(1:40 p.m. EST) — Lindblad Expeditions signed contracts for two new 100-passenger coastal vessels, the line’s first-ever newbuilds, that will enable it to expand its program in the Americas.
Scheduled to be launched in the second quarters of 2017 and 2018 respectively, the ships will have 50 cabins, 22 with balconies. Eight rooms can be configured into four adjoining cabins for families. All public spaces will be designed for maximum outdoor viewing with easy, quick access to decks for announcements from the bridge of wildlife sightings.
The sun deck will feature an outdoor walkway and al fresco bar and grill, in addition to the restaurant and a lounge with bar and facilities for presentations. The ship will have a fully equipped fitness room and a spa, unusual for an expedition ship, as well as a fleet of onboard sea kayaks and paddleboards.
In addition, the ships will contain state-of-the-art expedition technology, including a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), video microscope, and a hydrophone and bow-cam designed to hear and film humpback whale vocalizations and see bow-riding dolphins. The ships will also carry full warm and cold water diving gear and underwater cameras for the Undersea Specialist to bring back images under the water; a state-of-the-art audio-visual system will be onboard for presentations and National Geographic photography instruction.
The contracts come after Lindblad became a public company earlier this year through a merger with Capital Acquisition Corp. II. The work will be done by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Whidbey Island, Washington; the vessels will be U.S. flagged.
Lindblad currently owns six ships, and charters four other vessels, and offers expeditions to destinations such as Antarctica, Alaska, the Galapagos and Amazon in partnership with National Geographic. The ships will be built for the U.S.-based company at Nichols Brothers shipyard in Washington State.
CEO Sven Lindblad said: «These new ships mark an exciting step in the long-term growth of the company, and enables us to capitalize on the substantial demand for our expeditions. With our significant resources we can continue to deliver on our promise of expedition travel at its best, and we can now expand our unique offerings in the Americas where there is most demand.»