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National Geographic Explorer Review

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
46 reviews
6 Awards
National Geographic Explorer
National Geographic Explorer Dining
National Geographic Explorer Cabins
National Geographic Explorer Activity/Entertainment
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Editor Rating
Very Good
Theodore Scull
Cruise Critic Contributor

Lindblad Expeditions introduced National Geographic Explorer in 2008, providing the line with the most sophisticated expedition-style ship afloat. It's equipped with high-tech equipment for forecasting ice conditions, underwater cameras that can drop to the seabed and state-of-the-art audiovisual gear. An ice-strengthened hull allows the ship to penetrate deep fjords in the Arctic and sail through pack ice in Antarctica.

But this ship wasn't always so cutting-edge. National Geographic Explorer was originally built in 1982 as Midnastol (Midnight Sun), a first-generation combination passenger and roll-on cargo ship operated by Norwegian Coastal Voyages (now Hurtigruten) for service along the Norwegian Coast. Soon after, the ship was seen as too small, and it was enlarged to its present dimensions in 1988-89 to carry additional passengers, the mail, vehicles and considerable freight. When larger and more cruise-like ships came along, Midnatsol was eventually laid up and made available for sale.

When Lindblad Expeditions bought the ship in October 2007, it needed considerable rebuilding. The upgrades included roomy passenger accommodations (large, at least, by the standards of expedition ships), several dining venues and a well-designed main lounge where passengers and the naturalist staff gather every evening to recap the day and learn the next day's activities. While the 148-passenger Explorer carries 52 more passengers than fleetmate National Geographic Endeavour (stationed in the Galapagos), the ship is twice the size of its sister, thus providing much more room per passenger and greatly expanded facilities for expedition cruising.

National Geographic Explorer now roams the world, offering expedition cruises in the Polar regions and cultural enrichment sailings in the Baltic and Mediterranean seas. Lindblad and its partner, National Geographic, provide a top team of 14 naturalists, historians and photographers who cruise aboard Explorer. Some have been with Lindblad for years, and they, along with two highly experienced captains, aim to get the ship as close to wildlife as is warranted and give passengers the unique experiences they crave. A cruise on National Geographic Explorer does not come cheap, but you are paying for one of the best expedition offerings with respect to the standard of ship, the number and experience of the staff and the excellent organization.


Accommodations include balcony cabins and suites


No hot tubs or pool available

Bottom Line

A sophisticated way to sail expedition-style to destinations like the Arctic


Passengers : 148
Crew : 86
Passenger to Crew : 1.72:1
Launched : 1982/2008
Shore Excursions : 142

Fellow Passengers

The itineraries often dictate the age of the passengers. The longer expeditions attract an older group, except during school holidays, and the shorter trips see a wider age range. Most passengers are Americans, with a smattering from Europe, Australia or East and South Asia, depending on the cruising region. All announcements are in English. The ship prints a list of passenger and staff names, along with everyone's cities, states and countries of origin.

Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Explorer Dress Code

There is no dress code. It is up to the passengers to decide what they feel most comfortable wearing, depending on the weather and circumstances. Lindblad passengers are not generally sloppy, so you won't see shorts and T-shirts at dinner. On the captain's night, few if any men will have jackets or ties. When cruising in the Polar regions, passengers will need special attire -- including boots that come up to the knee, heavy socks, waterproof pants to protect against rain and spray, parkas (supplied by Lindblad in Antarctica), scarves and gloves -- for going ashore.

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More about Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Explorer

Where does Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Explorer sail from?

Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Explorer departs from Ushuaia, Copenhagen, Reykjavik, Bergen, Buenos Aires, Tilbury, Tower Bridge, Tilbury, and Canary Wharf

How much does it cost to go on Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Explorer?

Cruises on Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Explorer start from null per person.

Is Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Explorer a good ship to cruise on?

Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Explorer won 6 awards over the years.
Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Explorer Cruiser Reviews

See Iceland from the sea

This voyage also included a National Geographic photographer who spoke several times - they even did a session on iPhone photography that appealed to me!!... Read More
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6-10 Cruises

Age 60s

A magical experience!

Some of the trips will definitely be with Lihndblad/National Geographic.... Read More
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Alan Cameron

2-5 Cruises

Age 80s

Journey to Antartica

National Geographic Explorer is a class 1 A ice breaker. Peter Wilson is an experienced expedition leader.... Read More
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2-5 Cruises

Age 60s

Beyond expectations

Yes - this one is a bit pricey - but absolutely worth it and the crew of the Explorer goes all out for lodging, meals, and the expedition. We would go with Lindblad/Nat Geo again.... Read More
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JB of the Valley

First Time Cruiser

Age 70s

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