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Travel: This New Expedition Ship Feels More Like a Private Yacht — With Just 26 Suites

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Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic © Provided by Travel + Leisure Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

Dreaming of blue seas, white-sand beaches, and an extraordinary wildlife experience? The Galápagos Islands might be calling your name — and there's a new megayacht in town to help you explore them.

Lindblad Expeditions has just debuted its newest ship, the National Geographic Islander II, an all-suite, 48-passenger vessel that will sail the Ecuadorian archipelago year-round. The ship will replace the much-beloved but aging National Geographic Islander, when she launches on her maiden voyage on Aug. 18, 2022.

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Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic © Provided by Travel + Leisure Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

The ship is not a new build, but the former the Crystal Esprit, which Lindblad purchased for $13 million in November 2021 — before Crystal's parent company went bankrupt in January, shuttering the luxury cruise line.

Since then, the National Geographic Islander II has gotten a full head-to-toe makeover, from the redesign of 26 suites with marble bathrooms (including single and triple suites) to the addition of an expedition marina deck for activities like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding and the development of a Science Hub for educational programs.

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"One thing that people really love about traveling with us is that sense of community," Ana Esteves, Lindblad's vice president of hotel operations, said in a video announcing the ship. "This ship is designed to promote and foster that."

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Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic © Provided by Travel + Leisure Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

Those communal spaces include the outdoor Patio Café, the fine dining Yacht Club Restaurant, and the Cove observation lounge where the daily recaps and expedition lectures will take place.

Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic © Provided by Travel + Leisure Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

Throughout the ship, design details will incorporate works by Ecuadorian artisans, while the menu will also feature local cuisine. And the entire crew — which will have a 1:1 guest-to-staff ratio for extra-attentive service — will be Ecuadorian.

"It's just a ship that really offers the perfect platform for us to go off and explore fully and get the most of folks' time in the Galápagos," Darrel Schoeling, Lindblad's director of expedition development, said in the video announcement.

Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic © Provided by Travel + Leisure Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

National Geographic Islander II won't be the only ship Lindblad operates in the archipelago after the August launch — there's also the National Geographic Endeavor II, a 96-passenger vessel, which is permanently stationed in the Galápagos.

Per-person rates for a seven-night cruise aboard the new National Geographic Islander II start from $9,390, and you can book here.

Read the original article on Travel + Leisure

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