Auckland, NEW ZEALAND – The National Geographic Orion, the newest ship in the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic fleet, was formally inaugurated in Auckland, New Zealand today. It marked the culmination of a year-long transition from Orion Expedition Cruises to Lindblad Expeditions.
The inauguration ceremony was held alongside the dock at Queens Wharf, Auckland, New Zealand. Jeremy Lindblad, Business Development Manager Australia for Lindblad Expeditions, Captain Mike Taylor, and celebrated diver and underwater filmmaking legend Valerie Taylor shared a few words from the bow of the ship, as guests watched with champagne in hand on the quayside. As Valerie tossed the champagne bottle, everyone raised their glasses for a toast to the National Geographic Orion and all who sail on her.
Immediately following the ceremony, the 102-guest National Geographic Orion embarked on her inaugural voyage to the South Pacific following in the wake of Captain Cook from New Zealand’s North Island to the Solomon Sea.
Valerie Taylor joined the expedition as the Global Perspectives guest speaker adding layers of knowledge and connection to the geographies to be explored for the guests on board.
The newly renamed ship comes with enhancements that include a full roster of exploration tools, including kayaks, a state of the art remote operated vehicle (ROV) that reaches depths of up to 1,000 feet, full snorkeling gear for all, a SCUBA program that can accommodate up to 24 divers at a time with a dive master, a glass bottom boat, additional Zodiacs and other cool tools. The expanded expedition team now features a National Geographic photographer, a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor, and a video chronicler on all departures; an undersea specialist/dive master on many voyages; plus Global Perspectives guest speakers on select voyages.