'She is named in honor of Ernest Shackleton, Lindblad Expeditions’ most revered explorer, and will incorporate technical advances and create opportunities for guests beyond the reach of any contemporary ship,' Lindblad Expeditions president and CEO Sven Lindblad said.
The ice-class cruise vessel is due for delivery from Norway's Ulstein Group in first quarter 2020.
'A Polar Class 5 rating gives us the ability to operate the ship freely at any time of year in polar environments, vastly expanding our polar range,' Sven Lindblad said. 'This means we can explore deeper into the pack ice, or further north to the unexplored reaches of the Arctic—for instance, northern Ellesmere Island, where only a relative handful of people have ever been, or some of the completely off-the-beaten-path Arctic islands that are remote, pristine and teeming with wildlife.'
The ceremony included welding coins, for good luck, into the keel. Among them: a newly minted commemorative silver coin etched with the name of the ship, flanked by a polar bear and penguin, signifying the two poles National Geographic Endurance will be exploring, and etched with 'To Explore and Understand the World.'
Also, to signify Lindblad’s commitment to its expedition team and crew, Sven Lindblad placed the lucky coin of iconic Lindblad naturalist Tom Ritchie, a 1780 Austro-Hungarian thaler (silver dollar) with Marie Theresa on one side and a double-headed eagle on the other.
Joining the Lindblad team in Poland for the occasion were Trey Byus, chief expedition officer; Tyler Skarda, SVP marine operations; Capt. Leif Skog, VP nautical and ice captain; and Nikolaos Doulis, SVP newbuildings. Present for Ulstein were Gunvor Ulstein, CEO Ulstein Group and managing director Ulstein Shipping; Tore Ulstein, chair and deputy CEO, Ulstein Group; Kristian Sætre, managing director, Ulstein Verft; and Per Svein Brekke, project leader. Among the CRIST representatives were Ireneusz Ćwirko, chair of the managing board, and Krzysztof Kulczycki, chair of the supervising board.
'We look forward to the arrival of the hull to our shipyard, Ulstein Verft, for the completion of this innovative vessel,' Gunvor Ulstein said.
The 126-passenger ship has been designed as 'the ultimate expedition platform,' with a focus on safety and comfort, as well as incorporating innovative sustainability solutions to reduce its environmental impact. A core feature is Ulstein’s signature X-BOW, a distinctive bow that provides fuel efficiency while significantly improving comfort in rough seas. The expanded fuel and water tanks provide for extended operations in remote areas, while the zero-speed stabilizers will ensure stability, whether at zero speed or full steam ahead.
Immediately following the ceremony, Sven Lindblad, Byus and Skog departed to Longyearbyen on a reconnaissance expedition to craft 2020 early season Arctic adventures for National Geographic Endurance.