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. Despite the fact that many passengers travel with expensive camera equipment and electronics, Lindblad assured us that there have never been any thefts reported on Sea Lion sailings. There is a safe in the purser's office that is available to passengers upon request.
Though cabins are small, they are brilliantly laid out. There is plenty of room for storage and then some -– under the beds, in the closet, in drawers and on shelves. Each cabin has as many as 15 discreetly placed hooks and, as a result of the recent refurbishment, there are ample outlets and USB ports for electronics. The cabins are not only efficient, they're also good looking. Every bed is boxed in attractive cherry wood and the color scheme is a pretty cherry and nautical blue.
Sea Lion's 31 cabins (all with windows but no balconies) are divided into three categories. Six Category 1 cabins, considered entry-level in terms of pricing, 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. Travelers used to big-ship cruising might 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. Windows in these six cabins cannot be opened, unlike in the rest of the cabins.
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. These staterooms are slightly larger than Category 1 cabins and also have two inconvertible single beds. The sink and vanity are in the cabin itself, rather than the bathroom, which houses both toilet and shower.
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 table with a pair of chairs. 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 is plenty of storage under the bed as well as two drawers that are part of the bed box. There's also a closet and separate shelving. There are two other Category 3 cabins on the Bridge Deck, each with two single beds that cannot be converted to a double. As with Category 2, the sinks and vanities in these cabins are separate from the bathrooms.
All cabins sport comfortable pillow-top mattresses. Suitcases tuck away neatly under the beds. 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 (bed).
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 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 above 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 replica of the ship's black rubber Zodiacs.) In each cabin, the toilet and shower are in one rather cramped stall, just 56 by 25 inches. A shower curtain separates the toilet from the shower while you bathe. The shower is fitted with shampoo and shower gel dispensers, plus a retractable clothesline.
In lieu of safes, telephones, TVs 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 and there's a chocolate on the pillow at turndown each night.