Lindblad: ‘Demand Is Very Strong’

National Geographic Quest

Revenue is growing at Lindblad Expeditions, with demand driving capacity growth and higher bookings, according to Sven-Olof Lindblad, president and CEO.

A new program in Belize is completely sold out, he said on the company’s fourth quarter and year-end earnings call.

Expanding the line’s expedition footprint is key, Lindblad continued, adding that bookings for 2019 are so far 40 percent ahead year-over-year.

Lindblad attributed this to a combination of new itineraries, more capacity as well as existing demand for existing itineraries.

He added that the National Geographic Orion’s program in the Russian Far East and Alaska for 2019 was already 60 percent booked with “limited” marketing.

The company plans to lay the keel on its blue-water ship, being built in Norway, on March 17.

“The new vessel will be able to extend our (polar) season by months,” Lindblad said. The vessel delivery is expected in January 2020.

The contract with the shipyard also includes options to build two additional polar ice class vessels, the first for delivery twelve months after the initial vessel and the second for delivery twelve months thereafter, the company said.

The National Geographic Venture, a coastal ship being built by Nichols Brothers, will now be delivered in December 2018, six months later than originally planned, according to Lindblad.

He cited changes on the ship and lessons learned on the National Geographic Quest, which launched in 2017.  

In the bigger picture, Lindblad said the vessel delay was not too concerning, as the ship is expected to have a decades-long life span.

As for the booming expedition market, Lindblad said he wasn’t concerned about supply growth, and potential new players would help drive marketing and interest for the entire market.

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