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“Our guests are not ‘check it off your list’ type of guests,” says Jacinta McEvoy, v.p. of global sales for Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic. “I think that people are not passive travelers anymore. They don’t want to go and sit and drink champagne. They want to touch and feel the places that they go to, and they want to have these experiences that they can come back and they can tell their friends about and have these great dinner conversations.” Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, she says, delivers on that experience.

“It’s important to us to have travel advisors know that we are going to do whatever we can to give their clients the best experience—that exhilarating experience that they will not find anywhere else,” adds McEvoy. Everyone who works for Lindblad, she points out, is working toward a common goal, and “that is to give that guest an exhilarating experience, no matter where it is in the world, even in the most difficult terrains. They are always there crafting, figuring out how they can make this happen,” she notes. For example, “how can we get into the pack ice in Antarctica. Normally, guests don’t know that we can do that, so we say, ‘we are going to have a surprise for you this afternoon,’ and all of a sudden we hear this crunching of ice; all of a sudden we are like looking at the horizon—the ice meeting the sky and it’s the most exhilarating experience that one can have.”

What’s New
So what new “exhilarating” experiences is Lindblad delivering for your clients? Well, the company, known for exploring way beyond the beaten path, has announced the inaugural voyages of its new polar ship, National Geographic Endurance, due for delivery in the first quarter of 2020. This 126-guest polar vessel will have the ability to operate any time of the year in polar environments, thus being able to explore deeper into the pack ice, or farther north to the unexplored reaches of the Arctic.

The first two itineraries will explore the Arctic in spring—a photographer’s paradise—when guests can expect white, snowy and icy landscapes with the sun low on the horizon providing for surreal light. This is also the time of year when mothers and their cubs are emerging from their dens—a very rare treat to witness this—along with all of the non-nursing polar bears out and about. The itineraries include the 11-day Svalbard in Spring: Polar Bears, Arctic Light & Epic Ice (departing April 2, 9, 16, and 23, 2020; rates starting at $11,600 pp dbl in a category 1 cabin); and the 17-day Norway’s Fjords and Arctic Svalbard (departing April 30 and May 29, 2020; rates begin at $19,420 pp dbl in a category 1 cabin). Other itineraries include the 26-day Northeast Passage: An Unforgettable Voyage from Norway to Alaska and the 20-day East Greenland: Wild Shores of the High Arctic.

Being able to get to the far reaches of the earth is indeed exhilarating, but I asked McEvoy if she thought tourism could reach a boiling point and how a company such as Lindblad, which is focused on sustainable tourism, is responding to growing tourism around the world. “I think Sven’s [Lindblad] theory on that is we are taking them there, Antarctica, for example, and educating them on the importance of doing something in their own lives that makes a difference when it comes to global warming and protecting the oceans. So he takes a completely different take on it.”

Additionally, in places like the Galapagos, says McEvoy, “we are looking at ways where we don’t introduce things that could hurt the environment. I think we are very conscious of the fact that we are going to places that are very precious and may not always be there for our children and our children’s children, and that’s one of the reasons we are eliminating all of the plastics on our ships.” In fact, Lindblad’s ships are now 100 percent free of all single-plastic bottles, cups, straws and stirrers. The effort supports National Geographic’s Planet or Plastic campaign, a multi-year initiative aimed at raising awareness about the global plastic crisis and reducing the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans.

And speaking of places that are very precious, Lindblad is offering shorter itineraries in the Galapagos. Set aboard the newly refurbished 48-guest National Geographic Islander, with departures on Saturday and Thursday, the 5-day Wild Galapagos Escape features multiple adventures each day on land and undersea—with options for walks and hikes, kayaking, paddleboarding and snorkeling. Departures are set for Nov. 24 and 29, 2018; and April 27; May 2, 11, 16; Aug. 31; Sept. 5, 14, and 19; and Oct. 31, 2019. Rates begin at $5,450 pp dbl in a category 1 cabin.

“I think we’ve been around for a long time,” says McEvoy, “so there is a huge percentage of our agents within the Virtuoso network who know us and obviously respect and appreciate what Lindblad has done for the environment, for conservation, for this world, but we have a whole new generation coming up as well, so it’s our job to educate those young advisors.”

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