WHY IT RATES: After its official naming ceremony this week, the newly christened National Geographic Islander II hosted an envoy of local marine scientists aboard its inaugural voyage, who are carrying out a deep-sea monitoring research campaign in the Galápagos Marine Reserve. — Laurie Baratti, TravelPulse Associate Writer
Lindblad Expeditions, the pioneering expedition cruise company that introduced international adventure expeditions to the Galápagos Islands more than 50 years ago, officially named its next-generation, all-suite National Geographic Islander II this week in the awe-inspiring Galápagos Islands.
Honoring his visionary work, Angela Flaim—wife of the late longtime Lindblad leader and passionate Galápagos conservation advocate, Juan Flaim—presided over the intimate ceremony that reflected the ship’s spirit and soul as a vessel, designed for deep discovery and supreme comfort. The ceremony took place in Black Turtle Cove, Santa Cruz Island—the center of the Galápagos archipelago and the gateway to its wonders—with the ship’s VIP guests, local dignitaries, company leaders and media surrounding the bow in zodiacs. Flaim and Lindblad Expeditions Founder, Sven-Olof Lindblad, symbolically smashed an environmentally friendly champagne bottle from the bow of the elegant 48-passenger National Geographic Islander ll, as guests cheered and raised a glass of champagne to toast to the occasion.
“May this ship be blessed with calm seas, curious minds, and caring hearts as her guests celebrate the beauty and wonder of these islands and Ecuador. I wish those lucky enough to sail with her, both crew and guests alike, experience the joy that is only possible when we explore life passionately,” said Angela Flaim.
The occasion was also an opportunity to highlight the pillars and legacy that distinguish Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, from its commitment to conserve the globe’s most critical and breathtaking regions, to its assurance of carbon neutrality, from supporting local communities to preserving culture.
“This incredible ship is our mission in motion, exciting guests to what we know about this wild place and even more importantly, to what is yet to be discovered,” said Sven-Olof Lindblad, Founder and Co-Chair of the Board. “As the pioneers in Galápagos tourism, our expertise and commitment to genuine engagement with this region’s natural wonders provides our guests with extraordinary, life-changing experiences, and a lifelong passion to protect these incredible and fragile environments.”
Lindblad continued that he was especially delighted to be hosting local marine scientists from the Charles Darwin Foundation and Galápagos National Park Directorate, in partnership with National Geographic Society’s Exploration Technology Lab on this voyage. The research team is continuing a deep-sea monitoring campaign in the Galápagos Marine Reserve to assess the biodiversity and distribution of organisms and habitats on the largely unchartered underwater mountains that exist thousands of meters under the surface.
The last exploration campaign, conducted in 2019, uncovered two apex predator shark species that were previously unknown to be inhabiting the Galápagos Marine Reserve, as well as a kelp forest. This year, the team will regroup on National Geographic Islander II for ten days to re-survey the sites where key observations were made during the pilot study, as well as to explore new sites in search of yet unknown species.
Making it easy for guests to connect to the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic legacy of conservation and research, National Geographic Islander ll features a Science Hub outfitted with the capacity for underway oceanographic sensoring, an interactive video display, lab benches and seating for guests to observe this important work. Two suites are dedicated to Conservation and Community, and are designated for Galápagos community members, local and international researchers, educators, storytellers, and other experts on each voyage, providing guests with a deeper connection to people and place.
Named to honor the much beloved National Geographic Islander that she replaced and the remarkable islands where she sails, the all-suite National Geographic Islander ll expedition ship elevates the guest experience with teak decks that gracefully connect the indoor and outdoor spaces, a well-outfitted observation deck, indoor-outdoor dining options, 26 large and airy suites, and purpose-built expedition amenities including a marina for snorkeling gear storage and easy Zodiac embarkation. Designed for active exploration, National Geographic Islander II carries a fleet of kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, a custom-built glass bottom Zodiac and flotilla of versatile Mark V Zodiacs to provide the adventures that are at the heart of every Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic voyage.
Celebrating Lindblad’s deep connection to the Galápagos islands, Ecuador and its people, National Geographic Islander ll offers a carefully considered food and beverage program that is a first-of-a-kind in the region, highlighting the four regions of Ecuador with ingredients sourced directly from local farmers. The ship further offers artwork, décor and music created by local artists and artisans, plus spa treatments infused with local ingredients, ensuring guests experience the beauty, warm hospitality and wonder of Ecuador on and off the ship.
For reservations or additional information on Lindblad Expeditions voyages to some of the most beautiful and fascinating places on Earth, call (855) 734-3271 or contact your travel advisor.
For more information, visit expeditions.com.
SOURCE: Lindblad Expeditions press release.
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