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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We were referred to Lindblad Expeditions by friends who have taken many cruise vacations. We had no interest in floating towns...giant ships with formal dinners, conga lines, wine-tastings, and jewelry parades. We wanted a relaxed but ... Read More
We were referred to Lindblad Expeditions by friends who have taken many cruise vacations. We had no interest in floating towns...giant ships with formal dinners, conga lines, wine-tastings, and jewelry parades. We wanted a relaxed but structured interpretive experience blending both the natural and social character of Central America with the intimate experience of one of the world's greatest engineering marvels. When our friends said that's exactly what we'd get, we were aboard! The Costa Rica / Canal cruise was everything we hoped for. We could never do justice to the Lindblad/National Geographic staff...from the ship crew to the hotel staff, the kitchen talent and the dining servers...and the gracious friendly excursion guides who were so masterful in their knowledge and charming in their ways of explanations and painstaking thoughtfulness. Every crew and staff member was exquisitely trained and enhanced the guest experience. The food!!! Every meal a delight. We sacrificed some cabin space for a small balcony with no regrets. After all, the last place you want to be during any of this trip is in your cabin... The choices of field excursions offers something for everyone. Don't miss the coffee plantation, the chocolate co-op, the heart-of-palm farm. Meeting the locals and learning of their lives enlightened us as much as the climax....the fabulous transit through the canal by both night and day, for which we were beautifully prepared with a documentary recapping its history. We were so glad we opted for the East-to-West trip with the canal as the finale...perfect! Then, going by coach from Colon to Panama City, a stop at the Miraflores visitor center locks to look out over the canal and see the fabulous museum was a fabulous final curtain. Kudos to all of the Lindblad/NGeo people who constructed and conducted this adventure! We will see you again.... Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We went on the Panama Canal/Costa Rica cruise in January, 2019. We love watching wildlife and thought this cruise would be a good way to do it. We have been to Costa Rica before - on a small bus tour on the Caribbean side so this was ... Read More
We went on the Panama Canal/Costa Rica cruise in January, 2019. We love watching wildlife and thought this cruise would be a good way to do it. We have been to Costa Rica before - on a small bus tour on the Caribbean side so this was different. We like being with like-minded people and under 100 passengers seemed manageable. We had 87 people on our cruise. The captain, officers and all of the crew made sure that we were enjoying ourselves and did not need anything. I would have given the dining rating an excellent but some of the Panamanian cuisine seemed too bland for us. That said, we always found something we liked. They always had other standard options for dinner if you didn't like what was being offered. They had an omelet station every morning, always had fresh fruit and wonderfully fresh salad greens. If my husband and myself were 'birders,' we would have enjoyed the rainforest hikes more. It seemed like there were definitely more birders than non-birders. But, mammals inhabit the same types of places so again, you never knew when something would appear. Animals are not on a schedule and many times they just don't make themselves visible. It would have been nice to see more but it just didn't happen. Obviously, rainforests are by nature humid and hot. I wish I brought more clothes with me because each excursion left you dripping. There was really no entertainment on the ship other than the presentations in the lounge. The ones we saw were very good. Unfortunately, we didn't attend most of them just because we were too tired and needed to be up early the next morning. The workout room had nice, clean equipment to use. Due to the size of the ship, the space was small. They also had yoga every morning that I did not take advantage of. All of the public areas were always spotless. They asked that we conserve water which is a very legitimate request and I think everyone was in the same conservation mindset. I told the captain that it would have been nice had we known about the wringer machines that were under the bridge where you could wash your clothes in the sink and wring them out in these machines. It was basically a 'spin cycle' like you have on your washing machine at home. Our clothes would have dried days quicker. We also didn't realize that there were hooks over the bathroom door until the last night of the cruise. Going through the locks of the canal was amazing. We have done it before on a larger cruise ship but this was much better and more intimate. The tour of old Panama City was great - The Biodiversity Museum was also great, especially their video presentation. That was not to be missed - with eight separate and angled screens, including the ceiling and floor. We had originally signed up for a rainforest tour until Cristian, the expedition leader, told us how important we would be to the local economy and how much the locals loved talking about their crafts and explaining their livelihoods - like the Hearts of Palm tour and then the Chocolate tour. We are glad we switched. We saw a lot and learned even more. The snorkeling in Panama was unbelievable. I wished we had seen the turtles and the reef-tipped shark that other people saw but just seeing all the colorful fish made it more than worthwhile for us. The excursions on the private islands were amazing. The picnic that the crew laid out for us on one of the private properties (on a beach) was beautifully done. It had to be so much work for them but they truly did a fantastic job. Don't forget to bring some cash because some of the local people bring their crafts to sell. I will suggest to others to bring enough T-shirts to change to; bring GOOD water shoes. Mine broke (and my husband's broke on the last Zodiac tour). I wore long pants in the dining room because I thought the ship was cold. Also, bring a sweater or sweatshirt. Take binoculars everywhere because you never know what or when you are going to see something. We used a GoPro in underwater housing for the snorkeling. I'm still very green with it, but I got a lot of fish. You can also get underwater pouches for phones if you want to take pictures. Have something that is waterproof for your good camera because it may very well get wet in the Zodiac from splashing. People on the ship seemed to range in age from maybe 40s (just a few) to probably late 80s. We met many people with all kinds of backgrounds and very interesting experiences. We have taken several cruises on large ships, one river cruise and this is our first Linblad/Nat Geo cruise. If you like walking through rainforests, snorkeling, beaches, want to see the canal and be with a great group of people, I recommend this trip. All of the staff, especially the naturalist guides, are very passionate about their profession, as they should be. Their passion was contagious. Our shipboard doctor was trained in emergency medicine and had many years of experience. He accompanied us on several tours and went on others that we did not. He was very outgoing, friendly and easy to talk to. He is a great conversationalist and dinner companion. His wife accompanied him as well and she, too, was very friendly and outgoing. A very big thank you to everyone associated in making this trip what it was. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
I’m interested in nature and this trip completely fulfilled my expectations. The Lindblad- National Geographic guides are very knowledgeable of the region and the history all the species very impressive. The Quest is very comfortable ... Read More
I’m interested in nature and this trip completely fulfilled my expectations. The Lindblad- National Geographic guides are very knowledgeable of the region and the history all the species very impressive. The Quest is very comfortable the staff very friendly and helpful, breakfast lunch and dinner unbelievably well prepared and presented everything perfect. The excursions very well organized and very interesting and informative safety first very well done. The room is very comfortable clean and very nice furniture all the amenities and areas of the boat are very comfortable and clean. The programs the excursions very well organized and prepared everything well done. I really recommend this trip for people interested in nature and historical places like the Panamá Canal and the areas of Panamá. Costa Rica is a very reach region with a very reach history and the best ecosystem very well protected and manage for years to come for everybody to enjoy it. 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
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
The actual cruise information preloaded above is WRONG! The dates were 18-26 Feb and the cruise was their new Belize/Guatemala Itinerary. this is a duplicate post from what I put in the National Geographic/Lindblad forum under Quest. ... Read More
The actual cruise information preloaded above is WRONG! The dates were 18-26 Feb and the cruise was their new Belize/Guatemala Itinerary. this is a duplicate post from what I put in the National Geographic/Lindblad forum under Quest. The trip was 18-26 Feb 2018 on their new Belize/Guatemala Itinerary Back from the Quest for a couple of weeks and have let things sort themselves out in my mind. I think this particular trip type of expedition finds travelers who either LOVE the experience or are saying "why did I spend all my money for this?" I fall into the second category. The staff was fine, good, competent and friendly. The food was a severe disappointment. Breakfast was fine, lunch usually was ok and dinner whenever served was frankly inedible. Fish overcooked to the point where it was rubber, limp vegetables and complete lack of any reasonable amount of protein for vegetarians. (Yes, I expect coconut veg curry to have more veg than onion and mushroom and have a flavor other than brown). Ship - It is new, comfortable. But there is only one lounge which is used for everything which means that there is no place quiet on the ship indoors to sit, read or quietly talk with others. The outdoor areas are only usable if the weather is good (not raining, no wind). The Cruise Director equivalent didn't know when to stop talking which meant that we were always late into dinner (may well have contributed to the poor food - beautifully plated mind you but overcooked and tasteless). I expected adult - what I got was a "Good Morning campers" approach. Greetings and shouted responses are for religious services and kindergarten. My fellow passengers were perhaps the most educated group I have ever had the pleasure to travel with; we did't need programs that catered to the three families traveling and featuring their offspring in presentations. The Naturalists were good as was the photographer. I enjoyed the snorkeling and the supporting dive teams. Mind you, I understand where the expensive of the trip goes - transportation and staff salaries. Not a problem, But as someone who normally arranges her own tours and expeditions I found buses with 30-40 people at times irritating. Lastly, and most importantly for me, as is apparently the custom with many of the small ships - you can't lock your cabin except from the inside. I travel with expensive camera equipment. My insurance company, when asked said that if anything happened they would not cover it as they would feel that neither the ship nor I had taken proper precautions to secure it. The Celebrity Xpedition is the same size and has cabin keys.... The food was outstanding, the naturalists extremely good and all beverages were included when we were on her in the Galapagos. Lindblad was interesting. But not worth the money from my point of view. There were several couples who had been on 20+ Lindblad cruises and would never put a foot on a larger ship. I guess I prefer a bit more space, good food and personal flexibility. -Holly pictures on www.hollydoyne.net with dates 18-25 Feb 2018. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
This was our first Lindblad/National Geographic cruise, and it fully delivered on all counts. The focus is on seeing the environment, birds, and animals of the area, with a Panama Canal transit as a bonus. The ship was modern, in perfect ... Read More
This was our first Lindblad/National Geographic cruise, and it fully delivered on all counts. The focus is on seeing the environment, birds, and animals of the area, with a Panama Canal transit as a bonus. The ship was modern, in perfect condition, beautiful, and a real ship (not a mall.) I had some of the best meals ever on board - the rack of lamb comes to mind as a real winner. The ship’s crew plus the naturalists on board were excellent, and really added to the overall experience. I would like to compliment the naturalists in particular. They were true professionals - friendly and knowledgeable, and with decades of experience. There was a lot of discussion of photography, and several of the naturalists were excellent photographers. Going through the Panama Canal was surprisingly thrilling. You really got a sense of the historical magnitude of the canal as an achievement. The small scale of the Quest (240 feet long, 12 foot draft, less than 100 guests) meant that we visited small, intimate destinations and did not overwhelm them. Looking at seabirds such as frigates and the famous blue-footed booby from a zodiac was super fun. I got to try paddle boarding for the first time in a perfect setting - it was total enjoyment. Days are full, starting with a 7:30 breakfast and an 8:30 excursion, normally with another excursion in the afternoon and lecture or presentation at night. A great job all around by Lindblad/Nat Geo. No weaknesses. Expensive but worth it. 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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We took the expedition entitled: Panama to Costa Rica + Monteverde, Arenal Volcano & Tortuguero including a cruise of 7 nights + a Land Excursion of 7 nights. The Sea Lion ship is nice and well equipped with very helpful and nice ... Read More
We took the expedition entitled: Panama to Costa Rica + Monteverde, Arenal Volcano & Tortuguero including a cruise of 7 nights + a Land Excursion of 7 nights. The Sea Lion ship is nice and well equipped with very helpful and nice staff and remarkable expedition team formed from many local experts. The embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly and well organized. We must say the cabins were pretty cramped. The dinning including the service was good but the choose of dishes not very impressive. The shore excursions were always very well organized. The local guides that were part of the expedition team were exceptional and we enjoyed their presentations and guidance extremely. The presence of Kike Calvo was really inspiring !!! He forever changed the way we appreciate light, composition and the overall photography experience. We believe that the itinerary could be achieved in less time without missing all the visited points of interest. As we contracted from Lindblad the cruise with the land extension in Costa Rica we must say some words about this part also, that was amazing from all points of view!: The land adventure was truly exceptional: beautiful places, remarkable choice of visited points of interest along the route, very nice and well chosen local restaurants and exceptional Hotels. The guide, Maguil Cespedes, was exceptional in terms of knowledge and insight into all nature's details and in all aspects of Costa Rica's day-to-day life. He was a good-spirited companion organizer and teacher. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
We have traveled all over the world and decided to take a quiet small Lindblad/Nat. Geo cruise for health reasons. We chose the Panama Canal and Costa Rica. IT WAS BY FAR THE WORST TRIP WE'VE EVER HAD. The boat itself was not ... Read More
We have traveled all over the world and decided to take a quiet small Lindblad/Nat. Geo cruise for health reasons. We chose the Panama Canal and Costa Rica. IT WAS BY FAR THE WORST TRIP WE'VE EVER HAD. The boat itself was not well maintained - dirt and rust spots all over (we were later told it was going to be replaced soon). The first room we were assigned smelled so badly of mold and mildew we couldn't breathe and couldn't stay there, and threatened to leave the next day. It was unhealthy and sickening. They found us another room - it didn't smell but the bathroom smelled like sewage most of the day. They tried to tell us that this was simply "the ship's smell" - really?! It was awful. They did not give us bottled water to drink, so we had to drink the highly chlorinated water from the sink. This was shocking to us as we always buy bottled water, whenever we travel, and would never chose to drink water that smells like chlorine. Aside from all this, the stops were quite boring. Mostly uninhabited locations, which meant there was nothing to see, tho they were described as interesting and breathtaking. The only positive thing I can say about this company is that they returned half of our money based on our complaints. Read Less
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