By Anne Kalosh.
Exciting news for explorers: Lindblad Expeditions has ordered its first ocean-going new build, an ice-class ship with a novel design. It will have spacious accommodations, cutting-edge exploration tools and ample observation areas.
A core design feature is the distinctive X-BOW that provides fuel efficiency while significantly improving passenger comfort in rough seas. The X-BOW, designed by Norway’s Ulstein Group, is found on numerous non-passenger vessels, but is just breaking in to the some of cruising’s next-generation expedition ships.
The $135 million Lindblad ship will be built at Ulstein Verft in Norway and is scheduled for delivery in early 2020. At 12,300 gross tons with capacity for 126 passengers, it’s consistent with the Lindblad fleet’s intimate size.
The ship has 69 spacious guest cabins and suites, including 12 cabins for solo travelers. Seventy-five percent of the accommodations have balconies. Dining choices include a main restaurant with outstanding views and at an outdoor barbecue and bistro area.
Passengers will be able to view the scenery and wildlife from multiple observation decks, and new “observation wings.” Off-ship exploring will be greatly enhanced with an innovative Zodiac loading system to enable passengers to get ashore quickly and safely.
Exploration tools include kayaks, cross-country skis, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), hydrophones, a video microscope, underwater video cameras and a helicopter landing platform. More tools will be announced in the coming months.
The spa and fitness area has treatment rooms, saunas, a fitness room, a relaxation area and yoga room, and there will be two infinity Jacuzzis.
A very high ice class rating will give the ship access deep into polar regions. Expanded fuel and water tanks provide for extended operations in remote areas, while the zero-speed stabilizers will ensure stability underway, whether at zero speed when stopped for wildlife observation, or embarking/disembarking the ship.
Lindblad Expeditions President and CEO Sven-Olof Lindblad vowed it will be “the most extraordinary global expedition ship in the world on a multitude of levels.”
Last July the company introduced its first newbuild, a U.S.-built, 100-passenger coastal ship, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC QUEST, that Lindblad said “guests are loving.” It has been sailing in the Pacific Northwest and in December will reposition to Costa Rica and Panama before starting a series of new voyages in Belize and Guatemala in February.
A sister, the $57 million NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC VENTURE, is scheduled for delivery in late 2018 and will also debut in the Pacific Northwest.
Judging from the design features of the newly contracted and deep-ocean-capable vessel, its deployment is likely to be much further afield.
The order came with an option for two additional ships.
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