Share this article

Expert expedition-cruise insights: Hayley Peacock-Gower, Aurora Expeditions

In 2021, Hayley Peacock-Gower became Aurora Expeditions’ first Chief Marketing Officer. She takes us on a voyage of discovery to find out more about the award-winning Aussie company and its new expedition ship, Douglas Mawson.

In 2021, Hayley Peacock-Gower became Aurora Expeditions’ first Chief Marketing Officer. She takes us on a voyage of discovery to find out more about the award-winning Aussie company and its new expedition ship, Douglas Mawson.

As Karryon reported recently, Aurora Expeditions will soon welcome its third purpose-built, 154-guest expedition ship, Douglas Mawson, to its family of pioneering vessels.

Due to begin sailing in late 2025, Douglas Mawson’s inaugural season will also mark Aurora Expeditions’ return to East Antarctica for the first time in 15 years. New itineraries include a voyage to East Antarctica in honour of the ship’s namesake, departing from Hobart.

Hayley Peacock-Gower is passionate about working for companies that are committed to respecting our planet, so she and Aurora Expeditions are a perfect fit. She brings more than 20 years’ experience in strategic branding, marketing and media for high-profile brands including Canon, Earth Hour and the World Wildlife Fund to her role at Aurora and is a great believer in how expedition travel can change people’s lives and perspectives.

Science Centre, Sylvia Earle, Richard I'Anson_Aurora Expeditions
The Science Centre on board Sylvia Earle.

How important is sustainability to your guests?

Research has shown that consumers are increasingly conscious about spending money with companies they know are operating ethically and sustainably, and this is also true for who they choose to travel with. We often hear from our guests that our commitment to sustainability and respectful travel is one of the reasons they choose Aurora Expeditions and we’re very proud of this.

How would you sum up the appeal of expedition cruising?

Expedition cruising allows travellers to embrace the unexpected a little more, while travelling in absolute comfort – our expedition voyages prioritise the experience over a set itinerary, where nature and conditions lead the way.

Our expeditions take guests to some of the world’s wildest, most remote and incredible natural environments, which provide the perfect settings to inspire and educate travellers onboard and ashore.

Each of our voyages is joined by our highly experienced expedition teams that include naturalists, scientists, historians, explorers, activity specialists, plus our captains and crews – many of whom have been travelling to these areas for decades and generously share their knowledge and experiences.

Sylvia-Earle_Neko Harbour, Antarctica, Tyson Mayr_Aurora-Expeditions
Sylvia Earle in Neko Harbour, Antarctica. Credit: Tyson Mayr.

Where have you sailed with Aurora’s ships, Greg Mortimer and Sylvia Earle?

I have been privileged enough to visit the polar regions a few times and have journeyed on both of our state-of-the-art expedition ships.

I feel very fortunate to have joined Dr Sylvia Earle on her namesake ship for our inaugural Climate Change Expedition in Antarctica last year. Sylvia is one of the most inspiring people to travel with. She brings a level of knowledge and enthusiasm that is unsurpassed! It truly was one of the most incredible experiences I have had with Aurora.

Will Douglas Mawson be similar to Greg Mortimer and Sylvia Earle?

There are a few design differences across the ships. The new features on Douglas Mawson include single-berth cabins, which we are very excited to be offering for this growing segment. 

Additionally, there is an enhanced pool, a pool bar, new interior designs and, most importantly, we will have the latest and greatest X-Bow in the market which uses the newest technology and even more agile.

Aurora Expeditions Douglas Mawson-Stateroom-single-render_
Render of a single stateroom on the Douglas Mawson.

What are some of Aurora Expeditions’ standout experiences and destinations?

We know that the magic happens with our guests outside their comfort zones, and that the unexpected makes for the best stories and experiences. We want them to discover the wild out there (and maybe discover the wild in themselves!).

One of the ways we do this is through our activity program, which is the most comprehensive in the market. We give our guests the opportunity to get even more immersed in the destination with snorkelling, kayaking, scuba diving, photography, snowshoeing and camping on the ice.

For me, snorkelling in Antarctica is one of the true highlights of our offerings, and you only need to know how to swim to do it!

One destination that our expedition teams nominate as a favourite is South Georgia for its mind-blowing wildlife – it’s home to some of the world’s largest king penguin colonies, and much more. East Greenland is another one, for its rugged mountain landscapes, glaciers and fjords.

We’re also incredibly excited to be returning to East Antarctica and New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands in our 2025/26 Antarctic season on the new Douglas Mawson, which we foresee being a very popular voyage. 

Polar bear on pack ice, Spitsbergen. Credit: Al-Bakker.

What does Aurora’s recently attained Certified B Corporation mean to you personally and professionally?

I’m very proud to work for a company that has made a commitment to being purpose driven. A focus on sustainability and responsible travel has been part of Aurora’s DNA since its founding more than three decades ago by Greg Mortimer, who is a pioneering explorer and passionate environmentalist. 

Seeking the B Corp certification felt like the natural next step to build on what we were already doing as a company, and now having it signifies to our staff, partners, suppliers and guests that our business operates as ethically, transparently and sustainably as possible. 

Being a B Corp is about always working to be better, so we will continue to evolve and strengthen our sustainability programs both on and off-ship. That includes conservation education, citizen science projects, sustainable food initiatives and our partnerships, to ensure we keep up with the high standards of social and environmental impact that B Corps are expected to meet. 

Deck 5 dining room on Douglas Mawson.

What are some of your favourite destinations and where would you still like to explore?

Antarctica – I feel in love with this otherworldly destination. It gives you an overwhelming sense of what truly matters – how small you are – and just how incredibly beautiful and magic this destination is. And there is still much more to explore there for me… including East Antarctica and the Ross Sea.

Svalbard – I have never felt more like I was in my very own nature documentary, from seeing everything from polar bears and cubs to blue whales (yes! I’m in that 1 per cent of people to see a blue whale!), to adorable arctic foxes, walrus, beluga whales and birds galore. 

For me, any destination that intimately reconnects you with nature is always high on my list to explore. Raja Ampat, Africa and Galapagos come to mind – I need to get onto these!

For more information, visit