Lindblad's newbuild damaged in launch, introduction delayed

National Geographic Quest - one propeller and rudder were damaged in the launch National Geographic Quest - one propeller and rudder were damaged in the launch (Rendering: Lindblad Expeditions)

The first newbuild in Lindblad Expeditions' history has sustained damage during its launch down the ramp at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, delaying National Geographic Quest's entry into service.

On June 14, as the ship was in the process of launching into the sea, stern first, National Geographic Quest slid from the ramp and one propeller and rudder were grounded and damaged. Divers and surveyors have determined that drydocking is required to evaluate the extent of damage and make repairs.

Lindblad Expeditions canceled the July 8 and July 15 Alaska voyages as a result.

CEO Sven Lindblad has written to affected passengers and plans to issue a more detailed statement Tuesday from the shipyard once the company has a more specific assessment.

In his letter, Lindblad said: 'At first this seemed like fixable damage within the time frame required to repair but we have now learned that the damage is more severe. We still do not know exactly how long it will take to fully repair but certainly not in time for your voyage.

'This has been a devastating blow to the team on Whidbey Island who have worked for over a year to launch this beautiful new ship. I've talked to many of them in the past few days and each one immediately focused their concern on you, our guests, and the disappointment this would cause. We are beyond sorry that we must affect your holiday in this way.'

The company is offering alternatives for impacted passengers. These include a nine-night Iceland circumnavigation aboard National Geographic Explorer, departing July 11, and nine-night Galápagos adventures aboard National Geographic Islander July 8, July 15, July 22 and July 29.

Further options include sailing the Greek Islands aboard Sea Cloud, a seven-night cruise on July 7 or July 14. Also offered: a 'Wild Alaska Escape' on National Geographic Sea Bird, five nights, sails Aug. 30, and 'A Remarkable Journey to Alaska, British Columbia and Haida Gwaii' aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird or Sea Lion, 14 nights, with departures Sept. 3 or Sept. 4.

Travelers who transfer to any of these options will get a 50% reduction of the cost, and Lindblad will refund the difference between what was paid us and the cost of the new program.

Other choices include transferring to any other Lindblad voyage in 2017 or 2018, on National Geographic Quest or another ship. Again, the company will provided a 50% reduction and refund the difference between what was paid us and the cost of the new program.

Travelers who choose not to rebook now will get a full refund and a $2,000 per person credit to apply to any future voyage.

The company will cover any air penalties incurred.

A dedicated team is available to help with arrangements.

Posted 23 June 2017

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review