Lindblad Expeditions / National Geographic
EXPLORATIONS – A Lindblad Expeditions Blog

Announcing Our New Polar Vessel!

NEW YORK, Nov. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: LIND; “Lindblad”, the “Company”), the global leader of expedition cruises and adventure travel experiences, today announced that it has signed an agreement with Norwegian shipbuilder and ship designer Ulstein to build the world’s foremost expedition ship.  

World’s Foremost Expedition Vessel Will Be the First Polar New Build in the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fleet.

The new vessel will be built in Ulsteinvik, Norway and is scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2020, with an option for two additional ships to be delivered in subsequent years.   

The state-of-the-art polar vessel has been designed as the ultimate expedition platform with a focus on safety and comfort, as well as incorporating innovative sustainability solutions to reduce its environmental impact.  A core feature is Ulstein’s signature X-BOW®, a distinctive bow that provides fuel efficiency while significantly improving guest comfort in rough seas; and a very high ice class for access deep into polar regions.  The ship’s expanded fuel and water tanks provide for extended operations in remote areas; while the zero-speed stabilizers will ensure stability underway, whether at zero speed when stopped for wildlife observation, or embarking/disembarking the ship.

“We are incredibly excited to be working with Ulstein and their brilliant team of engineers and designers on this state-of-the-art vessel as we continue expansion of our fleet.  It is the next step in the long-term growth of the company, and will be the most extraordinary global expedition ship in the world on a multitude of levels,” said Sven Lindblad, President and CEO of Lindblad. 

“The launch of this ship will mark the 50th anniversary year of the first-ever purpose-built expedition ship, Lindblad Explorer, which was built by my father, Lars-Eric Lindblad, and will set another important milestone in the company’s commitment to deliver expedition travel at its best,” added Lindblad. 

In keeping with the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic ethos to connect guests with the environment being explored, the ship will be designed to access the outside environment from anywhere on the shipWith 75% of the cabins featuring balconies for private viewing; multiple observation decks inside and outside, and new “observation wings,” the surrounding environs will always be accessible.   Off-ship exploring will be greatly enhanced with an innovative Zodiac loading system which will allow everyone to get ashore quickly and safely, ensuring quick access to every destination.  The ship’s complement of expedition tools for exploration will include kayaks, cross-country skis, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), hydrophones, a video microscope, underwater video cameras, a helicopter landing platform, and more to be announced in the coming months. 

The ship will afford gracious comfort and an unparalleled level of service, with the highest comfort class for guests to ensure a quiet and peaceful environment onboard.  The 69 spacious guest cabins and suites will include 12 cabins for solo travelers. The spa and fitness area will include treatment rooms, saunas, a fitness room, a relaxation area and yoga room; and there will be two infinity Jacuzzis for the utmost relaxation in pristine environments.   Dining offerings include a main restaurant with outstanding views to the surroundings, and an outdoor barbeque and bistro area.

“Our expedition cruises, operated through our alliance with Lindblad Expeditions, have delivered remarkable experiences to our guests for the past 13 years,” said Nancy Schumacher, head of Travel and Tour Operations for National Geographic. “The expansion of the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet is truly terrific news, as it allows us to offer these unforgettable trips to even more travelers in the future. We look forward to joining our partner Lindblad Expeditions in celebrating the launch of the latest addition to the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet.”

“We are pleased to have been chosen as a partner for this exciting project.  Lindblad is an innovative company and a frontrunner in the exploration cruise industry. We look forward to turning this project into reality together with Lindblad and their partners,” stated Gunvor Ulstein, CEO at Ulstein Group.

About Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc.

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. is an expedition travel company that works in partnership with National Geographic to inspire people to explore and care about the planet. The organizations work in tandem to produce innovative marine expedition programs and to promote conservation and sustainable tourism around the world. The partnership’s educationally oriented voyages allow guests to interact with and learn from leading scientists, naturalists and researchers while discovering stunning natural environments, above and below the sea, through state-of-the-art exploration tools. For more information visit

About Ulstein Group  

ULSTEIN has 600 employees and is headquartered in Ulsteinvik, Norway. ULSTEIN delivers products and services within ship design, shipbuilding and equipment packages to the international market. In 2017, they celebrate their 100-year anniversary. Throughout a century they have created tomorrow’s solutions for sustainable marine operations together with their partners.

About National Geographic Partners LLC

National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and ecommerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 129 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching over 760 million people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit or, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

How Will the Solar Eclipse Affect Wildlife?

By Ralph Lee Hopkins, National Geographic Photographer and Director of Expedition Photography

Big horn sheep along the Snake River, Idaho. Photo by Linda Burback.

Where will you be on August 21st?

If you’re reading this you’ve probably already made your plans. Wherever you are, and however you plan to experience the event, be observant of everything around you.

How will the plants and animals around you react to the darkened sky? Will the birds stop singing and become silent? Will frogs start croaking? About what about the fire flies?

Three of our ships, National Geographic Sea Bird, National Geographic Sea Lion, and National Geographic Quest will be plying the waters of the Inside Passage in Southeast Alaska, where the eclipse will be just less that 60% of totality. We’re all curious to know how the wildlife will react. For example will humpback whales take advantage of the darkened skies, perhaps becoming more active feeding on schooling fish and plankton that rise to the surface at night?

Want to take part in recording your observations and gathering data to add to the understanding of behavioral ecology? The California Academy of Sciences is soliciting citizen scientists to record their observations of plant and animal behavior during the event on their iNaturalist app available on the App Store or Google Play. For more information visit

And don’t forget to wear special eclipse glasses and take pictures with your iPhone or digital camera. Google and University of California Berkeley have joined forces to compile photographs taken of the eclipse from across the country. Check out the Eclipse Megamovie 2017 project for more information.

Enjoy the show!

Tips for Photographing the Solar Eclipse

By Ralph Lee Hopkins, National Geographic Photographer and Director of Expedition Photography

Image courtesy of NASA.

Where will you be during the upcoming solar eclipse? It’s certainly an exciting time to be on planet Earth! Photographing the solar eclipse requires some advance thought and preparation, so here are a few tips to get the most from the experience.

1. Location, Location, Location – From Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina there are many great locations to view the eclipse along the 70-mile wide path of totality when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. How wild is that! Everywhere in the US will experience at least a partial eclipse, so finding a location with clear skies to enjoy the show is key.

2. Special Equipment – To safely and successfully photograph the eclipse (Do NOT look directly at the sun with your naked eye!), there are few items you will need that are not already in your camera bag. Most important are special Eclipse Glasses, that enable you to look directly at the sun, and also a Solar Filter for your lens. Research the use of the Solar Filter, as it’s necessary to remove at totality, then re-attach as the sun returns.

3. Think Composition – You can bet that everyone and their brother will be taking telephoto shots of the eclipse, stacking them into a single image, or shooting time-lapse to create a sequence. You may also want to do that (consider working with two cameras), but to make your images unique think about composing an image that includes an interesting foreground or a scenic aspect of the landscape will create. If possible, scout your location in advance to track the path of the sun across the sky and find the best composition.

4. Luck favors the Prepared – To avoid fumbling with your equipment during the event, be sure to practice with your gear. In addition to the special Eclipse Glasses and Solar Filter, essential items include the camera and lens combination of your choice, a sturdy tripod, cable release or remote trigger, fully charged camera batteries, and extra memory cards. And don’t forget about or iPhone, which has a built in time-lapse feature.

5. Be in the Moment – If you’re reading this you’ve probably already made your plans. Wherever you are, and however you plan to experience the event, be observant of everything around you. Of special interest is how will the plants and animals around you react to the darkened sky? Will the birds stop singing and become silent? Will frogs start croaking? About what about the fire flies? Three of our ships will be plying the waters of the Inside Passage in Alaska. Will whales become more active feeding on fish and plankton that rise to the surface at night? The California Academy of Sciences is soliciting citizen scientists to record their observations of plant and animal behavior during the event on their iNaturalist app available on the App Store or Google Play.

National Geographic Quest: Q&A with Lynn Cutter, Executive Vice President National Geographic Travel

We’re preparing for the launch of our brand-new expedition ship National Geographic Quest! Follow along and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings as the launch draws near. Q&As with Lindblad-National Geographic staffers involved in the build give you a behind-the-scenes look and exciting new details. Lynn Cutter is the Executive Vice President of National Geographic Travel and one of the many people responsible for bringing National Geographic Quest to life.

How does the launch of the National Geographic Quest support the shared mission of National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions?
National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions share a dedication to hands-on exploration and discovering and preserving the wonders of our diverse planet. The new National Geographic Quest—the seventh ship in our fleet—allows us to bring our travelers to remote and incredible places to explore close up, places like the deepest reaches of Alaska’s Inside Passage, or the pristine cayes off the coast of Belize. With a full spectrum of cameras and a hydrophone, fleets of kayaks and paddleboards, and an open bridge policy that allows guests to learn firsthand about satellite technology and navigation, the ship is ideal for in-depth exploration. It also exceeds international environmental standards—another top priority for both National Geographic and Lindblad.

What does this mean to National Geographic to have a ship built from scratch for the purposes of exploration?
The Quest is the first vessel of its kind built entirely in the U.S. Lindblad oversaw every element of its design, and it was built for state-of-the-art expeditionary travel through and through. Guests will notice this in the spacious decks and bows that are tiered so that everyone gets a great view. They’ll get immersed in their surroundings through cutting-edge imaging and audio equipment that reveals the creatures and sounds of the ocean deep. But much thought was also put into the finer details, such as carefully chosen glass that allows for an exceptionally clear view from the ship’s ample windows. This ship was built to make for the best possible expedition cruising experience, and we’re thrilled to see it take to the seas.

Which National Geographic photographers and experts will be traveling aboard the National Geographic Quest in her inaugural season?
Some of our favorites! Flip Nicklin, the world’s premier photographer of humpbacks, will join us on the Quest’s maiden voyage to Alaska’s Inside Passage in July, and National Geographic photographer Jeff Mauritzen will accompany both Exploring British Columbia and the San Juan Islands and Reefs and Ruins: Belize to Tikal, Guatemala. On the February 28 departure of our Belize voyage, we’ll be joined by anthropologist Richard Hansen, who directs the National Geographic-funded Mirador Basin Project in northern Guatemala. We’ll have photojournalist Kike Calvo on board for several Costa Rica and the Panama Canal expeditions, and on the September 15 departure of Exploring British Columbia and the San Juan Islands, guests will travel with Phil Schermeister, a photographer who specializes in nature and wild places, and has been featured in numerous National Geographic publications.

National Geographic Quest in Belize

Sunrise and early morning mist at Tikal Archaeology Site.

Beginning in 2018, the National Geographic Quest will serve as the only expedition ship of its kind plying the azure waters of the Mesoamerican reef. These waters are an absolute playground for travelers and we believe our guests will especially love their experience thanks to the added level of comfort and expedition options offered by the Quest.

Guests can choose to explore in our fleet of 16 double and 8 single sea kayaks, plus 10 custom-built stand-up paddleboards, or cruise around in custom built Zodiacs. To really capture the iconic undersea life, the ship’s undersea specialist will dive with the underwater camera, or use a remote operated vehicle to capture video footage of a variety of marine organisms. This always brings wows in the lounge when viewed during cocktail hour.

CEX0M3 paddle boarding

Snorkeling over a sea turtle

For enjoyment above the waterline, we’re excited to announce that Our ethnomusicologist, Jacob Edgar, has arranged for a performance by the internationally renowned Garifuna Collective, the premier representative of Garifuna music from Belize on the international stage. Hearing them on the Quest’s sundeck or lounge will be a truly memorable event.

This troupe of extraordinary singers has fashioned a unique and wonderful world; once you enter, you will never want to leave.
— Charlie Gillett, The Guardian (UK)

For a preview, check out:

Sven Lindblad in Galápagos: Among Giant Tortoises in the Highlands

Sven Lindblad & Kristin Hettermann in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.

Today we spent exploring the lush highlands of Santa Cruz Island and the town of Puerto Ayora, the largest human settlement in Galápagos with a population of about 18,000 people. Our time in the town included a behind-the-scenes tour of the Charles Darwin Center and a visit to Tomas de Berlanga, a bilingual, open-air school supported by the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic fund. Our summertime expeditions often sail with large families, and this one was no exception. Our young explorers aboard had the opportunity to see a school that kids their own age attend. Some families brought along books to add to the school’s library, and the schoolchildren in Galápagos showed us their new piano, which until recently had been in the lounge aboard our ship National Geographic Endeavour.

Our CEO Sven Lindblad gets the shot with a young guest. There were over 30 kids on this summer voyage. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.

At the Charles Darwin Center we had the honor of meeting the islands’ most famous tortoise, Super Diego. The “Diego” portion of his name comes from San Diego, where he spent several years of his life living in the city’s zoo. He was repatriated to the islands when it was discovered that he was among one of the last tortoises of his kind. Since then he’s sired over 800 offspring, which is where the “Super” part of his name comes in.

Super Diego. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.

Sven Lindblad in Galápagos: Swimming with Sea Lions

Swimming with sea lions feeding on a school of black-striped salemas. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.

“There was an opportunity to go snorkel in the afternoon just off the beach. I’ve learned to never pass up an opportunity in the water, you just never know what might show up. This was one of those surprises. Initially we were thrilled with the sea turtles and occasional sea lion that would whisk by. On our last loop to head back to the beach, we saw a few sea lions and fur seals and upon closer investigation saw that they in fact we huntingdancing in and out of a bait ball. Below, two huge Galápagos sharks cruised back and forth. Blue-footed boobies dove deep to catch fish themselves, bombing into the water to our left and right. I had two teenage guests with me, awestruck as I was. After 30 minutes the show ended, and we headed ashore. The sun was setting and we were abuzz with excitement….one of my top five moments ever in the ocean observing wildlife.” Kristin Hettermann

We had two chances to swim with sea lions. First at Buccaneer Cove, where pirates and privateers once landed to resupply and fix their vessels, and also where Charles Darwin landed for his longest stint in Galápagos. He spent five weeks in the islands total and 19 days here on Santiago. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.


After a short sail along the coast of Santiago we arrived at Puerto Egas. Among the marine iguanas and Galápagos sea lions we also found fur seals, which live in waterline caves. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.


You can tell the fur seals from sea lions because fur seals have big eyes and a bigger nose and lack external ear flaps.  Photo by Kristin Hettermann.


The sea lions swim circles around us, literally, twisting and turning upside down taking us in from every angle. Assured that we pose no threat, they instead play with us, sometimes swimming straight at us only to spin away at the last moment or blow bubbles into our masks. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.

Sven Lindblad in Galápagos: Sea Turtle Day at Isabella Island

By Sven-Olof Lindblad

Sea turtle off Isabella Island. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.

Today was sea turtle daymorning, noon, and night. Don’t know how many we saw today but more than 30 to be sure. The guests are mad keen on snorkelingfrom 5 years old to 93, they are absolutely enchanted with everything undersea. And this week has been full of remarkable sightings from penguins to playful sea lions to wary octopus. But today the sea turtles stole the show as they grazed on algae in the shallows where the gentle surge would bring us together to within a foot or two. It all feels like slow motion, which I guess it is and it makes sense.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann.

I thought a lot today about how hard it is for a sea turtle to become an adult. From the moment a mother lays her eggs the challenges start. In some parts of the world the eggs are coveted by lizards, wild pigs, and humans. For those that are not consumed as eggs the path to adulthood is treacherous with very small odds of survival. As the babies emerge from the nest there are all manner of predators waiting for them…hawks, frigatebirds, raccoons, pelicans, and more. The few that actually make it to the water must then face small sharks, groupers, and other fish who await them. Only a very small fraction survive the first hour of life and then for those that do there are months of treachery to cope with, including human hunters who crave their meat.

And miraculously some survive to adulthood like those we saw today. Few animals face so many challenges to get here and to have the opportunity to produce their young so the species can continue. So I looked at them today with great respect and admiration.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann.

National Geographic Quest: Q&A with Jacinta McEvoy, VP of Global Sales

We’re preparing for the launch of our brand-new expedition ship National Geographic Quest! Follow along and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings as the launch draws near. Q&As with Lindblad-National Geographic staffers involved in the build give you a behind-the-scenes look and exciting new details. Jacinta McEvoy is the VP of Global Sales and one of the many people responsible for bringing National Geographic Quest to life.

Which elements of the National Geographic Quest’s design are a result of travel agent and guest feedback?
Our travel partners are very excited about the launch of the National Geographic Quest. Their feedback as well as their clients, our guests feedback has contributed to many of her unique features. For example, 22 of her 50 cabins offer step-out balconies allowing for spectacular views. Six sets of connecting cabins for multigenerational families, the ability and flexibility to provide queen or twin beds in every cabin, elevator access to all decks and public restrooms on every deck and a designated mudroom.

What are you most excited about with the launch of the National Geographic Quest?
Her unique features, combined with new itineraries to the San Juan Islands & British Columbia, Belize & Guatemala, an incredible Expedition Team, a National Geographic certified photographer and our cool tools for exploration creates a wonderful proposition for travelers.

Sven Lindblad in Galápagos: Fernandina Island, a Favorite Site for 50 Years

By Sven-Olof Lindblad

Sven Lindblad on Fernandina Island. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.

On our second morning here in the Galápagos, we woke in the Bolivar Channel to a flat calm sea. This is one of the richest marine environments in the Galápagos and it was not a surprise when our expedition leader announced the sighting of whales and dolphins. We hung around with them for an hour or so. They were moving erratically and so we couldn’t get great looks. The expedition leader suggested it was a blue whale and calf, which is a rare sighting anywhere.

Photo by Sven Lindblad.

After breakfast we landed at Punta Espinosa on Fernandina Island, one of the world’s most pristine islands. Dating back to my first visit 50 years ago, it is my absolute favorite site in all of Galápagos. It’s a curious feeling being on a pristine island with no habitation and dominated by one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Lava, sand, mangroves, and cacti make up the land that supports a remarkable array of life, at least as seen at the one visitor landing site.

Photo by Sven Lindblad.

It was low tide when we landed and there was a mass migration of marine iguanas marching into the sea. Hundreds of them as if they were being called to a mission. It’s a practical idea, low tide exposes some of the algae they like, and when diving for more they don’t have to go so far. Everyone is enthralled by these prehistoric looking creaturesparticularly the kids.

Of course the show stoppers are the sea lions—a patrolling bull offshore, mothers and babies, a curious lone juvenile whose mother has gone out to fish. No end of antics and no end of oh’s and ah’s. Then off for a hike through the lava. Once you leave the shoreline it’s all lava of different ages and different forms. Every now and then a stand of cacti and the occasional shrub that somehow has taken root. It’s oddly beautiful, we even see a small inland lake fed by underground tunnels, with one lone large grouper in it. We all speculate as to how it got there and if it was now stuck. A mystery that will have to be solved the next time the National Geographic Endeavour II returns.