Salen Lindblad Cruising (SLC) has been appointed operator and worldwide general sales and marketing agent for the 140-passenger Caledonian Star, formerly the North Star. Earlier this year, SLC also entered a partnership with NYK Line, Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Hapag-Lloyd to build a 164-passenger expedition vessel, the Frontier Spirit, which will sail the South Pacific as of November, 1990.

Caledonian Star

Originally built in 1966, the 3,095-ton North Star was converted in 1983 and rebuilt in 1987, while on charter to Exploration Cruise Lines. The 295-foot ship, purchased from owners Fearnley & Eger by the Caledonian Steamship Co. after Exploration filed for bankruptcy, has recently been renovated in order to make her suitable for expedition cruising. An observation lounge and lecture hall have been added.

According to a spokesperson at SLC, the vessel is now on her way from Vancouver to Singapore. On December 15, 1989, she will begin the first of her six inaugural cruises in Southeast Asia, departing Penang, Malaysia and calling at ports including Medan, Sumatra and Sibu, Sarawak. In early March, the Caledonian Star will sail west to the Maldives and Seychelles, and will enter the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean. She will continue to Lisbon and London and will cruise the Baltic next summer.

Frontier Spirit: "Environment-Friendly"

The Frontier Spirit is under construction at Mitsubishi's yard in Kobe, Japan and has been attributed by SLC as the most "environment-friendly" vessel afloat. Designed to safeguard the delicate ecosystems through which she will pass -­ including the Arctic Circle and Antarctica - the 164-passenger vessel has features such as compactors for handling waste; glass grinders; refrigerated storage of garbage for return to ports for processing; and onboard sewage treatment plants which will detoxify all sewage extruded overboard. Food and other biodegradable wastes will only be discarded between 12 and 100 miles offshore, depending on the delicacy of the surrounding environment.

"Considering the ecologically sensitive waters and regions into which expedition vessels are fitted to sail, it's a bit paradoxical that the ships visiting those areas tend to be older, out-of-date vessels," noted Lars Wikander, SLC President.

The Frontier Spirit has also been designed to cruise remote areas that larger vessels cannot. The 6,700 ton ship has an abbreviated draft of 15 feet which permits cruising shallow waterways, along with twin controllable pitch propellers, twin rudders and a variable pitch bow thruster which enhances her maneuverability in narrow fjords and coastal inlets.

In addition, the Frontier Spirit has a double-bottom hull, strengthened propeller shafts and bow, and extra ice protection on the rudders. The vessel has a Super Ice Class rating which makes her a full classification higher than any existing expedition vessel. (The only higher classification applies to ice cutters.)

The ship's first 10 voyages, slated for November, 1990, will be in the South Pacific and will range from eight to 27 days, with most averaging two weeks. Destinations include the Caroline Islands in Micronesia; Rabaul, New Britain; and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Plans for future itineraries include Cape Horn and Alaska.