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2 Helpful Votes
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: 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
4 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
3 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
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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This was our 4th trip on a Lindblad/National Geographic ship, and the 4th great experience we've had with them. Our journey started with a 3 day shore extension to the cloud forest in Costa Rica with a Lindblad Naturalist (Fico) ... Read More
This was our 4th trip on a Lindblad/National Geographic ship, and the 4th great experience we've had with them. Our journey started with a 3 day shore extension to the cloud forest in Costa Rica with a Lindblad Naturalist (Fico) and driver (German). Normally 10 to 20 guests participate in the extension but this time it was just the 4 people in our family. Not only did Fico and Herman take us to see everything on the itinerary but along the way we stopped to watch howler monkey in trees on the roadside, stopped at some road-side fruit stands to pick up some in-season treats, and others that made the drive to the Cloud Forest part of the adventure. At each destination Fico would talk about the animals or plants we were seeing or hearing which turned every stop from a sightseeing experience to a learning experience. Since there were only 4 of us, they allowed us to deviate from the planned destinations and activities because the smaller group size gave us more flexibility. For example guests normally had to pick between a zip-line through the forest canopy, and a walk through it on suspended bridges - but my daughter really wanted to do both so they made it happen. The accommodations were great (we saw an armadillo, parrots, and other wildlife on the grounds of the lodge we stayed without much effort). The restaurants for all good, and we generally at whatever German (the driver) suggested because he knew every restaurants specialties. After returning from the cloud forest we boarded ship in Costa Rica. We'd previously sailed on the Sea Lions sister ship, the Sea Bird, so we knew what to expect. The ship was in good shape. My wife, daughter, and I stayed in a triple and my brother had a single. The cabin was well maintained and clean with enough storage space for the 3 of us (largely because the bed was raised high enough we could stash our luggage under it easily). In our first trip on the Sea Bird we found the 'shoilet' (small toilet area that doubled as the shower) a bit disconcerting but time around it didn't seem as odd. With 3 of us cabin space was tight, but we spent so little time in the cabin it really didn't matter. Almost the entire day was spent on excursions, in the lounge debriefing with other guest or looking at the photos we got (or didn't) on the computers, or on the partially covered sun deck either enjoying sun, or shade, as we wanted. Food was served in the dining room. It's all 'open seating' and we tried to sit with different guests at each meal. Breakfast was a buffet and generally included fresh fruit, yogurt, cereals, breads, bacon and/or sausage, some type of egg, sometimes crepes, waffles, or pancakes. Lunch was similarly buffet with salad, soup, and fruit always there with different choices each day like burgers and dogs, tacos, thai chicken, and veggie medleys, Dinner was served with soup and fresh bread, with a choice between a meat dish (flank steak, rack of lamb, prime rib, etc.), a seafood dish (sea bass, etc.), and a vegetarian option (portabella risotto, etc.). If none of those sounded good a full size salad or chicken breast was also always offered. Dinner was followed by a desert like flan, fruit crisps, and the like. My daughter had a bit of motion sickness and the hospitality manager (Anna Marie) noticed her not eating and each morning would inquire if she wanted one of the items on the days menu or if she'd prefer some more kid-friendly fare like chicken tenders, pasta, a hot dog, or mac-and-cheese. Most of the time my daughter was good with the normal menu items but a few times she did take Anna Marie up on her offer and got a custom dish just for her. Most meals the natural history staff and some of the ships officers would join us at meals, and we'd learn about them and (since they were from the local area) we'd hear about the culture of the area and what it is like to live and have grown up there. As my review title says, the real high point of the trip was the activities - the shore excursions with the natural history staff. Every day had at least 1 multi-hour activity in the morning and a second in the afternoon. We'd generally take a zodiac from the ship to shore (most often making a wet landing, so shorts and shoes/footwear you are ok getting soaked is mandatory) followed by walk into the forest or along the coast with a naturalist and/or photo instructor. Those guys were amazing, With their naked eyes they spotted sloths in the trees (if you've never seen a sloth in a tree, from the ground it looks like a brown blob in the branches of a tree, and you don't have motion to draw attention to them), howler monkey, spider monkeys, white face monkeys, parrots, toucans, macaws, hummingbirds, alligators, tarantulas, bats, and mountains of other types of birds and animals. They pointed out plants and type of plants, talked about the life cycle of the forest and how gaps in the canopy result in pioneer plants which eventually end up with the forest terminal state foliage. They could identify birds by call alone, and in most cases then find the birds. The photo instructor (Jose) was great. In addition to being a naturalist and point out the animals and plants, walks with him always included hints and tips on how to photograph them more effectively, the right types of light, moving to better angles to capture the life better, camera settings so you could get the effect you wanted from stop-motion (real cool for birds in flight, or dolphins jumping from the bow or in the wake of the ship) to blurred (great for the some of the waterfalls we visited). A clear highlight was seeing a sloth in a tree on the start of a walk, and on the way back seeing that same sloth with it's new born baby. The videographer that accompanied us everywhere even got some real "National Geographic" quality video of the sloth eating the placenta after giving birth. A real 'once in a lifetime moment' even for our naturalists who spent decades in the rain forest! The last two days of the trip, when we traversed the Panama Canal, was a bit slower than the previous days but that was because we had to defer to the canal authority to decide when we could cross. We entered the canal in the evening (passenger ships as 2nd priority, the big cargo ships go first) which gave us a great chance to photograph the canal and operations at night. Jose, our trusty photo instructor, seemed to be everywhere helping guest capture the night canal night crossing in pictures the way they wanted. We spent the night in the canal itself (Lindblad is the only cruise that stops mid-way) and visited the Smithsonian Institutes tropical research center on Barro Colorado Island at first night, which included a talk from a long-time researcher from the island (I suppose spending 30 years as a researcher on that island counts as a long time). We were then lucky enough to traverse the 2nd set of locks in the day; so we could see lock operations both at night and in the say. As crazy as it sounds, another highlight for me was the last night which we spent in the container port on the Caribbean side of the canal. We were moored right along side some Panamax and post-Panamax contain ships and from the sun deck we could watch the loading and unloading of those ships up-close and personal. The Sea Lion seems like a little minnow tied-up along those mega-behemoths. The trip concluded with our Lindblad representatives taking us to the airport in Panama City for our flight how. Along the way we stopped at the Mira Flores Locks (the ones we traversed at night) so we could see them from the day from the visitors center; it really made us appreciate the experience of having crossed through the locks as well. We were sorry to see it end, and are already thinking about what Lindblad voyage to take next. If only I could wrangle a month off (and I could con Lindblad into giving me a break on the price!) it'd probably be Antarctic and South Georgia island. I'm not sure it could top the sloth giving birth but I'm willing to let them try! Read Less
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