Last updated: 04:27 PM ET, Thu December 10 2015

Lindblad Expeditions Set to Build Two New Ships

Tour Operator | David Cogswell | December 10, 2015

Lindblad Expeditions Set to Build Two New Ships

Photo via Lindblad Expeditions on Facebook

Lindblad Expeditions, the tour operator offering ship-based expeditions to polar regions and other exotic destinations, signed a contract with Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Washington state for the construction of two new ships. The two new ships will carry 100 passengers each and will be coastal vessels under the U.S. flag.

The ships are scheduled to be delivered in 2017 and 2018. Sven-Olof Lindblad, founder, president and CEO of the company, said the announcement of the new ships marks the 50th anniversary of expedition-style travel inaugurated by his father, Lars-Eric Lindblad, with the first tourist voyage to Antarctica in 1966.

Also known as Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic through a co-branding and collaboration arrangement with the National Geographic Society, the company traces its origins back to Lar-Eric Lindblad and his company Lindblad Travel. Although today’s Lindblad Expeditions was founded as a separate company by the son of Lars-Eric, it flows from the same tradition, father to son.

Lars-Eric Lindblad is a legendary figure, a pioneer who laid the groundwork for much of the exploratory travel that takes place today. He created the model for Antarctic travel that is still followed today by the operators who actually go ashore in Antarctica. The model includes use of expedition ships with ice-strengthened hulls that carry a relatively small number of passengers, within a couple of hundred. Landings are accomplished through the use of Zodiacs, inner tube style landing craft invented by Jacques Costeau. And the expeditions are led by scientists and naturalists who also give lectures onboard the ship.

Besides being the first person to take tourists to Antarctica, Lars-Eric Lindblad blazed trails around the world and was one of the first to take Americans to many other travel frontiers, such as the Galapagos Islands, Easter Island, China and the Seychelles.

Sven-Olof started working for his father’s company Lindblad Travel in the 1970s as a tourguide in Africa. He learned the ropes helping his father look after operations in Africa and India. In the late 1970s he started his own company, Special Expeditions, which evolved into today’s Lindblad Expeditions.

Lars-Eric was an impossible act to follow. He had already opened so many frontiers there were fewer frontiers left to open. But Sven learned not only from his father’s triumphs, but also from his errors and mishaps. Lars-Eric’s company was brought down in 1989 by troubles from going into Vietnam too soon and being too invested in China when the Tiananmen Square incident temporarily destroyed tourism to China. Sven Lindblad has been able to build a company that could sustain itself through decades of exploration and expansion during tumultuous times in the travel industry.

Lindblad Expeditions now owns six ships and operates four charters. With its new coastal ships now in the works, its owned fleet will rise to eight.


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