Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has cancelled its July 8 and July 15 departures of National Geographic Quest in Alaska after a quirky accident as the new ship was leaving its shipyard drydock. The line is offering several options to guests booked on those cancelled sailings.
The expedition line issued this statement today:
"On June 14, 2017 the National Geographic Quest was in the process of launching from the shipyard into the sea, stern first. As she began to float, she slid from the launch ramp and one propeller and rudder were grounded and damaged.
"Divers and surveyors were engaged and it has become clear that full repair requires dry docking the ship to fully evaluate the extent of damage.
"We have decided to cancel the July 8 and July 15 Alaska voyages in order to provide the necessary time to assess and repair the damage, and to give as much notice as possible to our guests and assist them with possible alternatives for their planned holiday.
"The below letter to guests booked on the cancelled voyages outlines compensation and alternative options for immediate and future travel.
"Sven Lindblad will issue a more detailed statement next Tuesday from the shipyard once we have a more specific assessment.
Letter to Booked Guests
In addition, the line provided this letter to guests booked on those voyages. It provides alternatives for their cruise booking. Here is the text of that letter:
"It is with great sadness that I have to inform you that your planned expedition aboard the National Geographic Quest will have to be cancelled.
"On June 14th, during the launch operation (transferring the ship from land to the sea), there was an accident which resulted in the ship sliding down a ramp and grounding the aft section. There was damage to propellers and rudders.
"At first this seemed like fixable damage within the time frame required to repair but we have now learned that the damage is more severe. We still do not know exactly how long it will take to fully repair but certainly not in time for your voyage.
"This has been a devastating blow to the team on Whidbey Island who have worked for over a year to launch this beautiful new ship. I've talked to many of them in the past few days and each one immediately focused their concern on you, our guests, and the disappointment this would cause. We are beyond sorry that we must affect your holiday in this way.
"I am writing you now because what concerns me most is this disruption of your plans, and while we cannot take you on your planned expedition I do want to lay out a variety of options for you to consider. They are good and compelling options; however most represent a different geography.
Option A: Here are some programs and dates within days to a month of your departure, or later in the season in Alaska. Some only have a couple of cabins, some more.
- Circumnavigation of Iceland aboard the National Geographic Explorer (July 11 departure) – nine nights;
- Galapagos: Aboard the National Geographic Islander (July 8, July 15, July 22, July 29 departures) - nine nights;
- Sailing the Greek Islands onboard the Sea Cloud (July 7, July 14 departures) – seven nights;
- "Wild Alaska Escape" onboard the National Geographic Sea Bird (August 30 departure) – five nights
- "A Remarkable Journey to Alaska, British Columbia and Haida Gwaii" onboard the National Geographic Sea Bird or National Geographic Sea Lion (September 3, September 4 departures) – 14 nights
You can transfer to any of these and we will provide a 50 percent reduction of the cost. We will refund you the difference between what you have paid us and whatever the amount is for the new plan.
Option B: Transfer to any voyage in either 2017 or 2018, whether on the National Geographic Quest or any other voyage. We will provide a 50% reduction of the cost and will refund you the difference between what you have paid us and whatever the amount is for the new plan.
Option C: Choose not to book a different voyage now and we will provide a full refund and a $2,000 dollar per person certificate on any future voyage.
In all cases we will cover any air penalties that may be incurred. All we ask is that you let us help to try and get the best result possible with the airlines should penalties apply.
Finally, we have a dedicated team of expedition specialists to be available to help you with any questions and/or clarifications. Please call 1-800-425-2724 and our team will be waiting to work with you.
Again, we are so very sorry, and are on standby to help you create an alternative plan.
The letter was signed "yours sincerely, Sven Lindblad."
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for an update on the ship's status when it's issued next week by the expedition line.