Lindblad Expeditions / National Geographic
EXPLORATIONS – A Lindblad Expeditions Blog

Quest Countdown

T-26 Days: Quest’s Unique Mudroom

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.

T-27 Days: The Building of the 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. Watch below then check back tomorrow to learn more about Quest’s unique features.

T-28 Days: Q & A with Michelle Graves, Director of Expedition Development & 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. Michelle Graves is the Director of Expedition Development & Operations and one of the many people responsible for bringing National Geographic Quest to life.

Michelle Graves

What tools for exploration will be available on the National Geographic Quest?
National Geographic Quest will be equipped with a fleet of 16 double and 8 single sea kayaks, plus 10 custom-built stand-up paddleboards. Quest will also carry a hydrophone and a video microscope, as well as a small underwater camera for quick capture of underwater photos and videos. Our undersea team is equipped with a high-definition camera in an underwater housing, and an ROV for exploring deeper depths. For our tropical itineraries, National Geographic Quest will carry snorkel gear for all guests, including custom-designed shorty wetsuits. A full reference library, including nautical charts, as well as binoculars for guest use are available in the lounge.

How does the ship’s design aid in the deployment of these tools?
National Geographic Quest is equipped with cranes on the boat deck to rapidly deploy Zodiacs, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. The mudroom has expedition lockers for all guests, to keep boots or snorkel gear ready to grab and go. The mudroom also leads directly to the Zodiac boarding area, where twin ladders allow us to load two boats at once for quicker trips to shore. Or, we can load a Zodiac cruise from one ladder, while launching paddleboards from the other. The main lounge is designed so that all guests can be comfortably seated and view television monitors around the room, as our naturalist and undersea staff share images from the microscope, underwater video and ROV footage.

The National Geographic Quest will be the ship of its kind in Alaska, Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize to utilize an underwater ROV (Remote Operating Vehicle); can you tell us how it will be deployed and what you hope to find?
National Geographic Quest’s ROV is both highly capable and easily deployed. The undersea specialist and expedition diver can deploy the ROV from a Zodiac, and are actually able to “drive” it with a joystick controller. The computer controller is completely watertight, with dual monitors and video capture capability. The ROV allows us to explore depths well beyond which a diver can go, in search of unusual or deep-water species. The ease of operation of this ROV may also make it possible for some of our younger guests to join the undersea team in its deployment.

In which ways will the Quest’s tools for exploration help guests see (or hear) the world in a unique way?
Our kayaks and paddleboards allow for personal exploration of quiet coves in Alaska, as well as tropical rivers and lagoons in Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize.

The hydrophone can be deployed to listen to whale and dolphin sounds, and the video microscope allows guests to view tiny plankton in a sample of seawater, or the details of a bird’s feather on television screens mounted throughout the lounge.

The undersea specialist dives with the underwater camera, capturing video footage of a variety of marine organisms. This could be fish, invertebrates, and curious sea lions that guests may have seen while snorkeling, or rare and unusual species at slightly deeper depths. In Alaska, guests are surprised by the abundance and diversity of life in cold temperate waters. The undersea specialist routinely shares video footage of colorful anemones and nudibranchs, giant Pacific octopus, schools of rockfish in swaying kelp forests, or curious harbor seals underwater.

T-31 Days: Lounge Construction This Week

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-32 Days: Meet the Nichols Bros. Shipbuilders

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 get to know the Nichols Brothers, the builders responsible for bringing Quest to life. Watch below then check back tomorrow to catch a time-lapse video of the past seven days.

T-33 Days: Quest’s Unique Dining Room

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.

T-34 Days: Building the Dining Room

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. Watch below then check back tomorrow to learn more about Quest’s unique features.

 

T-35 Days: Q & A with Ana Esteves, Manager of Hotel Services

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. Read on then check back in tomorrow to watch shipyard highlights from the past week. Ana Esteves is the Manager of Hotel Services and one of the many people responsible for bringing National Geographic Quest to life.

What are you most excited about with the National Geographic Quest food and beverage program?
The most exciting part of the food and beverage program aboard the National Geographic Quest is the strong focus and emphasis on the core of our food program which highlights and features the regions where we will be traveling, while creating menus that are sustainable, local, and fresh. We have an amazing group of incredible energy and high caliber chefs, and we have been preparing menus, and testing out new recipes in a test kitchen in Seattle. The program is also moving towards a healthy, wholesome, and more holistic approach with natural juices program and foods high in nutrients.

We are very excited preparing our Alaska season, lining up suppliers and working with local vendors to really show off what is available in in Alaska during the summer, and early fall months. We are closely following the salmon runs and will be prepared to change the menus to get the seasonal species. The season will start with serving what will be available throughout the season like red and ivory king salmon, halibut, Pacific cod; sockeye salmon season starts mid-June so we will be serving our own ‘boat smoked’ Sockeye salmon candy. In early August coho runs kick in and we will be purchasing those fresh from our local vendor in Petersburg. Dungeness crab feast will be an absolute celebration on board, served with drawn butter, fresh lemon, citrus coleslaw, slow roasted fall-off the-bone BBQ ribs, biscuits, charred corn on the cob, grilled nectarines, and blueberry cobbler. We will put up a party and will encourage our guest to enjoy, and eat as much steamed crab as they’d like while pairing it with seasonal Alaska brews with our new local beer flights paddles.Our bar program will also be seasonal, keeping of course the core items, but offering local spirits and making mixed drinks based on where we are.

What understanding of the guest experience went into planning the dining room?
The dining room will be an incredibly beautiful space with lots of natural light coming from the floor-to-ceiling windows on port, starboard, and aft of the dining room.
Seating has been strategically planned to maximize seats against all windows, to give the guest a direct ocean and nature contact feel. Most tables can be accommodated as odd or even number seats to cater for our solo travelers, and our unassigned seating will give the guest the opportunity to share meals with the staff and or officers, to get to know them, and what they do better. Everything from napkins, table linens, to china, glass and flatware has been carefully chosen to give the dining a contemporary feel, that will bring brightness, and a very intimate feel to every meal period.

Ana and team receiving our china and linen shipment in Seattle.

The buffet layout has been mapped out to have a better flow across all of the food areas to make a very efficient and open. We have broken the buffet offerings into a couple of individual stations for people to roam around and avoid the lines. We will be offering a ‘chef action station’ where our chef will be making omelet and eggs to order for breakfast or carving roast for lunch. This will give the guest immediate access and exposure to the chef to talk about our food program and our core values.

How was the galley designed?
The galley has been designed in a compact but super-efficient way with multipurpose counters and spaces. Galley operations will be in production almost 24 hours, as we are staggering our galley crew’s work times to be able to make most things from scratch. We are excited about some new roles in the galley, like the pastry chef, which together with the head chef will be producing most baked goods, desserts, and high tea items

How will the sundeck bar be utilized?
We want to use the sundeck bar as often as possible. The opportunity to do a couple of meals each voyage al fresco with the feel and breeze of the oceanit’s a pretty incredible feeling! It adds an extra layer of excitement and exploration to be out on deck while crossing the Panama Canal, or seeing wildlife while enjoying breakfast. We also are planning on doing a couple of stargazing nights with after-dinner drinks and coffees.

T-38 Days: Dining Room Construction This Week

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. Watch below then check back on Monday for a Q&A with some of the key Lindblad-National Geographic staffers involved in the build.

T-39 Days: Heritage of Nichols Bros. Shipbuilders

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 get to know the Nichols Brothers, the builders responsible for bringing Quest to life. Watch below then check back tomorrow to catch a time-lapse video of the past seven days. Matt Nichols is the Executive VP of Nichols Brothers and has over 55 years’ experience in the boat-building industry.