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The future of expedition cruising is here, and Lindblad Expeditions - National Geographic is one of the brands at the forefront of the segment’s dramatic evolution. The line recently revealed more design and itinerary details of its upcoming National Geographic Endurance, set for delivery in early 2020.
“This is a big moment for us,” said Sven Lindblad, CEO and president of Lindblad Expeditions - National Geographic. “We wanted to build a new generation of polar vessels.”
The 126-passenger ship is currently under construction by Ulstein in Norway, featuring the shipbuilder’s patented X-Bow. Not only will it make for a sleek-looking ship, but more importantly, it will add to the vessel’s stability and sightseeing opportunities.
“It enables a smooth and comfortable ride in all sea conditions,” said captain Leif Skog, vice president of nautical for Lindblad. “The ship is very fuel efficient with that X-Bow, because the X-Bow is slicing through the waves — so it’s not slamming, and there’s not any pitching.”
In fact, the ship will be ice class-rated (PC5 Category A) — essentially making it an icebreaker — with the ability to journey nonstop for more than 30 days without needing to refuel.
“The end result is that Endurance will be able to travel deeper into the ice for longer periods of time,” Skog said.
The means for passengers to witness the environment is crucial, as well. Beyond an observation lounge, there will be observation wings off the ship’s sides, three observation decks and, of course, the unique inverted bow.
“You have an unobstructed sightline right down to the water, and that’s really key, whether it be dolphins or whales or polar bears off in the distance that might get a little curious and come up to the ship,” said Trey Byus, chief expedition officer for Lindblad.
Lindblad himself stressed how focused the company is on the traveler experience and guests’ desire to see wild places as well as to learn about science. As a base camp for discovering and gathering data, the ship will be fully equipped with Zodiacs, kayaks, snowshoes, cross-country skis, hydrophones, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), a video microscope and underwater video tech. There will also be three Zodiac boarding locations for efficient launching, as well as a handsomely designed mudroom for gear prep.
“The ship’s interiors are all about fire and ice,” said Nikolaos Doulis, senior vice president of marine builds for Lindblad.
That means luxurious Scandinavian designs will permeate the vessel with warm and cool aesthetics. There will be a fireplace at The Den and two separate saunas with different heat levels, plus soft tones at the Ice Lounge and a pair of infinity-style whirlpools overlooking the chilly edge of the ship.
Passengers can enjoy dining venues such as the scenic Two Seven Zero main restaurant; casual bistro C. Green for quicker and lighter fare; and the Chef’s Table for private dining, which all guests will have the opportunity to enjoy. Also available will be a heated outdoor Winter Garden for an alfresco dining option.
Meanwhile, accommodations will encompass 56 standard cabins and 13 balcony suites. Forty standard rooms will feature balconies, including the ship’s 12 solo cabins. Each room will feature a “command center” complete with a vintage analog clock, a barometer and an incline meter, as well as an HD television, an iPad and a National Geographic Atlas, USB charging ports and universal electrical outlets.
When it comes to capturing memories, in addition to Lindblad’s own trained team, National Geographic photographers will be onboard every Endurance voyage. The ship will even have a B&H Photo Gear Locker for those who wish to try out loaner equipment.
Beginning in 2020, three signature Arctic itineraries will be available, including Svalbard in Spring: Polar Bears, Arctic Light & Epic Ice, which Byus describes as, “a photographer’s paradise because there’s golden hour for hours.”
Additionally, Northeast Passage: An Unforgettable Voyage from Norway to Alaska will highlight the historic route and the chance to see dozens of polar bears. Lastly, East Greenland: Wild Shores of the High Arctic will visit Northeast Greenland National Park, the world’s largest national park.
“We’re convinced that everyone has an explorer gene in them,” Lindblad said.
And the Arctic is only the beginning, as the company has plans to send Endurance on a 35-day voyage between Bluff, New Zealand, and Ushuaia, Argentina, along the leading edge of Antarctica in winter 2020 and 2021.
The DetailsLindblad Expeditions - National Geographicwww.expeditions.com