Although Lindblad Expeditions has been a leader in expedition travel for over 55 years, it launched a game changer in 2021 with the 128-passenger National Geographic Endurance. Built specifically for Arctic and Antarctica expeditions, this nimble ship delivers bucket-list travel perfectly with state-of-the-art technology.
The most noticeable (and the most appreciated) feature of National Geographic Endurance is its inverted X-Bow, designed to part the waves, produce a smoother ride, and reduce travel time while cruising through some of the world’s most tempestuous waters. Its many technical features ensure efficient ship operations while minimizing the environmental impact. Inside is a contemporary 5-star hotel with Scandinavian décor and elegant amenities. Fine dining and exemplary service round out the exceptional cruise experience.
Lindblad’s mission of responsible exploration and its partnership with National Geographic further lend credibility to the National Geographic Endurance as a top pick for intrepid travelers looking for a rewarding experience.
Is National Geographic Endurance the best ship for an Antarctica cruise? If you are looking to explore the world’s most remote regions with a seasoned industry expert, an immersive expedition program, and a ship with the utmost comfort, this small but mighty vessel definitely checks all the boxes.
National Geographic Endurance is well laid out over six passenger decks. Two elevators and a staircase located midship connect all decks, making getting around effortless. The entire ship is wrapped in glass, offering great views no matter where you are.
Being a small ship has its advantage, you won’t get lost! On Deck 8 forward is The Den, housing a bar, a restaurant, and an observation lounge. A wellness area is at the back of the deck. The bridge and the gym are on Deck 7, the main lounge and a gift shop are on Deck 6. Deck 5 has the main restaurant, and Deck 3 is Base Camp where zodiacs are launched. All public rooms are located adjacent to or slightly down the hall from the staircase/elevators, so everything is steps away.
The décor on National Geographic Endurance is Scandinavian, with contemporary furniture and light-colored wood paneling. Well-thought-out details include multiple monitors and chairs that swivel in the lounge for viewing presentations and socializing. We were impressed to see a large amount of space dedicated to wellness, including a relaxation room, a large sauna, and a large yoga studio.
The outdoor spaces are just as pleasant. There are plenty of tables with chairs, bench-style seats, and cushioned loungers. Two infinity-style hot tubs and two igloo lounging pods overlook the back of the ship. The wraparound deck with sections cantilevering over the water provides terrific viewing options.
The accommodations onboard Endurance fall into three categories: oceanview, balcony, and suites. There are also cabins dedicated to solo travelers, and the majority of cabins can accommodate three guests.
The least expensive cabin categories are located on the lowest deck and offer ocean views with two large windows. Balcony cabins are the prevailing accommodation type and are spread throughout three decks. There are also 12 large suites located on the top of the ship below the outdoor deck.
Regardless of category, all cabins come with the latest technology gadgets, well-appointed bathrooms, and functional layouts. Other than a few cabins located next to the bow, all other rooms are well-located and will make a comfortable home while on expedition.
Food menus on expedition ships are smaller than those on big ships. Everything is there, but just fewer choices. Nonetheless, we were pleasantly surprised at the variety of menu items onboard National Geographic Endurance which included many ethnic dishes and regional cuisine. For example, Argentinean beef and Chilean and Argentinean wines made a few appearances during our Antarctica expedition. The food presentation, quality, and taste rival any specialty restaurant on big ships, and there isn’t an extra charge for any of it, including the Chef’s Table dinner.
Two restaurants provide meal service, with 270˚ (named for the expansive views it offers diners) serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while C. Green’s (named after Ernest Shackleton’s cook) is open for early risers’ breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea. Meal times vary slightly from day to day as they are scheduled around expedition activities. The restaurants are open over a couple of hours during breakfast and lunch, and guests can dine at their leisure, but dinner is served in one sitting at a scheduled time.
Expedition cruising is meant to be a social trip, so large tables are the norm; there is only a handful of tables for two. A nice touch is having expedition team members join guests at meal times so they could get to know everyone on a personal level.
The crew onboard National Geographic Endurance deserves big applause as they work tirelessly to ensure all guests are happy. They are quick to learn the guests’ first names and address them as such, preceded by a “Sir”, “Ma’am”, or “Miss”.
Cabin stewards are efficient and no detail is overlooked. The servers and bar staff are attentive and quick to deliver food and beverages. The restaurant Maitre D visits every table during every meal to ensure guests are content with their orders. This level of personal service is a benefit of small ship cruising, and National Geographic Endurance crew performs it to a T. Most of all, we observed great camaraderie among all crew members, and they appeared genuinely happy to work onboard Endurance, which clearly reflected in their excellent service.
For the most up-to-date COVID protocols, please refer to Lindblad Expeditions website.
Guests traveling on National Geographic Endurance are couples and solo travelers who are active retirees or working professionals. Although the average age is 60+, guests in their 30s and 40s checking off bucket lists early are now coming onboard.
Regardless of age, all guests share the common interest of exploring nature and observing wildlife, and all cite Lindblad’s experience and its partnership with National Geographic as a reason to come onboard. Lindblad welcomes LGBTQ+ guests, there aren’t any scheduled gatherings but it’s not necessary since on a small ship, one can easily meet all fellow guests.
Not worth the money