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A new ship can enable a cruise line to bloom with long-awaited plans. This ripple effect is evident in the announcements surrounding Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, which will launch the new National Geographic Quest on June 26, 2017.
The addition to its fleet allows Lindblad to substantially expand its Alaska and Pacific Northwest offerings for next year, continuing the line’s mission to expose travelers to the most authentic insider aspects of the destinations it visits. The expansion also makes it possible for the company to add both shorter and longer itineraries and to offer more active programs, right in line with the tastes of today’s luxury expedition travelers.
National Geographic Quest has 50 staterooms; 22 of them feature balconies and 12 can be connected to make adjoining staterooms for families. A third guest can be accommodated in all category 5 staterooms. There is elevator access to all decks, as well as a specially designed open bow observation deck for watching wildlife and chatting with naturalists and guest speakers. Open seating in the dining room showcases fresh, local cuisine, and the ship has a lounge, a bar, a spa and a fitness room.
Through the use of cutting-edge expedition technology, Lindblad is dedicated to enabling guests to access destinations directly and hands-on. National Geographic Quest is outfitted with equipment including an ROV (remotely operated vehicle); a video microscope; and a hydrophone and bow-cam designed for immediate bow deployment to hear and film the likes of humpback whale vocalizations and nearby dolphins. Passengers will be able to get right into the heart of the sea and remote land areas with 24 sea kayaks, snorkeling equipment, paddleboards and zodiacs.
The company has bookmarked the 2017 Alaska season with National Geographic Quest’s 13-day Treasures of the Inside Passage: Alaska & British Columbia itinerary in June and September, which also includes time in the San Juan Islands and the Gulf Islands. The ship will then operate on the weekly Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness itinerary, which departs July 8 through Aug. 26, 2017.
Following the Alaska season, National Geographic Quest will remain in the Pacific Northwest for a series of new cruises between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, with stops in the San Juan Islands and British Columbia’s Alert Bay and Victoria, as well as more far-reaching stops in British Columbia’s channels and fjords. After December 2017, the ship will sail to Costa Rica and Panama before kicking off a series of new voyages in Belize and Guatemala starting in February 2018.
With National Geographic Quest launching operations, Lindblad has had a chance to create a series of new programming opportunities for the 62-guest National Geographic Sea Bird. Wild Alaska Escape is billed as the most active adventure offered by the company: six days of adventure in wild, pristine Alaska for “those with limited time but an unlimited sense of adventure and the opportunity to engage in some challenging activities.” The itinerary explores the region’s iconic wildlife and calls at the ancient Chilkat Tlingit village of Klukwan. In Haines, activities include a three-hour bicycle trip around a gorgeous glacial lake, as well as half-day hikes up some of the region’s mountains or a trek up 1,760-foot Mount Riley, the highest point on the Chilkat Peninsula, known for its spectacular views.
Others may prefer to encounter the Chilkat River on the surface, through an area rich in native tradition as well as the largest congregation of bald eagles in the world. Lindblad offers guided kayak trips from the ship or exploration via expedition landing craft to remote beaches and hikes in Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the U.S.
The 11-day Big Picture Alaska expedition includes the entire Inside Passage, adding Misty Fjords and Haines to the itinerary, along with a focus on photography with a team of Lindblad-National Geographic certified photographers and photo instructors. Four departures are scheduled from June 16 through Aug. 5, 2017. Guests will raft though Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, explore Glacier Bay National Park, search for humpback whales, kayak around glacial ice, hike in Tongass National Forest and learn about the region’s rich Tlingit heritage.
As exciting as Lindblad’s plans are for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, National Geographic Quest is only the beginning. A second 100-guest ship has been announced to follow it in 2018, which will allow the company to reshuffle its deployment again.