Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has announced their 2014 itineraries on the new 102-guest National Geographic Orion. The expeditions have been carefully developed to feature a blend of undersea (for snorkelers and divers) and terrestrial natural history highlights, along with diverse and fascinating culture, history and anthropology.
The latest addition to the Lindblad fleet, National Geographic Orion will be newly equipped with a full roster of exploration tools including kayaks, a state-of the-art ROV (remote operated vehicle reaching depths up to 1,000 feet), snorkeling gear for all, and scuba gear that can accommodate up to 24 divers at a time. There will be a National Geographic photographer on all departures.
Following are the 2014 itineraries. Rates are per person based on double occupancy in a category 1 cabin.
Pacific Islands and Australia
· Exploring Papua New Guinea & the Islands of Vanuatu & the Solomons: Embark in Auckland, New Zealand and set off on an epic voyage in the wake of Captain Cook. Delve into a fascinating history of intrepid explorers, convicts, headhunters, and traders as we explore Norfolk Island, Papua New Guinea, and the Torres Strait. In Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, don your scuba and snorkel gear to discover incredible coral reefs and lagoons, revisit World War II history, and get to know vibrant island cultures. Cap off the journey snorkeling or diving Australia’s crown jewel: the Great Barrier Reef. The 25 day voyage departs March 19, 2014. Rates begin at $25,390.
· The Great Barrier Reef, Papua New Guinea & Micronesia – Immerse yourself in some of the most pristine marine habitats on the planet. Experience the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef and snorkel among hundreds of surreal, stingless jellyfish in Palau. Encounter the vestiges of World War II battles in Papua New Guinea and Micronesia, and get acquainted with the rich and diverse cultures of the South Pacific. The 22 day voyage departs April 9, 2014. Rates begin at $19,990.
· Voyage to the Spice Islands & the Coral Triangle – Scattered across the tropical seas like gems, the islands of eastern Indonesia are fringed with white-sand beaches, karst pinnacles, and some of the most pristine coral reef systems in the world. Sail south from Palau to the Moluccas archipelago—once known as the Spice Islands. Witness the world’s richest marine biodiversity in Raja Ampat, discover the legacy of the Dutch East India Company in the Banda Islands, and experience island cultures from West Papua to Timor. The 17 day voyage departs April 27, 2014. Rates begin at $14,730.
· Kimberley Expedition: Australia’s Wild Northwest – Discover a land so old that vast tracts pre-date the very existence of fossils—and see it in the manner befitting its immense scale: by sea. Explore the immense and complex landscape of Western Australia, encompassing spectacular gorges, waterfalls, caves, rainforests and wildlife. See signs of the immense geological forces that over the course of eons have buckled the earth’s crust leaving contorted folds of ancient rock. The 14 day voyages depart May 10, May 20, May 30, June 9, June 19, June 29, July 9, July 19, July 29, 2014. Rates begin at $8,210.
· Kimberley Expedition with the Spice Islands – Sail from Broome to pristine Rowley Shoals for snorkeling and diving in one of Australia’s most highly regarded marine environs. The Kimberley has a rich diversity of wildlife and September is the prime time to see the world’s largest numbers of migrating humpback whales. Explore the best of the Kimberley including the famous King George Falls. Then voyage on into the island groups once known as the Spice Islands, famous from the days of 16th-century trade that dominated the maritime world. With the dramatic prehistoric dragons and gorgeous pink sands of Komodo and the ancient culture of Sumba that pre-dates the prominent Hindu and Christian religions of the area, this is a brilliant combination of Kimberley and the Spice Islands. The 17 day voyage departs August 8, 2014. Rates begin at $11,490.
· The Great Barrier Reef to Fiji – Embark on a voyage to the islands of Melanesia, home to palm-fringed beaches, azure lagoons, and some of the richest marine habitats in the world. Explore the dazzling wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, and then sail east through the Coral Sea. In New Caledonia, soak up the local French-infused culture, hike through tropical forests, and encounter a kaleidoscopic swirl of marine life at the world’s second-longest barrier reef. The 16 day voyage departs November 3, 2014. Rates begin at $12,940.
· Reefs, Lagoons and Volcanic Isles: Fiji to Tahiti – As we sail from the sparkling white shores of Fiji to Tahiti’s lush volcanic crags, discover a fascinating geology and a stunning wealth of bird species and marine life. Dive or snorkel among underwater canyons and tunnels formed from lava. Meet island communities, and explore the far-flung reefs of Kiribati, chosen as part of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas exploration, research, and media project. The 20 day voyage departs November 16, 2014. Rates begin at $18,990.
· Legends of the South Pacific: Tahiti to Easter Island – Encounter spectacular volcanic landscapes in Bora Bora, and the uplifted atolls of Makatea and Henderson Island. Snorkel and dive some of the most remote and pristine reef systems in the world. Hear the tales of the Mutiny of the Bounty and the Kon-tiki, and experience the lively culture of the islands. Experience the wonder of Easter Island – the giant, prehistoric carved stones dotting the slopes of the famous Rano Raraki volcano. The 20 day voyage departs December 3, 2014. Rates begin at $17,930.
Borneo & Indonesia
· Wild Encounters from Borneo to Bali – Visit Camp Leakey, a recovery center for orphaned orangutans, for rare, up-close encounters with these magnificent endangered mammals. Meet and travel with National Geographic grantee Dr. Biruté Galdikas who founded and runs the camp. Discover the startling diversity of Borneo’s protected parklands, home to several ecosystems, and search for rare wildlife, plus swim and snorkel extraordinary reefs and undersea sites (diving not available on this itinerary). The 13 day voyages depart September 16 & September 26, 2014. Rates begin at $8,680.
· Indonesian Odyssey: Bali to the Great Barrier Reef – Sail among the islands of Indonesia to discover the rich tapestry of varying cultures and the pure wildness of remote tropical islands, including some of the finest tropical dive and snorkel sites in the world. Search for rare wildlife: Komodo dragons, white parrots, and white-breasted eagles, plus numerous species of dolphins and whales. Discover the region’s beautiful and varied coral, and swim with the large, curious potato cod and a galaxy of multi-colored fish. The 20 day voyage departs October 18, 2014. Rates begin at $16,620.
· Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands – The ultimate Southern ocean experience, this expedition takes you into majestically spectacular wildness. Not even the vast migrations of Africa can rival the awesomeness of seeing a king penguin colony of some 200,000+ individuals stretching as far as the eye can see. Or albatross colonies that fill the windward edges of the remote islands they call home. You’ll have other rare sightings here too: massive, in both senses of the word, herds of elephant seals: and a wandering albatross stretching its 11-foot wings. It’s the impossible beauty of Antarctica exponentially increased by unimaginable numbers of animals. A not-be-missed polar experience, for those with the luxury of time. The 24 day voyages depart December 26, 2014, January 25, 2015 & February 14, 2015. Rates begin at $21,360.