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National Geographic Islander II at sunset (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
National Geographic Islander II at sunset (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Lindblad and National Geographic/Disney Extend Relationship: What This Means for Cruisers

National Geographic Islander II at sunset (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
National Geographic Islander II at sunset (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Executive Editor, U.S.
Chris Gray Faust

Last updated
Nov 14, 2023

Read time
5 min read

(7 a.m. EDT) – Lindblad Expeditions has extended its relationship with National Geographic for 17 years, a move that has many growth implications for the veteran adventure cruise line.

The agreement breaks down into several different areas.

First, Lindblad will now be able to market its National Geographic-branded expedition cruises on a global level, as opposed to just in North America and Canada. The partnership means that the two companies can be linked together publicly and sold through international travel advisors and websites.

Second, the agreement taps into the power of National Geographic’s parent company, Walt Disney, and those sales channels.

And third, the relationship will mean significant enhancements to what cruisers find onboard Lindblad ships.

Cruise Critic had the opportunity to talk to Noah Brodsky, Chief Commercial Officer for Lindblad, about the relationship extension. Here’s what cruisers who are interested in taking an adventure cruise in the future with Lindblad need to know:

More National Geographic Experts and Personalities on More Lindblad Itineraries

Lindblad's expedition team in the Galapagos is focused on education and conservation (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Lindblad's expedition team in the Galapagos is focused on education and conservation (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

National Geographic photographers have long been a draw on certain Lindblad expedition cruises. The long-term partnership opens the door to have photographers and experts – as well as personalities from National Geographic streaming shows on Disney Plus – to be onboard more ships and more itineraries, Brodsky said.

Likewise, Lindblad could be expected to have a starring role on some National Geographic programming. Personalities also have their own draw, and might even influence people who have never taken a cruise before to give an expedition sailing a go.

“There’s so much amazing content out there, and these personalities that are going to every corner of the earth,” Brodsky said. “What an obvious and exciting integration opportunity to bring some of these personalities with us to teach our guests, to talk about where they’ve been and where they’re going, and then bring those stories back on the air through streaming.”

More Lindblad Expeditions Cruises with Kid-Focused Content

National Geographic Orion Activity/Entertainment
National Geographic Orion Activity/Entertainment

One trend that Lindblad has noticed is the rise of multi-generational trips, and what Brodsky referred to as “grandma-based travel.” The trend has helped the average age on Lindblad Expeditions’ cruises drop into the 50s, with a growing percentage under 40. “Grandma is the one hosting the trip,” he said.

Lindblad has its National Geographic Global Explorers program aimed at kids in a few destinations already, such as Alaska, the Galapagos and Antarctica, Brodsky said. The line plans to work with National Geographic to strengthen the program and make it more immersive.

“We’re looking at both new geographies to expand those kids’ programs, as well as new elements within the program that are based on National Geographic content, personalities and integration opportunities,” he said.

Brodsky pointed out that Alaska has been one itinerary that is a natural draw for “grandma-based travel” since there are plenty of excursions on a variety of ability levels for all ages.

Iceland is another emerging cruise destination for this kind of travel, he said.

“It’s a wonderful place to go to circumnavigate the island,” Brodsky said. “There are very different skill levels each time you get off the ship. You can kayak or you can be on a Zodiac, you can do the long hike or you can do the birdwatching. It’s a great destination where, any skill or mobility level, you’re going to be able to have a really fantastic, immersive experience.”

More Types of Lindblad Expeditions Cruises, Including River Cruises

The global licensing partnership also extends from expedition ships into river cruising, Brodsky said, which opens even more opportunities for Lindblad. The line currently sails on several rivers, including the Amazon, the Nile, the Mekong and the Columbia/Snake in the Pacific Northwest. Now, popular European rivers like the Rhine and Danube could open up to an expedition river cruising, he said.

“Instead of a slower, perhaps much older demographic, we can bring our more exploration-adventure-style trips onto new destinations and rivers,” Brodsky said. (Before the pandemic, National Geographic had a partnership with Scenic’s river cruises. That relationship no longer exists).

The faster way to expand in new destinations is to charter ships, Brodsky said, “and then we bring our naturalists and guides and our National Geographic experts on board.”

Cruisers Will Be Able to Buy Lindblad Expeditions Cruises on Disney Cruise Line

Disney Wonder docked in Juneau, Alaska (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Disney Wonder docked in Juneau, Alaska (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Another benefit to the partnership is that Lindblad will now have access to Disney’s distribution network, including Disney travel agents and Disney Cruise Line itself. The Lindblad-National Geographic experience is one that naturally dovetails with Disney, as opposed to competing with it, Brodsky said.

“Imagine you've traveled with Disney Cruise Line to Alaska twice already. And maybe your kids have gotten just a little bit older and you say, ‘This is a great experience, big ship, amazing introduction, but now I want to be at water level, and I want to go kayaking,’” he said. “That’s what you can do with our cruise… It’s a great upsell opportunity for Disney Cruise Line into another product line that they’ll now represent.”

While Adventures by Disney has run a few expedition cruises, namely to the Galapagos and Antarctica, the program will not compete with Lindblad, Brodsky said.

“There are places that you can only see by cruise, by a ship, or you can see it differently by ship,” he said. “And those are the places that we're looking to bring our guests to and tell the National Geographic stories in those destinations.”

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