National Geographic Venture


Some cruise ships are so packed with amenities that guests never want to leave. National Geographic Venture is designed and outfitted for passengers to get off the vessel and explore their surroundings.

The 238-foot vessel, delivered in November 2018, is the sister ship to National Geographic Quest, delivered in July 2017. Lindblad Expeditions of New York operates the U.S.-flagged, Subchapter K-compliant ships, which were designed by Seattle-based Jensen Maritime Consultants and built in Washington by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders.

National Geographic Venture has 50 cabins with accommodations for up to 100 passengers, along with a restaurant, lounge, spa and exercise room. There is storage space for 24 kayaks, eight inflatable boats suitable for tours, and eight paddleboards for passengers to explore off the ship.

“The vessel is a platform to get folks into the environment to be close to wildlife and close to the areas we explore,” said Tyler Skarda, Lindblad’s senior vice president for marine operations.” The goal of the vessel is not to sit out at sea and watch shows or operate a casino. … The goal is to get the people off the vessel and into the environment. It’s to get them into these remote areas.”


Florida-based Jamestown Metal Marine Services provided custom interior finishes throughout the ship, including in its comfortable lounge.


Many of the ship’s well-appointed passenger cabins have balconies and sliding-glass doors to provide outdoor access for guests.


Maria Barnowl

Jensen Maritime Consultants began working with Lindblad in 2014 on a design for the company’s new cruise ships. The vessels operate in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest during the warmer months and in Baja California and Central America in the winter. Quest and Venture are purpose-built to bring guests into shallow ocean coves and narrow passages.

The resulting design is a ship with a 10-foot operating draft. Venture has a hard-chined steel hull with a bulbous bow optimized for efficient operations using advanced software and 3D modeling. Those programs created a “virtual vessel” that let Lindblad’s team review all aspects of the design before construction started.

Venture is different in several ways from its earlier sibling. Venture has Quantum stabilizers to reduce rolling, and it has an aluminum superstructure above the lounge deck to reduce weight. It also has a reconfigured arrangement for tankage and a separate technical water tank.

“A Jones Act boat of this size doesn’t come out all that often, so it was pretty exciting for us,” said Sean Testa, Jensen’s director of engineering. “Getting it under 100 grt (gross registered tonnage) U.S. and 3,000 tons international was a pretty challenging design, as well as fitting 108 passengers. I think we pretty much maximized this hull to keep within these parameters.”

The bridge is brimming with advanced Furuno electronics.

Maria Barnowl

The passenger spaces within the ship are concentrated on four decks. The main deck has 14 cabins split between the port and starboard sides, and the upper deck has 28 more cabins. The lounge deck includes a restaurant, spa and gym space. The uppermost level, the observation deck, has eight suite cabins. Crew spaces are in the forward section of the main level.

Venture has a spacious sundeck and companionway wrapping around the upper deck. Mooring equipment is stored below the main deck, allowing for a completely open bow with a platform for sightseeing, photography or spotting wildlife.
“When we are seeing killer whales in Alaska, we can get all 100 folks on the bow, and just about all of them can have really good photographic access,” Skarda said. “Being able to view off the ship was the point of these public areas on board the vessel.”

Propulsion is provided by twin MTU 16V 4000 Tier 3 engines, each generating 1,600 horsepower. The mains turn 78-inch Wartsila props through Reintjes reduction gears. Electrical power comes from three Volvo Penta gensets. Cruising speed is about 12 knots, and Skarda said fuel performance has exceeded expectations.


Twin MTU 16V 4000 main engines deliver a combined 3,200 horsepower.


To reduce roll, the cruise ship has been fitted with Quantum MAGLift rotor stabilizers.


Maria Barnowl

Lindblad ships typically have an open bridge policy that lets passengers enter the space at any time during daylight hours. The bridge is equipped with an advanced Furuno navigation suite including radar, AIS and GMDSS. CCTV cameras installed throughout the ship relay video to displays in the wheelhouse. Lindblad also plans to install a 55-inch touch-screen display in the wheelhouse to let passengers track the voyage and zoom in or out on the display.
Lindblad highlights the adventure aspect of its cruises, but the experience on board is anything but spartan. Venture guests experience five-star cuisine sourced locally when possible, and they have access to two bars. The guest rooms are comfortably appointed; many have balconies and large sliding-glass doors. Jamestown Metal Marine Services of Boca Raton, Fla., developed the custom interior finishes throughout the ship.

Lindblad has made a dedicated push toward reducing its carbon footprint. The company recently announced that it will be carbon-neutral starting in 2019, a designation that includes eight company ships, five leased ships and the company’s New York headquarters. This will be achieved through the purchase of carbon offsets.

A crewmember checks PFDs as the ship is outfitted in Seattle in May for the summer excursion season. “The goal is to get the people off the vessel and into the environment,” says Lindblad’s Tyler Skarda.

Maria Barnowl

Lindblad has eliminated single-use plastics on its ships. The vessels also meet strict standards for food preparation and safety to reduce the threat of foodborne illness. Skarda said a key part of the sanitation regimen is the use of an activated saltwater solution that is both effective and biodegradable.
Lindblad’s U.S.-flagged fleet is a point of pride within the company. Nichols Brothers built all four of the ships: Quest and Venture, as well as Sea Lion and Sea Bird, built in the 1980s for another customer. Those 62-passenger ships were later acquired by Lindblad.

“This has been an exciting and ultimately very rewarding project to have been a part of,” said Rob Zavatsky, Nichols Brothers project engineer. “Lindblad Expeditions has a vessel they can be proud of, and the team at Nichols has performed incredibly to provide them with this.”

Sven-Olof Lindblad, founder, president and CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, thanked the shipyard, contractors and naval architects who worked to produce “one of the most sophisticated ships built in the U.S.”

By Professional Mariner Staff