Lindblad Expeditions

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Review of Lindblad Expeditions

One of the industry's small cruise lines, Lindblad - National Geographic is an unique expedition travel company operating on regularly scheduled itineraries in the regions of Galapagos Islands, polar regions (Arctic and Antarctica), Europe (including UK), Canada (British Columbia), South America (Patagonia), South Pacific (Australia, islands), USA (Alaska, Pacific Northwest), Panama Canal, Pacific Mexico (Sea of Cortez, Baja California).

Lindblad Expeditions fleet also includes vessels under charter, among which are river cruisers (Peru Amazon, Southeast Asia / Vietnam and Cambodia), smaller ships in Europe (Scotland , Mediterranean) and Caribbean (including cruises to Cuba).

National Geographic Lindblad Cruises

Lars-Eric Lindblad pioneered the adventure travel cruise market in the late 1950's by taking US passengers to rarely explored places, such as the Galapagos and Antarctica. In 1979, a new division in the company specialized in marine-focused expeditions, was founded by his son, Sven-Olof Lindblad. Today, Lindblad Expeditions remains the unofficial leader in adventure cruises.

An alliance with National Geographic (since October 2004, renewed through 2025) allows passengers to travel alongside with NatGeo's renowned oceanographers, photographers and scientists. Over the years, this partnership was strengthened and now all Lindblad-owned cruise vessels include the "National Geographic" prefix to their names. Reflecting the joint motto (between National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions) "inspiring people to explore and care about the planet", both companies also created a fund to promote conservation in the areas they explore.

National Geographic Lindblad Expeditions cruise line logo

  • The atmosphere on board Lindblad ships is down-to-earth and casual, with an emphasis on practicality. Service is friendly (not doting). Lindblad Expeditions have brought adventure voyages into the 21st century, navigating unspoiled, distant territories without sacrificing comfort. All Lindblad ships feature comfortable cabins and wellness services so guests can unwind after an active day. Cabins range from functional and small to well fitted out and quite roomy, with surprisingly luxe touches.
  • All Lindblad ships have LEX spas and provide wireless Internet access.
  • Dining is open seating. The delicious meals reflect the cuisine of the places visited using fresh and organic ingredients. The company partners with Chefs Collaborative, the Marine Stewardship Council and Blue Ocean Institute to source environmentally sustainable food. For instance, Lindblad’s fleet wide policy prevents eating of shrimp on board, due to the harmful by-catch when harvesting shrimp.
  • On board you'll find Zodiac landing craft, snorkeling gear and sea kayaks, as well as specially designed tools allowing for more extensive exploration. Each ship in Lindblad fleet is equipped with the latest exploration technology innovations, such as remotely operated vehicles, bow cameras, undersea cameras, hydrophones and video-microscopes.
  • The hallmark of Lindblad Expeditions voyages is the team of experts accompanying every trip - undersea specialists, researchers and seasoned naturalists who share their knowledge with travelers. On select voyages, a National Geographic historian, photographer, explorer or scientist also join the team. A veteran National Geographic photographer sails on every expedition aboard the National Geographic Orion and National Geographic Explorer.
  • There are no childcare programs or facilities on board Lindblad vessels. However, unlike other expedition companies, the line has done a lot for attracting families. Naturalists usually take families ashore separately and show children how to operate a Zodiac. Popular family destinations are Alaska, the Galapagos, Baja California and Central America. Lindblad often points out that kids are welcome on any expedition and believes in family travel as a means of furthering education and building relationships.

Lindblad National Geographic cruise line

In March 2013, Lindblad acquired the travel company Orion Expedition Cruises. Its only ship - Orion, was integrated into Lindblad's fleet in 2014.

In early May 2016, Lindblad Expeditions Holdings acquired 80,1% of Natural Habitat Inc (abbrev Nat Hab). This is a leading adventure travel company with headquarters in Boulder (Colorado USA). The remaining 19,9% stocks belong to Ben Bressler (Nat Hab's Founder and President).

  • Lindblad's new subsidiary company focuses on land-based tour travel. Nat Hab specializes in polar bear tours (Churchill Canada), Alaskan grizzly bears), Galapagos Islands small-group touring, African safaris, Antarctica land expeditions. Since 2003, Nat Hab has partnered with "World Wildlife Fund" to offer nature-protecting eco-conscious and sustainable tour travel.
  • Lindblad paid for Natural Habitat approx USD 20 million, of which USD 14,85 million (cash), USD 2,65 million (264208 Lindblad stocks) and USD 2,5 million (note).
  • Previously, Nat Hab was owned by Gaiam Inc (leading wellness focused brand) and Ben Bressler. Bressler continued to serve as President of the Lindblad's new the subsidiary. By the end of 2015, Nat Hab realized net revenues of approx USD 41 million, EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) of approx USD 3,7 million and net income of approx USD 1,5 million.

Based in South America, "Australis Cruises" is a small expedition cruise line operating on itineraries between Punta Arenas and Ushuaia. In 2016, the company sold to Lindblad the Via Australis ship for USD 18 million. Following an USD 10 million refit and refurbishment, the vessel was renamed to National Geographic Endeavour 2.

(NEW) Scenic-National Geographic River Cruises

In November 2017, National Geographic Expeditions and Scenic River Cruises teamed up and launched "National Geographic River Cruises". The new offerings combine Scenic riverboats' all-inclusive luxury experience with NatGeo's science and exploration themed activities.

Each voyage is accompanied by a NatGeo expert who leads the ship's onboard enrichment program (educational presentations, itinerary-based lectures, informal discussions). All Scenic European river cruises also have a NatGeo photographer on the boat to lead the photography-themed activities and workshops. These voyages also offer themed excursions ranging from hiking and biking to nature, culture and history.

The new Scenic-NatGeo partnership offers itineraries mainly in Europe - on the rivers Moselle, Rhine, Danube, Main, also on Holland and Belgium waterways, in France (Bordeaux wine region) and in Portugal (on Douro River). The new NatGeo experience is also available on select Asian cruises on Irrawaddy River (in Burma). National Geographic River Cruises program starts in Spring 2018.

Lindblad Expeditions company

In May 2015, the privately-owned Lindblad Expeditions became publicly traded company through a merger with Capitol Acquisition Corporation. The deal allowed this adventure cruise line to receive new financial resources.

  • The price of the cruise company and the investment vehicle valued the transaction was USD 439 million. During the merger, Lindblad operated six Nat Geo-named ships plus 4 vessels under charter agreements.
  • Following the transaction, Capitol Acquisition Corporation owns 50% of the company, Lindblad owns 49%, and the remaining 1% is owned by a foundation affiliated with Lindblad. According to the merger terms, the Lindblad owners received USD 90 million cash payment on closing. Sven-Olof Lindblad (company's founder and president) retained 29% ownership in the merged party. The led by him company management was retained.
  • Following the merger deal, the new company was named "Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc", Nasdaq exchange listed under the symbols LIND and LINDW. The founders of Capitol Acquisition Corporation made a charitable donation to "Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Joint Fund for Exploration and Conservation", which included 500,000 shares of stock. Between 1997-2015, the fund raised around USD 10 million in cooperation with Lindblad cruise ship passengers.
  • In May 2013, Capitol Acquisition Corporation raised USD 200 million for merging with a promising company.
  • The Lindblad acquisition deal followed the 2014 acquisition of Prestige Cruise Holdings by NCLH (Norwegian Cruise Line Holding). The deal resulted in public ownership of two top-luxury cruise line brands - Oceania Cruises and RSSC (Regent Seven Seas Cruises).

Lindblad Galapagos cruises

In 2017, Lindblad celebrated the company's 50th anniversary since its first Galapagos Islands cruise in 1967. To commemorate the occasion, as promo deals, Lindblad Expeditions offered free flights (round-trip air to Galapagos) on over 50 departures in 2017-2018. Free airfare was offered for flights from Miami to Galapagos (Baltra) on all departures between August 25-November 17, 2017 (on Nat Geo Endeavour 2) and all departures between September 16-December 16, 2017 (on Nat Geo Islander). Free flights were also offered on select Galapagos cruises  in 2018 on both ships. Also available was the option to upgrade to business class (USD 500 / select departures only).

Lindblad's Galapagos cruise prices start at around USD 7000 per person (double occupancy "Category 1" cabin). Kids discounted pricing is USD 500 off (for each child aged under 18).

New ships

In August 2015, Lindblad Expeditions Inc announced the company's plans to order two new cruise vessels with scheduled delivery in 2017 and 2018. In 2016 were announced the ships' names - National Geographic Quest (2017) and National Geographic Venture (2018). Both new vessels have passenger capacity 100 (each with 50 cabins) and are US-flagged.

In November 2017, Lindblad signed with the Norwegian shipbuilder Ulstein an order for a polar-class expedition vessel (National Geographic Endurance). It will be built in Ulsteinvik and scheduled for delivery in January 2020. There is an option for two additional vessels (of the same design) to be constructed in subsequent years.

Lindblad Expeditions new ship

  • The new ship features an X-BOW (increasing fuel efficiency and improving passenger comfort in rough seas), high ice-class (allowing access deep into the polar regions), large-capacity water- and fuel tanks (for extended polar operations in remote areas), zero-speed stabilizers (provide stability at zero speed / during wildlife watching and embarkation/disembarkation).
  • The new expedition ship has a total of 69 cabins and suites, of which 12 are studios (single-occupancy cabins). Of all staterooms, 75% are with private balconies.
  • The ship's wellness complex (spa and fitness area) consists of Fitness Room, Relaxation Area, Aerobics Studio (yoga room), treatment rooms (for massages), sauna rooms, 2 "infinity pool" Jacuzzis.
  • Dining venues include a main restaurant (with panoramic floor-ceiling window views), bistro (lido buffet restaurant) and outdoor barbeque bar.
  • The vessel is equipped with an innovative Zodiac launching system (serving its fleet of large-capacity Inflatable boats), helicopter landing platform, cross-country skis, seakayaks, underwater video cameras, two ROVs (remotely operated vehicles), video microscope, hydrophones.

Itinerary of Lindblad Expeditions

The Lindblad Expeditions line believes its small-ship cruises are true expeditions, and not just cruising. The vessels' passenger capacity varies from 28 to 148. These are intimate-size ships with the ability to get up closer to wildlife. Most of Lindblad-NatGeo unique expedition cruise ships are converted commercial vessels, and none is a newbuild.

National Geographic Lindblad cruise itinerary changes

The National Geographic - Lindblad company partnership offers exploration and adventure cruising in the regions of South America (Galapagos Islands, Antarctica), Alaska, South Pacific, also in the Mediterranean (Europe) on the following ships:

  • National Geographic Endeavour (1966, in the fleet since 2001) - Galapagos Islands
  • National Geographic Endeavour II (aaa) - Galapagos Islands
  • National Geographic Explorer (1982, in the fleet since 2008) - cruises to Arctic and Antarctica, Azores Islands, UK (British Isles), Canada, South America (Patagonia).
  • National Geographic Islander (1995, in the fleet since 2005) - Galapagos Islands
  • National Geographic Orion (2003) - cruises in Antarctica, South Pacific Ocean (Australia, islands), European Arctic itineraries. A new cruise program 2019 includes one of the world's most wildlife-rich travel destinations - Russia's Arctic territories. The "Across the Bering Sea" cruise (Katmai to Kamchatka, around 4400 ml / 7000 km) nearly circumnavigated Bering Sea, The 22-days itinerary (leaving June 18 and July 21, 2019) had fares starting at USD 25,850 pp (double occupancy Category 1 cabin). The "Life and Legend on the Bering Sea" cruise (13 days, departures July 9 and September 4, 2019) had fares from USD 16230 pp. The "Exploring Russia's Far East and Wrangel Island" cruise (along Siberia's coastline) was a 13-days itinerary (departures August 11 and 23, 2019) with fares from USD 16230 pp.
  • National Geographic Sea Bird (1982, in the fleet since 2008) - cruises in Alaska, to Mexico (Baja California) and the USA's Pacific Northwest
  • National Geographic Sea Lion (1982, in the fleet since 2008) - cruises to Alaska, Panama Canal, Costa Rica, the US Pacific Northwest regions
  • National Geographic Quest (newbuild ship 2017) - itinerary destinations include Alaska, British Columbia, Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Panama and Costa Rica) - the first newbuild in the history of the cruise line, commenced her inaugural voyage on July 29, 2017 as she set sail from Juneaufor an 8-day expedition cruise exploring Southeast Alaska. National Geographic Quest sailed on the famous "Exploring Alaska's Coastal Wilderness" expedition until August 26, 2017 and finished off her Alaska season with "Treasures of the Inside Passage: Alaska and British Columbia" departing September 2, 2017. Afterwards the ship remained in the Pacific Northwest for new sailings between Seattle and Vancouver, featuring calls at San Juan Islands, Alert Bay, Victoria, and more far reaching visits to British Columbia's fjords. Beginning December 2017, National Geographic Quest repositions and operates Costa Rica and Panama expedition voyages before the series of new itineraries in Belize and Guatemala (starting February 2018).
  • National Geographic Venture (newbuild ship 2018) - itinerary destinations include Inside Passage Alaska, British Columbia and San Juan Islands)
  • National Geographic Endurance (newbuild ship 2020)

Follows the list of NatGeo Lindblad ships operated under charter:

  • Delfin II (2009, luxury Peru Amazon River cruise ship under charter) - South America, shipowner Delfin Amazon Cruises
  • RV Jahan (chartered ship, operates on Southeast Asia river cruise itineraries in Vietnam and Cambodia) - shipowner Heritage Line
  • Lord of the Glens (chartered ship, operates Scotland cruises in the UK) - shipowner Magna Carta Steamship Company
  • Sea Cloud (chartered yacht) cruises in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, with Transatlantic repositioning - shipowner Sea Cloud Cruises
  • Panorama II (chartered sailing ship, cruises to Cuba) - shipowner Variety Cruises

In March 2018, Lindblad Expeditions introduced shorter itineraries to Galapagos Islands. It is a first-time move for the cruise line, which boasts 50 years of experience in the unique destination. Lindblad's new Wild Galapagos Escape itinerary is offered twice weekly onboard the 48-passenger National Geographic Islander and includes 5 days in the archipelago, a pre-cruise overnight at boutique Hotel del Parque, Guayaquil. Passengers can add another night post-cruise at no additional charge.

  • Dr.Sylvia Earle, renowned marine biologist and explorer-in-residence at National Geographic Society, joins the first 2 cruises as a guest speaker (November 24 and 29, 2018 itineraries). Additional departures take place in April, May, August, September, October 2019.
  • A 9-day Wild Galapagos & Peru Escape cruise includes Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley and Cusco. Departures take place this December 2018, and in May, September and November 2019.
  • Lindblad provides complimentary roundtrip charter flights out of Ecuador to Galapagos for passengers booking Wild Galapagos Escape / Wild Galapagos & Peru Escape on the above-noted departures.
  • The line also offers free roundtrip air out of Miami to Guayaquil for passengers traveling aboard National Geographic Endeavour II and National Geographic Islander on select 10-day trips through December 2018. Business Class upgrades are offered for US$500 on select departures. 
  • New for 2019 aboard Galapagos cruises is a complimentary bar (except for premium brands) along with 1 hour of free Wi-Fi per day per guest.

National Geographic Lindblad cruises to Cuba

In the end of April 2016, Lindblad-National Geographic announced the line's first Cuba cruise program with included Havana hotel package deals. The new program includes a series of 10-night itineraries, each starting with a 3-night hotel stay at the Havana's Hotel Nacional. Then follows the 7-day cruise on the MS Panorama 2 ship (chartered from Variety Cruises) visiting the ports of Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuego.

  • Among the included shore excursions and tours are Jardines de la Reina Marine Park (found 1996), Zapata Swamp National Park (Matanzas province) and Bay of Pigs (southern Cuba). The first cruise leaves from Havana on December 7, 2016. Follow a total of 16 consecutive cruises through March 2017.
  • MS Panorama II is a 2-masted sailing ship with capacity only 49 passengers (built in 2004, last refurbished in 2015). Staterooms are sized between 100-170 ft2.

The current list of passenger shipping lines offering cruises to Cuba includes:

  • Carnival Paradise leaving from Tampa Florida - cheapest prices (from USD 480 pp)
  • Royal Caribbean (ship Empress of the Seas, leaving from Miami)
  • MSC Cruises (ship MSC Opera, leaving from Havana)
  • Holland America (ship Veendam) leaving from Fort Lauderdale since December 2017
  • Oceania Cruises (ships Marina and Regatta) starting in 2017, Cuba circumnavigation, stops in Cienfuegos and Havana, also part of some Panama Canal transition itineraries.
  • NCL (ship Norwegian Sky, 4-day itineraries with Havana overnights - starting May 2017.
  • Azamara Cruises (ship on Azamara Quest from Miami)
  • Thomson UK / Marella Cruises (ship Marella Dream) 7-day, leaving roundtrip from Jamaica (Montego Bay) to Havana
  • Compagnie du Ponant (yacht ship Le Ponant, leaving from Miami Florida)
  • Pearl Seas Cruises (ship Pearl Mist, leaving from Fort Lauderdale Florida),
  • Celestyal Cruises (ship Celestyal Crystal, leaving from Havana and Montego Bay Jamaica)
  • Grand Circle Cruise Line (ship MV Clio / ex Tere Moana) one-way from Miami to Havana, or the reverse from Havana to Miami (embarkation/disembarkation in port Cienfuegos).
  • International Expeditions (leaving from Havana, charter flights out of Miami)
  • Victory Cruise Lines - MS  Victory I (former MS Saint Laurent) - fly-cruises from Miami to Havana (home-port Cienfuegos /departures)
  • Note: According to the current Cuban law, US citizens of Cuban origin (born in Cuba) are not allowed to visit the island country (including on cruise ships). Regardless of their US citizenship status, Cuban-born Americans were denied booking on cruise itineraries visiting ports in Cuba. However, the situation changed in April 2016, after Carnival Corporation negotiated with the Cuban government for allowing ships with Cuban-born passengers, as such US citizens are allowed to visit the country on USA-Cuba charter flights. The Carnival-fathom line started Miami to Cuba cruises in May 2016.
  • Alaska Airlines offers regular nonstop flights to Havana from Los Angeles (California USA). An 80-min ling JetBlue flight from Fort  Lauderdale (Florida) to Havana costs less than USD 100. Previously, air travel from USA to Cuba was thought charter flights only.

Our Lindblad Expeditions cruise ships schedules with their cruise prices comparison will help to plan better your adventure vacations. By knowing all departure dates, itineraries and the cruise fares, you’ll know exactly where, when and for how much you can enjoy the Lindblad Expeditions experience.

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