VESSEL REVIEW | Ocean Explorer – SunStone Ships’ ice-class expedition vessel with 162-guest capacity

VESSEL REVIEW | Ocean Explorer – SunStone Ships’ ice-class expedition vessel with 162-guest capacity

Photo: Kennedy

US cruise company SunStone Ships recently took delivery of a new expedition cruise vessel that was built at the Haimen shipyard of China Merchants Heavy Industry (CMHI).

Ocean Explorer is the fourth vessel to be built by CMHI under the Infinity-class, which was designed in Norway exclusively for SunStone. Although the six planned ships in the class share a basic design, each vessel will be fitted with a number of custom features depending on the requirements of their charterers.

Photo: SunStone Ships

The newbuild has an LOA of 341 feet (104 metres), a moulded beam of 59 feet (18 metres), a draught of 16.7 feet (5.1 metres), a gross tonnage of 8,228, and capacity for 162 guests and 99 crewmembers. There are 77 guest cabins including 15 staterooms intended for solo travelers plus another 53 cabins for the crew. All but 10 of the guest cabins are suites with balconies.

The vessel has Ice Class 1A, Polar Code 6 notation and was built with IMO-compliant Safe Return to Port features, a Kongsberg Maritime dynamic positioning system, and zero speed stabilisers from Rolls-Royce Aquarius.

Photo: SunStone Ships

Guest facilities include a swimming pool, a whirlpool, a bar, restaurants, an observation lounge, a lecture lounge, a library, a gift shop, a laundry room, a medical centre, a boutique, a gym, an outdoor cinema, and a spa. The crew also have their own gym as well as a mess, a laundry room, and a day room.

All interior spaces are fully air-conditioned and access between the decks is via escalators, a passenger-only lift, and a service lift. Construction of the interior spaces was carried out by Makinen while interior design work was provided by Tillberg Design.

Photo: SunStone Ships

The vessel can reach a maximum speed of 16.5 knots and a cruising speed of 11 knots. Power is provided by four diesel engines that each produce 1,080 kW at 1,000 rpm and drive two Ingeteam main propulsion motors connected to Scania four-bladed, fixed-pitch propellers.

A Brunvoll 880kW controllable-pitch bow thruster provides added manoeuvrability for sailing through restrictive waters such as those in various remote destinations. An inverted bow allows for smoother sailing and safer navigation through seas with packed ice.

The ship also has two rescue boats, two 150-person lifeboats, and four 50-person liferafts.

The Bahamas-flagged Ocean Explorer will initially operate under charter to Boston-based Vantage Deluxe World Travel, making it the latter operator’s first ocean-going small ship. It began cruise sailings in August 2021 out of Poole in the UK and its first itineraries will include East Africa, the Mediterranean, and Scandinavia.

Photo: Sexton

Click here for the other news, features and reviews comprising this month’s Passenger Vessel Week.

Ocean Explorer
Type of vessel:Expedition cruise ship
Classification:Ice Class 1A, Polar Code 6; IMO Safe Return to Port
Owner:SunStone Ships, USA
Operator:Vantage Deluxe World Travel, USA
Builder:China Merchants Heavy Industry, China
Length overall:341 feet (104 metres)
Beam:59 feet (18 metres)
Draught:16.7 feet (5.1 metres)
Gross tonnage:8,228
Main engines:4 x 1,080 kW at 1,000 rpm
Propulsion:2 x Scania fixed-pitch propellers
Auxiliary engines:2 x Ingeteam
Side thruster:Brunvoll, 880 kW
Maximum speed:16.5 knots
Cruising speed:11 knots
Dynamic positioning:Kongsberg Maritime
Other equipment installed:Rolls-Royce Aquarius zero-speed stabilisers; passenger lift; service lift; escalators
Interior designers:Makinen; Tillberg Design
Liferafts:4 x 50-pax
Lifeboats:2 x 150-pax
Rescue boats:2
Type of fuel:Diesel
Accommodation:77 x guest cabins; 53 x crew cabins; swimming pool; whirlpool; bar; restaurants; observation lounge; lecture lounge; library; gift shop; laundry rooms; crew day room; medical centre; a boutique; gyms; outdoor cinema; spa; crew mess

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