Launching in August 2022, the 48-passenger National Geographic Islander II replaces Lindblad Expeditions' former Galapagos vessel National Geographic Islander. Formerly sailing as Crystal Esprit for the now defunct Crystal Cruises, the classic-style vessel was first launched in 1989 as Lady Diana and later sailed for Star Cruises.
The ship, which offers a 1:1 passenger to crew ratio, underwent a complete refurbishment before being relaunched in its latest guise, including environmental upgrades for sailing in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
Lindblad is billing National Geographic Islander II as an all-suite vessel. All 26 staterooms across two decks have ocean views and the majority measure 280 square feet. Available in twin or double configuration, they have fixed panoramic windows, marble double-sink bathrooms, stocked mini-bars and large closets for storing expedition clothing. The four Islander Suites measure 515 square feet and have four windows, separate living rooms and bathrooms outfitted with both a tub and rain shower. The Santa Cruz Islander Suite can be reserved as a family suite with a connecting double stateroom. The ship's new decor showcases fittings and artwork created by local artisans and artists.
The new Science Hub, with an interactive video display, laboratory benches and seating, is designed to connect passengers with the Lindblad-National Geographic legacy of supporting conservation and research. A five-strong expedition team, comprising an expedition leader and four naturalists accompanies each voyage. They include an undersea specialist, photography instructor and trained field educators who run the National Geographic Explorers family program.
Designed for active exploration, the ship carries a fleet of kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, a custom-built glass-bottom Zodiac and a flotilla of Zodiacs so all passengers can be out exploring in small groups at the same time.
The reimagined Cove lounge is the heart of the ship and a gathering place for pre-dinner drinks and presentations. Meals are served in the expanded al fresco Patio Cafe and Yacht Club Restaurant. Menus will be themed round four regions of Ecuador and feature locally sourced ingredients.
Other facilities include a pool, sauna and fitness studio.
When National Geographic Islander II went into dry dock, the refit included environmental features to sail in the protected region of the Galapagos, such as reduced outdoor lighting, special paint that does not harm wildlife and water that can be recycled from the new air conditioning system. The vessel is also fitted with stablilizers for smooth sailing.
National Geographic Islander II will sail on its inaugural expedition voyage on August 18, 2022.
The destination-specific National Geographic Islander II is based in the Galapagos and offers two year-round alternating itineraries; a six-night round-trip sailing from Baltra and a nine-night itinerary combining a voyage and land-stay. Post-cruise extensions are also available.
National Geographic Islander II is 3,370 gross tons and carries 48 passengers at double occupancy, with 48 crew.