Taking into account more than three decades of experience in exploring the world’s most remote coastlines and waterways, Lindblad Expeditions will kick-start further growth to meet demand when it launches two brand new ships over the next two years – the first time the line has commissioned, designed and built new craft in its multi-generation history.
The first, National Geographic Quest, will be in action from June this year. The second will come a year later and will be an identical sister ship, named National Geographic Venture. Both ships are under construction in Seattle and will cater to 100 passengers each.
Each ship will feature 50 cabins, of which 22 will include a walk-out balcony. Families and groups will be catered to with 12 of these cabins – six sets of two – can interconnect, while a selection of other cabins will be able to sleep a third person.
Drawing from its experience exploring the US West Coast, here are some of the innovations Lindblad Expeditions has factored into the design of its new ships.
Views from the ship will be clearer
As stated above, the new Lindblad Expeditions vessels will feature more balconies than any other member of its fleet, with nearly half of the 50 cabins allowing its occupants to walk out onto their own private viewing platform.
Unlike other expedition ships, where the heavy and potentially dangerous anchors and chains often prevent passenger access to the bow, the new ships have been designed in such a way that the anchors exist on a tiered system below the bow, meaning the bow area itself will be completely open, safe and unobstructed for guests to view their surroundings from the front.
A pair of stairways either side of the bow will also provide access to an observation deck. If guests happen to be sitting comfortably in the lounge when the Captain announces at very short notice an opportunity to spot a particular species of wildlife, such as whales breaching, these external viewing areas will be easy to reach and won’t require arduous deck changes.
Better interaction with the Captain
While still taking passenger and ship security very seriously, moves by expedition cruise lines to open up the Bridge to guests have been received very warmly.
Aside from making the head of the vessel more accessible to passengers, the ability for them to see the inner workings of the ship, the technology employed, maps and charts of the area being explored and the chance to see the same view as the Captain are always popular.
On National Geographic Quest and National Geographic Venture, the Bridge has been specially designed with forward-facing standing areas and seating positioned around the ship’s equipment for guests to watch everything in action. At most times of the day, guests can engage the crew in conversation and learn more about what all the equipment does.
A brand new Zodiac boat design
Lindblad is well known for exploring remote parts of the coastline, but they are just as famous for going so much deepter than that.
Specially designed inflatable watercraft will be onboard the new ships, employing a military-grade construction, extra holds for passengers to use to maintain their balance as the boat moves across the water and the waves and better tread for shoes to grip and prevent slips and falls.
All zodiacs will also be fitted with custom-designed ladders to help travellers with boarding and disembarkation at either end of an off-ship excursion.
Ships will be more environmentally friendly
As the first Lindblad Expeditions ships to be built from scratch, all of the latest modern technology has been built into the designs.
These include advanced waste water and treatment systems, while the latest hull designs have been used to maximise fuel efficiency, including the line’s first bulbous bow (the bulky bit at the very front of the ship at the waterline) and efficient propulsion systems. The latest propellers ensure little to no vibration which will also assist in minimising fuel consumption.
Jackets and equipment will be left in a mud room
Inspired by other ships in the fleet – namely National Geographic Orion and National Geographic Explorer – the newest ships in the fleet will also feature a central mud room which guests will pass through at each end of their off-ship excursion.
Inevitably on an expedition, by their very nature you are bound to be venturing into areas which may be wet and muddy, which will likely be all over your shoes and jackets by the time you get back to the ship. To prevent this mud and dirt getting into the clean and pristine areas of the ship – especially your cabin – all jackets, dirty boots and snorkelling equipment will be left in a central mud room.
Guests will have access to lockers for safe storage of gear. This will make preparation for future excursions easier, with all equipment kept safe and secure as and when you need it.