Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc. has signed a $95 million deal with Nichols Brothers Boat Builders to build two new 100-passenger U.S.-flagged coastal vessels.

Lindblad specializes in “expedition travel” and has partnered with National Geographic to offer cruises in South America, Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia focusing on exploration, education, and conservation. Current U.S. itineraries include destinations in Alaska and the rivers of the Pacific Northwest.

Construction on the new 100-passenger vessels is due to start at Nichols Brothers in Whidbey Island, Wash., this year, and they are due for delivery in the second quarter of 2017 and the second quarter of 2018.

Lindblad had previously signed a non-binding letter of intent with Nichols Brothers for the newbuilds and paid a $4 million non-refundable slot fee during the third quarter of 2015 to reserve the shipyard's capacity. That fee will be charged against the second vessel's cost.

Jensen Maritime is serving as the naval architect on the project with interior design work provided by Tillberg Design International.

"These new ships mark an exciting step in the long-term growth of the company, and enables us to capitalize on the substantial demand for our expeditions. With our significant resources we can continue to deliver on our promise of expedition travel at its best, and can now expand our unique offerings in the Americas where we have very strong demand," said Sven Lindblad, president and CEO of Lindblad.

Nichols built Lindblad’s current U.S.-flagged ships, the National Geographic Sea Lion and National Geographic Sea Bird.

The new vessels will have 50 cabins, 22 with balconies, and state-of-the-art expedition technology including a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), video microscope, and a hydrophone and bow-cam designed for immediate bow deployment to hear and film, for instance, humpback whale vocalizations and see bow-riding dolphins. Other amenities include a fitness room and wellness spa, diving gear, and a fleet of sea kayaks.