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Sail Date: July 2019
I joined this cruise as part of a family reunion and had no hand in picking this particular voyage. I also didn't pay for it! Nice deal! As this is my first cruise, I don't have a point of comparison and so may be unfairly ... Read More
I joined this cruise as part of a family reunion and had no hand in picking this particular voyage. I also didn't pay for it! Nice deal! As this is my first cruise, I don't have a point of comparison and so may be unfairly critical. Ship: well-designed, relaxed but somewhat luxurious feel to it. They have a great sustainability effort throughout, giving you a NatGeo water bottle with refill areas to avoid plastic bottles, no straws, etc. Ship Crew & Naturalists: everyone was friendly enough but there was something amiss regarding the large staff of ship crew and NatGeo naturalists. Everyone seemed a little tired and weary. I get that it must be a grind to welcome, host, and then bid farewell to 100 strangers week after week but they need to figure out some way to inject some energy into it or to keep their speeches to a minimum. Naturalists: there were many aboard the ship--how expensive was that? A few were terrific: Justin led fabulous nature walks; Michelle was an exception to the low-energy vibe, exuding a warm spirit and energy in addition to her great photography guidance; Jared wrangled the kids and kept things light and fun. The others fit into a sort of "I'm tired and bored with you" theme. The cruise itinerary and activities (walks, kayaking, paddle boarding) are great, though there's not as much opportunity for longer hikes on shore as I would have liked. They get you in and out of the zodiacs quickly and safely. In the evening they had presentations by naturalists and these were a little weak. Either the topic (birds of Alaska, say) wasn't of interest to me or the presentation didn't have much of a message, e.g. "I live in Alaska and how cool is that? By the way, I live in Alaska. Oh yeah, I'm from Alaska...etc." Dining was a huge fail. I love that they focus on sustainability and so offer only sustainable fish and seafood (no shrimp!). However, the experience was so bad that I wondered if the chef quit early in the journey because our first meal was by far the best one. Here's the rundown: Breakfast is a buffet with the usual eggs, sausage, bacon, oatmeal, potatoes, etc. It's fine though I would have liked to see some smoked fish on occasion (particularly on the day we had brunch instead of breakfast and lunch). Lunch is also a buffet with a good selection of salads and entrees. I really enjoyed the vegetable options which were unusual and plentiful, e.g. a nice rice salad studded with dried cherries, herb-coated cauliflower, etc. Often there was a starch on hand such as polenta or couscous which was incredibly, amazingly bland. Dinners were, overall, meager and bland--think spa food. Every soup tasted as if someone took a wonderful soup and then added gallons of water to it. The last night we had a lentil soup that was pretty good, but this was the exception. The main courses were generally very small portions. The first night I had a crispy tofu with vegetables that was great and set a high bar that every other dinner failed to meet. There was one night where I was the only diner at our table of 10 who ordered a ribeye and everyone else got the fish option. I was served a nice-sized steak (maybe 6 oz?) while everyone else got a tiny bit of fish plated with a few vegetables. We were awestruck by the audacity to serve someone 2 oz of fish and a half-cup of vegs and pretend like this was a meal. I cut my steak in half and three people dived into that half of a steak to augment their meal. I suppose we could have asked for more but it didn't occur to any of us at the time. I admire their goal to reduce food waste but they should have said at the outset that portion sizes are small and encouraged people to ask for second helpings. Because the dinners were meager, people were often hungry after the meal, which meant if there was a dessert buffet, early birds would scarf up multiple servings, leaving none for the later diners. If there wasn't a dessert buffet, then people would request the servers to bring them several desserts to fill up after the main dish. If I were doing this cruise again, then I would skip the soup at dinner and ask for one of the entrees to be served as my appetizer and then have another entree as a main course. This would result in a more filling and enjoyable meal. On hand at all times was a good espresso/cappuccino machine, good brewed coffee, and a variety of other beverages and snacks. Cocktail hour was fun with a nice spread of cheese, crackers, salami, dips, and vegetables. The bartender is superlative and makes a huge variety of cocktails with generous pours and ease. Overall, this cruise seemed a little pricey for the experience (keep in mind that it was free for me!). If I were to sail with Lindblad/NatGeo again, I would assert myself a little more in the food realm to ensure enough food and would stock up on evening activities I could enjoy in my cabin (movies on my laptop?). Because of the ship's size, there's no communal space other than the lounge in the evening, which is where the presentations happen. There is a sun deck with lounge chairs but the Alaskan weather wasn't conducive to relaxing outside. Cruise highlights included seeing whales bubble-netting to catch fish, spotting many seal lions and a few bears, sea otters, and mountain goats, and getting close to some beautiful tidal glaciers. Gorgeous scenery! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
My wife and I in our 70s, moderately fit, had a terrific time on this new ship. This adventure expedition fully met my expectations from advertising and reviews. Venture was nearly brand new and well designed for conveniently and safely ... Read More
My wife and I in our 70s, moderately fit, had a terrific time on this new ship. This adventure expedition fully met my expectations from advertising and reviews. Venture was nearly brand new and well designed for conveniently and safely getting us off the ship in zodiacs and small groups nearly every day. The food was tasty and plentiful, always with healthy options. Hotel service was excellent. The other 93 guests were all agreeable fellow adventurers. They included some grandparents, parents, and grandkids. The staff devoted lots of thought and attention to keeping-safe, educating, and amusing the kids, who bonded with new friends and eventually ate meals together. Expedition leader Sheri Bluestein and Captain Johnson did a great job. She announced her "Plan A" for the next day every evening, making the point that they would adapt plans as nature required and opportunities presented themselves. This happened several times and I had no complaints. We got to hike in near-wilderness conditions, to observe wildlife fairly closely. They turned the ship around and followed humpbacks backwards for an hour one evening to give us another look. Each excursion offered activities ranging from mild to strenuous. A team of some 10 Lindblad naturalists was always on deck spotting for wildlife, they led each zodiac cruise and hike, and were friendly and full of interesting information. I learned so much, they were easily available to me individually many times, and I miss Celso, Linda, and the others now. The emphasis on photography was a main draw for me. Five or so naturalists were certified by NatGeo. David Spiegel gave two briefings on board, one aimed more at DSLR users and one aimed at smartphone users. I learned useful stuff from both. On two photo hikes he gave us photographers an assignment to concentrate on. He loaned me an expensive zoom lens and set of binoculars, which I used the rest of the voyage. At the end of the cruise he showed a slide show of photos captured by guests, some of them stunning. Carlos Navarro is also a diver and one evening showed video he had shot underwater to show us what we were missing. James Biscardi produced a professional customized video chronicle of us on this particular voyage and we are glad I bought a copy. We saw humpback whales breaching, blowing, and even bubble-net feeding. A talk by the engaging Dr. Chris Szabo, who lives in the wilderness to study humpbacks and joined the ship for a day, was a fascinating major highlight for me. I also enjoyed author, storyteller, and folksinger Kim Heacox and Kari Ames, Tlingit cultural interpreter. She told me all the others are mispronouncing the tribal name as CLINK-IT. They say TH-LING-GIT. We got close to Stellar sea lions and sea otters by zodiac. They found brown bears feeding on a distant shore but I did not get a good look at any bears this time. Seabirds but not many land birds besides eagles. My top objective was to see tidewater Alaskan glaciers in person before they all melt. I'm glad we didn't wait another year. We saw several from a quarter-mile away. In Glacier Bay the National Park ranger pointed out that Margerie Glacier now ends on land on its right side, and that in a couple of years it might not be a tidewater glacier any more. The ranger and the entire team managed subtly to remind us what our carbon pollution is destroying without stirring up any arguments from climate change skeptics (if there were any). We were told that Lindblad is buying offsets to compensate for the ship's own emissions. On our last day, South Sawyer Glacier produced a dramatic large calving event for us, which was both exciting and a bit sad. Two guests with disabilities paid to come along with friends knowing they would not be able to board the zodiacs and participate in the most engaging parts of the voyage. Yet to their great credit, on the last day Sheri and her team noticed, reserved a zodiac just for these two, and went to extra trouble to help them get off the ship to visit South Sawyer Glacier from the water like everyone else. This year Alaska has been extremely dry and warm. We got drizzle on only one day in Petersburg. We did not need all the duplicate garments we brought in case of soaking, but we had followed their packing advice and would do so in the future. We used insect repellant and were never bothered by mosquitos. This expedition was expensive but fully worth the cost to me. I also admire Lindblad and NatGeo for respecting nature as they go. I'd love to go again with this warm, expert team. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
Lindblad and National Geographic do an amazing job! We had a family of 17 with several young children. Everyone on the ship went out of their way to make sure we were all having an amazing time. The hotel manager was constantly asking what ... Read More
Lindblad and National Geographic do an amazing job! We had a family of 17 with several young children. Everyone on the ship went out of their way to make sure we were all having an amazing time. The hotel manager was constantly asking what food he could make for the kids. The pastry chef is truly gifted and an anniversary cake he made was one of the best cakes I have ever eaten. The naturalist on board taught us all so much and I am amazed at how much my kids learned. I am in awe at the knowledge and passion of all crew on board. They made you want to learn more and see more. The accommodations were wonderful as well. The cabins are well thought out. Plenty of storage, comfortable beds and spacious bathrooms. We don’t have a single negative thing to say. We hope to take more Lindblad vacations in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
Our fiftieth wedding anniversary gift to ourselves. My husband and I visited Alaska (on a BIG ship) almost 20 years ago. We wanted to take a small ship cruise to a less traveled “path”. The NatGeo quest was perfect! We invited our ... Read More
Our fiftieth wedding anniversary gift to ourselves. My husband and I visited Alaska (on a BIG ship) almost 20 years ago. We wanted to take a small ship cruise to a less traveled “path”. The NatGeo quest was perfect! We invited our son and his family, including two young children, (ages 7 and 9) to join us. It was a great family time and the childrens activities helped us all make lifelong memories. We are still young enough to participate in many of the memory-making activities such as kayaking, long hikes in the woods, float plane trips over the glaciers, shore excursions and coastal walks to find sea, bears, eagles, sea lions and otters, and watching whales dazzle us with their antics, and the humpbacks were bubble-feeding.. What a treat. We are members of the Nature Conservancy, which of course, is tirelessly working to protect the land, air, water, and endangered and threatened wildlife. This trip emphasized the need for all of us to become stewards of the planet and to be more involved to keep it clean. Many of the things we saw on this trip are no longer on the on the endangered species lists. I think our grandchildren will remember this vacation for a very long time, maybe their entire lifetime. I know my husband and i will certainly never forget it. The dining staff was extremely attentive to the children. They prepared special “kid meals” like grilled cheese, pizza, pasta and they even had a ‘Movie night” . Parents And kids loved that. The dinner service was a bit less attentive- not to say the food was not good. For the most part, it was delicious. The one problem we had was that the food was often not hot when it was brought to the table. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We all have heard wonderful stories about travelling in Alaska and seen many stunning pictures of glaciers and breaching whales. But until you experience Alaska up close and in person, you cannot sense the extreme wilderness and serenity ... Read More
We all have heard wonderful stories about travelling in Alaska and seen many stunning pictures of glaciers and breaching whales. But until you experience Alaska up close and in person, you cannot sense the extreme wilderness and serenity of Alaska. And the only way to experience it is on a small craft. That is why sailing on the 100-person Lindblad/Nat Geo Quest was perfect. Big, daunting cruise lines passed us by as the Quest dipped into bays and channels those big ships could not get close to. Every day held a new surprise – whales upon whales, brown bears walking the beach, sea otters snacking among the seaweed, sea lions barking on the rocks, and seals floating on bits of icebergs. Quest was equipped with kayaks and zodiacs that provided an even more intimate experience of closeness with nature. Magical. My husband and I are independent travelers. Sailing on the 100-person Quest was perfect. We had about 5 naturalists on board, including 2 underwater divers who filmed underwater sea-life. And if you are interested in photography, there were professionals to provide guidance and top-end equipment to test out. The voyage was smooth, and the ship extremely quiet, even under sail. I don’t recall the last time I slept so well. For 7 days, we travelled with like-minded people interested in nature and our ecosystem. I would definitely go on another Lindblad/Nat Geo cruise again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We took the 1 week Galapagos trip on the Islander (48 psgr capacity) as a family of 4. This is a relatively new tour for Nat Geo/Lindblad, 2 days shorter than their standard trip to accommodate people with limited vacation schedules, and ... Read More
We took the 1 week Galapagos trip on the Islander (48 psgr capacity) as a family of 4. This is a relatively new tour for Nat Geo/Lindblad, 2 days shorter than their standard trip to accommodate people with limited vacation schedules, and we chose it primarily because it worked for the younger generation in our group (Millennials with limited vacation time). We came in with high expectations, due to the Nat Geo name, but had only mixed results. The itinerary included San Cristobal, Espanola, and Floreana, the Eastern portion of the archipelago. We were in a Main level cabin, which seemed to get much less movement than those two floors up. Loved being able to go straight from panga to room hot shower after snorkeling. The Galapagos are indeed amazing, and our overall memories of the experience are fond. Our single biggest complaint? With only 4 full days on the water, every day counts. Nat Geo is famous for not publishing their itineraries in advance, so imagine our surprise to only be visiting 3 islands in that 4 days. Two days were dedicated to San Cristobal - with the second day being a total bust (a 45 minute walk in an interpretive center, a 3 hour round trip to see 30 small turtles at a breeding center, and a high school student presentation). Ridiculous, and a rip-off. The 4 days you will get are totally the luck of the draw, and the shorter format increases the risk that you will get a crummy hand. We had other concerns (lack of quality onboard programming, food was average), but could have powered through those. It would be remiss of me to not recognize some of the extraordinary highs we also had on this trip - amazing snorkeling and kayaking on the last two days (with great visits to Espanola and Floreana), stargazing one night from the bow of the ship, and outstanding opportunities to view all kinds of birdlife. Loved the open bridge policy, and the Ecuadorian staff exuded pride and commitment to protection of the Galapagos. The ground staff was exemplary. This shorter trip has a lot of potential - it attracts a younger population and, from our perspective, is a very efficient use of time - but NG can not approach the itinerary in such a sloppy way if it expects it to be successful. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was a family cruise with 6 of us going. Very interested in seeing the ecology of the Islands. Lindblad/National Geographic did not disappoint. In fact, it was so incredible we will never forget! We saw so much and learned so much. ... Read More
This was a family cruise with 6 of us going. Very interested in seeing the ecology of the Islands. Lindblad/National Geographic did not disappoint. In fact, it was so incredible we will never forget! We saw so much and learned so much. A wonderful immersive experience. Thanks to the best crew EVER! They were so caring and informative. The small ship meant everyone received the same amazing treatment and experience. We saw almost ever Animal we hoped and not from a mile away, but right there. We swam, snorkeled, hiked our way around 6 do the Islands and each one was an experience. Each one was absolutely stunning inits landscape and animal life. On board, the ship was beautiful and the food incredible. Locally sourced and delicious. The information talks were great. Keep in mind our expedition leader has been doing this for 40 years. You can understand how good they are! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
While Lindblad/National Geographic may be a little more expensive than competitors, you really do get what you pay for - excellent ship and crew, expedition leader and staff, food, services, and above all naturalists and researchers who ... Read More
While Lindblad/National Geographic may be a little more expensive than competitors, you really do get what you pay for - excellent ship and crew, expedition leader and staff, food, services, and above all naturalists and researchers who are at the top of their own professions and more than willing to share their knowledge and excitement. Through no fault of L/NG, we lost our half day cruise on the Beagle Channel because of an airline short strike; that also meant missing time in Ushuaia before boarding. But once we pulled away, the magic began - starting with some rocking and rolling on the Drake Passage. Going ashore each day, sea kayaking and catching a glacier calving, zodiac rides through icebergs with seals, penguins and whales nearby, and polar plunges by many brave souls provided memories not to be forgotten. Hiking among busy penguin highways, experiencing the birds' curiosity, inhaling the fragrance of their rookeries, being a kid again and sliding down nice hills on our butts, breathing fresh air, watching waves crashing over the bow, and best of all being 'off the grid' in another beautiful world did wonders for the mind and for the soul. A visit to an abandoned research station starkly illustrated the challenges of early temporary inhabitants of this remote continent (and our 7th!) and the privations they confronted. Aboard ship on 'travel' days (and we got well below the Antarctic Circle on this expedition) we had the opportunity to hear illustrated talks by most of the 'experts' accompanying us, and a couple of special presentations by our Global Explorer, Jamling Tenzing Norgay. Each provided lots of information and often new insights into a variety of natural history subject matter, including stark and blunt assessments of what mankind is doing to planet earth. Food and accommodations were excellent. Always too much tempting food to consume, a great variety of meals for all (international) tastes, and all well prepared; service was a mix of buffet and table service. The lounge was well stocked with a variety of beverages to suit all reasonable demands, all included. 'Entertainment' was minimal, but educational seminars were abundant. Would I go again? In a heartbeat given the opportunity. But there are still many other parts of the world to be investigated while I still can do it. Some of the trips will definitely be with Lihndblad/National Geographic. A caution: One must have infinite patience and not be prone to frustration as one works through airports in South America. Count on frustrating hours in each one! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We love the Lindblad / National Geographic Expeditions cruises because of their superb naturalists and their insight into wilderness areas of the world. The Quest is a new ship in the fleet and worked well for expedition cruising. Our ... Read More
We love the Lindblad / National Geographic Expeditions cruises because of their superb naturalists and their insight into wilderness areas of the world. The Quest is a new ship in the fleet and worked well for expedition cruising. Our cabin was small with a balcony; not much open floor space but you don't spend much time in the room. The general outline of the day is: a buffet breakfast, morning zodiac trip for nature event, buffet lunch, another zodiac trip for nature event, time for a shower, cocktail hour with naturalists' presentations, dinner (usually 3+ options), and another naturalist or photography discussion after dinner. This is an expedition cruise with the emphasis on nature, photography, country culture and history. Pretty much everything is included in the cost except for alcoholic drinks and the final tip to the staff. The ship holds 100 passengers but we had about 83. Passengers range from 20's to 90 although average in the 50-60's; they tend to be well-traveled, pretty active, and interesting. There is no set dinner seating so grouping change throughout the cruise. The food was good but not outstanding. Usually buffets had several options with salads, fresh fruits and a few mains. Dinner is served by staff with usually 3 options available. Preparation was okay but as the first cruise this season, they had a few bugs to work out with new staff and the kitchen not at the top of their game. A real strength is the depth of knowledge of the naturalists and the happy staff. The lounge (inside & air conditioned) was outfitted with books related to the area and was used throughout the day by passengers. We also sat out on the Sun Deck, on the front prow and could sit in the bridge at times. The cruise went through the Panama Canal and even had morning Zodiac options to see more of the lake in the middle of the canal. There is a one-day extension available in Panama City that includes a visit to the expansion canal and a close up of the original canal. Recommended for the real Panama Canal buff. Overall, a fun and interesting trip! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
Wanted to have the best possible experience with the best possible access and best possible tools. The Endeavor II and her crew and staff delivered in all regards. I will remember every exciting moment of this journey. As a more than ... Read More
Wanted to have the best possible experience with the best possible access and best possible tools. The Endeavor II and her crew and staff delivered in all regards. I will remember every exciting moment of this journey. As a more than casual photographer, this was an unrivaled opportunity to test my skills under a wide range of conditions with a huge number of subjects. I ordered canvas prints of several photos before I left the ship! The ship was attractive, without being too fancy. The crew was efficient without interfering with our fun. The naturalists were amazingly knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The food was quite good and presented flawlessly. The tools were first rate - zodiacs, snorkel gear, etc. The stateroom was remarkably roomy and well organized. The guests were all very friendly and happy to share this great experience. The trip was peaceful and relaxing, which is amazing because there was something to do from 6 in the morning until well into the evening. We should have been exhausted from the multiple hikes, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle-boarding, zodiac rides, glass-bottom boat trips and other activities, but we slept well and felt revived at the end of the voyage. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
We had an excellent experience with our 4 and 5 - year old grandchildren. They were enthralled with the wildlife and geography. The staff on the Endeavor II could not have been more accommodating, and made our granddaughters feel ... Read More
We had an excellent experience with our 4 and 5 - year old grandchildren. They were enthralled with the wildlife and geography. The staff on the Endeavor II could not have been more accommodating, and made our granddaughters feel special, particularly with the Explorers Club. The food was surprisingly good and interesting - with a focus on locally and sustainably produced products, prepared in accordance with local traditions and customs. The dining staff were courteous and outgoing, with the result that we looked forward to each meal. The excursions were varied (zodiac, hikes and beaches), providing a range of experiences, with each outing introducing us to different animals, birds sea life and terrain. The length of the outings were properly timed, so that our grandchildren did not become overly tired or loose their enthusiasm. The naturalists were superb, and took a genuine interest in each guest's enjoyment - which ran the spectrum. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
If you are like me, you imagine a cruise is about the closest thing to hell one could imagine for a vacation. But I must say that this trip was anything but hell. It was an amazing experience. First, the Islander only carries 48 ... Read More
If you are like me, you imagine a cruise is about the closest thing to hell one could imagine for a vacation. But I must say that this trip was anything but hell. It was an amazing experience. First, the Islander only carries 48 passengers, so everything was intimate and manageable. It was more like staying in a boutique hotel that just happens to move locations overnight. Second, the "house" staff on the ship were amazing. They care deeply about the passengers and enabling them to take advantage of their time on the islands. I could ask anyone a question about anything and they would go out of their way to help me so that I never had a worry and could concentrate on why we were there. The hotel manager, Daniel, ran an incredible operation and he, and everyone else, seemed to take great pride in their jobs. Third, the cabin was like a boutique European hotel room. There were three of us in Cabin 305 (one of two that can be configured as triples) and despite bringing way too much, we found a space for everything so our room was comfortable and very livable. Fourth, the meals were excellent and they took great care of their passengers with dietary restrictions. I am a vegetarian and Jose, the head waiter, sought me out every single day to ensure that I had something delicious to eat and was never hungry. After the second day, I had to avoid eating too much because there was so much good food to choose from. Fifth, and the reason you go to the Galapagos, is that it is an amazing opportunity to learn about a truly unique ecosystem. The Naturalists who are onboard are incredibly well educated, well informed, excellent ambassadors for the islands and their wildlife, and passionate about the environment and preserving the unique resources that are represented there. Every morning, we would wake to Daniel's voice on the PA announcing, "Ladies and Gentlemen, breakfast is ready in the dining room. Please join us." We'd eat and set out on our morning snorkel/kayak/zodiac ride/hike, returning a few hours later for lunch. After lunch, there would be a "siesta" time during which there was a children's program in which they would learn more and do something interesting. Then we'd head out for an afternoon adventure on that day's island. We'd return, have a "cocktail hour" lecture and briefing (which were excellent). Then we'd have our dinner (which were often theme dinners that let the staff show off "local" cuisine from various regions in Equador. And then people would retire while the boat traveled to the next island. We talked to a lot of people who arranged their own Galapagos explorations, but those require staying in one of the two inhabited towns and taking long daily excursions, often a few hours out and then a few hours back, limiting what you can see and explore. We also talked to people who went with other cruise lines--some much more luxurious. But nothing compared to what we experienced in traveling with a group that appreciates and promotes education. We were also deeply impressed with Lindblad's commitment to the people and the ecosystem. Prior to traveling, they provided informed us that they were supporting a school on Santa Cruz Island and provided us with their Amazon wish list. My son picked out a set of his favorite books (including Spanish translations) and we brought them with us. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the school and allowing him to present the books to a few of his middle-school peers. This trip moved me from being a cruise skeptic to recognizing that there is a place for journeys like this. If you want to visit an ecosystem like Galapagos, or Antartica, or the Arctic, and come away with a deeper understanding of the place you are visiting, then it is worth exploring a Lindlad/National Geographic cruise. I know we'll be on another one sooner rather than later. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was the first trip away from our young kids and wanted to do Alaska on a small ship. I found out how new this ship was and chased it down. Here are my notes. Quest Sunday - long day to buy time to get on ship at 5:30pm, they ... Read More
This was the first trip away from our young kids and wanted to do Alaska on a small ship. I found out how new this ship was and chased it down. Here are my notes. Quest Sunday - long day to buy time to get on ship at 5:30pm, they mean it and no-one got on before then. Juneau is boring and I wouldn't stay there. Tram was cool and worth it. When we did we got a person to take us to our cabin and desctibe all the features. There was more storage and room in our cabin than in hotel room. Don’t stay at recommended hotel - small rooms, noisy (loud) heaters (boilers) and it is just old. Our cabin on the ship was so much more spacious and has a crazy amount of storage, no way to use all of the drawers and other provided spaces. Pillows and blankets are amazing. Internet doesn’t work - too high latitudes for satellite to work.. I paid and got money back as we did get some cell service in small fishing villages but latency was so high that some applications wouldn’t work. Ship is a shield, so for any coverage you have to be on deck. Tracy Arm (Transit all night) Monday AM, I was pretty excited and woke up at 4am just to look around and saw icebergs out my window and I was on deck by 4:30am - and not only one. It was so crazy pretty that I stayed on deck pretty much to lunch. Food was very good all around. I’m not that picky and I give the food a B+ all around. Something for everyone and after meeting all the guests - no one had a bad thing to say. You get briefings before dinner and after breakfast every day. They over-communicate which seems annoying, but was rather useful. Staff is amazing all around. I can’t say enough good things and I look for those ‘cracks in the crew’ and found none. The respect for the naturalists was crazy high from fellow crew, not to speak of the guests. Monday was Tracy Arm and zodiac tours of the glacier. They take the entire guest list and chop into groups A, B, C and D. They use that to get rid of big lines for activities. We were in group C so they call on the PA to give us a 15 minute notice of when we should head to the mud room to put on Life jacket and board the zodiacs. Max wait was 10 minutes. They clearly have this figured out. Preso’s every day after lunch and dinner by very polished naturalists who know their stuff. I was crazy tired this night and crashed hard.. Speaking to other guests which I now had a chance to socialize with - was the same. Tuesday Morning - hit the zodiacs to go see icebergs that have calved off the glacier. Sounds boring? - look at the pictures and video. Amazing morning - water perfectly still and warm. We all got amazing photo’s - walk on fire trail, banana slugs and bear skat. Then kayaking that wasn’t so interesting but good exercise. Petersburg at lunch - great sleepy fishing village. Could arrange floatplane flights. Or walking (or van) into town or taking a free bicycle which we did. Very nice stay and we had dinner while the ship pulled out of port. This was a real treat. MIT alumni group on board and a professor gave a talk on climate. Very interesting and nice people. weather turned hawaii and we had upper 70’s, sun and heat. crazy. Wish I had more t-shirts. I wore shorts to dinner 4 nights in a row. Wednesday early morning hiking - no so interesting and then kayaking, was cool but not the best. Afternoon (Wednesday) was ok hiking morning, but ‘activity watching in afternoon cruise’ which started out pretty boring, everyone looking but some sea lions. Weather was hot in the sun. Then someone in bridge saw something on the port shore - ship turned too hard and some dishes went flying(turns out that was autopilot accident) - but we found a large group of humpbacks were bubble feeding on the shoreline. They split into 2 different groups and were amazing. We had that all day where I stopped counting at 25 ‘breaches’ of the bubble fishing. Most amazing day ever. Would check most folks bucket list to see 1 or 2, but 25+. You have never seen a more satisfied group of passengers and crew that dinner. Most of us knew that was a ‘1 in a lifetime’ afternoon. I hope I can post a few photo’s. Thursday (Icy Strait) - morning hiking in a great rainforest - like walking on sponges. lots of wild flowers and such. After that taken to ‘kayak beach’ where we kayaked ‘follow the leader’ around the Idaho inlet and it was awesome. Guest MIT lecture on Climate and then zodiac rides (A, B, C & D) with real alaskan weather and saw whales, sea lions, otters, eagles taking fish…. great lunch day (turkey) Afternoon zodiac tour of the Inian islands. Amazing - saw whales, sea lions, otters and a Bald Eagle took a 1/2 fish from a sea lion thirty feet in front of our zodiac. I have a picture of that that Tom caught - amazing. took it easy and let folks take naps and slow down a bit. Great dinner and lecture after about summer solstice, some video of diving around the kayak route and Chelsey talking about seals, sea lions and Otters - awesome. Got cold and folks went to sleep. Alaska part 2 Plan for the best - you have your cold weather gear, but you have crazy storage on the Quest - don’t forget t-shirts and shorts. On my trip I left our walk weather stuff in Florida and regretted it. We had 3 days in a row where it hit upper 70’s and I was hot in the sun. I had only 1 pair of shorts and wish I had more. We had *lots* of empty drawers we could have used. Suitcases fit under the bed (easily) Video and camera My wife brought her DSLR (Canon) and they have free lenses for you to use on the ship. She borrowed a few 600mm lens and got the best whale photo’s of the trip. There are at least 2 professional photographers on the trip who will spend as much 1:1 time as you want. Take advantage of it. Star of the show is my iPhone 10 using 4K 60fps video. You can zoom like crazy and will be able to post-process great video. My MacBook air wasn’t powerful enough to do that and iCloud is setup that I needed WiFi (that doesn’t work at those latitudes - so don’t pay for it) I would let the iPhone take video if the whales are around - if you get it, great. If not - delete and try again. Don’t wait till you see them - will be too late (for bubble fishing). Same for glacier calving - I would record for 3 minutes and delete if nothing happened, but if it does - you will get most or all of it in 4K video. Clothing 1st day was cold and clear. I had bought these wind pants with a thin layer of fleece on the inside and they were killer good. My go to pants when cruising or a colder zodiac ride. Too hot for hiking when in 60 or 70’s, so I used my hiking pants and was ok to be a little cold on zodiac ride (10 minutes) and very comfortable on the hike. Front or side pockets to keep iPhone kept if very handy when something unexpected happened, which seems to be all the time Saturday We signed up for the ‘strenuous hike’ and had a good workout though the rainforest to a lake where the guides were surprised had some salmon already. I used my polarized sunglasses to get some good video on my iPhone. After we hiked back down we put on the low profile life jackets and went kayaking in this amazingly clear water. Most of the folks all agreed this was the best of the Kayaking on the trip. Good workout - back to the ship and ate a good lunch. The rest of the afternoon was cruising and looking for wildlife - most folks were tired and slept or started packing. This part of the cruise there seemed to be otters everywhere and I got my otter photo’s here. Right before dinner I was on the bow with some other folks when we saw porpoises on the bow. They rode the bow for 25 minutes and I got my iPhone out there for 4 minutes until my fingers were too cold to hold the phone. Some amazing video I need to edit when I get home. That night after dinner we did the guest slideshow. Each guest could submit 10 of their best photo’s and it was amazing what people got. Anyone could download it from 2 iMacs they had in the lounge. Was very fun. Lots of folks exchanging email addresses and the like for the rest of the evening. Also having some drinks with the crew as you have gotten to know them pretty well at this point. Last day We anchored outside Sitka. Hit the dock at 6am. 6:30am wake-up call. 7am breakfast and they wanted all bags (tagged) and put outside cabin before 7am. Most of us were on same flight from Sitka to Seattle at 2pm. There were 97 passengers. 13 were under age 18. 3 groups of families Grandparents and kids. Bunch of retirees - good group of folks. I'm 53 with wife 46 and we had a great time. Never felt crowded, but we had insane weather. Ask for tour of engine room and kitchen - very cool. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose this cruise for our family of 10. Ages were 9,11,15,18, 47,47,48,49,74 &75. The cabins were compact, but very workable. Because our cabins were all in a line we could find each other and the younger ones could be with their ... Read More
We chose this cruise for our family of 10. Ages were 9,11,15,18, 47,47,48,49,74 &75. The cabins were compact, but very workable. Because our cabins were all in a line we could find each other and the younger ones could be with their parents or not. Meals, snacks and service was exceptional. I asked each member to tell me the three things they liked best and the 9 year old listed breakfast as one of them.The picky eaters were catered to and there was a large variety for the non picky adults. When it came to what people liked best it was all across the board of shore excursions, kayaking, walking, flight seeing,floating the Chilkat and the DIBs rides. I personally liked the information from the wildlife talks. It was a bonding experience for our family in a comfortable, exciting, beautiful venue which is why we booked it. We would highly recommend it. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We went on a Nat Geo Alaska cruise and the 6 of us just knew we had to do Galapagos with them again. It is just an over the top experience if you are looking for a very active and tons of info trip, with terrific staff, naturalist and ... Read More
We went on a Nat Geo Alaska cruise and the 6 of us just knew we had to do Galapagos with them again. It is just an over the top experience if you are looking for a very active and tons of info trip, with terrific staff, naturalist and crew..all exceptional. I needed a vacation after I got back! I gave our cabin excellent because it was so darn cute and I swear a few feet bigger than Alaska. Be forewarned though these are NOT your usual cruise cabins, very close quarters, but very efficient.. Breakfast and Lunch were very good.Dinner was fine. Just not overwhelming. They are small portions which we all liked and very elegantly done.. the bbq night was fun. Well the animals are the entertainment. other than that one night of local performers. The hikes, kayaking, snorkeling were all amazing.I now know everything possible about the blue footed boogie.. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
This is our second cruise to the Galapagos with National Geographic in 10 years. The first time it was just my husband and I. This time we brought our six year old daughter. Both times were absolutely perfect in every way. The food was ... Read More
This is our second cruise to the Galapagos with National Geographic in 10 years. The first time it was just my husband and I. This time we brought our six year old daughter. Both times were absolutely perfect in every way. The food was excellent and bountiful. Meals were mainly on the ship. There was a massage therapist on board but I didn’t want to miss a single excursion to use her services! There is an on board gift shop that was opened several times and had quite a varied number of exquisite items for sale - carvings, clothing, jewelry, children’s books, art. There was a small gym and an upper deck on which to lay in a hammock or watch the stars. The naturalists were outstanding. The lectures were fascinating. Each day typically had two excursions out on the zodiac to an island. Sometimes three outings. We had one day with tortoises, one half day on a gorgeous beach snorkeling with sea lions, an excursion to see sea birds nesting and caring for eggs and chicks. Every day was amazing. I can not recommend this trip highly enough. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2018
What can one say. The service, food, tour, people, location and travel were all over the top. Walter - our server at meals was so good to us, we really felt like family. Carlos, our tour Director was very attentive to detail and really ... Read More
What can one say. The service, food, tour, people, location and travel were all over the top. Walter - our server at meals was so good to us, we really felt like family. Carlos, our tour Director was very attentive to detail and really kept us moving in the correct direction. Our entire family went - and we really bonded even more. Everything was fantastic. The animals, water events, hiking, picture taking, swimming, snorkeling, picture taking - all guided by extremely experienced naturalists. The entire staff - from those that cleaned our rooms, those that served drinks in the bar. those that served us food and those that prepared the food to the Captain - all served with pride and always had a smile all their face. Absolutely a one of a kind experience. We had two nights of music - one night the ship Doctor and Captain - played for us. Excellent. The second night was locals from the Islands. Very inspiring to witness. Best trip ever. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Whales! Not only did we see blue whales, gray whales and humpback whales, we were also close enough to hear them, and feel the spray of the "blow." The arcs of dolphins, rolls of sea lions, flights of pelicans, and spirals of ... Read More
Whales! Not only did we see blue whales, gray whales and humpback whales, we were also close enough to hear them, and feel the spray of the "blow." The arcs of dolphins, rolls of sea lions, flights of pelicans, and spirals of frigate birds were also impressive. The strolls through the desert were also compelling and a stark change from life on the water. The staff were experienced, enthusiastic and informative. They really made the expedition a success! They were all amazing and all added a special touch to the experience. The onboard expedition recaps, talks and photo lessons really enhanced the experience. The cabins were more comfortable than you might expect on an "expedition" though they are admittedly small and no frills. Who'd want to spend much time in their cabin with whales, seabirds, amazing scenery, and observations with fellow explorers to enjoy on the decks? I'd highly recommend this expedition! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2018
For anyone who loves watching birds and animals in their natural habitat this was certainly the cruise to take thanks to Lindblad and National Geographic. The night before boarding our ship we were met by helpful Lindblad staff at the ... Read More
For anyone who loves watching birds and animals in their natural habitat this was certainly the cruise to take thanks to Lindblad and National Geographic. The night before boarding our ship we were met by helpful Lindblad staff at the Guayaquil Airport and taken to The Hotel Del Parque, a beautiful 19th century retreat close to the airport, not that you'd ever know because of its lush tropical surroundings. The hotel staff was very welcoming and friendly as well. The next morning after a beautifully set up breakfast buffet on the hotel's patio we were taken back to the airport where we flew to San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands to board our ship. Right from that point on we saw all kinds of sea lions, colorful crabs, pelicans, and iguanas and we would be seeing many more in the coming days. It had begun to rain as we took the Zodiac from the dock to the Islander anchored off shore but the minute we boarded the ship we were greeted and welcomed like family. I cannot say enough about the friendly staff/crew of the Islander, even those on the ships bridge. Our cabin was very comfortable and the additional glassed in terrace off our cabin consisting of a lounger, two chairs and a table made our accommodations seem much larger. Dining on the ship was very good with a selection of food that should have pleased anyone. In the morning a nice breakfast buffet was served and a menu of three entrees posted to select from for that evenings dinner. All sounded very good which made my choice hard. The waiters and bartenders learned our names by the very next day and quickly learned our certain preferences for various beverages and food items. The naturalists, Greg and Jose as well as our expedition leader Vanessa, who guided us all over the islands were a pleasure to be around. They were knowledgeable but never boring and it was easy to see that they really enjoyed their job. On Isla Santa Cruz we saw the giant tortoises, visited a place where we sampled and watched moonshine being made and had a very nice buffet lunch at a farm where afterwards we were able to walk among the numerous wild giant tortoises. I believe it was that night during which local entertainment was brought on board the Islander to dance and play the native instruments which I thoroughly enjoyed. Our last day of the cruise was spent on Genovesa Island where we were able to walk by numerous frigates and boobies with their little babies so close that you could have touched them. This was a perfect opportunity to get some good up close pictures. The planned activities for the passengers were also very appealing. I can now say I have jumped off ship into the ocean and have snorkeled among sharks and sea lions. Another nice on board feature was the assortment of good quality gift items offered for sale as well as T-shirts located by the reception desk. As we disembarked the ship on our last day it was really hard to say good bye to all the friendly staff and crew who at that point seemed more like friends and family. I would most certainly love to take another cruise on board the Islander. After returning to the Hotel Del Parque we were offered a tour of hotel grounds which were very impressive. There is an excellent restaurant, Casa Julian on the grounds which offers local cuisine and outdoor dining with a view of the Rio Daule River. My traveling companions and I chose to spend an extra two days in Guayaquil. There is so much to see that I strongly recommend doing so. The hotel may be a drive from downtown Guayaquil but the taxi ride was very inexpensive compared to what we would pay in the US. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2018
Chosen for great opportunities to see and interact with whales, Lindblad / National Geographic Naturalists to explain what we saw and National Geographic Photographic consultants to learn more about my hobby. The whale watching was ... Read More
Chosen for great opportunities to see and interact with whales, Lindblad / National Geographic Naturalists to explain what we saw and National Geographic Photographic consultants to learn more about my hobby. The whale watching was unmatched (even compared to two cruises in Alaska). We saw humpbacks, orcas and gray whales close up with new calves. The interactions between the mothers and calves was particularly interesting. Near Cabo San Lucas a humpback mother breached, then breached with the calf and the calf proceeded to breach 20 times.. Many of the gray whales (mothers and calves) came up to the DIBS (zodiac type boats) and obviously wanted contact with people. Those that did not want the contact stayed put or swam away. We were able to see the calves playing around the mother 5 or 10 feet from the boat. The ship was small (56 passengers) and well suited to the itinerary. We could get into small secluded beaches (Puerto Gato and Bahia Bonanza) that were secluded, beautiful and well suited to the activities. Whether whale watching (with the naturalists' help and explanations), having a nature presentation or lunch on the desk the ship was very comfortable and never felt crowded. The naturalists were the best I have come in contact with. They were very knowledgeable, communicated their information well, were genuinely enthusiastic about what we were seeing and anxious to share the experience. They were very concerned that we had a good experience while being very respectful of nature. There were many options for activities when we were in port, kayaking, paddle boarding, nature walks, snorkeling, photography sessions and beach combing. These were the "shore excursions" I enjoyed the most. The typical shore excursions were only in San Jose del Cabo. You could do a birdwalk in an estruary area, vistit the town and glass bloweres or do both. The food was excellent and the stewards were great about my wife's food allergies, There were no problems and the stewards seemed to enjoy helping. The cabins comfortable, clean and functional, but not luxurious. but the whales and nature in general were the things that made it an unmatched experience. This is one cruise I would consider doing again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this particular trip because of the educational value and Lindblad Expeditions because we had such a wonderful experience on a previous cruise. The embarkation/ disembarkation went very smoothly. Someone met us at the airport and ... Read More
We chose this particular trip because of the educational value and Lindblad Expeditions because we had such a wonderful experience on a previous cruise. The embarkation/ disembarkation went very smoothly. Someone met us at the airport and guided us to the hotel. All the tours, entrance fees and transfers were provided for us. Luggage tags, name tags and travel documents were mailed to us about 3 weeks prior to departure. We did have a little frustration with this as one person in our group had moved a few months earlier and although his address was changed with Lindblad, his documents still got sent to the old address. Fortunately, everything did finally arrive the week before departure. After this, the trip went as we had planned. This ship is very intimate with only maximum 47 guests. With 6 people in our group, we had 2 cabins with 3 single beds each. Most cabins sleep 2, so we didn't have any sitting area as the couch was the third bed but the main lounge area more than made up for that. The bathroom was very tight but sized for the small ship. The crew and service was very good. They bent over backwards to see that we were comfortable and had everything we needed. We made many new friends, some of whom actually live close enough that we may see them again. Open seating at meals made it really easy to visit with the other passengers, although we did not do this at meals as we had our 4 grandchildren with us. The Young Explorer program brought the kids together as a group to talk about their experiences and discuss the diversity of the wildlife. This cruise has lots of walking/hiking and enough water activities such as snorkeling, kayaking and paddle boarding planned. Some of the guests even swam off the side of the ship! The wildlife was amazing...Blue footed Boobies, Sea Lions, Iguanas, and even a Galapagos Penguin. Learning about the other side of the world from a book is one thing but actually experiencing it is something altogether amazing. Due to the pristine nature and uniqueness of this area, tourist travel to the islands is very strictly regulated. There are actually 2 itineraries that Lindblad offers, so you would need to visit twice to see all the islands have to offer. All in all, we had a great time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2017
This small ship, the Lindblad-National Geographic Sea Bird, was able to go into the small bays of the inside passage of Alaska to kayak around icebergs while we got to watch seals swim around us and bears up close on the shore. The staff, ... Read More
This small ship, the Lindblad-National Geographic Sea Bird, was able to go into the small bays of the inside passage of Alaska to kayak around icebergs while we got to watch seals swim around us and bears up close on the shore. The staff, the naturalists, made our trip! No other like it. There was a big ship watching us from the mouth of the bay because they couldn't fit where we went! They took us to a glacier by zodiac and saw it up close. We saw a piece calve and fall into the water with a big boom! Then our naturalist plucked a same bit of ice floating in the water and told us the history and journey that piece took through time. Activities were stellar. Service and knowledge made our trip. More food than we could eat. The cabin was small, but we were only there to sleep. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2017
This was a family affair. Thirteen of us ventured to Baja and the Sea of Cortez in March. Linblad did its typical excellent job of showing us the sights and helping us to appreciate the diversity of wildlife in the area. The highlight for ... Read More
This was a family affair. Thirteen of us ventured to Baja and the Sea of Cortez in March. Linblad did its typical excellent job of showing us the sights and helping us to appreciate the diversity of wildlife in the area. The highlight for my wife and me was going out on Zodiac boats to see the whales. My niece was very good at splashing the water and attracting the young "baby" whales to the boat. We all got a chance to pet the head of the inquisitive whales. The naturalists were excellent, knowledgeable and engaging. The onboard Naturalist/Photo Instructor Rab was outstanding. He offered great tips and came along on the excursions and made suggestions to we passengers. Rab allowed passengers to submit their favorite 5 photos to share with other passengers. Be sure to bring along something like a 16+ GB USB flash drive to get a copy of those pictures. My only substantial complaint is with the shorties provided to passengers for snorkeling. Using shorties seems to be a standard with Linblad Expeditions. The Sea of Cortez is cold. You need more than a shortie to be comfortable and stay in the water for a prolonged period of time. Several in my group brought along a full wetsuit, a hood, booties, and gloves for increased comfort while snorkeling. In between snorkel trips (3 as I recall), the ship provided hangers on deck to let the wetsuits drip dry. I also brought along my own flippers and mask; the ship did provide those for guests to use, along with flotation vests. Be sure to bring along a mesh bag if you bring your own. At Puerto Gato, we had the chance to do stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. My wife and I had outside Cabin 219 on the main deck. It was in a very good location from one perspective: just step outside for instant whale watching. The not so good is that the cabin was below an open deck (the Sun deck). Someone--a crew member I think--was jumping rope on the Sun deck above the room early one morning. I went up and mentioned that it was noisy in the room below, and the person stopped the activity (and never repeated it). There were plenty of hooks, hangers, and cubbyholes in the cabin for storage. I brought along some magnetic hooks to put on the walls, but discovered the cabin walls were not made of metal. The only place to get the hooks to stay was on the cabin ceiling. Be forewarned that the combined bathroom/shower is small and cozy. There was a larger bathroom on the Sun deck. The bed was comfortable. My group, and I think most passengers, flew to Los Angeles airport and caught an AeroMexico charter flight to La Paz, Mexico. Transfers from and to the airports in Mexico were handled flawlessly by the staff. Be aware that you will have a long bus trip (3 hours or so) when you transfer to San Carlos. Expect to get to the ship after 8:30 pm local time. The bus trip for the La Paz airport is only about 45 minutes. Expect great treatment from the staff. We were greeted with champagne upon arrival at the ship (M/V National Geographic Sea Bird). We got complimentary wine at the special Mexican Fiesta Dinner. At Puerto Gato, we had dinner on the beach with complimentary margaritas and wine. Drinks on the ship were reasonably priced. You could get a bottle of wine at dinner; there was a good selection, and again the prices were reasonable. The food was tasty. One night we had music on board from a local, 2-person band. We did visit one town during the expedition. We got to spend several hours in downtown San Jose del Cabo. We had a guided tour, followed by free time. I did find Wi Fi at one of the restaurants. Typical of Linblad Expedition trips, we went on several nature walks. The Naturalists were a fountain of knowledge, and historical knowledge, because many have been coming to the Baja area for many years. The lectures on the ship were informative and entertaining. We got to see several species of whales, from the ship and close up on the Zodiac boats. Overall, it was a very good trip. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
My wife and I took the one week Galapogos excursion on the Linblad National Geographic on the ship Islander in mid-February. It was a fantastic experience, exceeded our admittedly high expectations and a trip we can recommend highly. ... Read More
My wife and I took the one week Galapogos excursion on the Linblad National Geographic on the ship Islander in mid-February. It was a fantastic experience, exceeded our admittedly high expectations and a trip we can recommend highly. Here are some further thoughts on the subject. NATURALISTS MATTER. A critical feature of the experience were the three naturalists that guided every hike, boat ride and snorkel. The ability to make a 1 mile hike into an interesting and engaging two hour nature experience is dependent wholly on the naturalists. The three on our trip were extraordinary and well versed in the smallest detail of the geology, history, flora, fauna and culture of every stop. We had been told by others who did the Galapagos (with other providers) that most naturalists who work in the islands aspire to get hired by Linblad/Nat Geo, and therefore, they get the best. While we have nothing to compare it to, our experience was excellent. I would pick Linblad/Nat Geo for that reason alone. ACTIVITY LEVEL. The pace was significantly more active than we imagined, and to our liking. The ship accommodations matter, but we didn’t have as much lounging time as I had thought. We kayaked twice (regulations limit the number of kayaks they can send out), and we took every boat ride, snorkel and hike offered. While that pace was by no means exhausting, some guests opted-out on occasion. The pace of the hikes was leisurely and the terrain well handled by all except a few of the more frail passengers. Even on the more rocky trails, a pair of sturdy hiking sticks for less active folk (supplied by the boat) were all that were needed. Typically, we started before or just after breakfast, got in one or two events before returning to the ship by noon for lunch, lounged or napped, and then resumed excursions at 3:00 to avoid the mid-day heat. SHIP CONDITION. Despite being a slightly older ship and not having been renovated recently, the ship was in excellent condition with beautiful teak accents, shiny brass hardware, nice carpets, and always impeccably clean with three room services per day! There was nothing worn or old about it. CLOTHING. The dress was quite casual, and what I would call “resort casual.” Shorts, t-shirts, polo shirts, bathing suits and casual sun dresses predominated. During mid-February it was quite hot mid-day so wicking active gear, loose shirts and sun protection clothing was key. Air conditioning kept the interior of the ship pleasantly cool. Next day laundry services (at hotel prices) are available. FOOD. The food was really good. It was not fine dining in the metropolitan sense, but it was tasty, varied and plentiful. Alcohol was reasonably priced from $4 for a local (and good) beer to $8 for a glass of decent wine. Tellingly, most passengers felt like they were gaining lots of weight on the trip! GYM. For fitness buffs, there was a small gym with two high quality treadmills, an elliptical and a good spinning class-styled exercise bike. It had some dumbbells up to 25 pounds. The gym has large windows with great views. It was rarely used with most succumbing to a nap or a book in the shade during the siesta break, and therefore getting a machine was never an issue. WATER. Water temps for swimming and snorkeling were in the 70’s on our itinerary (which can vary) in mid-February. The shortie wet suits provided were buoyant and kept us warm enough to be the last out of the water on most snorkel outings. Some guests also wore rash guards or SPF clothing, either in place of, or underneath wetsuits. Some guests and the guides did fine without the wetsuits. The snorkeling gear was good. I have my own gear but left it at home, and was glad I did. Some put an underwater camera or GoPro to good use, but Linblad provided us with a great DVD filmed by a photographer that accompanied us on all our excursions so we all got some great footage to take home! SERVICE. The service was excellent. I think there are 42 crew or so for 46 guests. The entire staff was professional, efficient, accommodating and helpful. It was our first Linblad experience but likely not our last. STATEROOMS. As to which stateroom to pick (level 2-4) there are some considerations. All have excellent cabin level air conditioning, so you could make your stateroom as cold as you pleased. The level 2 and 3 rooms do not have a window or portal directly to the outside, but rather have a small window that looks through an exterior hallway (either the library on side 302-304-306 with less traffic) or the computer lab (301-303-305 with slightly more traffic) which also serves as the entry to the lounge. Those walkways are floor to ceiling glass so lots of light shines through, but we mostly kept the curtain pulled on our porthole for privacy. As to the level 2 staterooms, we were told by guests in 210 and 208 that they were closest to the engines and may have had a bit more engine noise at night. The area between 205 and 208 is where the guests gather to disembark, which is not a problem if you are disembarking with them, but if you are looking to sleep through it, it might have been loud. We thought the best value were staterooms 306 and 305, as those are sized to accommodate three passengers, and if they will give you one of those as a double, the extra room in the form of a day bed/couch is nice. The remaining level 3 staterooms, and the level 4 staterooms (but for 401 and 402, see below) are all about the same size. The difference is that the 4 level rooms have a small enclosed “porch” that some guests used as a place to hang wet clothing, but does have enough room for two people to sit with a book or a drink (it is slightly bigger than it looks in pictures.) The level 4 rooms are more private than the level 3 rooms (no exterior traffic), and had more light due to the window on the door to the deck. Staterooms 401 and 402 (on an older brochure I think those were labeled 501 and 502) were really spectacular with large dramatic windows overlooking the bow and sides of the boat, with the same small but functional enclosed decks like the other level 4 rooms. By comparison to any other staterooms, the light in those rooms was extraordinary. The bathrooms too were larger in those suites. The exterior walkways (rather than internal) offer the great benefit of providing many air conditioned places to lounge on either side of the ship with fantastic exterior views. Of course the lounge to the stern and two upper decks (open but shaded) also provide lots of space. The public spaces are sufficiently varied for socializing, or napping, reading or sunning in relative privacy. Therefore, we used our stateroom mostly to sleep, nap, shower and change, and lounged elsewhere on the boat. So overall, as you consider the class of accommodations, we thought 1) a level 2 stateroom offered a great overall experience because the you spend so little time in your room and this trip is about the outdoors; 2) if you are on level 2, rooms 201-204 might be quieter, but noise was never really an issue; 3) the premium for the extra space of 303-306 was worth it to us; 4) if you want to splurge and the stateroom matters to you the most, splurge on 401 or 402; you won’t be disappointed with the premium space. But regardless of which accommodations you pick, make sure you pick one and go. It is a unique travel experience like none other on the planet. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We boarded the ship direct from the airport at Baltra. The embarkation went on without any problem, it was done well. The ship ( more like a big catamaran ) is a fit for purpose vessel. Any one joining this voyage must not expect ... Read More
We boarded the ship direct from the airport at Baltra. The embarkation went on without any problem, it was done well. The ship ( more like a big catamaran ) is a fit for purpose vessel. Any one joining this voyage must not expect the luxuries of huge cruise liners, the purpose is adventure and fascinating activities. The cabins are self contained, neat, clean and well maintained - everything worked in the cabin. Food is of good quality and more than sufficient, being a diabetic I had informed them earlier, they did cater for it. The activities were par excellence - hiking in the Galapagos mountains, snorkelling, kayaking, teaching photography and zodiac boat rides. The service was more than sufficient, cabins were cleaned at least twice on a daily basis, all the staff were very helpful and courteous. There were a lot of shore excursions everyday, twice daily. There was only one chance to go ashore in a port. We had a nine year old boy with us, parents have to take care of their children during all activities. He had a fascinating voyage, it was a new experience for him, he took part in all the activities. I have travelled many times with Lindblad and will positively go again. Read Less
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