Lindblad Expeditions

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Lindblad Expeditions fleet

Review of Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc is an US cruise shipping company headquartered in NYC and Nasdaq (stock exchange) listed as LIND. Lindblad provides expedition cruise travel services and offers cruisetour itineraries with wildlife encounters, nature-history-culture themed and professional lecture-based onboard enrichment program. 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 an 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 vessels under charter, among which are riverboats (operating in Peru Amazon, Southeast Asia / Vietnam-Cambodia) and smaller ships in Europe (Scotland, Mediterranean) and Caribbean (including cruises to Cuba).

For 2018, the company forecasted annual revenues ranging 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%). Company's CEO and President is Sven Lindblad.

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 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.
  • On board you'll find Zodiac landing craft, snorkeling gear and seakayaks, as well as specially designed tools allowing for more extensive coastal and shore 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.

In July 2018, the company implemented 100% single-use plastic free fleetwide. On Linblad ships are no longer used plastic-made single-use products, including bottles, cups, straws, stirrers. Lindblad also work with company's suppliers and partners to reduce plastic packaging. This policy was first introduced in 2007 when Lindblad banned single-use water bottles. instead offering cruise passengers reusable bottles made of stainless-steel. They can be refilled at several shipboard filtered-water stations.

(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 was 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 (Endurance-class) with scheduled delivery in 2021.

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 innovative Zodiac launching system (serving its fleet of large-capacity motorized boats used for landings), 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) - 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 discovers 4 wilderness regions, from the Peninsula to Ross Sea and Sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand. Lindblad Expedition’s itinerary "Epic Antarctica" is a 34-day expedition from AUD$61,000 departing December 27, 2020 and January 26, 2021 with the 2nd departure date sailing in reverse.

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.

Lindblad Expeditions related cruise news