If you love the idea of taking an adventurous, educational expedition to some of the world’s most remote places, the ships of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (expeditions.com) can take you there. For decades, the company has pioneered expedition cruising around the globe. Now, it has announced an agreement with Norwegian shipbuilder and designer Ulstein to construct its first purpose-built polar expedition vessel.
Set to launch during the first quarter of 2020, the as-yet-unnamed expedition ship will be the newest and most technologically advanced ship in the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet. Designed specifically to sail the world’s polar regions, including Antarctica and the High Arctic, the ship will embrace the company’s policy of connecting guests with each environment it explores. To that end, a full 75 per cent of cabins on-board will feature private balconies, multiple observation decks, and specially designed “observation wings” that sit in the footprint of the ship’s navigation bridge.
This ship’s new futuristic design isn’t purely esthetic. Her distinctive bow (designed by Ulstein and registered as the X-BOW) provides greater fuel efficiency and better guest comfort in rough seas. The ship will also be equipped with the highest ice-class rating for access into polar regions that would otherwise be off-limits to other expedition vessels. To do this, the ship’s fuel and water tanks have been expanded, allowing her to cruise longer — and farther — than her contemporaries.
Lindblad’s new ship will feature all the toys and gadgets you’d expect from an expedition line of this calibre, including on-board zodiac rafts complete with a brand new loading system; a remotely operated vehicle (ROV); hydrophones; a video microscope; underwater video cameras; and a helicopter landing platform. The line hints that more expedition features are coming in the months leading up to this new vessel’s official debut.
“We are incredibly excited to be working with Ulstein and their brilliant team of engineers and designers on this state-of-the-art vessel as we continue expansion of our fleet. It is the next step in the long-term growth of the company, and will be the most extraordinary global expedition ship in the world on a multitude of levels,” said Sven Lindblad, president and chief executive of Lindblad.
“The launch of this ship will mark the 50th anniversary year of the first-ever purpose-built expedition ship, Lindblad Explorer, which was built by my father, Lars-Eric Lindblad, and will set another important milestone in the company’s commitment to deliver expedition travel at its best,” he added.
“Our expedition cruises, operated through our alliance with Lindblad Expeditions, have delivered remarkable experiences to our guests for the past 13 years,” said Nancy Schumacher, head of Travel and Tour Operations for National Geographic. “The expansion of the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet is truly terrific news, as it allows us to offer these unforgettable trips to even more travellers in the future. We look forward to joining our partner Lindblad Expeditions in celebrating the launch of the latest addition to the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet.”
The as-yet-unnamed polar vessel will have 69 guest staterooms and suites, and 12 cabins will be designed specifically for solo travellers; a quickly emerging market that will no doubt benefit from the inclusion of these solo-supplement-free staterooms.
On-board, the ship will also include a full spa and fitness area; two infinity Jacuzzi tubs out on deck; and both indoor and outdoor dining options. Full details and features aren’t available yet, but expect Lindblad to reveal more renderings and amenities as the ship’s launch date approaches.
There could be more of that new-ship excitement waiting in the wings: Lindblad has options for two additional sister-ships that, if exercised, would enter service shortly after this new vessel’s 2020 debut.
Of course, you don’t have to wait until 2020 to set sail on the adventure of a lifetime. Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic currently offers diverse small-ship expedition cruises around the world, including voyages to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest; Baja California and the Caribbean; the Galapagos; Belize and Guatemala; Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, and expedition cruises to the Arctic and Antarctic.