CEO Sven Lindblad traveled extensively with his father, renowned adventure-travel pioneer Lars-Eric Lindblad, who led the first non-scientific groups of travelers to Antarctica in 1966. On those early expeditions Antarctica was still a place so remote, so foreboding, that traveling there was akin to going to another planet. Much has changed in the world of Antarctic travel, but the region’s power to overwhelm with its incredible beauty and vastness remains. Today, Sven continues to lead pioneering expeditions and is now building National Geographic Endurance, the world’s ultimate polar expedition vessel to venture further afield in Antarctica to places virtually no others have gone before.
What do you remember about your first trip to Antarctica?
The unending ice. The size, the shapes, the color. On my first visit, I didn’t sleep for two days, I was so mesmerized as our ship crunched through sea ice. In time the nuances of the experience emerged: the courtship behavior of the penguins and how they raise their young, the spyhopping tactics of humpback whales, and the wonder of being somewhere utterly new.
What can travelers expect to experience in Antarctica?
There are many many reasons travelers visit Antarctica: the penguins; the dashing history of the Heroic Age of Exploration; the majestic bergs and glaciers; the breathtaking mountains surging 9,000 feet straight up from the sea; the ability to see for hundreds of miles through dust-free air; and the profound silence of anything man-made.
As a photographer, what attracts you in this cold clime?
The constantly changing light as it illuminates the vastness of the place. Of course, on our ships we have photo instructors—including National Geographic photographers—to help everyone get their best shots.
Any advice for how to best take advantage of all Antarctica has to offer?
One could have a perfectly wonderful time in Antarctica seated in a deck chair with a pair of binoculars. But, genuine encounters with beauty and wildness are the difference between wonderful and extraordinary. My advice is to get out and explore. Inhabit the wildness. Hear the silence. Have close-up and personal encounters with the penguins. Walk, hike, climb. Try a polar swim if you’re so inclined (and many are). Learn about the geology, the climate forces. See beneath the sea with our Undersea Specialist. Engage in spirited conversation with your staff and fellow travelers. And return home with new understanding and share new ideas.