Captain’s Feedback – The ‘Wow’ Factor Of The ‘National Geographic Endurance’

After decades working for the company, Captain Leif Skog is an institution in Lindblad Expeditions. He has sailed several trips on the ‘National Geographic Endurance’ and he shares his experience: – the X-BOW® is a new design in cruise, but I was not in doubt that this bow would be just the right solution for us.

After the contract had been signed between Lindblad Expeditions and Ulstein on the design and construction of two, Polar Class (5) expedition cruise vessels, Leif Skog stated: “I have no intention of getting retired before these two vessels have been delivered from Ulstein. And I will definitely take charge as captain on one or two adventures on the ‘National Geographic Endurance’ after completion!”

The 'Endurance'
The ‘Endurance’ on her inaugural trip. Photo: Michael S. Nolan/Lindblad Expeditions.


The ‘Endurance’ commenced her first Antarctica cruises in late 2021, and Leif has, naturally, been onboard. Not only as captain, he has also been functioning as a senior captain and mentor and overlooked the operations as supervisor. His expectations prior to delivery were sky-high. How does he judge the vessel today?

– The hull is outstanding. I am extremely satisfied with the hull performance in icy waters, it is actually better than I expected. The hull is very strong and suitable for the task. It is folding the ice down and is extremely silent when doing so, which I have not experienced with any hull before.
Captein Leif Skog, National Geographic Endurance


Leif Skog can be described as a person thinking outside of the box. “All companies need one of those,” Leif says, explaining:

“This means that I think differently. I am an inventor, many of the solutions on the Lindblad vessels have been invented by me, such as the safe solution for Zodiac boarding on the ‘Endurance’, inventions which are often copied by other companies.”

The ‘Endurance’ is the first of the two vessels for Lindblad Expeditions which have been designed and built by Ulstein, the sister vessel being the ‘National Geographic Resolution’.


Both vessels are now getting prepared to start the Antarctica season, and the Resolution has already arrived in Ushuaia in Argentina, the starting point for Antarctica cruises.


“As for the ‘Endurance’, many people in our company were very sceptical of the X-BOW®. Quite naturally so, it makes sense to hold back on something completely new. However, the X-BOW design feature, implemented on numerous offshore vessels, has proved its seakeeping through years of handling the rough conditions of the North Sea. I was not in doubt that this bow would be just the right solution for us.”


“Our company ventures far south, operating in rough waters. The strong prevailing winds on the southern latitudes are nicknamed ‘the roaring forties, the furious fifties and the screaming sixties’– they get tougher the further south you get. And that’s where we go. Travelling the Drake passage takes approx. one and a half days, while it takes longer to South Georgia. We envisaged the effect the X-BOW would have on the safety and comfort on these journeys”, says Captain Leif.

“Lindblad is different. We want to be special, to stand out in a league of our own. We offer the unexpected, the fascinating, and the unexplored. We offer space. Not only outdoors. These vessels are built to accommodate only 126 passengers, an ideal number for group dynamics. The cabins are large, and the bow makes room for spacious lounges and public areas.”


Safety is very important when travelling to harsh polar areas, and the X-BOW contributes to that. “The PC5 notation gives a much broader operational area based on the actual ice conditions. The bow shape keeps the deck sheltered from sea spray, and the seakeeping is excellent,” Leif explains. “Excellent seakeeping means comfort for the passengers.”

A feature not yet spoken of is the fuel reduction which comes from the reduced resistance of the X-BOW. This adds to Lindblad’s green profile and is a key feature considering the fragile areas the ‘Endurance’ will be venturing to.

– We have now experienced that the fuel consumption of the ‘Endurance’ is even below the estimates, which translates to this being a very environmentally friendly vessel.
Captein Leif Skog, National Geographic Endurance


“For our purpose, who transports guests who are highly interested in the natural environment, the X-BOW solution has another positive side. It gives everybody on board great views directly to the sea level, both from the lower and higher positions on deck. Wildlife spotting is significantly improved by this design.”

Leif Skog has been working not only with Sven Lindblad, the Founder and Co-Chair of the Board at Lindblad Expeditions, and in his earlier years, with Sven’s father, Lars-Eric, a pioneer in tourist expeditions to Antarctica. Leif holds an executive position as VP nautical, and he holds a Master Mariner’s degree and a Marine Engineering Degree. He knows all there is to know about polar navigation and operations as well as all the technical details. He has also been deeply involved in the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO). As a sign of gratitude for his engagement, Skog Bay in Antarctica has been named after Leif Skog.


“Lindblad is a company which shows courage in leading the way. You get nowhere if you never risk anything. The initial resistance to the novel looks has already ceased. The vessel looks fantastic! She creates a ‘wow factor’ wherever she shows up!

Reference: Ulstein

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