European expeditions will include cultural stops such as Iona Abbey in Scotland. // © 2015 Lindblad Expeditions/Stewart Cohen Pictures
Feature image (above): Lindblad takes cruisers to both of the world’s poles. // © 2015 Lindblad Expeditions/Ralph Lee Hopkins
Lindblad Expeditions has found a way to intrigue its sophisticated and well-traveled loyal guests while welcoming a new, broader demographic. This year, the company is increasing its reach in destinations such as the Arctic and Antarctic, and in 2016 it will bring Lindblad style to Europe.
Lindblad is offering two new itineraries in the Arctic to cater to a market interested in trendy North Pole cruises. Epic 80°N cruises bring guests to 80 degrees north — the top of the world — and farther than Lindblad has ever sailed before.
Last year, the company’s planned Northwest Passage cruise had to be altered because of ice, and the ship was unable to venture all the way up to the northernmost point.
Sven Lindblad, founder and president of the company, was onboard and became so enthusiastic about the wildlife and beauty of these upper reaches that he made it his goal to share the experience with guests in 2015. The first sailing will depart Aug. 17 from Ottawa, Ontario, and travel north to explore Baffin Island, Ellesmere Island and Greenland, ultimately disembarking in Reykjavik, Iceland.
“What I can promise those fortunate enough to join us is perhaps the most inspired modern expedition ever in the Arctic,” Lindblad said.
For those looking to explore the other pole, Lindblad deployed a second ship in Antarctica last winter. With both Orion and Explorer sailing this year, there is still some availability on November and December itineraries.
In 2016, Lindblad will expand its line into Europe. From May through September next year, National Geographic Orion will offer 22 back-to-back, weeklong cruises that will hit destinations such as Spain, Portugal, France, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, the Baltics and Scandinavia. The line expects to appeal to a time-starved younger demographic in their 30s and 40s while also accommodating travelers with more time at their disposal.
Bookings will open by April for Lindblad’s European expedition product. Itineraries will incorporate hiking, biking, kayaking and boating via zodiac landing crafts, and food, wine and culture experts will be onboard as well.
“We really want to immerse our guests in the culture but also leave room for flexibility and independent roaming,” said Jacinta McEvoy, vice president of travel agent sales for Lindblad.
The diversity of experts onboard sets the company apart. Past Global Perspectives experts have included former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, former Soviet statesman Mikhail Gorbachev, former prime minister of Norway Gro Brundtland, television broadcaster Hugh Downs, Nobel Prize Laureate and former president of Poland Lech Walesa and first female president of Ireland Mary Robinson.
In addition, ethnomusicologist Jacob Edgar, who has insider knowledge of the music of each region, will lend his unique expertise to guests throughout their journey on and off the ship. Renowned Australian chef Serge Dansereau has created menus that provide a sampling of Europe’s regional food and wine.
Todd Copley, vice president of expedition development for Lindblad, says the European expeditions will provide hands-on learning experiences, authentic interactions with local culture and active discovery options such as walking trips, cycling and kayaking. Independent exploration curated by insiders will help guests experience local restaurants, shops and historic sites. A National Geographic photographer and a photography instructor will be onboard every cruise to record guests’ adventures.
Also new is Lindblad’s Coastal Treasures From the Panama Canal to Peru, a 14-day South America itinerary departing in late September. The 148-passenger National Geographic Explorer will begin its voyage with a Panama Canal transit (a first for the company) and explore Colombia and Ecuador, before ending in Lima, Peru. Former president of Colombia Cesar Gaviria will be onboard.
The cruise line continues its emphasis on exposing passengers to the wildlife and culture of a destination while also freshening its offerings with new expeditions, proving an important point to clients: You haven’t seen it all yet.