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Cruises to Norfolk Island, islands in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and sub-Antarctica highlight the Orion Expedition Cruises calendar.

The Orion has a high staff to passenger ratio, with 75 crew members for a maximum of 106 passengers. Berlitz Cruise Guide ranks the Australian luxury expedition cruise ship as the number two expedition cruise ship in the world.

Asian cruises

In September and October, Orion cruises on 9, 10 and 11-night Asian expeditions: Spice Islands, Gulf of Siam and Vietnam Explorer.

Passengers explore Bali and several enticing Indonesian islands, as well as the coasts and islands of Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Angkor Wat, Cambodia, is an optional side-trip.

Orion's Forgotten Islands expedition begins in Bali in late October. Passengers on the ten-night cruise visit Komodo Island, known for its dragons, Maluku, Yamdena Island and Thursday Island in the Torres Strait before the cruise ends in Cairns.

Cruises to Sub-Antarctic Islands

The Sub-Antarctic Wildlife Adventure cruise expedition brings passengers to the World Heritage Macquarie, Campbell, Auckland and Snares Islands and New Zealand fjordlands. Passengers see and photograph impressive scenery as well as abundant bird and marine life.

This sub-Antarctic cruise supplements Orion Expeditions Antarctica cruises. Departing from Hobart and Bluff to Commonwealth Bay and the Ross Sea regions, they visit the bases of explorers, Scott, Shackleton and Mawson.

Kimberley Coast cruises

Between May and September, Orion cruises visit Australia's Kimberley Coast. The Opera Under The Stars voyage features a night at the opera in Broome.

The 11-night Guide to the Southern Skies voyage between Darwin and Broome has an astronomy theme. Guest lecturers are Professor Fred Watson, astronomer in charge of the Coonabarabran Anglo Australian Observatory and David Malin, an astronomical photographer and writer.

Arnhem Land indigenous art

Indigenous art collectors and art-lovers should book Orion's seven-night Art of Arnhem Land voyage in April. The Orion cruises from Thursday Island, in the Torres Strait, to Darwin. Passengers visit isolated art communities in Arnhem Land and listen to lectures by indigenous art experts.

Norfolk Island and Melanesia cruise

Orion's 19-night Norfolk and Melanesian Islands Discovery cruise, between Auckland, New Zealand and Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, departs in February. After visiting the Bay of Islands, passengers spend two days at historic Norfolk Island.

The expedition cruise also visits the Isles of Pines, Anatom, and the cargo cult island of Tanna, where Mt Yasur volcano is still active. Other Melanesian destinations on the Orion expedition are Malakula, Nggella (Florida Islands), Marovo Lagoon and the flooded volcanic caldera of Simpson Harbour at Rabaul.

Great Barrier Reef cruises

In April, Orion's five-night North Queensland Tropical Reefs and Culture cruise begins in Cairns, visiting Lizard Island, Stanley Island (outstanding indigenous rock art), Orion Reef (excellent snorkeling) and Poruma Island (Coconut Island), in Torres Strait, before ending at Thursday Island.

In November, Orion Expeditions six-night Great Barrier Reef cruise visits Hardy Reef, Hayman Island and Percy Island. After a few days at sea, it concludes in Newcastle.

Tasmania food and wine

Besides expeditions onshore, Orion Food and Wine cruises offer five nights of food and wine tastings. Between Sydney and Hobart, passengers visit Eden, Flinders Island, Wineglass Bay, Coles Bay and the Southwest Wilderness region of Tasmania.