VESSEL REFIT | National Geographic Islander II – Rebuilt Galapagos Islands cruise ship for Lindblad Expeditions

PASSENGER VESSEL WEEK
Photo: Lindblad Expeditions

The newest addition to the Lindblad Expeditions cruise ship fleet will be operated on year-round sailings in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador beginning later this month.

The 280- by 46-foot (85.3- by 14-metre) National Geographic Islander II is the former Crystal Esprit, which was originally built at German shipyard Flender Werft in 1991. The ship’s initial operational sailings were made in 1994 under the name Megastar Taurus following its purchase by Hong Kong-based Star Cruises. It was then acquired by Crystal Cruises in 2015, and it stayed with the company until it was purchased by Lindblad six years later.

Photo: Lindblad Expeditions

Crystal Esprit then underwent an extensive six-month modernisation program at Orskov Yard in Frederikshavn, Denmark. The complete refit included general maintenance and repairs, upgrade of the existing HVAC system, and installation of essentials such as a new HVAC unit, a platform for an outdoor dining area, a crane, and a chiller unit. Also, the propulsion system and stabilisers were overhauled and the entire hull was blasted and repainted.

Other upgrades were incorporated to make the ship more energy-efficient and environment friendly to ensure its suitability for sailings in the Galapagos. These include modified outdoor lighting to meet Galapagos National Park requirements, a special paint, and recycled condensate water from the newly installed HVAC system. To further enhance safety, all machinery spaces now feature fixed firefighting systems from Inergen.

Photo: Lindblad Expeditions

The previous guest capacity of 62 has now been reduced to 48 due to the upgrades, though the crew-to-guest ratio will be set at one-to-one for a more personalised service. This is in line with Lindblad’s aim of ensuring that the ship will provide the same atmosphere as that of a smaller private yacht. Besides the guests and crew, five expedition staff will also be embarked on each sailing.

The 26 suites come in three categories and are all fitted with large windows and convertible beds. Two of the suites are reserved for exclusive use by researchers and community members of the Galapagos, the ship’s main area of operations, as part of Linblad’s initiative of supporting local conservation efforts.

Photo: Lindblad Expeditions

Other notable facilities on the ship include a marina, a forward viewing area, a bar, two restaurants that can accommodate all the guests simultaneously, a gallery, a library, and a science centre. The science centre is outfitted with an interactive video display, lab benches, and seating. Teak decks connect the indoor and outdoor spaces.

There is also a boarding area for use by the ship’s own flotilla of rubber expedition boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and even a glass-bottom boat.

Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Johnny Andersen

Click here to read other news stories, features, opinion articles, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s Passenger Vessel Week.

National Geographic Islander II
SPECIFICATIONS
Type of vessel:Expedition cruise ship
Flag:Ecuador
Owner:Lindblad Expeditions, USA
Builder:Orskov Yard, Denmark
Length overall:280 feet (85.3 metres)
Beam:46 feet (14 metres)
Other equipment installed:HVAC
Floor surface finishes:Teak
Firefighting equipment:Inergen
Accommodation:26 x suites; marina; viewing area; bar; restaurants; gallery; library; science centre
Crew:48
Passengers:48
Operational area:Galagapos Islands, Ecuador

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