® can directly help us to remove disruption. This is done through virtual anchoring technology when launching zodiacs, kayaks and other watercraft.

For centuries, anchors have been used at ports, harbours and in open water to hold mooring ships. Along with ropes, ships needed anchors locked to the ocean floor for stability and the safety of everyone on-board. However, anchors can have a negative impact on the natural environment, disturbing or damaging animals and plants on the seabed. Anchors can also disturb sediments through dragging – essentially changing the layout below the surface for years to come.

Although the damage often goes unseen, scientific evidence has long expressed concerns about anchor usage. This is why we will start virtual anchoring through the X-BOW®. Using GPS technology and high-tech steering to hold position, the delicate polar sea floor is protected from heavy chains and anchors. 

The X-BOW® is a significant step forward in technology, but also in efforts to preserve and protect the environment for the future.

How safe is the X-BOW®?

Changing something as fundamental as a ship's bow shape is a concept that has been years in the making. From development plans to on-water testing, through to the adoption on shipping vessels, we've taken time and effort to ensure that we got it just right. The X-BOW® design has been proven safer than the traditional bow shape and will certainly become more common in the years ahead. The X-BOW® hull line design has been tried in all weather conditions and is in its element in the harsher environments such as Antarctica and the Arctic.

Anecdotal evidence of this is now widespread, with captains noting the larger view from the deck, the comfortable speeds possible through heavy seas, the reduced vessel movements during poor conditions and how ships are able to remain floating on top of the water rather than punching through large waves.

Although we time our expeditions for the best polar sea conditions (summer), we do sometimes experience adverse weather – it's just the part of the world! Of course, with the X-BOW® on the Greg Mortimer, we hope to provide a more comfortable environment for our passengers.
 


Keen to be among the first on the Greg Mortimer?

Over a number of years, the hard-working team at Aurora Expeditions have been planning the launch of the Greg Mortimer. Paying tribute to our founder who brought his passion for exploration to the world, the new custom-built ship honours Greg's extensive years of experience.

From 2019, the Greg Mortimer will hit the open waters of Antarctica and the European Arctic. Of course, it's not just the X-BOW® that makes this ship stand out from the rest of our fleet. Here are some other features to look out for:

  • Observation decks that offer a range of views out to the spectacular panoramic scenery
  • Hydraulic platforms bringing you closer to the action from the comfort of the ship
  • State-of-the-art lecture rooms for informative talks and briefings
  • Dedicated zodiac docks which make loading and unloading easier than ever
  • On-board changing room/mudroom for storing outdoor clothing and gumboots after an adventure
  • Restaurant and bar serving up a delicious daily menu
  • Relaxed staterooms ranging from porthole to balcony categories

You'll be able to also enjoy a number of activities during your voyage, using the ship as your base. This includes:

  • Sea kayaking
  • Diving and snorkelling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Ski touring
  • Climbing
  • South Georgia alpine crossing
  • Camping
  • Photography workshops

If you would like to learn more about where the Greg Mortimer will be in 2019, feel free to get in touch with our expert booking team today. We can create a range of travel opportunities for solo and group travellers that allow you to see the beautiful scenery of the Polar regions from shore and from our brand-new ship.

Have any questions about the X-BOW® or the Greg Mortimer? We look forward to answering your questions, planning your trip and welcoming you into the next generation of expedition cruising!

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