Lindblad acquiring expedition ship for Galapagos cruises

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings has agreed to spend $18 million to acquire the Via Australis, an expedition ship that Lindblad will use for Galapagos Islands cruises, replacing the National Geographic Endeavour.

The company expects to take possession of the ship in the second quarter of 2016 and deploy the ship in the third quarter following a $10 million refurbishment. The ship will bear the National Geographic name.

“The Via Australis will be the ideal platform for our Galapagos expeditions far into the future. Opportunities to acquire high-quality expedition ships on attractive terms are infrequent so we seized this one,” said Sven Lindblad, CEO of Lindblad Expeditions. “The Via Australis will provide us with increased profitability on the same route through more operating days, revenue enhancement opportunities, operating efficiencies and cost savings compared to the National Geographic Endeavour. Additionally, it will require significantly lower capital expenditures for the foreseeable future.”

The Via Australis is one of two ships that currently sails for Australis, a Chile-based expedition line specializing in Patagonia cruises. According to Australis’ website, the ship was built in 2005 and can accommodate up to 136 passengers in 64 cabins.

After the refurbishment, the ship will have 50 cabins (46 doubles and four singles) for a maximum capacity of 96 guests, Lindblad Expeditions said.

Lindblad said the ship is a great fit for Galapagos cruising because it is “quiet and maneuverable, a great asset when approaching marine life.” Also, the ship offers “great viewing from all public spaces,” he said.

The ship will be equipped with Zodiacs and sea kayaks. The Zodiac platform can deploy two landing crafts at the same time, Lindblad Expeditions said.

The expedition ship will also have a fitness room and a wellness spa.

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Lindblad’s National Geographic Orion to cruise Europe

The National Geographic Orion.

Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Orion vessel will spend the spring, summer and fall on a series of one-week cruises in Europe.

Itineraries include exploring Portugal, Spain, France, England, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, the Baltic republics and Scandinavia.

“A ship like National Geographic Orion depends heavily on past guests, and a vast majority of her past guests have been to the Kimberley and the South Pacific,” said Sven Lindblad, founder and president of Lindblad Expeditions. “We are committed to providing them the most compelling opportunities available on the Orion and have listened to their feedback for new destinations.”

Lindblad said the 22 voyages on the 102-guest ship will be led by a team with a a diverse scope of expertise about history, political science, art, viniculture and music of the destinations, and will include active options like hiking, biking and kayaking.

Twitter chat at CruiseWorld touches on dream trips, ‘travel addiction’

Twitter chat at CruiseWorld touches on dream trips, ‘travel addiction’

By Rebecca Tobin
2013CruiseWorld_logo200x115FORT LAUDERDALE — The #TWchats on Twitter held in conjunction with CruiseWorld was one of the biggest TWchats to date, with 227 active contributors and a reach of more than 16 million impressions.

The chat played off of a concurrent session at CruiseWorld titled “Travel: An Addictive Industry,” and the chat asked tweeters when they had been bitten by the travel bug — and common warning signs that they were “addicted to travel.”

Ken Muskat of MSC Cruises and one of the participants on the CruiseWorld panel tweeted that you might be addicted to travel if “a half-packed suitcase lives permanently in your bedroom.”

“You’ve exhausted the pages of your passport with dozens of stamps,” tweeted @AtlasTrav_Molly. “Striving to get every page in your passport fully stamped,” Seabourn tweeted (the line later tweeted another sign: “booking a future cruise while you’re on a cruise!”)

Azamara Club Cruises CEO Larry Pimentel, one of the co-hosts of the chat, said he’d been bitten by the travel bug when his grandmother introduced him to National Geographic. “It wasn’t about going distances, but turning pages,” he tweeted.

@TravelMaestro tweeted that she inherited the travel gene from her mother, @ICoachTravel. “She opened [a travel agency] when I was in college, and I was hooked for life.”

Chats screen shotParticipants were asked to pick one ship for a ship inspection. Some participants found it hard to choose: “With so many new, exciting and innovative new ships debuting, who can choose just one?” tweeted Cruise Planners. And @avidcruiser wrote, “I’ve been on more than 100 ships. Maybe I’d opt to see more river cruise vessels.”

From the river cruise segment, both Guy Young, the CEO of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, and Viking Cruiseswere active on the chat.

When participants were asked to name their dream job in the travel industry, @uniworld_guy tweeted, “I already have my dream job working at @uniworldcruises.”

Many, if not most, of the participants seemed satisfied with their career path, another of the CruiseWorld panel discussion topics. “Like everyone else — living my dream job — except wish all my flights were first class — dreaming!” joked @JeanNewmanGlock.

The chat referenced the #FoodieChats community during a tweet that asked participants to name their favorite bar or restaurant at sea: @foodiechats retweeted @CruiseNorwegian‘s comment that “Ocean Blue by @GZchef on #NorwegianBreakaway is pretty spectacular.”

Sometimes the chat was serious, as when tweeters were debating locations for a dream cruise, land vacation or river voyage. (“Cruising through the South Pacific for months stopping at tons of tropical islands, then ending with New Zealand & Australia,” suggested @kidtravel.)

Or why booking through a travel agent was a smart idea. “Travel planning keeps getting more complicated, which is why the advice of an expert agent can make all the difference,” said Travel and Leisure. “Because of the added value and personalized service,” said @AvoyaTravel.

“We care,” @travellori tweeted. “That’s why.”

But often the chat took a lighthearted turn, such as a conversation between @AtlasTrav_Molly and @PrincessCruises, where the cruise line sought to convince the agent: “Haven’t you heard that calories don’t count on cruises?” “Gamechanger,” she tweeted back.

And in response to the question about a “dream cruise,” Holland America Line retweeted a comment from @VikingRiver: “Isn’t every cruise a dream cruise?”

“We agree!” @HALcruises said.