National Geographic Endurance Review and Specifications
Specifications of National Geographic Endurance
|Year built||2020 new ship|
|Builder||CRIST Shipyard (Gdynia, Poland), Ulstein Verft (Ulsteinvik, Norway)|
|Class||ice-strengthened expedition ship (Ulstein CX104)|
|Building cost||USD 135 million / EUR 113 million|
|Owner||Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc|
|Operator||Lindblad National Geographic Cruises|
|Speed||17 kn / 31 kph / 20 mph|
|Length (LOA)||124 m / 407 ft|
|Beam (width)||21 m / 69 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||12000 gt|
|Passengers||126 - 148|
|Decks with cabins||4|
|Sister-ships||National Geographic Resolution|
Review of National Geographic Endurance
MS National Geographic Endurance ship is Lindblad-National Geographic cruise line's first "Ulstein X-Bow" passenger vessel. It is scheduled for delivery in January 2020 (maiden voyage in April) and will be followed by the sistership Lindblad Resolution (planned completion in 2021-Q4).
On November 7, 2017, the shipowner Lindblad Expeditions Holdings and the Norwegian shipbuilding company Ulstein Verft AS signed an agreement to build the new-design (Ulstein CX104) passenger vessel at the price of USD 134,6 million, with 20% due upfront. By the contract, the delivery deadline is January 21, 2020 (potential "accelerated" delivery on November 18, 2019). The deal also included building two more (optional) vessels of the same class / design) to be constructed in subsequent years.
Cruise itinerary program
National Geographic Endurance offers a series of 8 "Inaugural Cruise" itineraries in the Arctic, including a voyage from Norway to Alaska through Northeast Passage. These itineraries are themed as:
- 11-day "Svalbard in Spring: Polar Bears, Arctic Light and Epic Ice" (April 2020, prices range from USD 11600 to 45980.
- 9-day "Norwegian Fjords and Scottish Isles" (May 2020, prices range from USD 7970 to 31060.
- 10-day "Norwegian Discovery: Svalbard and Northern Fjords" (May 2020, prices range from USD 10290 to 40640.
- 17-day "Coastal Wonders of Norway, Faroe Islands and Iceland" (June 2020, prices range from USD 17160 to 67800.
- 17-day "Arctic Exploration: A Voyage to Iceland, East Greenland, and Norway" (July 2020, prices range from USD 17160 to 67800.
- 26-day repositioning cruise "Northeast Passage: An Unforgettable Voyage from Norway to Alaska" (July-August 2020, prices range from USD 34750 to 137560.
- 20-day "East Greenland: Wild Shores of the High Arctic" (August 2020, prices range from USD 23870 to 94320.
Two itineraries (departures December 27, 2020, and the reverse on January 26, 2021) are themed "Epic Antarctica". They visit 4 wilderness regions between Antarctic Peninsula, Ross Sea's ice shelf and New Zealand's sub-Antarctic Islands. The 34-day voyage was priced from AUD 61,000 pp.
The Lindblad Endurance ship has a total of 6 passenger decks (4 with cabins), 56 standard staterooms, 40 of which are with private balconies / or 75% of all) plus 13 balcony suites.
Of all staterooms, 12 can be booked as single cabins (studios with single-occupancy rates). Cabin sizes range from 140 ft2 (13 m2) "Solo Cabin" to 430 ft2 (40 m2) "Category 7 Suite". All cabins are outside, with 2 porthole windows (large, non-opening), 1 large window (opening) or 1 step-out balcony. All cabin balconies are accessed via floor-ceiling sliding glass doors. All the 69 staterooms offer as standard amenities:
- living room (with a low table, reading chair or sofabed / 2-seater couch)
- phone, writing desk with armchair, USB ports, flat TV (satellite reception, smart technology with infotainment system - Internet, on-demand movies, ship info channel), Wi-Fi connections
- "Command Center" - with National Geographic's World Atlas (paper edition), analog clock, barometer, digital tablet (information on current cruise itinerary and daily scheduled activities - onboard and ashore),
- twin beds (convertible to double), bedside cabinets, different-sized bed pillows, wall-mounted reading lamps
- individually controlled air-conditioning
- en-suite bathrooms (WC, glass shower, mirrored single-sink vanity with shelves and under sink storage, hairdryer, botanic hair products - soap, shower gel)
Passenger capacity is 148 (max) and 126 (on expedition cruises, in the period April through September). All decks are connected via 2 elevators (passenger lifts) and 3 staircases and have public restrooms.
Shipboard dining options - Food and Drinks
Onboard dining options include Main Dining Room Restaurant (MDR with floor-ceiling windows for 270-degree panoramic views, single-seating capacity, open-seating / flexible dining), Two Seven Zero Restaurant (with floor-ceiling windows), Chef's Table (specialty restaurant for small group VIP dining), C. Green's (Lido buffet restaurant), an outdoor BBQ (poolside grill bar). Additionally, the Bistro (Bar and Restaurant on Observation Deck) serves afternoon tea, appetizers (lighter fare) and made-to-order dishes. Barbeques and deck parties are held at the heated outdoor Winter Garden.
During all MDR meals, ship's expedition staff (leader, naturalists, guest speakers) join the passengers to provide interesting information and answer questions.
Shipboard entertainment options - Fun and Sport
Lindblad Endurance ship has the industry's highest ice-class rating - PC5 (Category A). The patented X-Bow design provides stable navigation in all-weather conditions and increases fuel efficiency. The innovative marine engineering and design (developed by Ulstein Design & Solutions AS) also improve wildlife viewing capabilities due to hull's unobstructed downward sight lines.
Passengers can benefit from multiple promenade (walk-out / open-air) deck areas from the Navigation Bridge (Wheelhouse), Observation Lounge and glass railings on Lido Deck. Located on the ship's top deck, these are the best vantage points for photography and nature viewing. Among the signature public spaces is The Sanctuary (wellness/spa complex) with 2 saunas (high- and low-heat, both with sea views), relaxation room, 2 treatment rooms (for massages), glass-walled Yoga Studio (for classes), photo gear locker. On Observation Deck (deck 8) is also the aft-located Sun Deck with an outdoor barbeque bar and two Infinity Edge Pools (Jacuzzis / whirlpool hot tubs with glass walls at the stern).
The wellness complex also includes a Fitness Center (gym room on Deck 7). NatGeo Endurance ship has over 10,000 ft2 (930 m2) of floor-ceiling glass windows and doors, Scandinavian-themed interiors, new patented Zodiac launching system (2 loading stations serving ship's fleet of 8 large-capacity Inflatable speedboats / landing craft), expedition equipment (complimentary provided on landings - snowshoes, cross-country skis, sea kayaks), hydrophone, underwater video camera, 2 remotely operated vehicles (ROVs operated by dedicated undersea specialist), video microscope, helipad (top-deck helicopter landing platform on Helideck), remote control helicopter with camera.
- The innovative Zodiac system allows quick and safe transportation to shore destinations inaccessible for the cruise ship. These boats have length 6 m (19 ft), each powered by 4-stroke diesel engines, and with max capacity 12 people.
- The ROV can reach depths of 305 m (1000 ft) and allows passengers to view undersea areas not accessible even to the most experienced scuba divers.
- Ship's custom-designed floating marina platform is used to deploy sea kayaks at any location.
- Ship's dedicated undersea specialist operates the underwater camera and dive often during the cruise. He uses cold-water gear to show HD quality real-time images of deep-water marine life and environment.
- The NatGeo naturalists on the ship use its video microscope (80x magnification) to explain to passengers all elements of the marine ecosystems. The spellbinding real-time images are displayed on the HDTV in the Main Lounge. At the Lounge, there is also an electronic chart displaying the current ship position, course and cruising speed.
- The underwater microphone listens to marine mammals and provides sound transmissions broadcasted real-time (through the PA system) or recorded for later playback.
- In warm waters is offered snorkeling, with snorkeling gear (masks, snorkels, fins, wetsuits) complimentary provided to all passengers for the duration of the voyage.
The cruise ship also has Library (reading lounge), Internet Cafe, Main Lounge (with full-service Bar), 24-hour beverage station (coffee, tea, water, juices), state-of-the-art conference facilities (for travel-themed documentary films, port talks, slideshows, media presentations), photo workshop, laundry rooms, mudroom (expedition base with expedition gear lockers).
The "open bridge" policy allows 24-hour access (depending on weather conditions) to ship's Navigation Bridge and the Captain or the officers on duty. The ship has Infirmary (with a full-time doctor) and dedicated expedition staff, including undersea specialist, NatGeo photographer, NatGeo certified photo instructor, and a video chronicler.
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National Geographic Endurance Wiki
The shipbuilding contract between Lindblad Expeditions and Ulstein Verft was signed on November 7, 2017. On January 5, 2018, was the first vessel's steel-cutting ceremony (NatGeo Endurance, yard number 312) held at CRIST Shipyard (Gdynia, Poland). On March 17, 2018, was the keel-laying ceremony, during which was also officially announced boat's name. The ceremony was attended by Sven Lindblad (company's President and CEO) and included the traditional coin-laying. During the ceremony was welded a commemorative silver coin - etched with the ship's name flanked by a penguin and polar bear (signifying planet's both poles) and etched with "To Explore and Understand the World".
On March 9, 2018, Ulstein contracted ABB Group to deliver cruise ships' automation, propulsion, powerplant and digital equipment. The order was secured in early-April 2019. The package (including two Azipod DO thrusters per vessel) is fully integrated with ABB Ability System 800xA (safety/control) 24/7 connected to ABB Ability Collaborative Operations Center (global network for remote real-time monitoring and support/diagnostics and predictive maintenance).
On April 23, 2019, vessel's hull arrived at Ulstein Verft for outfitting (insulation works, electrical installations, engines, propulsion units). The hull and part of the superstructure were assembled at CRIST Shipyard (Poland) and towed to Norway by two tugboats. The Ulstein-CX104 ship was launched (floated out from drydock) on December 7, 2019.
Vessel's name honors the sailing ship Endurance (1912-built, 3-masted barquentine) in which the British polar explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922) started the Imperial Transantarctic Expedition (aka "Endurance Expedition", 1914-1917). Unfortunately, in November 1915, while navigating in the Weddell Sea, the sailing ship crushed into ice and sank off Antarctic Peninsula.
After completion, the vessel will be towed from Poland to the Ulstein shipyard in Ulsteinvik (Hareidlandet Island, Norway) for outfitting. Boat's namesake is the 1992-built MS Sea Endurance (owned by Noble Caledonia).
In late-June 2019, Lindblad announced the polar-themed art exhibition on NatGeo Endurance ship called CHANGE. The shipwide art installation is a permanent exhibit curated by Zaria Forman - a US artist best-known for her hyper-realistic, large-scale pastel drawings of landscapes and remote locations. The collection incorporates a huge collection of art pieces (drawings, paintings, photographs, glass sculptures) made by 35+ artists and assembled throughout the cruise ship (in all public spaces plus 12 suites) and is also themed by deck.
National Geographic Endurance ship technology
The ship design features Ulstein's patented X-BOW providing fuel efficiency and significantly improved stability in rough weather. The larger fuel and water tanks allow extended navigation in remote destinations. The hull is ice-strengthened and its higher ice-class allows access to territories deep into the polar regions. Modern stabilizers ensure stability at zero speed (when the ship makes a full stop for wildlife viewing or for landings/passenger embarkation and disembarkation).
Vessel's propulsion includes two Azipod DO units (produced by ABB azimuth thrusters, power output 3,5 MW each), which require 1/4 less power in comparison to units of equivalent performance. "ABB Ability" systems are also part of the equipment. "System 800xA" (distributed control and electrical control) further improves fuel efficiency and safety. This advanced marine technology integrates vessel's power-propulsion-management systems into one platform, enabling the crew and land-based teams to monitor all the data needed for ship's optimal performance. ABB's Collaborative Operations System provides a real-time connection between the cruise ship and ABB Collaborative Operations Center experts who monitor 24/7 onboard technologies' performances. This feature is of utmost importance as the boat operates in remote polar areas. ABB Group has 7x land-based support centers that coordinate remote marine equipment analysis, monitoring, diagnostics, as well as predictive maintenance services. Company's "Electric-Digital-Connected" concept reduces on-call engineer services (up to 70%) and docking costs (up to 50%).
The Danish company VMS Group (General Electric's sales agent for Denmark) delivered the ship's all four General Electric marine diesel engines (models L250 and V250) produced by GE Transportation. The new GE engines integrate an upgraded control system, 2-stage turbocharging, high-pressure common rail injection and advanced scrubber system (EGR / exhaust gas recirculation). The advanced marine engine technology eliminates the need for SCR-equipment (Selective Catalytic System). It saves onboard space, releases load and tank capacities and also saves the costs associated with the equipment's purchase, installation, and maintenance. Skipping SCR, monitoring and dosing equipment (urea tanks) saves up to 75% onboard space and also reduces the shipbuilding time and cost.
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