National Geographic Explorer
Rebuilt from a rugged Norwegian coastal passenger and cargo ship, Lindblad’s National Geographic Explorer is an expedition ship outfitted with high-tech equipment (hydrophones, video microscopes, remotely operated vehicles) to study and photograph the surrounding waters. In the spirit of exploration, up to 148 passengers review the results during daily pre-dinner recaps. Itineraries concentrate on the Arctic and Antarctic, and in between seasons, National Geographic Explorer can be found in Northern Europe and South America, specifically Patagonia.
What We Love
The Observation Lounge: Located under a glass dome at the top of the ship, the naturally lighted space creates a delightful perch for a light lunch, thumbing through library books, or just watching the world go by sheltered from the outside weather.
Photography Sessions: When National Geographic photographers are aboard, they run beginning and intermediate classes that combine learning techniques on board and testing out the new skills ashore.
Best Known For
Expedition Staff: Every cruise has a leader who coordinates a team of six to eight experts in the fields of botany, geology, ornithology, wildlife management, and other fields of study related to the regions explored.
Evening Recaps: The hour or so before dinner, the staff makes a presentation that reviews the day’s highlights, plus they share stories, answer questions, and outline what is planned for the following day.
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Who It's Best For
Active Travelers of All Ages: Most passengers are up there in age yet are still physically fit and keen to learn about the world around and beneath them. Lindblad has also managed to draw families traveling with children — especially in Antarctica and Svalbard — with kid-friendly menus, hands-on activities, and family photo ops.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Seas Can Be Rough: Turbulent waters are a high likelihood when crossing the Drake Passage between the tip of South America and Antarctica and surrounding South Atlantic’s Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Come prepared with your motion-sickness remedies.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.