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I was in impressive company onboard Lindblad Expeditions - National Geographic’s U.S.-flagged National Geographic Venture — a revelation that became increasingly clear with each educational presentation or chance conversation during the ship’s two-night VIP mini-expedition.
Executives, travel agent partners, affinity/charter partners, media and staff were all in attendance for the event, which kicked off Nov. 30 with the ship’s dockside christening ceremony in San Francisco Bay.
Sven Lindblad, CEO of Lindblad, welcomed guests before introducing Gary Knell, chairman of National Geographic Partners, to the stage. Knell expressed his excitement of celebrating the next 15 years of the two companies working together and explained that the partnership is “not about tourism, but about travel and experience.”
Afterward, the ship’s captain, Andrew Cook, noted that Venture — Lindblad’s second-ever newbuild — will be the best way to experience maritime environments.
It is a great expedition ship. It’s comfortable and nimble, and with massive amounts of glass, our guests will constantly be connected to the outside world.
To conclude the christening ceremony, Pamela Fingleton, Lindblad’s senior vice president, received the honor of breaking a champagne bottle over Venture’s bow.
“I am very, very, proud,” Sven told the crowd. “It is a great expedition ship. It’s comfortable and nimble, and with massive amounts of glass, our guests will constantly be connected to the outside world.”
The ship will sail itineraries featuring Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and Baja California. For our preview cruise, though, we took a scenic sunset trip to the Golden Gate Bridge — which, in due course, loomed above us in all its stately splendor — and traveled by zodiac boat to Angel Island State Park for a choice of adventures including sea kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and hiking.
Regardless of the destination, no learning opportunity is lost when sailing with Lindblad — even during meals, which are held in the third-deck dining room. The cruise line’s expedition staff of naturalists, conservationists, researchers and the like join each table and facilitate stimulating discussions. As for what’s on the menu, dishes — such as coffee-rubbed lamb and a vegetarian posole paired with freshly baked cheddar bread — are as delicious as they are attractive and showcase sustainable, local ingredients.
Venture is identical to its sister ship, National Geographic Quest, which has been operating since July 2017. Both feature four passenger decks (accessible via stairs or an elevator) and have 50 cabins, including 22 rooms with step-out balconies and eight suites. Decor is modern yet understated, with light-wood furniture and striking nature photography. Also onboard are a mudroom with cabin-assigned lockers for expedition gear; a small spa and gym; the global gallery gift shop, which is stocked with artisanal goods; a B&H Gear Locker with cameras, lenses and binoculars available for field testing; and more.
During a fireside chat moderated by John M. Fahey Jr., a member of Lindblad’s board of directors and the former CEO of National Geographic Society, Sven underlined the importance of people supporting places they care about.
“No one is going to be happy to do business or thrive on a degrading planet,” he said. The DetailsLindblad Expeditions - National Geographic www.expeditions.com