Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc., a global provider of expedition cruises and adventure travel experiences, and Ulstein Group, Norwegian shipbuilder and ship designer, on March 17 celebrated the keel laying of Lindblad’s first polar new build at the CRIST shipyard in Gdynia, Poland. "The occasion marked a major milestone in the construction of the world’s most sophisticated expedition ship, and served as the official naming ceremony of the line’s latest addition to the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet," the company said in a statement.
“We are thrilled to announce the name of our new polar ship: National Geographic Endurance, due for delivery in the first quarter of 2020,” announced Sven Lindblad, President and CEO of Lindblad Expeditions. “She is named in honor of Ernest Shackleton, Lindblad Expeditions’ most revered explorer and will incorporate technical advances and create opportunities for guests beyond the reach of any contemporary ship.”
“A Polar Class 5 rating gives us the ability to operate the ship freely at any time of year in polar environments vastly expanding our polar range,“ Lindblad continued. “This means we can explore deeper into the pack ice, or further north to the unexplored reaches of the arctic. For instance, northern Ellesmere Island, where only a relative handful of people have ever been. Or some of the completely off-the-beaten-path arctic islands that are remote, pristine and teeming with wildlife.”
The ceremony continued with the traditional laying of the coins. First welded was a newly minted commemorative silver coin etched with the name of the ship, flanked by a polar bear and penguin signifying the two poles she will be exploring, and etched with To Explore and Understand the World. And to signify Lindblad’s commitment to their expedition team and crew, Sven laid the lucky coin of iconic Lindblad naturalist, Tom Ritchie, a 1780 Austro-Hungarian thaler [silver dollar] with Marie Theresa on one side and a double-headed eagle on the other.
Joining the Lindblad team in Poland for the occasion was Trey Byus, Chief Expedition Officer; Tyler Skarda, Senior VP, Marine Operations; Captain Leif Skog, VP, Nautical and Ice Captain, and Nikolaos Doulis, Senior VP, New Buildings. Present for Ulstein was Gunvor Ulstein CEO Ulstein Group and Managing Director Ulstein Shipping; Tore Ulstein , Chair of the Board and Deputy CEO Ulstein Group; Kristian Sætre, Managing Director, Ulstein Verft; and Per Svein Brekke, Project Responsible. Among the CRIST representatives were Ireneusz Ćwirko, Chair of the Managing Board and Krzysztof Kulczycki, Chair of the Supervising Board.
“We are excited to be witnessing this important milestone for the new exploration cruise vessel for Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic. We look forward to the arrival of the hull to our shipyard, Ulstein Verft, for the completion of this innovative vessel,” stated Gunvor Ulstein, CEO, Ulstein Group.
The state-of-the-art 126-guest polar vessel has been designed as the ultimate expedition platform with a focus on safety and comfort, as well as incorporating innovative sustainability solutions to reduce its environmental impact. A core feature is Ulstein’s signature X-BOW, a distinctive bow that provides fuel efficiency while significantly improving guest comfort in rough seas; and a very high ice class for access deep into polar regions. The ship’s expanded fuel and water tanks provide for extended operations in remote areas; while the zero-speed stabilizers will ensure stability, whether at zero speed or full steam ahead.
Immediately following the ceremony, Sven Lindblad, Trey Byus, and Captain Leif Skog departed to Longyearbyen to embark on a reconnaissance expedition that will yield discoveries for more exhilarating 2020 early season Arctic adventures for National Geographic Endurance.