Lindblad Expeditions Holdings has signed an agreement with Norwegian shipbuilder and ship designer Ulstein to build an expedition ship.
The new vessel will be built in Ulsteinvik, Norway and is scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2020. As part of the deal, there is an option for two additional ships.
The Polar vessel has been designed as the ultimate expedition platform, Ulstein claimed, with a focus on safety and comfort, as well as incorporating innovative sustainability solutions to reduce its environmental impact.
A core feature is Ulstein’s patented X-BOW, a special bow design that provides fuel efficiency while significantly improving guest comfort in rough seas; and a very high ice class for access deep into Polar regions. The ship’s expanded fuel and water tanks will provide for extended operations in remote areas; while the zero-speed stabilisers will ensure stability underway, whether at zero speed when stopped for wildlife observation, or embarking/disembarking guests from the ship.
“We are incredibly excited to be working with Ulstein and their brilliant team of engineers and designers on this state-of-the-art vessel, as we continue expansion of our fleet. It is the next step in the long-term growth of the company and will be the most extraordinary global expedition ship in the world on a multitude of levels,” said Sven Lindblad, President and CEO of Lindblad.
“The launch of this ship will mark the 50th anniversary year of the first-ever purpose-built expedition ship, ‘Lindblad Explorer’, which was built by my father, Lars-Eric Lindblad, and will set another important milestone in the company’s commitment to deliver expedition travel at its best,” he added.
In keeping with the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic ethos to connect guests with the environment being explored, the ship will be designed to access the outside environment from anywhere on the ship. With 75% of the cabins featuring balconies for private viewing; multiple observation decks inside and outside, and new ‘observation wings,’ the surrounding environs will always be accessible.
Off-ship, exploring will be greatly enhanced with an innovative Zodiac loading system, which will allow everyone to get ashore quickly and safely, ensuring quick access to every destination. The ship’s complement of expedition tools for exploration will include kayaks, cross-country skis, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), hydrophones, a video microscope, underwater video cameras, a helicopter landing platform, and more to be announced in the coming months, the companies said.
The 69 spacious guest cabins and suites on board will include 12 cabins for solo travellers. The spa and fitness area will include treatment rooms, saunas, a fitness room, a relaxation area and yoga room; and there will be two infinity Jacuzzis fitted. Dining offerings include a main restaurant with views to the surroundings, and an outdoor barbeque and bistro area.
“Our expedition cruises, operated through our alliance with Lindblad Expeditions, have delivered remarkable experiences to our guests for the past 13 years,” said Nancy Schumacher, head of Travel and Tour Operations for National Geographic. “The expansion of the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet is truly terrific news, as it allows us to offer these unforgettable trips to even more travellers in the future. We look forward to joining our partner Lindblad Expeditions in celebrating the launch of the latest addition to the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet.”
“We are pleased to have been chosen as a partner for this exciting project. Lindblad is an innovative company and a frontrunner in the exploration cruise industry. We look forward to turning this project into reality together with Lindblad and their partners,“ said Gunvor Ulstein, Ulstein Group CEO.