Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Orion suffered power failure as the expedition ship was leaving Antarctica. It suffered engine failure while returning to the port of Ushuaia in Argentina.

The ship has now returned via the Drake Passage to port in Ushuaia after sailing at reduced speed.

Lindblad Expeditions canceled its December 27th sailing as well as cruises in January. 

"A team of engineers has been dispatched and is on their way to Ushuaia to assess the full impact of the technical issues. Once the evaluation is completed, we will release additional information," Lindblad Expeditions told Cruise Critic.

Online AIS shows a bizarre tracking pattern as the Orion is back at port in Ushuaia.

Lindblad Expeditions was last mentioned here in March 2013 when the National Geographical Sea Lion struck a submerged rock causing damage to the hull of the vessel and a propeller. The 62 passenger vessel was departing the Las Perlas Islands, 70 miles from Panama City, when it struck a rock, causing it to undergo repairs in dry dock.National Geographical Orion Power Failure

  • Nat Geo cancelled our cruise, and offered us a refund of the cost, and 20% off on a future trip with them. I am a surgeon who closed my office, and have no staff and no patient appointments until Jan 18. I cannot simply go back to work. I also cannot conjure up another vacation right now, and all is closed over the New Year Weekend, so we have also lost time to plan something. While I voluntarily gave up two weeks of income for our vacation with Nat Geo, their offer does not come close to covering my losses should I chose another two week vacation, with them or anyone else. I feel mistreated.

  • Diana Williams

    Like Kate, I, too, feel mistreated.
    Most of my reservation/ information dealings over the past 18 months have been with Lindblad staff.
    The notice and conditions of cancellation came from the Lindblad Expeditions staff under the heading – for the first time in my dealings with them – of National Geographic Orion.
    Where was the Lindblad this time as in the headings of all past emails?
    The idea of a “full” refund is but a small portion of the expense incurred to date to facilitate this trip to Antarctica starting from Hong Kong and Australia.
    A most unrealistic offer in view of the untimeliness of the notification.

  • another Physician

    It is indeed a burden and a disappointment to experience such an inconvenience. As another physician, I certainly understand your situation. I would however ask how you react if one of your patients experiences an unexpected post operative complication unrelated to any negligence on your part. If, say, your patient experiences a post operative infection or a pulmonary embolism and misses an extra 4 weeks of work, do you reimburse them for their lost wages?

  • D Toner

    This is indeed a distressing situation for all involved.

    I realize how much more cost there is involved in this trip as my husband just did a similar trip on Quark Expeditions. Air fare to South America, hotels before and after the cruise etc. are all subject to loss.

    On a trip that costs $10,000 + [not including aforementioned extra costs] why would you not get trip insurance? It cost about $700 for the entire trip. Seems like a very small price to pay on a trip costing this much money.

    Lost wages – am not sure how or if those are insurable. But to expect a company to cover those losses is a bit beyond realistic.

    As for doing a last minute trip, I could prepare one in a day or 2… I’d be on a plane at this moment if my cruise had been cancelled. It wouldn’t be Antarctica, but I could still put together another trip that would be most enjoyable.

  • William Fuller

    I agree with D. Toner. Problems happen on expeditions. A person should not expect everything to be perfect. It is great when it is perfect, but thinks happen that are beyond the control of mere men. That’s why they sell trip insurance!

  • Satisfied Nat Geo Traveler

    I’m not sure that this is a “bizarre tracking pattern” as the article stated. More likely they were just waiting for a docking position, or traffic to clear out before approach.

    We did a Lindblad/Nat Geo Antarctica trip two years ago and it was the trip of a lifetime. Expensive, and a very long waiting list, but worth the cost, and we do not make a surgeon’s income, or likely even one-tenth of it. With all of the various connections and possibilities of things that could go wrong, we did purchase travel insurance, also expensive. Stuff happens. If you lost work due to a massive power outage or civil unrest, who would reimburse you then?

  • tinikini

    Life is too short and things happen, so eat dessert first and buy trip insurance!!!

  • Tim Lapage

    Indeed unfortunate for those that have given up working time, but they are an honorable company and do their best for everyone.
    It is not as if they wanted to have an engine problem, it will cost them many thousands with this issue, so … bear with them!
    I have been on many of their trips, even twice on Orion .. she is still the best …

  • Stuart

    I was on the ship. We did buy Trip Insurance…..
    I do not know what the statement “Online AIS shows a bizarre tracking pattern as the Orion is back at port in Ushuaia.” means???
    I can tell you power was lost in heavy seas (I am guessing 18 – 20 feet and heavy winds. The Auxiliary engine was moving the ship at a rate of about 3 knots in these conditions.
    The Captain of the ship was first class as was his crew. At the very top of their game. I am aware we were being pushed by the winds and also aware that a course was set to alleviate some for the rolling we were experiencing (I am guessing around 25%) for the comfort and safety of the guests on board. I imagine that accounted for our course deviations. We were kept informed of all conditions affecting our voyage back to port and I have to say in my opinion the crew handled this situation in exemplary fashion securing the ship and insuring the safety of passengers. It is interesting that this board would post comments without direct insight into events onboard the Orion……

  • Romeo Foxtrot

    This is how the track of a ship looks when at anchor. Because of wind, ship swings a lot, and stretches cable.

    Nothing bizarre, in this particluar case.

  • a ham pong

    We were on the National Geographic Explorer returning to Ushuaia and passed the Orion close to port, 24 hrs late. In addition to the unexpected delay and rougher weather on the return, they had to deal with no dockage at port as it seemed to be full so visits to land used Zodiacs. In addition, the passengers would have missed their airline connections home and would have had to wait until a return flight was available for that many passengers.. However we feel that these are the expected vicissitudes of both regular and adventure travel and no fault of Lindblad. Winter storm and poor airport management by United delayed our flights considerably with almost missed connections to Buenos Aires. Our flight to Ushuaia was delayed by an airport strike, and United lost some of our winter baggage which never made it to us in spite of us providing a 2 day travel buffer. Nevertheless, We had an excellent trip, great weather, very accommodating hospitality staff, captain and crew who enabled us to have a superlative experience. We would highly recommend Lindblad again. As a physician myself, I would not expect anyone to reimbutrse lost income under these unexpected circumstances, and I suspect many others on this type of trip are also self-employed.

  • soon to be traveler

    I would like to hear from those that had trip insurance and how they were treated by the insurance company. My bias is that INSCO exist to collect premiums…not to pay claims. It would help future travelers to know what to expect now that the unexpected actually happened.

  • txcook

    We were to be on the Orion for a January cruise. We had been planning this trip for almost a year to celebrate my 60th birthday- a once in a lifetime trip for a once in a lifetime day. I don’t get that back. In addition to this cruise, we had another 10 days planned in Patagonia. To receive an email 6 days before getting on a plane to head south was unbelievable. That the second line was all about that there was no injuries or harm to the environment was even more unbelievable. Really? But trying to take it all in stride. We were able to cancel Patagonia without penalty, air insurance with United covered airfare, and Linblad says they will refund the rest. Waiting… Hopefully Antarctica will wait for us!

  • Fran

    My husband and I were on this trip. Unfortunately, the travel insurance we purchased does not cover anything that is caused by ”mechanical breakdown of any means of transport”. It also does not cover for the cancellation of our planned travel to Buenos Aires as it was not due to “a strike, riot, hijack, civil protest, weather, natural disaster or accident”. Lindblad has said it will cover our claims – we’ll see! I feel so sorry for everyone who had plans to travel on Orion this season. Still, the captain and crew were exemplary.

  • Ian

    So what exactly happened? Did one of the engines fail but there was enough power from the other engines that everything appeared like normal but they went back to land to be safe? Does anybody know how long this would take to repair if I wanted to go on the same cruise later on once the boat is repaired? Thanks!

  • Karin Bluemmel

    I was booked on the last trip of Orion Febr/March sailing. When the cancellation came I contacted the Insurance Company re my options. A year ago I took out insurance for medivac, a requirement I was told to have and I took the premium option.Now I need to cancel my qantas flight, tours, hotel and domestic flights for staying on in Buenos Aires and the Insurance Company will ‘consider’ all my claims, it will differ from a refund I guess. I probably have to fight for every Dollar which I find extraordinary as I have not cancelled the trip, although I would be covered if it was due to strtike riot etc. Unlike Fran I have not been offered assistance from Adventureworld to cover my claim. But Adventureworld has offered me a discount of 20% for a future cruise if I amend the date to the November sailing. The new price has gone up, so it is only a 12% discount, plus $1000 off. 18 month ago I have chosen the February sailing for a reason, November way too early for this area. Whichever way I look at this unfortunately situation I am in it leaves a bad taste. I wonder how it will all end, ‘my trip of a lifetime’.

  • Karin Bluemmel

    Silver lining? probably. The Insurance company does not cover mechanical breakdown on the Orion, but the Travel Agent’s insurance will reimburse for lost flights and also incurred penalties. The good news keep coming, there is also a cabin available for the February/March 2018 sailing for me, although the $1000 discount does only apply to the November sailing. The Travel Agent from Adventureworld has put me at ease and after a very big disappointment I might get the trip of a lifetime after all. I hope everyone effected by the cancellation will also have good news at some stage.

  • Nancy Chapman

    My husband and I wee scheduled to depart on the Orion on Feb 14th to Antarctica. We were so excited and this was going to be the 3rd Nat Geo trip we have done. We also do Trek travel bicycle trips. We were saddened and chose to ask for our refund and decide to wait about rescheduling the trip next year. I was thinking that Nat Geo / Lindblad should send us each a short DVD about the trip from an earlier time with the highlights, perhaps as an apology and also to entice us to rebook. I thought that it would be a nice gesture on their part since this wasn’t our fault for the cancellation. We have asked for our refund but haven’t seen it yet. We still don’t know about the refund on the insurance money which was
    a lot. I hope so and we were sorry to miss this amazing adventure!

  • Anthony Nathan

    We were due to travel in late January and were cancelled. However we have rebooked for late November, have got better cabins and money back and Lindblad have already transferred payment to us for all non-recoverable losses that included tranfer flights, hotels elsewhere in S America etc. They were quick, honourable and efficient. I am also a physician and have gone back to work! These things happen and doing a search their record is good. Very disappointed but they didn’t do it on purpose!

  • Serge

    I was on the ship when the engine was damaged. The engine we were told had a bolt shear off from the crank shaft. Orion has a single screw meaning only one propeller. The ship does an have a backup auxiliary generator which can be used to turn the propeller in case of a main engine failure. However the speed of the ship is severely reduced. In our case we were traveling at approx 13-15 knots before the failure and on aux power we were only able to muster 3-5 knots. This made our last 200 miles to Usuhia a painfully long and slow voyage. To complicate matters when we lost the engine the Drake Passage had kicked up a bit. The crew was fantastic and Lindblad I must say acted as profession as you’d expect from a great company.

    I’m sorry for those on future cruises that had to be cancel. I fully appreciate how much us passengers have to work for such a trip and to have it cancelled is heart breaking news. Wishing you a quick return to this special place. Even with the engine trouble for my family it was a trip of a life time.

  • David

    We had “full” trip insurance but that just means you get to negotiate with an insurance company. The company relies on the “fine print” which is not disclosed until after you buy. It is virtually all profit as the insurance company never intends to pay. We had to get a lawyer and then it still took over a year for our claim which was quite simple and clearly covered. The longer they hang onto your money, the more they make.

  • June Cunningham

    I have traveled with LINDBLAD on many many trips and have been totally satisfied with them. On our last trip to Antarctica several years ago we were stranded in Ushuaia for several days because of an earthquake in chili…airports were closed down. LINDBLAD actually hired a charter plane to get us out of South America. Other companies would have taken us to the airport and dropped us off, but LINDBLAD put us up for the 4 days even included day tours to keep us occupied. LINDBLAD takes good care of its passengers. The crew are fantastic. Adventure travel means. Go with the flow…things happen…deal with it.