DECEMBER 31, 2015 — Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: LIND) says it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase the expedition ship Via Australis for its operations in the Galapagos Islands.
Lindblad is paying $18 million for the 236 ft ship, which was built in 2005 by the ASENAV shipyard in Chile, and expects to take possession in the second quarter of 2016. Lindblad plans to spend up to $10 million to refurbish and outfit the ship immediately after closing. and will deploy the ship during the third quarter of 2016. The Via Australis will replace the National Geographic Endeavour.
"The Via Australis will be the ideal platform for our Galapagos expeditions far into the future. Opportunities to acquire high quality expedition ships on attractive terms are infrequent so we seized this one," said Sven Lindblad, President and CEO of Lindblad. "The Via Australis will provide us with increased profitability on the same route through more operating days, revenue enhancement opportunities, operating efficiencies and cost savings compared to the National Geographic Endeavour. Additionally, it will require significantly lower capital expenditures for the foreseeable future."
"The most important elements of a Galapagos experience are the islands, the animals and the sea that surrounds them, so the ship that provides access to these things matters greatly," Mr. Lindblad added. "The Via Australis is ultra-efficient to operate and was built with the same sensibility that matters so much to us, with a focus on the world outside. To that end, she has great viewing from all public spaces. Her ability to launch and deploy landing craft is fast and seamless. She is exceptionally quiet and maneuverable, a great asset when approaching marine life. And I'm particularly pleased that this ship will be well received by our crew who work very hard and are critical to expedition success."
The Via Australis will be renamed bearing the National Geographic name.
After refurbishment, some key features of the Via Australis will be:
- 50 cabins: 46 double cabins and 4 single cabins. Maximum capacity of 96 guests.All public spaces are designed for maximum viewing with quick, easy access to decks to respond to bridge announcements of
- sightings of nature and wildlife.
- An open top deck providing an unparalleled location for gathering, dining, relaxing and stargazing.A spacious main lounge and a forward-viewing additional lounge with large windows and immediate access to the outer decks .
- A fleet of Zodiacs and sea kayaks outfitted to transport guests easily into the wild, remote places being explored. The Zodiac loading platform can deploy two landing craft at the same time
- A fully equipped fitness room and a wellness spa.
- State-of-the-art A/V system
- Well-appointed and improved crew quarters.