On 12th December Lindblad Expeditions-National geographic announced that it had signed definitive agreements with Nichols Brothers Boat Builders for the building of two new U.S. flagged 100 passenger capacity coastal vessels. They will be U.S. built at their shipyard on Whidbey Island in Washington State.
The first completed ship is scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2017 and the second vessel is scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2018. The vessels will offer 50 cabins (22 with balconies, and eight that can be configured into four adjoining cabins for families), a fleet of sea kayaks, paddle boards, and specially designed landing craft, all of which are geared to get guests out and into the remote places being explored. There is also a remotely operated vehicle, video microscope, and a hydrophone and bow-cam designed for immediate bow deployment to hear and film, for instance, humpback whales and see bow-riding dolphins.
Jensen Maritime is serving as the naval architect on the project with interior design work provided by Tillberg Design International. Construction of the vessels commenced before the end of 2015. On New Year’s Eve came the news that Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, inc. had purchased the via Australis (above) to be used in its operations in the Galapagos Islands. The Company expects to take possession of the ship in the second quarter of 2016 and, following a significant renovation, will deploy her during the third quarter of 2016.
The via Australis will replace the National Geographic Endeavour. The purchase price for the ship is $18 million and Lindblad plans to spend up to $10 million to refurbish and outfit the ship. The via austral is will be rechristened with a National geographic name. after refurbishment, some key features of the via austral is will include 50 cabins (46 double cabins and 4 single cabins – maximum capacity of 96 guests), an open and ample top deck providing an unparalleled location for gathering, dining, relaxing and stargazing, a spacious main lounge and a forward-viewing additional lounge with large windows and immediate access to the outer decks, a fleet of Zodiacs and sea kayaks and a fully equipped fitness room and a wellness spa. The via austral is will operate in competition with her sister, the Mare austral is, now operating as Metropolitan’s Santa Cruz II.