Our History

The Lindblad legacy of respectful tourism

Lars-Eric Lindblad really wanted to be an explorer, and he channeled his passion to the travel business. But organized tourism proved to be a bit tame for his adventurous spirit, so he formed his own organization in 1958, Lindblad Travel. He got around the tameness, would take anyone anywhere, and his itineraries ventured where no tourist had gone before. 

A noted environmentalist, Lars-Eric was the first to bring civilians to some of the most exotic parts of the world including Antarctica, Arctic Svalbard, Galápagos, Easter Island, the Amazon, Papua New Guinea, the Seychelles, China, and Bhutan—all with the focus of creating experiences that foster an understanding and appreciation of the most remote and pristine places on the globe. These legendary pioneering adventures led him to be defined as the father of "eco-tourism".   

Sven-Olof Lindblad, Lars’ son, traveled extensively with his father from an early age, developing his inherent passion to explore the pristine corners of the globe. As a young man, Sven spent six years in East Africa photographing elephants and wildlife and assisting filmmakers on a documentary about the destruction of African rain forests. This time was instrumental in molding a fundamental objective of his work—to find ways for his business to help preserve natural resources and get involved in conservation efforts.

Special Expeditions to Lindblad Expeditions
In 1979, Sven Lindblad founded Special Expeditions as a division of Lindblad Travel, enabling the company to further its mission of offering innovative and educational travel expeditions that were primarily marine focused. Offerings expanded to Costa Rica, Baja California, and Alaska providing travelers with opportunities to explore, on small ship cruises, the islands, coves, and open spaces of the sea that reminded Lindblad of the remote and vast expanse of the Serengeti plains. The company’s name was later changed to Lindblad Expeditions.

The National Geographic alliance
In 2004, Lindblad Expeditions embarked on one of the travel industry’s most important partnerships when it joined forces with National Geographic to further inspire the world through expedition travel. Learn more about the alliance.

Today with offices in New York City and Seattle, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic operates its own fleet of 10 ship, six owned and four leased, offering life-changing adventures on all seven continents. Sven Lindblad and his team continue to pioneer innovative ways to connect with the places already “discovered”— the first to introduce kayaking to the Arctic, Antarctica, and Galápagos; the only one to offer kayaking on the Upper Amazon; the first to reveal the wonders below the ocean with an unmatched undersea program; the first to offer an unparalleled photography initiative with a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor on each expedition and a National Geographic photographer aboard every departure of National Geographic Explorer and National Geographic Orion.

Twentieth and twenty-first century explorers respectively, Lars-Eric and Sven Lindblad have exposed countless people to the wonders of the world, fostering generations of committed citizens who care about the future of our planet. It’s in the genes.

Key Milestones

  • 1958
    Lindblad Travel founded.
  • 1966
    Lindblad pioneers expedition travel to Antarctica.
  • 1967
    Lindblad pioneers expedition travel to Galápagos.
  • 1969
    Lindblad Explorer, the first private, purpose-built expedition ship, launches.
  • 1970
    Lindblad pioneers expedition travel to the Seychelles.
  • 1970-1976
    Sven Lindblad leads expeditions to East Africa.
  • 1972
    Lindblad Explorer takes first citizen explorers to the Amazon.
  • 1972
    Lindblad Explorer takes first citizen explorers to Arctic Svalbard.
  • 1977
    Lindblad's first expedition to Baja California.
  • 1978
    Lindblad pioneers expedition travel to China.
  • 1979
    Sven Lindblad founds Special Expeditions.
  • 1980-1985
    The first Lindblad ship-based Alaska and Canada expeditions.
  • 1986
    Polaris joins the Lindblad fleet.
  • 1989-1990
    Sea Lion and Sea Bird join the Lindblad fleet.
  • 1996
    Endeavour joins the Lindblad fleet and is deployed to the planet’s polar regions and Europe.
  • 1997
    The ship Polaris is permanently stationed in Galápagos.
  • 1998
    Lindblad earns International Safety Management certification.
  • 2000
    Sea Voyager joins the Lindblad fleet.
  • 2000
    Company name changes to Lindblad Expeditions.
  • 2001
    The Adventure Collection launches with Sven Lindblad as chairman.
  • 2001
    Sven Lindblad elected to UN Environmental Programme Global Roll of Honor.
  • 2004
    Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic form unprecedented alliance with mission to inspire people to explore and care about the world.
  • 2005
    Flagship Endeavour rechristened as National Geographic Endeavour.
  • 2005
    Receive unique first-ever permit for kayaking in Galápagos.
  • 2006
    Sven Lindblad recognized by Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg for his conservation work in Galápagos, and a newly discovered endemic moth is named in his honor, Undulambia lindbladi.
  • 2006
    Lindblad hosts first-ever National Geographic Kids Expedition.
  • 2007
    Lindblad celebrates 40 years of expeditions excellence in Galápagos and Antarctica.
  • 2007
    Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic establish the Joint Fund for Conservation, Research, and Exploration.
  • 2008
    National Geographic Explorer joins the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet.
  • 2008
    Sven Lindblad receives a prestigious Galápagos conservation award from the Municipality of Puerto Ayora for his commitment to the preservation of Galápagos and the welfare of its communities.
  • 2009
    Global Perspectives guest speakers program launched.
  • 2010
    Expedition Photography program launched.
  • 2013
    Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic establishes the Joint Fund for the Ocean.
  • 2014
    National Geographic Orion joins the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet.

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