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Lindblad buys ship to replace its Galápagos vessel

Via Australis (Photo: Cruceros Australis)
Lindblad Expeditions Holdings signed a definitive agreement to buy Via Australis for its Galápagos Islands operations. The company expects to take possession of the ship in the second quarter of 2016 and, following a significant renovation, will deploy it during the third quarter.

Via Australis will replace National Geographic Endeavour.

The purchase price is $18m, and Lindblad intends to spend up to $10m to refurbish and outfit Via Australis immediately after closing. It will be renamed with the National Geographic moniker. The company will pay a deposit of $1.8m on Jan. 4 and the balance on delivery.

Via Australis has operated in Patagonia and Cape Horn for Chile's Cruceros Australis for a number of years. Following renovation, the ship will accommodate 96 passengers in 50 double cabins and four single cabins.

'Opportunities to acquire high quality expedition ships on attractive terms are infrequent so we seized this one,' said Sven Lindblad, president and ceo of Lindblad. He called Via Australis the ideal platform for the company's Galápagos expeditions far into the future.

Public spaces are designed for maximum viewing with quick, easy access to decks so passengers can respond to bridge announcements about wildlife and nature sightings. Via Australis has a spacious main lounge and a forward-viewing additional lounge with large windows and immediate access to the outer decks.

An open top deck provides a location for gathering, dining, relaxing and stargazing. 

Zodiacs and sea kayaks are accessible by an efficient Zodiac loading platform that can deploy two landing crafts at the same time.

The ship will have a fully equipped fitness room and a wellness spa. A modern audiovisual system will allow high quality presentations, including National Geographic photography instruction.

Well-appointed and improved crew quarters are another feature.

Via Australis will provide the company with increased profitability on the same route through more operating days, revenue enhancement opportunities, operating efficiencies and cost savings compared to National Geographic Endeavour, Sven Lindblad said. Additionally, it will require significantly lower capital expenditures for the foreseeable future.

'The most important elements of a Galápagos experience are the islands, the animals and the sea that surrounds them, so the ship that provides access to these things matters greatly,' Lindblad added. 'The Via Australis is ultra-efficient to operate and was built with the same sensibility that matters so much to us, with a focus on the world outside. To that end, she has great viewing from all public spaces. Her ability to launch and deploy landing craft is fast and seamless. She is exceptionally quiet and maneuverable, a great asset when approaching marine life.

'And I'm particularly pleased that this ship will be well received by our crew who work very hard and are critical to expedition success.'