From the National Geographic Polaris in Galápagos
Mar 27, 2009 - National Geographic Polaris
Farewell beloved National Geographic Polaris!
Bartolome & Santiago Islands
Today we had our last day of another successful expedition around the fascinating Galápagos Islands. This is the very last day of the operation of National Geographic Polaris as well. The illustrious Polaris is leaving the Galápagos to be replaced by the no less illustrious National Geographic Endeavour.
I feel thrilled to have the privilege to write the very last Daily Expedition Report of such a memorable and famous ship. The history of the ship takes us back to 1960; she was built in Ǻlborg Vaerf, Denmark and first christened the M.S. Öresund. She was a car and passenger ferry carrying 1,200 passengers and 40 cars! Running between Copenhagen, Denmark to Malmö, Sweden during the summer and at daytime only, she had a crossing time of approximately an hour. The ship had a bar and restaurants since most people took the M.S. Öresund in order to consume duty free beer and schnapps.
In 1980 the M.S. Oresund was purchased by one of the largest shipping companies in the world at that time, the Swedish company Salén. She was converted to an ocean going passenger ship, from 1981 to1982, at Gothenborg, Sweden. She was then partially chartered by Lars-Eric Lindblad of Lindblad Travel and renamed the M.S. Lindblad Polaris. She did worldwide cruising in places like the Baltic, Europe and West Africa.
In the fall of 1986, Sven-Olof Lindblad purchased the ship and renamed her Polaris. At that time she was upgraded as an expedition vessel in a small town called Orskarshamn, and continued exploring the world for the next eleven years. Remote and exotic places were visited like the Canadian Arctic, the Caribbean, South America, Baja California, Western Europe, and the Amazon and Orinoco rivers.
In May 1997 the M.S. Polaris arrived in the Galápagos Islands and has since remained here, cruising the archipelago all year in what has been her permanent home for the last 12 years. This final day can be considered sad for many, but for me it is a celebration day; we have to celebrate all the joy and love that this ship has spread all over the world in the last almost 50 years!
With these short paragraphs I just wanted to render a little tribute not only to the ship but to all the thousands of Guests, Crew and Staff who had the delight to travel aboard the ship. The spirit of our much-loved Polaris will be treasured in the hearts and minds of the thousands of people all over the world, whose lives were influenced or touched by her in so many ways, provoking so many indelible feelings, printing so many deep-rooted memories.
After all, a ship is made of wood, iron and steel but the real soul of the ship has been all the people who lived or had contact with her. What an unforgettable privilege and everlasting memory, being able to say from the bottom of my heart and in the name of all these millions of souls: Farewell beloved Polaris! Welcome National Geographic Endeavour!