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8 Night South America Cruise from Puntarenas

8 Night South America Cruise from Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera)

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National Geographic Quest (Photo: Lindblad Expeditions)
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Itinerary

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  • Day 1
    Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera)
  • Day 2
    Corcovado
  • Day 3
    Golfo Dulce
  • Day 4
    Golfo Dulce
  • Day 5
    Coiba National Park
  • Day 6
    Panama Canal
  • Day 7
    Panama Canal
  • Day 8
    Panama City

National Geographic Quest

National Geographic Quest - Lindblad Expeditions

Pros

Industry-leading enrichment and expedition shore excursion programs, expertly delivered

Cons

Onboard activities and amenities may not suit traditional cruisers

Bottom Line

It's all about the destination and experience; ship and staff excel in this regard


Cruise Reviews

After doing substantial research, including talking extensively to a Lindblad employee who had been on this trip, we chose this "expedition" to see as much of the Belize reef as possible. However, we did much less snorkeling ... Read More
After doing substantial research, including talking extensively to a Lindblad employee who had been on this trip, we chose this "expedition" to see as much of the Belize reef as possible. However, we did much less snorkeling than expected and only some of what we saw was worthwhile. Our first day of snorkeling was cancelled due to supposedly windy conditions at the reef. Instead we were taken (no options were provided) to the Monkey River where we saw 2 monkeys up in a tree and a few birds and iguanas. Not very interesting. In the afternoon we were told to explore Placensia, a "charming" small town with a few uninteresting shops. We chose not to swim at the beach in Placensia due to the visible trash in the water. The next day we were taken to a beat up storm damaged caye for snorkeling in the morning. We were divided into groups by ability but were not allowed to stop and observe the marine life as we chose. We were forced to stay with our group and move on at the guide's direction. There were few coral or fish species at this location. In the afternoon we went to Laughing Bird Caye, which was much better (undamaged coral and fish diversity) and we were given more latitude while in the water. After a 1.5 hour bus ride the following day, we were taken to the Cockscomb Jaguar preserve. We went on a "rigorous" hike of about 2 miles and saw a waterfall. Not wildlife there other than a few birds. Our guide was excited by a few iguanas we saw on the way back. Our last day we snorkeled at the Ranguana Reef which we thoroughly enjoyed. The guides were good and we saw some interesting corals and fish. However, in the afternoon they didn't take us back out until 2:45, when of course the wind picked up. They hadn't divided our groups by ability so everyone was forced to leave due to "strong" currents. Strong swimmers (like us) were not given the option to stay. Other passengers who had been on previous NatGeo/Lindblad cruises concurred that this cruise paled in comparison to the others. Our previous experience with Uncruise was much better. The staff and crew (other than the Expedition Leader) were excellent and went out of their way to meet everyone's needs, Overall -- not enough time snorkeling and the snorkeling sites chosen could have been better. Boring land excursions. Expedition leaders/planners did not appear to be adequately focused on the goals of the passengers. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Day 1: Met at airport for charter to Puerto Barries. Overall pretty easy process. We did have issue with security line timing, and interesting to learn the guide with us didnt know Spanish, so was unable to communicate with the official, ... Read More
Day 1: Met at airport for charter to Puerto Barries. Overall pretty easy process. We did have issue with security line timing, and interesting to learn the guide with us didnt know Spanish, so was unable to communicate with the official, however all was resolved. Immigrations was a nightmare, partially because 2 minutes before our flights took off, our tour group starting handing out numerous forms to fill out. In addition, many people didnt get the forms which made immigration process very slow. Overall on the first day, we ended up about 2 hours behind getting on the ship. That night, presumably because they had to rush to make up lost time, which captain confirmed, the boat was rolling back and forth all night long, making it impossible to sleep at all. If on lower levels it wasnt as bad, but everyone commented how horrible it was no matter where their cabin. Day 2: Snorkeling and visit to Smithsonian research center. Crew instructed if we went snorkeling that they would ensure someone picked us up in time to goto our scheduled tour times, so my wife and I split up and I went snorkeling. Snorkeling was absolutely terrible for what they classified as experienced, which means they took you out by boat and throw you into extremely rough water. Very high choppy waves. Many people got sick in and out of the water and didnt see much to comment on. In addition to conditions, no one came to meet us to transfer to our scheduled Smithsonian tour as mentioned. Overall, very poorly thought out and executed. Splash diving who ran the snorkel should have known, not to drop people in those water conditions for snorkeling. Location selection by Lindblad was horrible for what Belize offers. Very minimal marine life and coral reef compared to other places in Belize. Day 3: Slept in. Very bad decision as this was the day to see red footed boobies. Normally there are morning and afternoon sessions, but in this case, if you didnt go in morning, you were out of luck. In afternoon, there was opportunity to take a trip to beach to walk around but not at location where red foot boobies could be seen. Kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkeling were all canceled in afternoon due to weather conditions which was interesting as conditions were better than what they threw us into on Day 2. For something as significant as red footed boobies of belize, more time should have been allotted to experience this wonder, other than 4 hours of a 9 day trip. Day 4: Another wasted oppurtunity for lindblad. Early rise at 5:50am and a packed boxed breakfast to got cocksumb bay wildlife sanctuary to hear people.speak and basically see nothing. Very disappointing. Lunch was nice at Umaya Resort, with an open bar, but when I went to get food they said only 1 piece of chicken or beef per person, which for the prices paid for this trip I should be able to eat an entire cow every night if I want. Not sure how Lindblad is picking their destinations, but I am guessing it is where can we take masses of people vs really offering experiences. Belize is full of wildlife and if more thought is given to locations, I am certain their would be more to see vs just talking about. I know wildlife isnt guaranteed, but I have been to Galapagos, and Costa Rica, and Panama, and Hawaii, and Alaska, all on personally arranged private tours and saw abundance of wildlife everywhere, because I made that a goal and researched where to go. Obviously Lindblad and National Geographic at least for this itinerary, did not. People on the ship rave about Lindnlad and Nat Geo tours, but either they have not been immersed in a true experience, or just enjoy the being told information about stuff but not experiencing it. There was certainly plenty of information sharing by the naturalist about what is here, even though you didnt see it. After talking to many passengers, they confirmed it was the worst trip they have been on as well and they were disappointed. Day 5: Monkey River. Nothing to see. Another wasted location selection. Ranguana Caye. Poor research on location again. Island was not vetted and was being used by group of kids that had Feces in bathrooms smeared all over the place. Islands not vetted properly by nat geo and not setting standards of locations is unacceptable. Snorkeling again was terrible location compared to the best Belize has to offer. Day 6-9 Trip to Takil Mayan ruins was awesome, but that was 2-3 days of the total 9 days of which first week was worthless. I could have planned a better private trip for half the price and 1000% better experience. Hopefully Lindblad and Nat Geo will fix this itinerary and contact the people who they took advantage of with this cost and completly incompetent itinerary. I read other reviews that food onboard was not up to par, and I can say that isnt true. Food was excellent. Portions were extremely small, but you could ask for more and were never refused. Staff was very friendly. Cabins and ship were well kept. My negate review is solely based on the location selections. It is also worth noting that many of the naturalists were not local or familiar with the area. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
My travel bucket list had long included the Panama Canal, both for its continuing commercial importance but also because of its historic engineering importance. It was the chance to see the canal that directed me to this trip. We ... Read More
My travel bucket list had long included the Panama Canal, both for its continuing commercial importance but also because of its historic engineering importance. It was the chance to see the canal that directed me to this trip. We traversed the Canal at night, a pattern that I thought might be a disappointment; it was quite the opposite as the canal is well lighted and one can see the operations of the locks even in the middle of the night. A return trip by bus from the Caribbean side to the Pacific and Panama City gave us a view of the canal in daylight. Costa Rica was an added and special bonus and seeing the flora and fauna of the Pacific rain forests was everything that I could have anticipated. Particularly interesting were the special excursions to a gold mining operation, a sugar processing farm, and a marvelous botanical garden. For the "active" traveler, there were many options including kayaking, snorkeling and more. Taking the trip on a ship (National Geographic Quest) that provided the best small ship accommodations that I have experienced and reasonable accommodations for the solo traveler made this even more special. The meals on board had a variety of selections and even though the chef needs to do a better job of cooking the meats, the food was generally quite good and nutritious. While not, perhaps, my most memorable cruise, this will be high on the list of fond memories for this retiree. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
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