National Geographic Endeavour II
Completely retrofitted in 2016, the 96-passenger National Geographic Endeavour II is the newest expedition ship from the Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic partnership. In addition to its cozy library and full gym, the ship sails with a variety of gear, including Zodiacs (including glass-bottom ones), wetsuits, and snorkeling equipment, which naturalists use to guide groups ashore to view local wildlife in the Galapagos Islands. After a full day of adventure, you'll return to the ship's lounge and bar, where the naturalists lead recaps during cocktail hour and mingle with passengers during dinner.
What We Love
Everything is Shipshape: The newly refreshed ship's cabins feel brand new again. The bathrooms have separate, spacious showers (with a clothes line), and every cabin comes with thoughtful touches, such as two metal water canteens, which passengers can fill at filtered water dispensers.
Homegrown Naturalists: The majority of the experts on board are Ecuadorian and about half are from the Galapagos, so these guides have a special relationship with and knowledge of the islands that they giddily share with passengers.
Visits to Lonesome George: Santa Cruz Island is the home of the Charles Darwin Research Station where this famous Galapagos tortoise, the last from his specific island, lived out his days as scientists futilely tried to find him a mate. George is now back at the station, fully stuffed and preserved, in a special, climate-controlled pavilion. Happily, the station breeds and releases other Galapagos tortoises very successfully.
Best Known For
Magic Moments: The ship’s shallow draft allows it to get close to shore, anchor inside a caldera and sail close to volcanic islets. Stargazers can find both the Big Dipper and the Southern Cross blazing at night in the Milky Way.
Locavore Eating: Lindblad has a relationship with a local farm on Santa Cruz that provides organic veggies and herbs, such as cherry tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and parsley, plus the chef picks up fresh chicken, eggs, and fish from port.
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Who It's Best For
Seekers of Unspoiled Nature: What does the high price tag get you? Basically, entry to the Garden of Eden. Animals and birds have no fear of humans: you’ll swim with playful sea lions who sinuously twist in the waves; walk past Nazca boobies sitting on newly-hatched chicks; and snorkel close to Galapagos penguins sunning themselves on a rock.
Active Couples and Families: A basic level of fitness is needed to move in and out of the Zodiacs during wet or dry landings and to withstand the equatorial heat during the hikes. Families with older kids and teens will also love the constant activity, but you won’t be left out if you’re a single traveler. The communal dining room and high spirits ensure that lone diners are welcomed into the fold at every meal.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
There's No Nightlife: The days are so full and so physically demanding that you’ll likely fall into bed straight after dinner. The bar is usually deserted after 9 pm.
Not a Lot of Downtime: You’ll be up early to see the critters and the expedition leader packs the daily schedule. The top deck has plenty of chaises and chairs, but the heat is so extreme that few people venture topside until the sun goes down.
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National Geographic Endeavour II at a Glance
- Line: Lindblad Expeditions
- Number of Passengers: 96
- Ship Size: Small
- Launch Date: 2005
- Refurbish Date: 2016