Aurora Expeditions CEO stepping down for “new challenge”

Monique Ponfoort is stepping down after 17 months in the top job

Aurora Expeditions’ Chief Executive Office, Monique Ponfoort, is stepping down after 17 months leading the Australian expedition cruise line.

Ponfoort joined Aurora Expeditions in late 2020, taking up the post having previously spearheaded the regional operation of French luxury cruise line Ponant, where she had served as Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific.

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At Aurora, Ponfoort has been instrumental in providing positive leadership in a challenging time within the industry.

In a statement, Aurora Expeditions said: “[Monique’s] commitment to environmentally responsible travel has been showcased via the company’s innovation and leadership in the expedition travel category.

“During her time with Aurora, Ponfoort accelerated meaningful changes for the brand including the launch of its ‘Sustainability In Action’ Program,” the cruise line said.

Under her watch and 12 months into the role, the company became certified 100% Carbon Neutral through a partnership with South Pole, an emission reductions project developer and global climate action expert.

Monique Ponfoort, CEO Aurora Expeditions
© Matt Horspool

Ponfoort also took charge of Aurora Expeditions’ global growth in key source markets, and the development of key global industry partnerships such as Virtuoso – initially as a regional partner in May 2021 before up-gauging to the global network a few months later – as well as Qantas.

“Monique’s commitment to delivering enhanced Health & Safety protocols has been the number one priority for the business, which focused on a safe return to Aurora’s operations in Antarctica in January 2022 and is now into its fifth voyage of the season,” Aurora Expeditions said.

Greg Mortimer in Antarctica

Commenting on her decision, Ponfoort said: “Given our strong position, the talented teams driving our plans forward, and our successful return to operations, I feel that now is the best time to announce my plans to step away to pursue a new challenge.”

“I have achieved the goals I had set out for Aurora Expeditions when I joined the business in 2020, and I am confident that the company is well-positioned to continue its growth. Personally, I am excited and ready for a new challenge, and I wish the Aurora team every success for the future. I will very much miss working with such a talented and passionate team and highly valued trade partners,” added Ponfoort.

Aurora Expeditions’ Chairman Neville Buch said: “We wish to personally thank Monique for her valued contribution and leadership of Aurora Expeditions during this difficult time and getting us back to what we do best – extraordinary expeditions – as well as helping us prepare for the imminent launch of our second expedition ship, the Sylvia Earle.”

Ponfoort will remain with the business to assist Aurora Expeditions with management through a transitional period.

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