Lindblad Expeditions looking to expand its fleet

Lindblad Expeditions plans further expansion in 2022, via new and acquired ships, CEO Dolf Berle said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call on Tuesday.

“As it relates to new hardware going forward, we do intend to be a growth company, and we’re very bullish on what we see as opportunity not only in the polar regions but also a number of other destinations that our guests are really showing a lot of excitement about,” he said. 

Berle also said that Lindblad is “pretty opportunistic as it relates to looking at ships around the world that we feel that we can buy at a good price that would represent good replacements for older hardware.” He pointed to the September acquisition of the Crystal Esprit, a yacht Lindblad plans to operate in the Galapagos as a replacement for the National Geographic Islander. 

Lindblad now has eight of its ten vessels back in service in Alaska, the Galapagos, Iceland and the Pacific Northwest. The company will have three ships in Antarctica this winter, including new polar vessels National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution.

The company reported softness in near-term demand, but said there are significant new bookings across the fleet and substantial reservations for future travel. 

“We really surged in the early summer, and this was before the delta variant,” Berle said. “There was some slowdown and then some number of guests pushing out into 2022 and in some cases 2023. But we are seeing a return to health on the part of bookings.”

Full-year 2022 bookings are 27% ahead of where 2020 bookings were on the same date in 2019. Lindblad said that for sailings that were canceled or rescheduled, the majority of guests have opted for future travel credits. 
Berle said momentum is apparent for both cruises and land vacations, which “delivered positive earnings, as they were able to take advantage of the surging demand for domestic travel.”

Lindblad earlier this year acquired adventure tour operators Off the Beaten Path and DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co., and last month purchased an 80% stake in Classic Journeys. 

The company said the performance of Off the Beaten Path, which does the majority of its trips in the U.S., showed “demand for travel in the U.S. was stronger than it had been in a really long time.”

Lindblad reported a $25.7 million loss in the quarter. The company said that it had received a $21 million grant under the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act, which provided grants to eligible motorcoach, school bus, passenger vessel and pilotage companies.

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