Expedition leaders take guests to see king penguins at sunrise on South Georgia Island
What constitutes an authentic expedition cruise? It’s a question that Lindblad Expeditions’ global business development director Jeremy Lindblad gets asked a great deal. Fortunately for him, his company is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of the industry and has spent more than 50 years perfecting the art of planning the perfect expedition cruise.
“We believe an expedition cruise has three key elements: a piece of hardware to transport our guests to unique destinations, a group of curious passengers; and a shared goal of achieving something remarkable on our journey,” he says. “The ships we use are smaller than most, ranging from 48 to 148 guests, but this allows us to go deeper into remote destinations and achieve the goals we set out to accomplish.”
Over the past few years, the expedition cruise market has expanded rapidly, with an influx of new and increasingly luxurious ships, as well as several new players. However, Lindblad Expeditions has adapted to ensure it retain its pioneer status.
“Like many others in the industry, we’ve been experiencing somewhat of a growth spurt in regard to our fleet,” says Lindblad. “We’ve built three new ships over the past five years and we have another ship being constructed this year. However, although we consider our expedition fleet as the necessary hardware for delivering the unforgettable experiences we want to offer our guests, we don’t simply want to rely on newbuilds to stay relevant. Consequently, we’re continuing to create unique itineraries, add fantastic new tools and hire the industry’s leading naturalists to help our guests explore the world.”
Lindblad Expeditions is renowned for having one of the best expedition teams in the business, with highly trained navigators, expedition leaders, naturalists and expert wildlife photographers who have a deep understanding of the geography and wildlife of the destinations the ships visit. It’s these people, says Lindblad, that make the company’s cruises special.
“From the shoreside staff in our offices to the expedition staff and crew members on our ships, everyone at Lindblad Expeditions is dedicated to planning and delivering itineraries that will meet and exceed our guests’ expectations,” he explains. “Our team provides the thoughtful little details that make an expedition cruise truly authentic. When we’re visiting South Georgia Island in Antarctica, for example, our expedition leader knows exactly what time to wake our guests up so that they can arrive on Gold Harbour beach just as the sun is rising to enjoy the best possible penguin-sighting experience. And, at the end of each day, our onboard naturalists and expedition leaders will meet with guests to recap and rediscover the extraordinary elements of that particular day.”
Although the global cruise industry is currently on a hiatus as the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, Lindblad Expeditions has designed itineraries to suit all types of would-be explorers in 2021.
For those who have never tried an expedition cruise, Lindblad recommends an itinerary in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. “A short cruise around the Galapagos is ideal for newcomers because it doesn’t take long to travel between the islands, so there is plenty of time for guests to enjoy all kinds of activities, as well as remarkable experiences with native animals,” he explains.
More experienced expedition travellers may prefer to choose one of the company’s Antarctica voyages.
“Antarctica is where it all began for Lindblad Expeditions and we’ve been sailing there since 1966, so we know it better than most others,” says Lindblad. “Travelling to the region to experience the beauty of the landscape and the wildlife is probably the most authentic type of expedition cruise you could ever take.”
Meanwhile, for those who want to explore regions in a hotter climate while enjoying a high-quality onboard experience, Lindblad suggests a South Pacific cruise onboard National Geographic Orion. “She is such a beautiful ship and very well suited for that region with spacious outdoor decks for meals and all the tools necessary for exploring both above and below sea level.”
This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
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