Salen Lindblad has signed a letter of intent with a Yugoslavian yard to build a 190-passenger expedition cruise vessel, scheduled for delivery early in 1989.

Atlas Tours, a Yugoslavian tour operator and owner of Salen Lindblad's MS Ambassador, are joint partners in the newbuilding.

The new ship will be 350 feet long and feature 80 cabins. Facilities include an observation lounge; a two-deck main lounge equipped with audio visual aids for use as a lecture lounge and cinema; a swimming pool; a library; a small laboratory; several lounges; a dining room; a beauty parlor and duty free shops.

Itineraries are still being explored.

The ship is being marketed as the "most exclusive, luxurious and fully-equipped expedition cruise ship," and is targeted to upscale travellers seeking to go to esoteric destinations, according to Yvonne Damiani, director of sales. Prices will range from $170 to $300 per day.

The company also offers lower-priced cruises through its Argosy Tours Division, a separate division set up specifically for this purpose, Damiani said. Argosy's cruises are priced between $79 and $120 per day, and go to more traditional regions such as the Adriatic, North Sea and Rhine River. Argosy also offers packages in conjunction with the overnight ferries in the Baltic Sea.

The new vessel will be the third that Salen Lindblad will own and market year round. The Ambassador and the Kimberly (recently rechristened from the Motive Explorer) are the other two. Seven vessels are on charter.