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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
We have traveled with NatGeo/Lindblad on several occasions, Galapagos, Iceland, Africa (NatGeo solely), Alaska and now Wrangel Island. I had looked forward to this trip for almost 2 years. My expeditions were not met however. Food: ... Read More
We have traveled with NatGeo/Lindblad on several occasions, Galapagos, Iceland, Africa (NatGeo solely), Alaska and now Wrangel Island. I had looked forward to this trip for almost 2 years. My expeditions were not met however. Food: Plentiful and good as always. Alcohol: Free flowing (I'm not a drinker, but it appeared it was free flowing). Excursions: Not so great. Our first stop was Provideniya. This town is ominous. There is nothing to see (building that have been deteriorating since WWII perhaps) and nothing to do. There are no shops or souvenirs to be had. We had some local townspeople put on a dance show, but that was it. The streets are dirty and it is depressing place to be. Uelen: Ditto. VERY ominous and dirty. The ivory museum was interesting. However, despite promoting the ivory on their website and in their handouts as well as the pre-trip briefing for this town visit, you cannot LEGALLY purchase these wares because the individuals who carve these brilliant pieces do not abide by the parameters set by CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species C.I.T.E.S.) which regulates same. Walrus, Mammoth and other ivory wares are BANNED. Basically, you are perusing carvings that are illegal in their derivation. Villagers put on another dance for us. Lorino: Ditto. Ominous, poverty stricken town. Under Russian law, they are allowed to hunt whales and fox. Thankfully, while we were there. . . . all of the 1500 fox cages were empty. And the only remainders of a whale were there blood/blubber covered bones that their dozens of dogs were eating (yes . . . gross). Nothing to see. Nothing to buy, except for one villager had ivory and pelts for sale, which again . . . are illegal to purchase. We did have a tug of war with the local villagers, which was interesting. Several men from our cruise volunteered and went against several men from the village who haul whales from the ocean for a living. When our guys won . . . the villagers were angry and stormed off. Wrangel island: Saw 80+ polar bears at about 3/4 mile to a mile away from the ship. We only did 4 zodiac runs the entire trip. Once to Wrangel Island to walk the tundra for 2 hours (looking at plants). No wildlife. Some geese. Old broken down buildings. LOTS of mud. Saw 1 polar bear from a zodiac run, but with 10 other people in the boat, the waves and the driver instructing us to sit down, don't move, don't get up and don't switch places . . . was nearly impossible to get a picture. When I came home from my Africa trip . . . I had over 8,000 pictures. Iceland and Galapagos over 5,000 pictures each. I have 7 pictures of "wildlife" from this trip. Geese flying overhead. 1 of a polar bear from 1/4 mile away. 1 of 2 polar bears 3/4 mile away and some other birds. That's the extent of my photos. I got tired of taking photo of ominous places. And plants just aren't my thing. NatGeo's photogs (as usual) were allowed to head out in zodiacs on their own to hunt down subjects for their photos, while passengers were boarded into a single zodiac 10-12 at a time. They do whatever it takes to get their shot. Sometimes I feel like I am paying for them to get their shots . . . shouldn't the passenger be the one able to take advantage of getting great photography and not the NatGeo photog who is there because you are paying for him to be there? The age demographic for our particular trip was much older than most NatGeo trips. We are 60 and 61 years of age . . . and we were the youngest by several years. It appears that NatGeo is moving towards Viking type trips . . . where there are less adventurers and more travelers who are completely satisfied with eating, drinking, napping and being entertained by a singing / dancing crew than head out in search of wildlife. A good portion of the passengers could not even get into a zodiac without the help of 4 people. At one point it became dangerous because passengers were either not listening, unable to listen or didn't care to listen to zodiac disembarking instructions . . . and 2 people in the back got hammered by the sea. And . . . many of them slowed us down during the 2 (yes . . only 2) outings that took place. So . . . is NatGeo becoming an extensive, expensive, dinner cruise? Is money the bottom line for them and the adventuring spirit has taken a back seat to wining and dining the older demographic? So . . . Waitstaff go out of their way to please you; ditto for housekeeping. Despite the brochure indicating that tips are NOT necessary or expected . . . a huge tip box is visible in the reception area on the last day. Photographers - you are paying for their adventure . . . so they get their shots . . . and as such try to be as personable as possible during the trips. What continues to happen though on these trips is that the photographers have their "help" session the very last day . . . so basically they are saying "if you photographed landscape in the dim light we had last Tuesday, then your settings should have been 'x'". What they don't do is help you PRIOR to encountering such conditions. So - basically, they are helping you after the fact, but they still get THEIR shots. Landry service - we used them 3 times and clothes came back in great order. Mud room - on our cruise the mud room was turned into a staff lounge and thus unusable by passengers. After excursions to the disgustingly and questionably dirty villages and the like, your boots go back into your rooms with you. There is a brief opportunity to wash them off after disembarking the zodiac, but there is usually a line to do so. When we arrived back home . . . I hot water soaked and disinfected all of our shoes. Wellness - I had a massage every other day with Allison. I love deep tissue massage . . . and she was very well trained and wonderful. Note: the small exercise room is just outside of the massage room door . . . so if someone is working out . . . you will hear them. A few sites claim that there is room service 24/7 on this cruise . . . that is absolutely not the case. The cruise never used the: ROV kayaks underwater camera video microscope crow's next camera hydrophone The staff divers were not allowed to diver purportedly due to military restrictions set by the Russians, but we heard that it was because the administrative staff forgot to file the necessary paperwork. Panoramic views from the lounge. Dining room is oddly situated on only the port side of the ship . . . almost like an afterthought. If you want a trip where you can eat as much as you like and socialize - this is the trip for you. If you want to drink as much as alcohol as you like and socialize - this is the trip for you. If you enjoy viewing plants - this is the trip for you. If you are in search of wildlife - do not take this trip. If I had known what this trip would be like . . . I would not have taken it . . . because the cost vs the experience was absolutely not worth it. What NatGeo and Lindblad are advertising is not what you get. We did not see hundreds of polar bears (at least within viewing range - maybe with a binoculars - 3/4 mile to a mile away), we did not visit the whale bone alley and despite Wrangel Island being touted as the most bio diverse island full of a plethora of wildlife (their words not mine), we saw nothing but birds. . . . and very few of them at that. For the cost . . . absolutely not worth it . . . and we could have gone to Africa 3 times for what it cost to go to Wrangel Island. Such a disappointment. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I thought this expedition was fantastic in every respect. It was very educational with the lecturers by the naturalists and photographers. The Orion hotel staff and cruise were helpful and friendly at all times as were the naturalists and ... Read More
I thought this expedition was fantastic in every respect. It was very educational with the lecturers by the naturalists and photographers. The Orion hotel staff and cruise were helpful and friendly at all times as were the naturalists and photographers. I met a fantastic group of people from many parts of the world. Antarctica was nothing short of spectacular particularly the colour of the ice against the various aspects of the sun and the wildlife. The wildlife and the story of Shackleton on South Georgia was incredible as was the history of the Falkland Islands. I am vision impaired and I had a huge challenge to convince those in charge of this expedition that I am capable of doing this expedition on my own. I am proud that I have been able to do this on my own and want to encourage Lindblad and National Geographic to see how they can make their expeditions more accessible for people with a disability and to ensure that if a person with a disability applied for one of their expeditions that they are not pre judged on whether they are able to do the expedition or not but look at how this can be done and providing the traveller with vital facts so that an informed decision on travel can be made in the first place. In most instances minor adjustments are all that are required. Well done to all. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
Cruising with Linblad/Nat Geo was as opportunity to observe wildlife on the 7th Continent while having naturalist readily available to answer questions. Captain Martin Graser and his bridge crew were readily available, friendly and ... Read More
Cruising with Linblad/Nat Geo was as opportunity to observe wildlife on the 7th Continent while having naturalist readily available to answer questions. Captain Martin Graser and his bridge crew were readily available, friendly and professional. They were also instrumental in spotting wildlife. We enjoyed exploring the departure cities of Santiago and Ushuaia. The cities of Sewell and Valparaiso were educational experiences that we elected to visit by arriving to Chile a few days early. The onboard WiFi did not work a couple days at sea and upon return to Ushuaia, the day before disembarking. The land excursions were a blast. It was great to get some exercise, as well as observe wildlife up close. Being able to walk on fast ice while the ship was parked on it was a pleasant surprise. Upon return to the ship after the land excursions we cleaned our boots in sheep dip. Please ensure any chemicals used are DO NOT organophosphates (OP). "The majority of former sheep dips investigated to date are contaminated with persistent dip chemicals at levels that are hazardous to humans, livestock and the environment. Arsenic and the organochlorine pesticide dieldrin are the two main contaminants found at sheep dips sites." Upon return to the ship, all passengers step in to the sheep dip and then walk through the ship to our cabins. This causes the sheep dip to be carried throughout the ship. Even more disconcerting, the ship's crew is exposed to the OP's for longer periods since they stay on the ship for multiple trips. Please closely inspect the food during loading and preparation. A mosquito was found in a lunch dish and a green inch worm was found in a dinner soup. The dinner host was informed. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. The waiting area at the Holiday Inn upon return to Santiago was greatly appreciated. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
Some people are called to Antarctica, and the Orion took us there in luxury for our adventures. The crew was outstanding in all ways as were the various expert naturalists and photographers. It was fun to hear the captain tell us about ... Read More
Some people are called to Antarctica, and the Orion took us there in luxury for our adventures. The crew was outstanding in all ways as were the various expert naturalists and photographers. It was fun to hear the captain tell us about how we were going to maneuver to avoid storms and the itinerary would change due to weather conditions -- but we always landed in great spots or explored with the zodiacs. We did the trip that included the Falklands and South Georgia Island as well as Antarctica. Lindblad had wonderful warm jackets ready for us and we rented boots to save packing space. It was a little warmer than we might have expected and we overpacked -- we were ready for the true South Pole. The atmosphere of the trip was very casual -- on board and at meals people were happy in jeans and sweatshirts or whatever was most comfortable. We were glad to bring home a nice video that was prepared by a specialist on the trip -- he had it all ready by the day we left and it nicely reflects all that we saw. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our 7th cruise with Lindblad. We go with Lindblad/NatGeo because of the smaller ship size (72 people on this one), the knowledgeable and expert staff and the very high quality of the crew. We toured the Tumumatu Atolls and ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise with Lindblad. We go with Lindblad/NatGeo because of the smaller ship size (72 people on this one), the knowledgeable and expert staff and the very high quality of the crew. We toured the Tumumatu Atolls and the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, visiting 17 in 15 days. Some had not seen a cruise ship stop there and many did not have any people where we swam, snorkeled, kayaked and hiked. We were fortunate to have wonderful weather. Every day offered a number of activities. The crew and Lindblad staff always were looking for what may be the most interesting or most rewarding. They would work closely with the Captain (who mingled with the guests on most days) to put the ship where we could best partake in the events. Flexibility was always high on the list and offered everyone the chance to get between activities when they wanted to do so. Another very strong attribute of the trip is the access to many experts of the Lindblad staff as well as those they bring on board. We had at least 5 naturalists, 3 cultural experts, underwater experts and certified photography experts. We also had the head of Nat Geo's Natural History photography on the trip. All of them reach out constantly and are there to answer, assist and suggest ways to get the absolute best out of the venture. If that is not enough, the Bridge is open and the Captain and Co-Captain would personally discuss the ship operation and navigation. As for other attributes, the Chef and kitchen staff did a fabulous job. Many choices, fresh offerings, and constant availability. Ice cream bars brought to the beach and greeting us after a drift snorkeling experience! The hotel staff knows everyone by name and is always ready to serve you. I would not pick Lindblad if you are looking for a large fitness center (you don't have time to use it anyway), a casino (none), entertainment (the crew do a great job and the recaps are entertaining as well as the Hotel Manager), multiple pools (there is one spa) or shore excursions that hit popular places (they hired all the transport, which was 6 trucks on one island). However, if you are seeking an immersive experience and want to be with sharp and interesting people from all walks-of-life, you would be hard-pressed to find a better choice in Lindblad Expeditions. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
Chosen as a frequent traveler when offered a discount. Went with a travel buddy and shared a forward cabin. Lovely even if a bit small. It took a fair amount of rolling making the first 3 days a bit unsettling. As we went south we were in ... Read More
Chosen as a frequent traveler when offered a discount. Went with a travel buddy and shared a forward cabin. Lovely even if a bit small. It took a fair amount of rolling making the first 3 days a bit unsettling. As we went south we were in calmer seas and enjoyed the ship not only as an adventure but as a guest of the "hotel". The crew on the Orion is proud of its staff and well it should be. Always smiling, they freshened our cabin daily, served us with glorious food. Even opened a new bottle of wine that was not offered that night, just for me. The sailors took great care to assist us into the Zodiacs for forays to the beach to snorkel. I was assisted by one of the expedition onto a paddleboard, instructed how to stand and off I went into the blue water, master of my own rig. Exciting. I learned to snorkel with their help. The photography staff helped me to take better pictures and showed me how to get underwater videos with my GoPro. We visited villages on 3 islands, greeted with enthusiasm with welcoming ceremonies, native dances and food. The ethnomusiciologist heard the choir of a Christian church on a previous cruise and asked them to come on the day we were to arrive (Wednesday) and sing for u s. They agreed, rushed home from work to dress in their Sunday finery and be at church when we arrived at 4PM. Their singing was so heartful that we were all inspired. We were happy that the pastor asked them to stand in a line to greet us all as we left. We hugged and kissed in the proper French way, one of the cruisers received a hat from one of the congregants. Merci's and bon voyage to us all as we thanked them for giving us the opportunity to hear hymns in their Polynesian language. On the last night, we had the opportunity to thank the captain, meet and thank the chef. thank our servers, and to clap for those crew members who were in the engine room, who kept the ship moving. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this trip because of our wonderful experience with Lindblad in the Galapagos and our understanding from Lindblad that this would be an expedition with varied land experiences in small groups with a top notch team of knowledgeable ... Read More
We chose this trip because of our wonderful experience with Lindblad in the Galapagos and our understanding from Lindblad that this would be an expedition with varied land experiences in small groups with a top notch team of knowledgeable guides with an A+ Expedition Cruise organization. The further bonus was the opportunity for great diving while on the trip. Sadly, it did not live up to our expectations or the standards we would expect from Lindblad. On the Plus Side: The boat is great and one of their nicer ships. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, the food is excellent and the staff couldn't be better. The diving was exactly what we expected based on our discussions with Michelle Graves. The dive masters were excellent and the rental equipment was new and of high quality. We actually ended up diving more than we had planned and this ended up being the highlight of the trip (as well as an additional expense beyond the cost of the expedition). The scenery is beautiful and the waters are warm. All the expedition staff are friendly and accessible, and it was wonderful to have a world renowned photographer on board with us! What could have been better: This was the first time Lindblad has done this itinerary in some years and it showed. Most of the expedition staff made it clear they were unfamiliar with the area; Shore excursions were generally in large groups ... between 25 and in one case close to 60 people together -- and with just a single person leading the group in each case. This happened three days in a row! This was precisely what we had been assured would NOT be the case. There were only two opportunities for hiking during the week and one was available on a first-come-first serve basis to less than 30 people on a boat of 94. We were shut out of this opportunity. Something else that should not happen with Lindblad. Historical French Polynesian culture is largely gone and so most land excursions involved seeing archeological sites which are interesting but not all that varied from island to island. As a diver, we expected to have to choose between diving and water activities. However, it was almost always a choice between diving and the very few land excursions. On one day the entire diving group (11 people) chose to skip the diving in order to participate in the land excursion. The only excursion on the last day was a one hour visit to a pearl farm, but this was made available during the only time diving could take place (in the morning) given that diving is prohibited 24 hours prior to flying. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
My wife and I prefer comfortable travel but with an adventurous edge. We had previously enjoyed an expedition-style cruise to the Galapagos Islands and were intrigued by the prospect of visiting another relatively untouched environment in ... Read More
My wife and I prefer comfortable travel but with an adventurous edge. We had previously enjoyed an expedition-style cruise to the Galapagos Islands and were intrigued by the prospect of visiting another relatively untouched environment in Antarctica. We hoped the trip would be strongly flavored with lectures and input from on-board specialists, and in this, it did not disappoint. The ship crew (dining, hotel, etc.) and expedition crew (naturalists, photographers, etc) were uniformly enthused, engaged and AVAILABLE! Any concerns, queries, even casual conversation, was routinely met with satisfying answers from apparently interested people. The expedition crew was encouraged to sit with guests at meals (tables were open and unassigned), and their stories greatly enhanced the lively exchanges at mealtimes. A note on the Drake Passage: many (most?) of the passengers had apprehensions about becoming seasick on the passage from South America to Antarctica. To that end, most (including my wife and I) sported "the patch," a Scopolamine-laces bandaid that sticks behind one ear and lasts for three days or so. Passengers who took precautions (i.e. medications of one sort or another) seemed completely unphased by the significant swell (4+ meters) we experienced. Those who chose to go "unprotected," were "hit and miss." Additionally, ther midship and lower-deck location of our stateroom left us less vulnerable to the larger roller or pitching actions experienced on smaller ships such as ours. Seas were smooth on both sides of the passage, but I can't stress strongly enough the impact on your enjoyment by taking the necessary mediation precautions. (I experienced no drowsiness or other untoward reactions to mypatchs, just comfort.) Lindbladt/National Geographic provided a strong value-added component to this trip. I was able to sign out (at no charge) long length zoom lenses for my camera, a chance to play with new equipment and at the same time enhance my photography. The Zodiac rides were smooth and safe. Close up access to seals, penguins and even whales left us all saying "It just doesn't get any better!" Going into this trip, I was apprehensive, even doubtful, that the experience could possibly justify the very significant costs incurred. It turned out to be an education and a thrill. I was very happy with our trip and it was worth every penny. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose Linblad/National Geographic (Nov. 29th-Dec. 19th, 2017) because of the reputation of National Geographic. Touring Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island (the Serengeti of the Antarctic), South Shetland Islands, South Orkney ... Read More
We chose Linblad/National Geographic (Nov. 29th-Dec. 19th, 2017) because of the reputation of National Geographic. Touring Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island (the Serengeti of the Antarctic), South Shetland Islands, South Orkney Islands, and ultimately Antarctica was truly a trip of a lifetime. Bit of a cliche perhaps but it truly was awe-inspiring and life changing to walk amongst hundreds of thousands of penguins, seals, and sea birds. The crew on the National Geographic Orion, at every level, were friendly, helpful, anticipatory, informative, and a lot of fun! This was a very active cruise on a smaller ship (about 100 passengers) that offered different levels of hikes plus zodiac tours all with a specialist, most of whom had PhDs in their respective fields. Who knew that a lecture on the cryosphere (all things ice) could be so interesting? We learned so much about the flora and fauna of the Antarctic zone and saw so many marine animals, birds, and interesting plants. The food on board was always fresh (how do they do it when at sea for 3 weeks?), every meal different, and the bar a lively spot after a day of hiking and photographing these wonderful Antarctic creatures. We saw both fin whales and humpbacks feeding so close to the ship and even on a zodiac tour! The captain and expedition leader both get a shout-out as they endeavored to find areas of discovery teaming with wildlife while taking advantage of excellent weather conditions. Those few days we transited at sea between the Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica passengers availed themselves of yoga/stretch classes, stationary bikes, treadmills, elliptical machines, and 40 laps on the 6th deck=2 miles! Additional lectures added, during transit days, to our growing knowledge of this unique part of the world. Ultimately seeing these creatures in the wild led us, personally, to a decision to be more proactive in our support both financially and in sending emails to our elected representatives about the importance of this fragile area of our planet. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this trip because it visited the Basque Country, Santiago de Compostela and Oporto, all places we wanted to see. Having been on three previous Nat Geo trips, we knew they were tops. This one even exceeded the other because,the ... Read More
We chose this trip because it visited the Basque Country, Santiago de Compostela and Oporto, all places we wanted to see. Having been on three previous Nat Geo trips, we knew they were tops. This one even exceeded the other because,the Orion is a luxurious ship. You always have top professional guidance and leadership and this was no exception. Nine exceptionally qualified professional leaders, many with PhDs or working towards one. Includes three professional photographers, all willing to be very helpful whether you have a fancy camera or an iPhone. The crew, all from the Phillipines, were also exceptional. Hard working, caring, personable...the best! Highly recommend Nat Geo/Lindblad trips. The other passengers are all very bright, interesting people. The food was outstanding, often reflecting the cuisine of the area we were visiting that day. Two completely interchangeable menus every night, one more gourmet and one more traditional...everything delicious! The local guides are also excellent and the touring groups a manageable size. Everything well organized. We spent four nights in Bordeaux before embarking and five nights in Lisbon after the cruise. Definitely recommend doing this as the cruise concentrates on the actual ports for exploration. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
I chose this cruise because I wanted to see Iceland and the Faroe Islands. I'm quite interested in the characteristics of the polar regions of our planet, and this seemed to be a good way to do it. I was not disappointed. A few ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to see Iceland and the Faroe Islands. I'm quite interested in the characteristics of the polar regions of our planet, and this seemed to be a good way to do it. I was not disappointed. A few notes: The itinerary had to be changed because of storms in the North Sea. This worked out well for me, but may not have been so for others. Travelers should note that Lindblad specifically states in their contract that changes are possible. There was a wide variety of expertise among the staff, from ornithology to ethnomusicology to geology. We also had a native Icelander on board. This provided good breath of understanding of what we were seeing. This cruise had significantly more bus tours than other Lindblad cruises I have been on. This is not a negative comment as the tours were well done. It's just a note for expedition cruisers. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly, but with only ~82 passengers there should have been no problems. The cuisine was excellent, but perhaps the presentation was overly fussy. Dining room and bar service was quick and efficient. My only real complaint is that the solo cabins (only 3 in the least expensive category) are poorly located. Mine was also had excessive engine noise. Because of this, I think the Orion is not the best Lindblad ship for solo travelers. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We chose this cruise because we prefer small groups, good food, great destinations and comfort. . .we have been on two cruises, both small boats with a little more than 100 passengers. Normally we travel on our own, unguided but well ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we prefer small groups, good food, great destinations and comfort. . .we have been on two cruises, both small boats with a little more than 100 passengers. Normally we travel on our own, unguided but well researched beforehand. We found the Orion to be everything we thought it would be. . .comfortable, great views, a wonderful room, smooth running and quiet too and the staff were exceptional. Billy, our room cleaner was pleasant, friendly and quite capable. The staff that served us were outstanding and the Captain and crew were charming and professional. Many of the places we visited were educational as well as being extremely attractive locales. Our breakfasts and lunches and tea time were top-notch. . .dinners less so. For example; an Oso Buco would have required a chainsaw to cut the meat. . .my Halibut was cooked to a fare-thee-well. . so dry it was inedible and my wife had a fish meal that was too salty to eat. . the menus on the other hand were comprehensive and offered a wide range of choices. As for our expeditions. . .our first trip around the Weather Islands in Sweden was one in which a lot of quite old people got very wet. . I know I didn’t come on the tour to be beat up by ocean swells in a Zodiac so I don’t understand the purpose of that particular expedition. In Olso we booked the trip to the Market and a cooking class where they were going to show us how to prepare Tapis. . .the market is closed on Mondays and your organizers should have known that. . our guide on the bus was almost completely incompetent, and the cooking involved chicken breasts and fruit desserts. . and while quite good was not what was promised. On the other hand, Vigeland and Linda, our guide, was outstanding. And on our last expedition day. . our All Day trip to Osa. . it had to be modified because your contact in Osa could not field 2 buses instead having to drop some off at one venue and go back and get more passengers. . so the all day became a partial day. And finally. . . .clearing Customs and Immigration in Bergen became an ordeal for those of us suffering from Arthritis when the leader misdirected us to the wrong side of a very long building in the rain. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
In all honesty I went on this cruise because of the "freebies". I travel solo so I look for ways I can save money ( or I would travel with you more often). There was no solo supplement, had free air ( although I upgraded), and ... Read More
In all honesty I went on this cruise because of the "freebies". I travel solo so I look for ways I can save money ( or I would travel with you more often). There was no solo supplement, had free air ( although I upgraded), and picked up bar tab and crew tips. Lindblad/NatGeo is my favorite tour company. I like traveling at sea They have great speakers. They are quite knowledgeable in many areas. I learn a lot about the wildlife and nature in general. All shore excursions are included in the price. Most trips have an emphasis on wild life. We have choices of walks. The Orion has great food and is very "homey". There aren't too many people. The only thing I would wish for are mikes and head sets so you can hear what a speaker is saying when one is outside walking. It is impossible to hear a speaker without them. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2017
Every aspect of this expedition exceeded expectations (even though we had travelled with Linblad before). This was a photo expedition and we had full access to a photo instructor and a professional Nat Geo photographer at all times ... Read More
Every aspect of this expedition exceeded expectations (even though we had travelled with Linblad before). This was a photo expedition and we had full access to a photo instructor and a professional Nat Geo photographer at all times throughout the voyage. The captain and crew went above and beyond to provide access to all types of wildlife and scenic landscapes. (Polar bears, walruses, etc. and Norway's fjords and fishing villages) The onboard facilities, service, food and camaraderie were outstanding. Every request was fulfilled quickly and with courtesy and friendliness. The expedition leaders and naturalists were extremely knowledgable and friendly and the photo experts were incredibly helpful with technical as well as artistic advice and support. Every detail from the moment of our arrival in Oslo, to the charter flight to Svalbard, embarkation in Longyearbyen through final disembarkation in Copenhagen was handled professionally and without any stress or problems. I look forward to our next trip with Linblad. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
This was a cruise of the Baltic Sea. Chose this cruise because we had never been to that part of the world. Embarked in Stockholm and cruised to the Finnish coast (where we hiked and kayaked in a remote area); then on to St. Petersburg, ... Read More
This was a cruise of the Baltic Sea. Chose this cruise because we had never been to that part of the world. Embarked in Stockholm and cruised to the Finnish coast (where we hiked and kayaked in a remote area); then on to St. Petersburg, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and ending in Copenhagen. The historians and naturalists on board lectured about the history of the region and particularly how affected countries broke from Soviet control. There was also an ethnomusicologist on board who introduced us passengers to the music of the countries we visited by arranging for attendance at performances. This trip included anything from the bar; wine flowed at cocktail time and at dinner. Service on the Orion was impeccable, meals beautifully served, offering meat, fish, and poultry selections. Breakfast and lunch are buffets with a wide variety of hot dishes and cold salads. Ship holds just 100 passengers and has a small fitness center, a library, and an outdoor restaurant if weather permits. A minor criticism is that chairs in the lounge and library/observation area are straight, hard, and uncomfortable. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2017
Chose it for the destinations and the timing in early May. The whole "Expedition Staff" were great, especially Alizé, Jacob, Sisse and Dagny. I really like the totally all inclusive policy. I never took out my wallet. I ... Read More
Chose it for the destinations and the timing in early May. The whole "Expedition Staff" were great, especially Alizé, Jacob, Sisse and Dagny. I really like the totally all inclusive policy. I never took out my wallet. I didn't like the suggestion that maybe we should give to the tipping fund. It's either included or it not. Starting with two nights in Stockholm A 102 passenger ship is ideal. In all but Gdansk, we were right there in the middle of things The mess in the Hermitage was not Lindblad's fault but it was scary . We would have chosen not to go there rather than endure that. Someone should have known that May date was a national holiday. We really liked the three music programs organized by Jacob Edgar. His enthusiasm and knowledge are contagious. We will sail with Orion again! Klaipeda could be dropped for more time in Visby. Visby is very attractive and might even be worth an overnight visit. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
My wife and I booked this cruise almost a year ago. As with any cruise that involves international travel, one needs to be flexible and make sure you don't hold your expectations too high. Santiago Chili was not that impressive but I ... Read More
My wife and I booked this cruise almost a year ago. As with any cruise that involves international travel, one needs to be flexible and make sure you don't hold your expectations too high. Santiago Chili was not that impressive but I did not worry to much about that, since it was just a stopping point along the way. From the first day on the Cruise the crew and expedition staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable. The pace of the excursions was fine for my wife and myself but may be too much for small children or for people with limited mobility. Doug, the Expedition Leader was seemingly everywhere all of the time. We were all convinced he never slept. Between Doug and Captain Martin, our trip was the once in a lifetime trip we expected. We saw so many whales were convinced we will never need to ever take a whale watching trip again. I'm a history geek and the lectures by Dr. Andrew Atkins about the history of Antarctic exploration were fantastic. Regardless of their specialty, each member of the expedition crew were sufficiently knowledgeable that they could double as naturalist. With regard tot he Engine failure, yes it was a cause for concern since it occurred in the Drake passage. On the morning of the failure I woke about 2am because the ship was not moving. Nat Geo/Limbed has an Open Bridge policy so I went to the bridge, which to my surprise was still open. Doug and the Captain were on the bridge and in communication with Lanbad's main office. By the time I go the bridge auxiliary power was restored but limited our forward speed to between 3 and 7 knots. The next morning announcements were made concerning our status. The slow speed added another 36 hours to our trip. The crew immediately began organizing to help us with travel arrangement and keeping the younger guest entertained. Nat/Geo Linbad were extremely accommodating and quick about refunding our additional travel expenses. People have said to me "well in light of the emergency, this is going to be your last Linbad cruise." I've told them that as long as the Captain is of the same caliber as Captain Martin and the expedition staff was as competent and enthusiastic as Doug and his team, I'd go on the same cruise in a heartbeat. Overall this was an excellent cruise with a fantastic crew on a wonderful ship. I'd do it again without a second thought. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We have cruised over 50 times and were looking for different ports. This one was called Across the Baltic to Scandinavia. The National Geographic and Lindblad experts were excellent. Each day had a choice of two or three tours, all ... Read More
We have cruised over 50 times and were looking for different ports. This one was called Across the Baltic to Scandinavia. The National Geographic and Lindblad experts were excellent. Each day had a choice of two or three tours, all included, and sometimes in both morning and afternoon. Before we went, we saw a discussion on whether wine would be included with dinner. It is and they are good ones. All beverages, including alcohol, were included. Many of the ports are small towns on islands and the whole trip is more casual than many others we have taken. The real test of a cruise is how they respond when something does not go right. My husband had a health problem which developed at about the halfway point of the trip. The ship's fine doctor decided that he need to be sent to a hospital for evaluation. We were evacuated to a town in Denmark. The crew took care of setting up everything including an ambulance at the dock and a hotel for me. Two days later, it was determined that we could return to the ship. We were welcomed back warmly. The cabins are smaller than on many ships but are quite comfortable. There is no entertainment of the usual kind and no casino. There are lectures instead on a variety of topics. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
National Geographic to Norway and the Arctic..It was the nicest ship with the most amazing crew ever to sail the seas... The food was outstanding and varied every day..The bar, hot tub, bridge, bow and observation room/library were top ... Read More
National Geographic to Norway and the Arctic..It was the nicest ship with the most amazing crew ever to sail the seas... The food was outstanding and varied every day..The bar, hot tub, bridge, bow and observation room/library were top notch. There is not a bad thing to say about the Orion and her crew. The National Geographic Naturalists and Leaders on the ship rated from fair to outstanding..Some seemed bored to be with us...some were so fresh, excited and fun to be around..Some of the time, we felt like we came second to the time they spent promoting the NG product, taking pictures and video with several naturalists while we had to wait our turn for shore and zodiac excursions because the guides were tied up with the "promo" stuff.. For the price we paid, we feel that we should have had more time in kayaks, zodiacs and on shore, instead of waiting for the other group to return...there were 87 passengers...and 8 naturalists..so I think we could have had more time off the ship if they were available to us. The Journey through the fjords and up to Svalbard and beyond was a dream...I cannot wait to do it again on the Orion. The ship and it's crew were amazing and our cabin was like a 5 star hotel.. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
JELLYFISH LAKE, Palau – When several million stingless golden jellyfish invite you to swim and snorkel with them – an invitation you will receive nowhere else in the world – it would be rather rude to refuse. So a group of us don ... Read More
JELLYFISH LAKE, Palau – When several million stingless golden jellyfish invite you to swim and snorkel with them – an invitation you will receive nowhere else in the world – it would be rather rude to refuse. So a group of us don snorkels, masks and fins, and slip into the 28-degree water of Jellyfish Lake. What an amazing and unique experience to see and brush by clouds of these delicate, graceful creatures which have evolved in their landlocked lake over 20,000 years to have no need of poisonous stingers. They range in size from as big as a large fist to as small as the tip of your little finger. And their population in the relatively small lake does indeed run between five and seven million. What a start to this cruise on Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Orion. We are off to explore mostly uninhabited islands in and around Indonesia’s fabled Spice Islands – although one of the inhabited ones gained a spot in history because of its nutmeg tree…and by being traded for Manhattan. And what a cruise: Hiking, birding and cultural encounters ashore, snorkelling and diving in the surrounding seas with some of the world’s richest underwater flora and fauna, and all supported by knowledgeable lecturers, guides - and on this trip only, one of National Geographic’s most famous photographers. With only 102 passengers, the ship offers the cruise equivalent of glamping: top-level accommodation and dining on board plus, as expedition leader Tim Soper puts it, “shifting into true expedition mode once we leave the ship in our Zodiacs.” But don’t take my word for it. Come along with me as we cruise from Palau to Australia and decide for yourself. Major airlines serve Koror, the capital of Palau, which is a three-hour, 1,700km flight southeast of Manila. To avoid arriving at some midnight hour, I flew via Taiwan. (Check Circle Pacific fares which are often cheaper than return flights and allow you a more varied itinerary.) DAY ONE: There’s nothing like visiting a country to bring its history to life. For example, dot-on-the-map Palau was first colonized by Spanish explorers. Spain then sold these Micronesian islands to Germany, which lost them to Japan after losing the First World War – which in turn lost them to the U.S. after losing the Second World War. Yet all four countries contributed – and especially in the case of the U.S. continue to contribute – to Palau’s development and even culture. Although Palau has been an independent republic since 1994, it continues to use the U.S. dollar as its currency. Most tourists come from both the U.S. and Japan. It’s your typical tropical, relaxed, dreamlike paradise – palm tree beaches, air and ocean temperatures around 28 degrees day and night almost all year, turquoise lagoons, snorkelling and diving. DAY TWO: After our jellyfish encounter on Mecherar Island, local boat operators take us around mushroom-shaped karst limestone islands, large and small, where tidal and microorganism erosion have worn away the rocky undersides. In the afternoon we launch the kayaks to paddle peacefully among the islands to get a closer look at the “mushroom” undersides and vegetation, finishing the day with a snorkel over the corals. DAY THREE: During our day at sea, we meet some of our guide-lecturers, including David Doubilet who has specialized in underwater photography for the National Geographic for 43 years. Throughout the cruise naturalists, cultural/historical specialists and photographers provide fascinating insights to enrich what we are seeing, doing and learning. In one of the lectures we learn improved ecological management has increased the number of fish species here over the past decade to 374 from 285. DAY FOUR: Raja Ampat, Indonesia, comprises 1,500 small islands, cays and shoals. We anchor near Wayag Island – so far off the beaten track that immigration officials have to travel five hours by boat to reach us to clear the ship. At 10km north of the equator, the air and ocean temperature stays between 27 and 30 day and night. Divers do day and night dives, others snorkel off a deserted white sand beach into a variety of colourful corals, multi-coloured tropical fish and giant clams. Those who prefer to stay dry peer into the undersea wonderland from a glass-bottom boat. “There are more species of beautiful reef fish and gorgeous corals here in the Coral Triangle than in any other part of the world,” says David Cothran, photo instructor. In the afternoon, the Zodiacs finish exploring, round a corner of the island and find sunset cocktails and nibblies being served on the beach, ahead of a seafood barbecue dinner back on deck featuring 80 different delicacies prepared by executive chef Lothar Reiner and his kitchen crew. DAYS FIVE and SIX: We snorkel from a platform anchored between two Zodiacs and many snorkellers declare, “this is the best snorkel site yet.” We see schools of Thread Fin Anthias and other fish, large and tiny, some swimming in an orderly flow, others all over the place – normal or bright neon colours, stripes, spots; groups of tiny fish nibbling coral, feeding within the waving polyps, all varieties and shapes. The fish are matched only by the varieties, designs and colours of underwater flora: the corals, sponges, sea whips and many more. Tiny jellyfish are so translucent a camera’s autofocus doesn’t respond to them. A sharp-eyed diver spots a pygmy seahorse the size of a grain of rice. Over there, peeping out of a coral, is Nemo (a clownfish, aka sub anemone fish, aka sub damsel fish). Giant schools of barracuda swim by. It’s fun to just float, head down, in one spot, to watch fish emerge from under rocks and rock crevices, to see fish being “cleaned” – having parasites removed – by smaller, “cleaner” fish. Dappled sunlight and shadows mark the coral wall which falls away into deep water changing from light to dark blue. During an afternoon Zodiac exploration, schools of hundreds of tiny silver or blue fish speed jump out of the water for a fraction of a second, almost like a cloud of large insects. A variety of colourful tropical fish, and even a small grey reef shark, swim around the coral just centimetres below the surface. High above us an osprey swoops at a young sea eagle, which does a mid-air flip at the last minute to try to escape. Just above the waterline, our guide naturalist Richard White spots a carnivorous green pitcher plant, about 10cm long and indeed shaped like an elongated pitcher. In a neighbouring Zodiac, Palau-based guide and biologist/cultural specialist Ron Leidich finds an even larger specimen: close to 15cm. “Because nutrients are scarce, this plant has adapted by attracting and then digesting insects,” White says. “A sweet liquid in the bottom of the pitcher attracts the insects and the slippery sides prevent them from getting back out. The pitcher even has a lid, which closes when it rains to prevent the liquid from getting diluted.” A larger relative of the pitcher plant, able to “eat” mice and even small rats, once won “plant of the year” at the famous Chelsea Flower Show in London. We are delighted to see so many natural wonders up close, to have the good fortune to be in such a remote area and have the place to ourselves to explore. DAYS SIX to NINE: “For more than three centuries, Banda Neira (which usually doesn’t even show up on a map) was the centre of major contention between the native people and the Portuguese, Dutch and English,” naturalist Tom Ritchie briefs us. “Thousands of people were murdered, killed in military actions and enslaved over the possession and harvest of a small endemic species of tree found only here in Banda – the nutmeg. Along with the mace wrapping around the nut, it was perhaps once the most valuable spice in the world, prized for its ability to preserve and cure food, especially meat, in the days when there was no refrigeration or canning.” We go ashore on several islands to meet the locals in Yenwaupnor, Kokas, Banda Neira and Banda Run villages (Run was traded by the Dutch to the British for Manhattan in 1667). They put on welcoming and farewell cultural dances. Children get time off school to show us around. We walk along the streets with cats, dogs, chickens and goats, see colourful colonial architecture, sample the local spices, visit Dutch and Japanese fortification ruins, hike into the hills where our guide kicks off his flip-flops to climb a tree to cut down some coconuts to refresh us. We feel privileged to briefly share even a tiny bit of the lives of local inhabitants. DAY 10: Once again we are swimming off uninhabited beaches. We have another “best snorkelling day yet” between two of the five tiny atolls of the Lucipara Islands, in the middle of the Banda Sea – the tops of undersea mountains rising almost 2km from the seabed. I go snorkelling and just hang off the shelf in the slight current where the coral drops off to the very deep ocean floor, watching the fish – and three turtles (or the same turtle three different times) – swim by. I am often surrounded by clouds – thousands – of orange (Anthia) and also blue fish (Fusilier) smaller than my baby finger. DAYS 11 to 13: One more day of deserted island beachcombing, snorkelling and diving, one more day at sea and we end our trip in Darwin – reflecting on how lucky we have been to get up close and personal with such remote and magical islands and their inhabitants both above and below the water. Read Less
National Geographic Orion Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.5
Dining 5.0 4.6
Entertainment 5.0 4.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.7
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.2
Family 4.0 4.2
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.3
Enrichment 4.0 4.5
Service 5.0 4.9
Value For Money 5.0 4.2

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