National Geographic ‘Endurance’

Aboard the newest ship in the Lindblad / National Geographic fleet.

As noted in the prior post, for our trip to the Falkland and South Georgia Islands we first flew to Buenos Aires, and then onward to Ushuaia, Argentina – the southernmost city in the world. We were fortunate to travel aboard the newest ship in the fleet operated by Lindblad Expeditions in partnership with National Geographic: the National Geographic Endurance.

First view of our ship, the “Endurance”.

This beautiful ship was purpose-built for travel in the Arctic and Antarctic – optimizing comfort, safety, and functionality, as well as energy efficiency. In this post I’ll give you a brief look at the ship, but you really must visit my photo/video gallery and Lindblad’s own website for a deeper look.

On our trip there were ~106 passengers and 100 staff… including the ship’s crew, the hotel crew, and the expedition crew. The guest rooms were comfortable, spacious, and beautifully outfitted, across four decks. Our cabin was on Deck 5, the lowest deck in which rooms had a balcony.

Interior of our cabin on the “Endurance.”

A large restaurant served everyone comfortably with views surrounding the ship – while a smaller top-deck café was my favorite spot for a light breakfast. The Ice Lounge – site of daily lectures on everything from oceanography to seabird conservation efforts to the recession of glaciers to the history of Antarctic exploration – sported an incredible number of flat-screen displays, enabling everyone to see and hear clearly every presentation from the expedition naturalists, all while sipping cocktails from the bar and keeping an eye on the sun setting outside the panoramic windows.

The Ice Lounge, on the “Endurance”.

At any time one could wander the ship to grab a coffee from the self-serve café, use the gym, or peruse the library and check out the real-time interactive nautical chart. Every day the staff would open the spa, the sauna, the top-deck hot-tubs, and the ship’s gift shop. Not to mention the two “igloo” bedrooms one could reserve for an overnight visit, out on the top deck. (Can’t say I took advantage of all those things!)

Inside one of the Igloos, a top-deck glass-dome bedroom.

I must say, though, I did take advantage of the incredible food. How they manage to stock enough food for 200 people for two weeks at sea – with no opportunity to resupply – and yet put on a varied menu every day, with healthy, sustainably harvested food presented in a beautiful way, I have no idea. Kudos to Chef Sarah and the entire kitchen crew!

A different menu of dinner entreés every night – here, the grilled Atlantic Char.

Speaking of the crew, they were fantastic. I especially remember Mickey – who would spontaneously (and beautifully) play the piano in the top-deck lounge during breakfast; Arjun, who delivered our dinner entreés with a smile and an indelible sense of humor; and Natalia, the young navigation officer from Poland, who so patiently explained the ship’s hi-tech bridge when we visited.

Central console of the Bridge on the “Endurance”. In open seas it can run on autopilot. The bridge is much larger than what you see here! Check the gallery for more.

The expedition deck (“Base camp”, deck 3) provided a locker for every guest to store their shore gear – notably, waterproof overpants and tall boots that enabled us to make the “wet landings”, hopping out of a Zodiac boat as it pulls up onto the beach, wading through the surf, and later walking through the wet brush and mud of the shores of South Georgia. I was impressed by the expedition crew’s efficiency at launching several Zodiacs, safely off-boarding 100 guests from ship to shore, and later returning…

Landing at Maiviken for hike to Grytviken – South Georgia.

… all while ensuring we followed extremely strict bio-security protocols. (More in a future post; the goal was to minimize the chance that we might spread seeds of invasive species from island to island, or to transmit avian bird flu to sensitive populations of seabirds.)

Vacuuming out my pants’ pockets as part of biosecurity protocols, before going ashore in South Georgia. At this point in the voyage the passengers and crew were also advised to protect our fellow humans by following COVID-safety protocols – including masking.

The ship’s technology is extraordinary, including the unusual “X-bow” and external fold-out stabilizer wings that enable it to transit the notorious Drake Passage with more safety and comfort than most ships. As you can see in my photo below, the Endurance definitely does not curve like a classic ocean liner. Although we did not transit the Drake, itself, the seas from Argentina to South Georgia can be rough; nonetheless, our experience was smooth due to the ship’s design, the skill of the bridge crew, and mild weather.

The bow of our ship, “Endurance” – in Stanley, Falkland Islands.

I could go on and on. Do check out the gallery for photos and videos, which might give you the smallest taste of life on board the National Geographic Endurance. I’ll be back soon to write about the voyage from South America to the Falklands.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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