Following the announcement of the National Geographic Endurance, Lindblad Expeditions held a live press conference with CEO Sven Lindblad; Leif Skog, Nautical VP; Nikolaos Doulis, Senior VP of Marine Builds; and Trey Byus, CXO of Lindblad Expeditions. The ship will be the company’s first ever new polar build, named after explorer Ernest Shackleton and will be delivered in 2020.
The National Geographic Endurance will carry 126 guests with a guest to staff ratio of almost 1:1 including all crew, and 10:1 looking solely at expedition staff and specialists. The small passenger size allows for a higher guest to staff ratio, but Sven Lindblad also emphasized the environmental impact of a smaller passenger size.
This ship has an ice rating of Ice Class 5, which means that it is technically an icebreaker. Other ships may carry an ice rating of Ice Class 6, or 7 which, contrary to what one may think, is actually lower and means that they cannot break ice. Because the ship has such a high ice rating, it will be able to cruise yearlong. Cruising to the Arctic in the spring may seem odd; Lindblad himself agreed, stating that years ago no one would dream of going to the Arctic until late July, but now that there is less ice, as sad as that is, it is possible. Lindblad stated that Spring in the Arctic is “absolutely beautiful,” although “there is one downside, depending on your point of view, it’s damn cold.”
The ship features the company’s patented X-Bow, which not only allows for smoother sailing, but it also is more fuel efficient than a traditional bow and creates less environmental impact. It allows the ship to sail deeper into the ice for longer periods of time.
There were many public areas highlighted during the press conference including The Hut, The Ice Lounge, The Den, and a yoga studio. The Hut will serve as the ship’s mudroom, where guests will get ready for expeditions. This is where guests will change into expedition clothing, and also house parkas and boots. The Ice Lounge will serve as a place for guests to hang out and take in the sights around them, but it will also host presentations and lectures. The Den is where guests can relax and have a few drinks after a day of exploring. The yoga studio features floor to ceiling windows and will offer outdoor space if weather permits.
There will be multiple dining venues aboard the ship. Restaurant Two Seven Zero surrounds dining with views of nature and will feature a balcony. C. Green’s, named for Shackelton’s cook, offers breakfast, fresh salads and lighter fare, plus custom grilled selections at lunch and dinner. The ship will also The Chef’s Table which provides an intimate and unique dining experience for guests. Lindblad emphasized the importance of dining stating, “We don’t use terms such as gourmet or five-star. We like to think of food as being relevant or connected to an area.” That is why each dinner will feature ‘polar theater’ in the form of regionally inspired and sustainable food.
Throughout the press conference, there was an extreme emphasis on the floor to ceiling windows in most of the public areas of the ship. Lindblad joked, “There is part of me that wants to rename the ship The Glass Ship,” because of the large amounts of windows. This is because The National Geographic Endurance is meant to be thought of as a “base camp” for explorers. The ship is extremely focused on nature and the outside, and wants to give travelers as much of an opportunity to view the outdoors as possible.
Although this ship is referenced as being a base camp for travelers, it is going to be more comfortable than a tradional base camp. There are 13 suites, and 56 standard staterooms, including 12 single cabins. Of the 56 standard staterooms, 40 have balconies. In each suite and stateroom, guests will have access to a Command Center, which blends the exploration part of the ship with technology. The Command Center will feature an analog clock, an incline meter, and a barometer, but also a flat screen TV, and an iPad for access information about the ship and activities going on.
The ship will feature a suite of exploration tools including a fleet of Zodiacs, kayaks, snowshoes, cross-country skis, an ROV, hydrophones, video microscope, underwater video technology, a hyper-efficient Zodiac loading for ‘getting out there’ more swiftly and safely – plus more expedition enhancements to be announced soon.