Lindblad Expeditions / National Geographic
EXPLORATIONS – A Lindblad Expeditions Blog

T-21 Days: Q & A with Captain Mark Graves, Director of Marine Operations

We’re counting down to the launch of our brand-new expedition ship National Geographic Quest! Follow along from now until June 26 and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings as the big day draws near. Every Monday Q&As with Lindblad-National Geographic staffers involved in the build give you a behind-the-scenes look and exciting new details. Captain Mark Graves is the Director of Marine Operations and one of the many people responsible for bringing National Geographic Quest to life.

What elements of the National Geographic Quest enable her to operate in a more environmentally friendly manner? 

The wastewater treatment plant on board the Quest is designed to gather all wastewater (showers, toilet and sink drains), which is above and beyond what is required in the U.S. This plant utilizes a biologic system that is designed to treat wastewater in an environmentally friendly manner in order to minimize our impact on the waterways that we operate in.

The power plant, or engines and generators, are designed to operate off of well-refined diesel fuel so as to minimize our emissions. They are also properly sized to use the least amount of fuel for the size of the vessel and range of the itineraries. The main engines and generators were chosen to maximize the fuel efficiency for National Geographic Quest.

What elements of the National Geographic Quest’s design enable her to operate best in places like the Pacific Northwest or Central America?

All of the guest cabins and public spaces were designed to be accessed from the interior of the vessel, with companionways and stairs providing quick and easy access to the exterior for wildlife viewing. This will allow us to keep the interior of the vessel comfortable, with easy access to all spaces and few doors that you have to go through to get there. There are also embarkation landings, port and starboard, on the Main, Upper and Lounge decks if you want to get outside when in the midships area to see what’s out there. I predict these will be good places to “hide” when you just need to step out. The full-length windows that are installed on the port and starboard sides in the lounge and on the port, starboard and aft faces of the dining room are particularly striking. I like the views that these are going to provide in all areas that the Quest will travel, particularly when we are visiting such places as the Panama Canal, Glacier Bay National Park, and Alaska’s Inside Passage.

I also love the bow area. This is my favorite space on the Quest. There are multiple viewing points from the bridge and lounge decks as well as direct access from the lounge and the two exterior stairways from the bridge deck. The bow viewing platform has come out nicely and this will be a great gathering spot for wildlife observation, scenic cruising, or just to have a cup of coffee to watch the world go by. If I’m not on the bridge you’ll find me on the bow when on board the Quest.

As a Captain who spent years aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird and Sea Lion, which features of the National Geographic Quest’s bridge are unique?

I really like how welcoming the bridge will be for the guests. We have left a good amount of space for visitors, which includes some seating, and I made sure to leave some of the area near the forward windows open so that guests could stand or sit there and watch the world go by. Binoculars will be provided for searching for wildlife and the guests will always be encouraged to visit us and assist in our eternal search for wildlife. It also was a pleasure to help put together a package of the most current navigation equipment and gear, but keep the space that it occupies manageable so that it did not “overtake” the bridge. It’s a space that I hope to spend a lot of my time when I am aboard the Quest.