Aurora Expeditions’ parent makes a strong play at Vantage

Pacific Travel Services makes a US$1.5 million acquisition bid for brand and assets

Ocean Explorer, the first of two Ultstein X-Bow hull ships in Vantage's fleet

The parent company of Aurora Expeditions, Pacific Travel Partners Inc, has put its money where its mouth is in an effort to acquire Vantage Travel Services, bidding US$1.5 million for the business and handing over a 10% cheque as a counteroffer to the bid made by United Travel.

Vantage Travel filed for bankruptcy a few months ago, and the business’s brand and assets – which includes a reported database of more than 3.6 million customers – have been on the market. United Travel had placed a bid in early July of US$1 million.

The sell-off excludes two very young expedition ships operated by Vantage Traavel, Ocean Explorer and Ocean Odyssey that were on a long-term charter from SunStone Ships.

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Those vessels feature a similar design and the same Ulstein X-Bow hull that Aurora Expeditions’ ocean ships, Greg Mortimer and Sylvia Earle, have been built with, and come from the same shipping yard. Greg Mortimer and Sylvia Earle have a capacity of 132 passengers, whereas Ocean Explorer (delivered in 2021) and Ocean Odyssey (delivered in October 2022) accommodate 134 guests.

Aurora Expeditions' ships, Sylvia Earle and Greg Mortimer | Credit: Aurora Expeditions © Jean-Pierre Els

In reference to the potential acquisition, a month ago, Michael Heath, CEO of Aurora Expeditions told LATTE the subject was a delicate matter.

“We are aware US company, Vantage Travel has gone into Chapter 11 and ceased operating. This is always a difficult and distressing situation for any company and we empathise with the staff and passengers affected by the situation,” Heath said in a statement to LATTE.

“In effect, offers are being sought for the brand name, the company customer list and the website. Aurora Expeditions has expressed an interest in the process and should the opportunity arise and the terms reasonable, we are interested in submitting an offer,” he said at the time.

Further to Pacific Travel Partners’ bid of US$1.5 million in cash submitted late last week to the US Bankruptcy Court of Massachusetts, the company will extend future considerations for the creditors of Vantage Travel, equating to 5% in 2024, 4% in 2025, 3% in 2026, 2% in 2027 and 1% in 2028.

Aurora Expeditions has previously indicated it plans to introduce a third new-build sister ship in the future.

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