True North Adventure Cruises is just such a company, and it was a delight to catch up with Brand Director Peter Trembath (known, in true Australian style, as 'Tremby') and renew our acquaintance with the True North difference.
The 36-guest True North is a vehicle to deliver guests to the very heart of the wilderness. It's a comfortable environment, but the trip is all about what you do off the boat, not on. Purpose built, with a shallow draft, she carries six dedicated adventure boats and a helicopter enabling guests to set forth on a number of different adventures at each stop, as well as being so small that she herself can get far closer in than the small ship competition.
For example she sails right up the King George River, where competitors have to send their zodiacs a lengthy journey of 6 nautical miles to the twin falls, giving guests a full day in the area to explore in depth, rather than just a couple of hours with a long journey there and back.
First timers on True North usually come for the Kimberley, but once they have experienced what makes this product so special they come back time and again to visit the whale sharks of Cenderawasih Bay, magical Papua New Guinea, the pristine islands of Melanesia and more.
Most days True North guests are visiting sites others simply don't know about - and even if they did, they wouldn't be able to get there. One of their most unusual calls is the Rowley Shoals, an extraordinary area of pristine coral visited by fewer than 500 people per year.
The Papua New Guinea programme is hugely successful, and a real wilderness experience. Here more than anywhere the True North team work to ensure their visit brings nothing but benefits, with gifts of school equipment, gardening equipment, medical supplies and mosquito nets, and a wonderful prize for best performing school pupils of a ride in the helicopter.
For three months of each year, the vessel is brought back to showroom standards, so whilst she is twelve years old, she looks brand new. On each sailing expect one biologist, six naturalists (including photographers) and, of course, helicopter pilots. There is an informal lecture programme on board, and of course every time you go off on the boats, you are with an expert.
The helicopter carries six plus the pilot, with big viewing windows. Whilst pricey, Tremby says that reluctant guests soon get caught up in the excitement about these unique excursions.
So what about a second ship? Tremby looks coy and remarks that "a new set of plans is currently circulating" but won't commit any further. "How about your own perfect trip", I wondered. With a nostalgic look in his eyes, he reminisced about a face to face encounter with a 14 foot tiger shark, but then, surprisingly, put Greenland top of his list. Not wanting to start any rumours, but True North is a good name for an Arctic ship isn't it?
Find out more: Request a True North Adventure Cruises brochure