The 48-passenger National Geographic Islander is exactly what you would expect to come from the decade-long partnership between Lindblad Expeditions, whose founder, Lars-Eric Lindblad, is widely regarded to have been the father of eco-tourism. National Geographic is world-renowned for its stewardship of nature, and Islander doesn't disappoint: The ship is equipped with Zodiacs, kayaks, snorkeling equipment, and a staff that not only includes naturalists but also an underwater videographer, wellness coordinator, and visiting lecturers such as a professional wildlife and scientific text illustrator.
The ship is the smaller of the two Lindblad-National Geographic vessels to sail in the Galápagos, and has been sailing there year-round since 2004. That small size means that it occupies a sweet spot among those cruising the Galápagos. While larger ships must anchor farther away from islands, and smaller yachts must accommodate the schedule of larger ships so as not to bring too many people aboard each island at once, this ship is small enough to dock close to the islands without having to modify the schedule for other vessels. Overall, it feels like a private yacht taking a scenic expedition. That's because it actually started out as a private yacht, built for the Caribbean.