Lindblad Expeditions / National Geographic
EXPLORATIONS – A Lindblad Expeditions Blog

Quest Countdown

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: https://www.garifunacollective.com/music

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.

T-17 Days: Painting National Geographic Quest

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 Friday a compelling time-lapse video catches you up on the last seven days of progress. This week Quest was painted with its iconic yellow stripe that appears on all ships in the Lindblad-National Geographic Fleet.

 

T-18 Days: What Makes National Geographic Quest the Perfect Vessel for Costa Rica & Panama?

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 Thursday see how the Quest features will enhance your expedition experience wherever you journey. Watch below then check back tomorrow to catch a time-lapse video of the past seven days.


“First, I think you should put on a pair of headphones and listen to this video. Listen to the sounds of the tropics. Enveloping, dynamic—it’s the ultimate surround sound and, once you’ve been a part of it, the feeling won’t leave you.

Now, when you add in a little heat and humidity, you will want a bit of a respite to replenish your energy. That’s one of the reasons why the National Geographic Quest’s guest cabins and public spaces were designed to be accessed from the interior of the vessel. It helps regulate the temperature and keep comfort high. Still, you will not feel cut off from nature. Floor to ceiling windows will offer the feeling of still being one with the tropics. Companionways and stairs to outside decks are very accessible. You can step out on bow directly from the lounge and Category 4 Cabins have step out balconies.

The highlight for many guests is transiting the Panama Canal. We do so, uniquely, over the course of two days. With the Quest’s expansive sun deck and outdoor bar, transiting the three lock systems of the Panama Canal will be even more enjoyable. Don’t forget your camera to capture it, maybe a cocktail to help celebrate.”

—Marc Cappelletti, VP of Expedition Development

T-19 Days: National Geographic Quest’s New Zodiacs

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 Wednesday discover the special features that make the Quest so unique—from an unobstructed bow for superior views to a better bridge and more.

National Geographic Quest is outfitted with Mark V Zodiacs—inflatable expedition landing craft that will enable our naturalists to take guests to places otherwise inaccessible. To outfit the Quest, we have worked hand in hand with the team at Zodiac Milpro to deliver the first and only Mark V Zodiacs built entirely in the USA. These boats are superior, military grade construction but customized with features like extra holds for passenger stability and topside treads to improve footing for stepping on and off. The Quest will be outfitted with eight Mark V Zodiacs and guests will embark and disembark via custom-designed ladders to improve safety and ease of movement.

T-20 Days: Quest Shipyard Update on Cabins & Lounge

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 Tuesday exciting video direct from the shipyard in Whidbey Island, Washington delivers highlights from the past week.

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.

T-24 Days: Quest’s Lounge Progress in Time Lapse

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 Friday a compelling time-lapse video catches you up on the last seven days of progress.

T-25 Days: What Makes Quest Perfect for Alaska?

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 Thursday see how the Quest features will enhance your expedition experience wherever you journey. Watch below then check back tomorrow to catch a time-lapse video of the past seven days.

What makes the National Geographic Quest the perfect expedition vessel for Alaska?
“There’s just so much to see, and it’s not always on a schedule. With wildlife like humpback whales, sea lions or bald eagles popping up at any given time, you always want a view. That’s why we think our guests will especially love the Quest’s dining room. Not just for the delicious food we will serve, but for the wraparound floor to ceiling windows and ability for incredible wildlife sightings when you least expect it. Forward, on the bow, it’s possible to have Dall’s porpoise riding the pressure wave created by the ship in motion. It’s an awesome sighting and with our tiered-viewing platform, guests will never have to fight for the perfect view. (Not to mention, the sun deck with its varied seating options and bar will the place to be as we take in the scenery in Glacier Bay National Park.)

I’m also excited about giving guests the opportunity to see what no one (not counting researchers) has ever really seen in Alaska. The undersea specialist routinely shares video footage of these rich waters—which is fascinating enough. But with Quest, we’ll be able to take things further, deploying a very maneuverable ROV to capture footage of reaches far deeper than divers are capable of going. Our guests will quite literally be able to see parts of Alaska unseen to anyone.

Being a summer destination and popular with families, I’m glad to see our travelers taking advantage of the six sets of connecting cabins in Categories 1 through 3. And those step-out balconies in the category 4 cabins – I can only imagine how freeing it will feel to be out there as the ship passes through Misty Fiords or the sheer faces of Tracy or Endicott Arm. But you won’t be spending too much time in the cabins, because the mountains will be calling and the array of kayaks, Zodiacs and stand-up paddleboards will be there to help you explore Alaska to its fullest.”

Marc Cappelletti, VP of Expedition Development