National Geographic Endurance Unveiled
On September 27, 2018, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic unveiled plans for their forthcoming ship National Geographic Endurance. The 12,300 gross ton ship is being built by Norwegian shipbuilder Ulstein and is scheduled to go into service in 2020.
National Geographic Endurance will be an expedition ship. Indeed, her name is a tribute to polar explorer Ernest Shacleton, who took a ship named Endurance on an expedition to Antarctica in 1914.
“Expedition travel is all we have ever done. It is not a sideline, it is not a new idea, it is what we have done for a very, very long time.” commented Sven Lindblad, CEO & President of Lindlad Expeditions.
“From our perspective, there are three primary ingredients for a successful expedition: There is a deep understanding of geography, its possibilities and its limitations. There is the importance of teams, navigators, expedition leaders, scientists, people who understand expectations of our guests, can stretch the possibilities while at the same time being within the parameters of safety. The third is the right hardware, the right ships that can accomplish the mission.”
“We have been at this a really, really long time. You learn a lot about geography, you learn a lot about the kind of teams that are necessary to be in these places. You learn a lot about how you can visit these places without doing harm. I would say it is really, really in our DNA.”
The line envisions Endurance as taking passengers deep into the polar regions. “We built the ship based upon where we wanted to go. We didn't build the ship and then say where are we going? So these are geographies that we deeply want to show people,”
In addition, Endurance will have a scientific role. “We are very very focused on the intersection of travel and science. This will be a platform for gathering science that I believe and we all believe will be extremely valuable in increasing our knowledge of the world and all that is in it.”
As her futuristic silhouette indicates, National Geographic Endurance will be an innovative ship. Captain Leif Skog, Lindblad's Vice P resident of Nautical, explained: “Endurance is indeed a very unique vessel. It is a PC5 category A ice ship, a very high ice class. The highest ice rating of any passenger vessel ever built. It's an icebreaker. That means we can cruise all year round in polar waters.”
“Another striking feature is the X-bow, which enables a smooth and comfortable ride in all sea conditions. The X-bow slices through the waves so there is no slamming. There is no pitching. It is very, very smooth.and fuel efficient.”
“The range of the vessel is 15,000 nautical miles - - two thirds of the way around the world - - without refueling. So we can offer over 30 day expeditions. We have provisions for 40 days as a safety.”
The ship will also have safety features that go beyond what is required by the applicable regulations: “We have ice radar, sonar, high resolution forward looking cameras to see icebergs, growlers at night . The end result is that Endurance will be able to travel deeper into the ice for longer periods of time.”
Exploring in comfort
While Endurance will be an icebreaker, she will also be like a luxury cruise ship. The fares will be all inclusive covering such things as gratuities and drinks. The staff to guest ratio will be almost one to one. Capacity of the ship is limited to 126 guests. “We don't want to be in the world's wild spaces with too many people,” Mr. Lindblad explained.
To design her interior, Lindblad Expeditions selected Partnership Designs of Hamburg, Germany, a leading designer of ship interiors whose credits include the interior design for Carnival Cruise Line's latest ships. Their designs are based on the theme “Fire and Ice,” which will be reflected in the color schemes and feel of the public areas. These areas will include the Ice Lounge where guests can gather for Recap, talks, presentations and sociability. The Den will be an intimate lounge with a fire-place on Observation Deck. In addition, there will be a spa with saunas, a yoga room and twin infinity Jacuzzis.
A key part of the interior design is the 10,000 square feet of windows. “There is part of me that wants to rename the ship the 'Glass Ship' because there is a massive amount of glass. The whole philosophy of the company is to focus on the outside. We want every possible connection to the outdoors. The ship itself, we think of it as a base camp. It does not look like your traditional base camp because it is extremely, extremely comfortable,” Mr. Lindblad noted.
“We realize that food is very important.” Mr. Lindblad continued. “Every expedition marches to some degree on its stomach and the endurance has several dining options. We recognize that when people are onboard for awhile, they want different kinds of experiences.”
“[We have] what we are calling the 270 room because basically it has 270 degrees of glass surrounding it. A couple of decks up we have Sea Greens. This is a more relaxed sort of area, a bistro area, where people can go if they elect to have something a little bit quicker, something a bit lighter. We will have a chef's table in which everybody onboard will have the opportunity to participate in. This will be a good place for some Jeffersonian kind of conversation. Then we have the opportunity for people to go outside “
“We don't use terms like 'gourmet' or 'five-star” or anything of that nature because we are not particularly comfortable with the relevance of those terms for ourselves. We like to think about food as being relevant or connected to an area. You may even have a meal onboard designed after one of the meals from the Shackleton expedition. That won't be your best meal but it certainly will be an interesting one. Everywhere we go we try to find some way to connect to culture and bring that into the dining experience.”
National Geographic Endurance will be offering expeditions to places that rarely or never see passenger ships such as northeast Greenland and the Northeast Passage, which runs along the top of Europe and Asia from Norway to Alaska. The ship will spend the winter of 2020/2021 in Antarctica, going deep into ice covered waters.
“It was purpose-built to take you to some extraordinary polar areas.” said Trey Byus, Lindland's Chief Expedition Officer. “The reason we built the National Geographic Endurance to that high ice standard is to take people to places that you otherwise could not go. We are going to take you there safely and we are going to go in an exploratory kind of way.”
Cruise News - National Geographic Endurance Unveiled