From left, Lindblad Expeditions' employees Ana Esteves and Jen Martin break a bottle of champagne across the ship's hull
Lindblad Expeditions has inaugurated its first polar expedition cruise ship, National Geographic Endurance, in Reykjavik, Iceland, marking the only time the harbour has hosted a christening ceremony for an international vessel.
Named in honour of explorer Ernest Shackleton, National Geographic Endurance was officially welcomed into the fleet by Lindblad Expeditions’ founder and co-chair Sven Lindblad and CEO Dolf Berle, as well as her captain Aaron Wood.
“It’s an absolute honour to stand here as captain of this wonderful ship, on this special day. All of us as crew members aboard the ship and the wider Lindblad family, we have waited for so long for this moment,” said Wood. “The ideas that we have inside the ship, they have been coming, not just for years, they have been coming for decades, for whole careers. And this vessel is the pinnacle of all of that.”
The christening ceremony started with a video showcasing the processes involved in constructing National Geographic Endurance and the destinations she will visit. Godmothers Jen Martin, Lindblad Expeditions’ director of field staff and expedition development, and Ana Esteves, director of hotel operations, also gave a traditional blessing and broke a champagne bottle across the ship’s bow.
Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed champagne and canapes dockside while listening to Icelandic musicians before embarking on a 19-day inaugural itinerary to destinations in Iceland and Greenland.
“What was wonderful for me to witness was a number of you meeting staff from our ships that you knew, sometimes more than 10 years ago, and so there is a family feeling already, and that is a big part of who we are,” said Berle. “The environmental aspect of what we are doing, and the importance of this ship to promote research, raise funds for Pristine Seas, and for the people in the communities we explore, carries on the great Lindblad tradition.”
Boasting Ulstein’s patented X-Bow hull, National Geographic Endurance has been built to Polar Class 5 Category A standards and can accommodate 126 guests in 69 all-balcony cabins and suites. The vessel also features luxurious Scandinavian-inspired interiors with expansive windows to capitalise on the views of the destinations.
One of the ship’s onboard highlights will be ‘Change’, the world’s first permanent ship-based installation of drawings, paintings, video, photography and sculpture, which was curated by artist Zaria Forman.
“The energy, the enthusiasm, the dedication that has been put in to the making of this ship was for one purpose only – to make it possible for you folks to go out and explore the world, and to appreciate the world and all its wonders and then to face together some of the challenges that we inevitably must as it relates to the natural world,” said Lindblad. “I have not seen the ship since January of 2020, and arriving today and walking through, it just took my breath away. I really hope you like this ship.”
To find out more about the inspiration behind National Geographic Endurance’s interior design, read our exclusive interview with Nikolaos Doulis, the brand’s senior vice president of newbuildings, in the 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors.
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