National Geographic Sea Lion Cabins
The biggest surprise is that Sea Lion's cabins are keyless. While we were initially concerned about security, we grew to appreciate the convenience of coming and going without having to fiddle with keycards -- and the crew and fellow passengers were so friendly that we soon felt at ease. Cabin doors can be locked from the inside, which we only did overnight while we slept. Despite the fact that many passengers travel with expensive camera equipment and electronics, Lindblad reassured us that there have never been any thefts reported on Sea Lion sailings. (In fact, a huge telephoto lens belonging to one of the expedition staff sat undisturbed on a shelf in a well-trafficked public area throughout our journey.)
Sea Lion's 31 cabins (all with windows but no balconies) are divided into three categories. Six Category 1 cabins are on the Main Deck and open onto the interior hallway that runs between the lounge and the dining room. These cabins each measure 90 square feet and have two single beds and a writing desk with chair. Travelers used to big-ship cruising may be surprised by the lack of flexibility in sleeping arrangements; as with most of Sea Lion's cabins, the single beds in Category 1 cannot be converted into doubles.
The ship's 19 Category 2 cabins are divided between the Upper and Bridge Decks. These exit directly onto the outside decks and have windows that can be opened. Although these staterooms are the same size as the Category 1 cabins and also have two inconvertible single beds, cabins in this category have no writing desk, and the sink and vanity are in the cabin itself, rather than the bathroom.
Passengers looking for a bit more space can opt for one of six Category 3 cabins, which each measure 120 square feet and include two large windows and a seating unit with table. The four Upper Deck cabins in this category are the only ones on the ship where single beds can be converted into a double bed; families can also use a pull-out bed for a third person. There are two other Category 3 cabins on the Bridge Deck, each with two single beds. As with Category 2, the sinks and vanities in these cabins are separate from the bathrooms.
All cabins sport comfortable pillow-top mattresses, attractive gray bedspreads and gold throw pillows. Suitcases tuck away neatly under the beds; a closet and spacious drawers built into the bed provide ample storage. The hooks by the shower and cabin doors are handy for backpacks, hats, binoculars, sweatshirts and life vests. A window blind provides privacy. There is a small reading lamp by each berth.
The cabin decor includes navy patterned carpeting and a pair of photos from various Lindblad destinations, such as a penguin watching a couple kayaking in Antarctica and dolphins streaking across the surface of an unnamed sea. Switches on the low ceiling (reachable even by shorter cruisers) control the volume for the PA system and radio, which broadcasts an eclectic mix of music.
Plush white towels flank the functional sink, with good overhead lighting over a square-shaped mirror and vanity that hides a hair dryer (110-volt alternating current). Amenities include natural, biodegradable conditioning shampoo, body wash, body lotion, soap bars and loofah sponges. (The soap dishes add a whimsical touch -- they're a replicas of the ship's black rubber Zodiacs.) In each cabin, the toilet and shower are in one rather cramped stall, with a curtain that can be pulled between the two. The hand-held shower is fitted with shampoo and shower gel dispensers, plus a retractable clothesline.
In lieu of safes, telephones, TV's and mini-bars, cabins are outfitted with world atlases, reusable water bottles and the latest National Geographic magazines. Each night, the crew leave a copy of the program for the following day, including a description of the destination and a photography tip on the back. Daily cabin service is efficient.
If you normally travel with a panoply of gadgets, you may want to leave a few at home or bring a multi-plug adapter. Our cabin had just two power outlets: one by the sink and the other in a not-particularly-convenient place between the door and the closet.
Next: National Geographic Sea Lion Dining
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