G.A.P Adventures is buying a new, larger expedition ship to replace the sunken Explorer.
The Explorer sank after hitting an iceberg in Antarctica at the end of last year and 154 passengers and crew were evacuated into life boats before being rescued.
The specialist adventure tour operator’s new ship, Expedition, is being bought from a family-owned company in Finland. It will be given a complete refit before its first sailing to Antarctica on January 4 next year.
The 345 foot-ship, which holds 120 passengers, is about to undergo a five-month refit. The Explorer was 275 feet long and carried 100 passengers.
Chief executive Bruce Poon Tip confirmed the company was signing off the final paperwork for the ship, which will be more luxurious than its predecessor.
He said: “What happened last time was an accident and it was just bad luck. We have to move on and think positive and there is very high interest in these trips. We are investing heavily in health and safety for all aspects of the new vessel.”
The company already has five ships in the Galapagos region, tall ships in Brazil and sail boats in Greece.
It is looking at expanding into eastern Europe and Africa for its land-based holidays and is currently developing its Kenya programme following the lifting of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s travel ban.
Poon Tip said: “For a few months we couldn’t send any customers to Kenya but now business is now starting to creep back and our plan is to have a big push on Africa sales now the UK market has started to regain confidence.”
Meanwhile, G.A.P Adventures won the Tanzania Tourist Board’s Humanitarian Award for 2008 for its contribution to the local community supporting an HIV/AIDS education workshop programme in Tanzania.