Lindblad-National Geographic Cruises Coronavirus update
Lindblad Expeditions (National Geographic Cruises) suspended the entire fleet's passenger shipping operations (all Lindblad-owned vessels) by canceling all voyages with pre-scheduled departures in the period March 16, 2020, through June 2021. Fleetwide operations are currently planned to resume in early-June 2021. Lindblad's Antarctica 2020-2021 winter program was canceled (affected ships Explorer and Endurance).
Next are listed the Lindblad-National Geographic ships and their first departures in 2021 - NatGeo Explorer (June 13/UK-Baltic), NatGeo Endurance (June 9/Arctic Norway/Maiden Voyage), NatGeo Endeavour 2 (June 4/Galapagos), NatGeo Islander (June 5/Galapagos), NatGeo Sea Lion (June 5/Alaska), NatGeo Quest (July 3/Alaska), NatGeo Venture (June 6/Alaska), NatGeo Orion (June 10/Alaska). The Scotland-based Lord of the Glens ship resumes service on July 7, 2021. Nat Geo Sea Bird ship starts Baja Mexico cruises in 2022 (January 18).
All affected bookings were fully refunded (100%) in FCC (future cruise credit), including on prepurchased through the Lindblad Expeditions packages and services.
Lindblad Expeditions fleet
Review of Lindblad Expeditions
Due to the Coronavirus crisis, Lindblad Expeditions (National Geographic Cruises) suspended the entire fleet's passenger shipping operations (all Lindblad-owned vessels) by canceling all voyages with pre-scheduled departures in the period March 16, 2020, through June 2021. Fleetwide operations are currently planned to resume in early-June 2021. Lindblad's Antarctica 2020-2021 winter program was canceled (affected ships Explorer and Endurance).
Next are listed the Lindblad-National Geographic ships and their first departure dates in 2021 - NatGeo Explorer (June 13/UK-Baltic), NatGeo Endurance (June 9/Arctic Norway/Maiden Voyage), NatGeo Endeavour 2 (June 4/Galapagos), NatGeo Islander (June 5/Galapagos), NatGeo Sea Lion (June 5/Alaska), NatGeo Quest (July 3/Alaska), NatGeo Venture (June 6/Alaska), NatGeo Orion (June 10/Alaska). The Scotland-based Lord of the Glens ship resumes service on July 7, 2021. Nat Geo Sea Bird ship starts Baja Mexico cruises in 2022 (January 18). All affected bookings were fully refunded (100%) in FCC (future cruise credit), including on prepurchased through the Lindblad Expeditions packages and services.
Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc (website) is a USA cruise shipping company headquartered in NYC and Nasdaq (stock exchange) listed as LIND. Lindblad provides expedition cruise travel services and offers cruise tour itineraries with wildlife encounters, nature-history-culture themed and professional lecture-based onboard enrichment programs. Lindblad partners with NatGeo to provide teams of professionals (scientists, naturalists, researchers, photographers) participating in each expedition voyage.
One of industry's largest (as fleet) small cruise lines, "Lindblad - National Geographic" is a unique expedition travel product that includes regularly scheduled itineraries in the regions of Galapagos Islands, Arctic and Antarctica, Europe (and UK), Canada (British Columbia), South America (Patagonia-Chilean Fjords), South Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, islands), USA (Alaska, Pacific Northwest), Panama Canal, Pacific Mexico (Sea of Cortez, Baja California).
Lindblad's fleet also includes chartered vessels, among which riverboats (operating in Peru Amazon and Southeast Asia / Vietnam-Cambodia) and smaller ships in Europe (Scotland, Mediterranean) and Caribbean (including cruises to Cuba).
In February 2020, Lindblad Expeditions announced the "Premium Purity" program with a shipwide cleaning system based on ACT CleanCoat technology. The program was rolled out fleetwide after a year trial on NatGeo Explorer. The innovative ship cleaning process is based on photocatalytic antibacterial spray that when activated by light kills viruses, bacteria, airborne microbes, mould. The disinfecting product and technology were developed by the Danish company ACT Global AS (Copenhagen). The spray is chemical-free, odorless, transparent and can be applied to all surfaces.
National Geographic Lindblad Cruises
Lars-Eric Lindblad pioneered the adventure travel cruise market in the late 1950s 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 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.
The atmosphere on Lindblad ships is down-to-earth, casual, emphasizing on practicality. Service is friendly (not doting). Lindblad Expeditions have brought adventure cruising into the 21st century, navigating unspoiled, distant territories without sacrificing comfort.
All ships feature comfortable cabins and provide onboard wellness services so passengers can unwind after an active day ashore. Staterooms range from functional and small to well-equipped and roomy, with modern luxury touches. All ships have LEX spas and provide wireless Internet access.
Dining is open-seating, with dishes reflecting the cuisine of the visited regions and destinations. Food ingredients are fresh, organic and locally-sourced. The company partners with Chefs Collaborative, Marine Stewardship Council and Blue Ocean Institute to source environmentally sustainable food. For instance, Lindblad's fleetwide policy prevents eating shrimp on board, due to the harmful by-catch when harvesting shrimp.
Each vessel has its own fleet of Zodiac landing craft, snorkeling gear, and sea kayaks, as well as specially designed tools allowing for more extensive coastal and shore exploration. Each ship in the Lindblad fleet is equipped with the latest 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 Lindblad boats. 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. Line's only ship - Orion, was integrated into Lindblad's fleet in 2014.
On May 5, 2016, Lindblad Expeditions Holdings acquired 80,1% of Natural Habitat Inc (abbrev Nat Hab) - a leading adventure travel company headquartered in Boulder (Colorado USA). The remaining 19,9% of 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 Lindblad's new 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 a USD 10 million refits and refurbishment, the vessel was renamed to National Geographic Endeavour 2.
In July 2018, the company implemented 100% single-use plastic-free fleetwide. On Lindblad's ships are no longer used plastic-made single-use products, including bottles, cups, straws, stirrers. Lindblad also works with the company's suppliers and partners to reduce plastic packaging. This policy was first introduced in 2007 when Lindblad banned single-use water bottles. Instead of offering cruise passengers reusable bottles made of stainless steel. They can be refilled at several shipboard filtered-water stations.
On March 9, 2021, Lindblad Expeditions Holdings acquired of majority stakes in two USA-based travel companies - "DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co" (specializing in luxury bike tours/USA and Europe) and "Off the Beaten Path LLC" (custom-group-active travel, fly fishing, ranch vacations).
(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 a 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) 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. Lindblad's 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 and RSSC-Regent Seven Seas.
For 2018, the company forecasted annual revenues between USD 308-315 million (compared to 2017's USD 266 million) and EBITDA between USD 54-57 million (compared to 2017's USD 41,7 million). Lindblad stocks are owned by insiders (45%) and institutions (55%). The company's CEO and President is Dolf Berle (former CEO of Topgolf Entertainment Group/part of Callaway Golf).
(Coronavirus impact) In August 2020, Lindblad Expeditions Holdings entered into a stock investment agreement with the USA-based private companies Declaration Capital LP, Durable Capital Partners LP, Headlands Capital Advisors LLC, Deep Field Asset Management LLC, MSD Partners LP. The deal was for the placement of USD 85 million of newly-issued convertible preferred shares (convertible into common stock at a fixed conversion ratio) at 6% dividend and payable (in cash) for 2 years.
For 2020-Q3 (as of September 30), Lindblad Expeditions Holdings reported USD 129,6 million in cash, $16,5M in restricted cash (mainly from future cruise bookings), revenues decrease $100M (-99% over 2019-Q3), Net Loss $27,4M, Adjusted EBITDA loss $16,1M.
For 2020-Q4 (and FY2020-fiscal year) Lindblad reported having $187,5M unrestricted cash (monetary reserves not tied to a particular use), $17M restricted cash (money held for a specific purpose), raised capital $170M ($85M through loans, $85M through stock sales), average monthly cash burn $10-15 million (ships and administrative expenses, capital expenditures, loan interests).
New bookings (deposits and final payments received between March 1, 2020-2021) accumulated US$115M. Most canceled voyages were rebooked with FCCs.
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).
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 USA-flagged.
In November 2017, Lindblad signed with the Norwegian shipbuilder Ulstein an order for one polar-class expedition vessel (NatGeo Endurance) built in Ulsteinvik and scheduled for delivery in January 2020. The shipbuilding contract included options for 2 additional vessels (of the same design) to be constructed in subsequent years. On July 18, 2018, Lindblad announced a second shipbuilding order (NatiGeo Resolution) with scheduled delivery in 2021-Q4.
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. 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 the 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 motorized boats used for landings), helicopter landing platform, cross-country skis, sea kayaks, underwater video cameras, two ROVs (remotely operated vehicles), video microscope, hydrophones.
Itinerary of Lindblad Expeditions
The cruise line Lindblad Expeditions advertises its small-ship voyages as true expeditions, and not just cruising. Vessels' passenger capacity varies from 28 to 148. These are intimate-size ships with the ability to get up close to the coast and wildlife. Most of Lindblad-NatGeo ships are converted commercial vessels. Three ships (Quest, Venture, Resolution) are newbuilds, launched, respectively, in 2017, 2018, 2021.
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 - 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 the 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 Juneau for 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. Afterward, the ship remained in the Pacific Northwest for new sailings between Seattle and Vancouver, featuring calls at the San Juan Islands, Alert Bay BC, Victoria BC 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 the San Juan Islands)
- National Geographic Endurance (newbuild 2020-Q1) - Following an inaugural season sailing the Arctic in 2020, Endurance departs on a unique itinerary exploring the 7th continent with 2 departures only. The cruise explores where few humans have been and discover 4 wilderness regions, from the Peninsula to the Ross Sea and Sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand.
- National Geographic Resolution (newbuild 2021-Q4)
In late-September 2020, Lindblad announced plans to deploy National Geographic Orion in French Polynesia starting operations in January 2021 with roundtrips from homeport Papeete Tahiti. Soon followed an announcement about NatGeo Orion's 14-day Japan coastal voyage (departure Sept 15, 2021) with prices from USD 20800 pp (double occupancy). A second (13-day Japan and Taiwan) voyage departs on Sept 28, with prices from USD 19320 pp.
In March 2021, Lindblad Expeditions announced new extraordinary adventures into wildness and the seldom-seen. Each adventure promises epic opportunities, whether transiting the Northwest Passage or exploring NZ and the Subantarctic Islands. Lindblad's extraordinary adventures include new experiences like visiting the coastal villages of Vietnam or seeing rare penguin species in the Subantarctic isles, as well as fresh returns: to Raja Ampat or Franz Josef Land.
EXHILARATING NEW ADVENTURES: exploring New Zealand and beyond on 2 itineraries. One immerses guests in the land of the Kiwis, venturing to the North and South Islands. The other takes travellers from NZ to the sub-Antarctic Islands for wildlife-spotting.
- Coastal NZ: Auckland-Milford Sound
- Southern Odyssey: NZ and the Subantarctic Islands
- Tahiti to Fiji: Reefs, Lagoons, Volcanic Isles
- Exploring Indonesia: Bali, Raja Ampat, PNG
- Along the Vietnam Coast: Ha Long Bay-Ho Chi Minh City
WILD ESCAPES: consisting of active opportunities to explore charming regions in a short timeframe (some in just 5 days).
- Wild Peru Escape: Amazon & Machu Picchu
- Wild Iceland Escape
- Wild Greenland Escape
- Iceland & Greenland: Edge of the Arctic
- Northeast Passage: Norway-Alaska
- Northwest Passage: Greenland-Alaska
- Exploring the Russian Arctic: Franz Josef Land-Kara Sea
SOUTH AMERICA: exploring the diverse coasts of South America, with a variety of ecosystems.
- Wild South America: The Guianas-Brazil
- Panama & Colombia: Exploring the Caribbean Coast
EPIC ADVENTURES IN ANTARCTICA: combining the wonders of the Antarctica Peninsula with southern Patagonia and Chilean fjords; remote West Antarctica, the ice shelf of the Ross Sea region; the sub-Antarctic islands of NZ and Australia.
- Antarctica & Patagonia: Legendary Ice and Epic Fjords
- Epic Antarctica Voyage: The Peninsula to the Ross Sea and Beyond
JAPAN IN 2021: on a choice of 3 unique and in-depth itineraries.
- Coastal Japan: Imperial Dynasties & Modern Culture
- Sailing the East China Sea: Japan, Okinawa & Taiwan
- Along the Ring of Fire: Kamchatka, Kuril Islands & Hokkaido.
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 May 2021, Lindblad Expeditions announced it is reactivating its National Geographic Explorer ship for a series of cruises in Iceland this summer. The 148-passenger polar vessel is scheduled to explore the land of the midnight sun on a pair of alternating itineraries, “The Circumnavigation of Iceland” and “Wild Island Escape”. On both expeditions, passengers discover why Iceland is popular as the “land of fire and ice” as they sail through the country’s fjords, tundra, geothermal hot springs, and waterfalls.
The Iceland season kicks off on July 7, 2021, with the 6-day Wild Island Escape, an adventure to the volcanic isles and remote fjords along the western coast of Iceland. Passengers can encounter evidence of volcanic activity, hike over cooled lava fields, and view the country’s newest isle, Surtsey. Fares start at US$5,180 per person based on double occupancy and include all meals, drinks, and shore excursions, complimentary bar tab, and crew gratuities.
The 11-day A Circumnavigation of Iceland showcases the magnitude of the geological manifestations of the country: thundering waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, immense cliffs, boiling mud pots, lava-scapes, and geothermal springs. Scheduled to begin departures on July 11, 2021, the trip sails Iceland’s wild western coast; the rarely visited rugged east coast; Grimsey Island in the north; and the Westman Islands in the south. Passengers sail into the remote Westfjords and can spend time on the Arctic Circle. Fares begin at US$11,460 per person based on double occupancy and include all meals, drinks, and shore excursions, complimentary bar tab, and crew gratuities.
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