The ship was built in1981 for use as a Norwegian passenger ferry. It was purchased by Linblad Expeditions in 2007 and re-named The National Geographic Explorer. It was extensively remodeled including all new guest cabins, new guest areas (a second dining area- The Bistro Bar, a Chart Room, a Mud Room, an Observation Lounge, and stabilizers to smooth the ride.
It is an ice-class vessel but not an actual ice-breaker.
Here is the ship at anchor in a Fjord of Kalaallit Nunaat on the western shore of Greenland on an expedition day. You can see a 19 foot Zodiac to the left of the ship.
Greenland is the world's largest island. Eight-one percent of it is covered by an ice sheet. The coastline is about the same length (24,430 miles) as the circumference of the earth at the equator. The highest point is over 12,000 feet but the majority
is under 5,000 feet in elevation. The weight of the Greenlandic ice cap has depressed the central land area to form a basin lying more than 1000feet below sea level. The ice flows generally to the coasts from the center of the island. U.S and European climate researchers have found that the average winter temperature between 1991 and 2004 rose about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Other research has shown that higher winter snowfall from the North Atlantic oscillation caused the interior of the ice cap to thicken by an average of 5 cm/yr between 1994 and 2005.
Passengers are welcome on the Bridge where the ship is run by a most capable and friendly crew. Here is my buddy Dan West giving nautical advice to the crew.
Our cabin was on the Main Deck -level three. It was roomy and had a huge shower. The most exciting feature was our huge
window through which we could see the icebergs and the sea. Because of the stabilizers I did not get sea sick even once. We were one level above the Mud Room where we could clean our boots after tromping in the mud on shore. We had a great view of the Zodiacs loading up for trips ashore just down below from our cabin. A really great service was one day laundry.
Soon after boarding we donned our life jackets (in our cabin closets) and learned the route to our life boat. There are four self contained life boats.
Zodiac rafts and double kayaks were stored behind the life rafts.