Why Lindblad Isn’t Operating Right Now

National Geographic Explorer (Ralph Lee Hopkins)

Lindblad Expeditions has paused its cruise operations despite only having small ships in its fleet, with less than 250 guests each. putting the company outside the recent CDC’s “No Sail” order.

So why isn’t the brand operating?

They were just about ready for Antarctica according to CEO Sven Lindblad, with a positive reaction from booked guests and a marketing plan to fill in the gaps.

“We were completely ready,” Lindblad said, on the company’s third quarter earnings call.

“And then what happened, you had an extraordinary increase in COVID cases around the country, it was dominating the news,” he said. “Well, there’s two things dominating the news, the election and COVID. This was, and then the CDC on October 26 made their announcement. And even though technically we are not in the category that the CDC is regulating from U.S. waters, it 250 souls and above. We are below that. It still has said to U.S. citizens or Americans, do not travel on cruise ships.

“So this, trying to operate in the face of that kind of a recommendation,” Lindblad continued. “And particularly, the places are really quite far away, and the rising tide of corona, we were dealing with what we clearly imagine would be diminishing returns. In terms of the people who said, yes, that was going to get further reduced. Our ability to get new people was going to be further reduced.”

Lindblad said it didn’t make economic sense to send the ships.

“So from our point of view, it’s better to say, look, we have the reserves, let’s retool the organization for, hopefully, a significant start in April. We might be able to do some things between now and April in the United States and in the Galapagos Islands, we’re working on that,” he said. “But the circumstances just didn’t allow for us to operate and do it effectively.”

The company’s founder stressed that he was “erring on the side of facts that tell us that there is no possibility to effectively operate in an area, send a ship down, fill it full of fuel, put crew on and do all of that and have it be a good result.”

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