Lindblad Expeditions / National Geographic
EXPLORATIONS – A Lindblad Expeditions Blog

T-34 Days: Building the Dining Room

We’re counting down to the launch of our brand-new expedition ship National Geographic Quest! Follow along from now until June 26 and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings as the big day draws near. Every Tuesday exciting video direct from the shipyard in Whidbey Island, Washington delivers highlights from the past week. Watch below then check back tomorrow to learn more about Quest’s unique features.

 

T-35 Days: Q & A with Ana Esteves, Manager of Hotel Services

We’re counting down to the launch of our brand-new expedition ship National Geographic Quest! Follow along from now until June 26 and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings as the big day draws near. Every Monday Q&As with Lindblad-National Geographic staffers involved in the build give you a behind-the-scenes look and exciting new details. Read on then check back in tomorrow to watch shipyard highlights from the past week. Ana Esteves is the Manager of Hotel Services and one of the many people responsible for bringing National Geographic Quest to life.

What are you most excited about with the National Geographic Quest food and beverage program?
The most exciting part of the food and beverage program aboard the National Geographic Quest is the strong focus and emphasis on the core of our food program which highlights and features the regions where we will be traveling, while creating menus that are sustainable, local, and fresh. We have an amazing group of incredible energy and high caliber chefs, and we have been preparing menus, and testing out new recipes in a test kitchen in Seattle. The program is also moving towards a healthy, wholesome, and more holistic approach with natural juices program and foods high in nutrients.

We are very excited preparing our Alaska season, lining up suppliers and working with local vendors to really show off what is available in in Alaska during the summer, and early fall months. We are closely following the salmon runs and will be prepared to change the menus to get the seasonal species. The season will start with serving what will be available throughout the season like red and ivory king salmon, halibut, Pacific cod; sockeye salmon season starts mid-June so we will be serving our own ‘boat smoked’ Sockeye salmon candy. In early August coho runs kick in and we will be purchasing those fresh from our local vendor in Petersburg. Dungeness crab feast will be an absolute celebration on board, served with drawn butter, fresh lemon, citrus coleslaw, slow roasted fall-off the-bone BBQ ribs, biscuits, charred corn on the cob, grilled nectarines, and blueberry cobbler. We will put up a party and will encourage our guest to enjoy, and eat as much steamed crab as they’d like while pairing it with seasonal Alaska brews with our new local beer flights paddles.Our bar program will also be seasonal, keeping of course the core items, but offering local spirits and making mixed drinks based on where we are.

What understanding of the guest experience went into planning the dining room?
The dining room will be an incredibly beautiful space with lots of natural light coming from the floor-to-ceiling windows on port, starboard, and aft of the dining room.
Seating has been strategically planned to maximize seats against all windows, to give the guest a direct ocean and nature contact feel. Most tables can be accommodated as odd or even number seats to cater for our solo travelers, and our unassigned seating will give the guest the opportunity to share meals with the staff and or officers, to get to know them, and what they do better. Everything from napkins, table linens, to china, glass and flatware has been carefully chosen to give the dining a contemporary feel, that will bring brightness, and a very intimate feel to every meal period.

Ana and team receiving our china and linen shipment in Seattle.

The buffet layout has been mapped out to have a better flow across all of the food areas to make a very efficient and open. We have broken the buffet offerings into a couple of individual stations for people to roam around and avoid the lines. We will be offering a ‘chef action station’ where our chef will be making omelet and eggs to order for breakfast or carving roast for lunch. This will give the guest immediate access and exposure to the chef to talk about our food program and our core values.

How was the galley designed?
The galley has been designed in a compact but super-efficient way with multipurpose counters and spaces. Galley operations will be in production almost 24 hours, as we are staggering our galley crew’s work times to be able to make most things from scratch. We are excited about some new roles in the galley, like the pastry chef, which together with the head chef will be producing most baked goods, desserts, and high tea items

How will the sundeck bar be utilized?
We want to use the sundeck bar as often as possible. The opportunity to do a couple of meals each voyage al fresco with the feel and breeze of the oceanit’s a pretty incredible feeling! It adds an extra layer of excitement and exploration to be out on deck while crossing the Panama Canal, or seeing wildlife while enjoying breakfast. We also are planning on doing a couple of stargazing nights with after-dinner drinks and coffees.

T-38 Days: Dining Room Construction This Week

We’re counting down to the launch of our brand-new expedition ship National Geographic Quest! Follow along from now until June 26 and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings as the big day draws near. Every Friday a compelling time-lapse video catches you up on the last seven days of progress. Watch below then check back on Monday for a Q&A with some of the key Lindblad-National Geographic staffers involved in the build.

T-39 Days: Heritage of Nichols Bros. Shipbuilders

We’re counting down to the launch of our brand-new expedition ship National Geographic Quest! Follow along from now until June 26 and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings as the big day draws near. Every Thursday get to know the Nichols Brothers, the builders responsible for bringing Quest to life. Watch below then check back tomorrow to catch a time-lapse video of the past seven days. Matt Nichols is the Executive VP of Nichols Brothers and has over 55 years’ experience in the boat-building industry.

T-40 Days: Quest’s Unique Bow

We’re counting down to the launch of our brand-new expedition ship National Geographic Quest! Follow along from now until June 26 and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings as the big day draws near. Every Wednesday discover the special features that make the Quest so unique—from an unobstructed bow for superior views to a better bridge. Watch below then check back tomorrow to meet the Nichols Brothers, the builders responsible for bringing our new ship to life. 

T-41 Days: Engine & Generator Installation

We’re counting down to the launch of our brand-new expedition ship National Geographic Quest! Follow along from now until June 26 and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings as the big day draws near. Every Tuesday exciting video direct from the shipyard in Whidbey Island, Washington delivers highlights from the past week. Watch below then check back tomorrow to learn more about Quest’s unique features.

T-42 Days: Q & A with Marc Cappelletti, VP Expedition Development

We’re counting down to the launch of our brand-new expedition ship National Geographic Quest! Follow along from now until June 26 and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings as the big day draws near. Every Monday Q&As with Lindblad-National Geographic staffers involved in the build give you a behind-the-scenes look and exciting new details. Read on then check back in tomorrow to watch shipyard highlights from the past week. Marc Cappelletti is the VP Expedition Development and one of the many people responsible for bringing National Geographic Quest to life. 

What does it mean to say over 50+ years of expedition heritage has been put into the National Geographic Quest’s design?
It means everything. The experience we deliver is the product of cumulative knowledge, so having the time since Lars Eric Lindblad first took travelers to the Galapagos in 1966 to gather guest feedback and operational insight is unprecedented. It’s not only the time too. With eight ships traveling all over the globe, it’s a world of experience, really. For the design of the National Geographic Quest, we received input from captains, engineers, hotel and expedition staff and especially guests, which we accumulated over the years. I think people who have traveled with us and others new to our expeditions will be thrilled.

How will the National Geographic Quest’s design enhance the wildlife viewing experience?
We always say that our ships are the perfect platforms for exploration. This time we had the ability to ensure that from the keel up. The sun deck is going to be gorgeous, with seating for everyone. Even when guests are inside—the lounge or dining room for example—the spaces were designed with wraparound windows. With the lounge, over the years we’ve seen many naturalist presentations interrupted by whales outside the windows. So, to help guests get outside quickly, we’ve placed two doors at the front of the lounge leading to the bow. It will be a seamless transition that we know guests will love.

Maybe most importantly, the bow of the Quest has been designed with the anchoring gear separate from the guest space. This means that more guests will be able to utilize the bow at one time. And with the aid of a raised platform, multiple rows of guests can line the bow with an unobstructed view.

What is it like to be aboard the National Geographic Quest as she’s being worked on in shipyard?
The work is simply incredible. Upwards of 200 people at any given time are welding, grinding, installing. It’s in a state of constant motion, it’s loud, and it’s incredibly exciting. Now that it’s really taking shape, there are times when you can stand on deck and imagine her in the quiet of the Inside Passage as the captain navigates around icebergs in Endicott Arm. You can peek into cabins and imagine people stepping out onto the balconies as the sun sets in Baja. You can feel the excitement in the lounge as guests share photos and recount what they saw that day. Then lunch break is over and the build team is back at it.

Welcome to Day 1: Countdown to the Quest!

Our brand-new expedition ship National Geographic Quest is in the home stretch! Follow along from now until launch day June 26 as we bring you behind-the-scenes footage from the shipyard, exciting time-lapse videos of the build, interviews with the team responsible for bringing her to life, and much more. We’re proud Quest will be the most advanced ship of its kind to be made entirely in the U.S.A. and we look forward to welcoming you aboard soon.

 

Expedition Recon: Looking Back & Moving Forward

Sven-Olof Lindblad is wrapping up his team’s South Pacific reconnaissance trip that has found never-before-offered experiences and ultimate snorkel and dive sites for guests on our five new 2018 South Pacific & French Polynesia expeditions. Here’s a look at just a few expedition highlights.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann

We spent an afternoon at lovely Toau’s North Pass where corals of vibrant colors can be seen in shallow water.

Photo Vincent Truchet

Our team discovered a site in the shallows where we can snorkel with these rays off Moorea. We’ll return here on our Isles, Atolls, and Pristine Corals: Southern Line Islands expedition.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann

Shallow channels move water quickly through an area we found just off Hauhine, where the nutrients feed a variety of life. The best way to explore it is by drifting along in our snorkeling gear, our cameras ever-ready for shots like this. We’ll return here on our French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard expedition.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann

Shark dives off Fakarava proved to be a highlight. Our CEO Sven Lindblad said, “It’s wonderful to see the change in people who at some point were afraid of sharks and now feel totally comfortable amongst them. That’s evolution.”

A warm welcome on Raiatea, were greeted at sea by ceremony and invited onto the island by hundreds of community members, welcomed with hula, prayer, and some with kava.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann

Going ashore at Fakarava. We look forward to returning to this gem of the Pacific on our Easter Island to Tahiti: Tales of the Pacific expedition.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann

Another dive site at Fakarava’s North Pass proved to offer splendid diving and snorkeling.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann

Our CEO Sven Lindblad sneaks intp a shot of a curious local at Toau North Pass. After diving among enormous coral heads we had lunch on the beach.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann

At Toau’s West Pass this nine-foot manta circled coming within feet of our heads for over 20 minutes. Journalist Chris Jones wrote about his experience.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann

Strolling along the beach of idyllic Rangiroa, which we’ll return to on our French Polynesia: Beyond the Postcard expedition in 2018.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann

Time at sea was spent sorting photos, enjoying some fine meals and companyand of course spectacular sunsets like this one. And so our recon expedition winds to an end. We hope to share some of these incredible places and experiences with you on our 2018 South Pacific & French Polynesia expeditions.

Expedition Recon: Rangiroa’s Incredible Lagoon

Sven-Olof Lindblad is in the South Pacific right now leading a reconnaissance trip to seek out never-before-offered experiences and ultimate snorkel and dive sites for guests on our five new 2018 South Pacific & French Polynesia expeditions.

Sven in the blue lagoon of Rangiroa with baby sharks. Photo Kristin Hettermann.

The isle of Rangiroa’s lagoon is so massive that the island of Tahiti could fit inside of it. This protected space serves as a vast nursery for sharks and large schools of fish.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann

A mullet swims past Sven’s camera.

Photo by Kristin Hettermann

Black-tip sharks in Rangiroa’s lagoon.

Photo Vincent Truchet.

A nine-foot dolphin came to get a look at our recon team and, apparently deciding we were a fun bunch, decided to hangout and swim with us for 20 minutes.

(more…)