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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We boarded the National Geographic Islander as the final part of our two week long trip to Lima, Machu Picchu and parts of Ecuador. This was not our first Lindblad expedition - we had previously done one in the Sea of Cortez to see the ... Read More
We boarded the National Geographic Islander as the final part of our two week long trip to Lima, Machu Picchu and parts of Ecuador. This was not our first Lindblad expedition - we had previously done one in the Sea of Cortez to see the great whale migration - so we knew what to expect. In summary: CABIN: We booked this expedition almost a year in advance and we picked the cheapest cabin. It was on the main deck. Yes, it was small but we had enough room for our clothes and toiletries. We had a window but since we spent very little daylight hours in our room, except to change shoes or clothes, we sometimes forgot it was there. The twin beds were pushed together to make one bed and the entire bed was pushed against the wall. The desk was on one side of the bed so only one person had a nightstand. Each side of the bed had a reading light and above the bed was a ledge that you could put your phone or glasses. There were enough outlets in the room to charge our devices. We didn’t need to bring adapters from the US. Closet was large and had shelves and hangers. This is also where the safe is located. We put our electronics there when we left the room, even if it was just to sit in the lounge. You cannot lock your room from the outside. We already knew this from past experience but it was a bone of contention with other tour members who had rather expensive and hefty cameras and lenses. Bathroom was a shower, sink and toilet in one room and that was rather tight so quick showers were the norm for us as we didn’t like being in there long. DINING: Large dining room with beautiful views. Breakfast and lunch were buffet, dinner was served except for the Ecuadorian buffet meal. A signup sheet was at the dining entrance every morning where we had to sign up for 1 of 3 choices - fish. beef/chicken, or pasta/vegetarian so the chef knew how much to cook. There was more than enough food and the vegetarians, vegans and anyone with food allergies never had a problem finding something good to eat. Most tables were 6-tops and 8-tops to encourage socializing. I saw only one 2-top that would be ideal for a couple except it was right by the door. The last night, we had a big cookout buffet meal on the sun deck that was lively and festive. Meals were always announced and around two hours were allotted for each meal. Otherwise the dining room was closed and many of us hung out around the lounge. LOUNGE: The lounge had a bar that Octavio presided over. There was a 24 hr coffee machine that made regular coffee as well as espresso, cappuccinos and lattes and other coffee mixes. Tea was always available as well. All of us learned how to use the coffee machine rather quickly which is mainly a matter of pushing buttons. At certain times of the day, fruit, crackers, cookies and small snacks are left out. Sodas and juice are also available all the time. The lounge was an all-purpose meeting space for emergency drills and when the guides wanted to make announcements about the next day’s events. It’s where most of use gathered for drinks and snacks before the 7pm dinner announcement. SERVICE: Service was absolutely first rate. Our room was cleaned when we were out hiking or snorkeling or swimming. Our carafe was always refilled with cold water. Little bars of Ecuadorian chocolate were left on our nightstand every night. Towels were replaced even tho we expected to use the same one everyday. We also had laundry done on the ship. There is no do-it-yourself laundry. Turn around was 24 hrs and it was like the laundry service you’d get at a 5-star resort. We spent about $40 on laundry. OTHER: The free WiFi on the ship was often slow and occasionally not available. You can buy faster internet. Details are in the cabin. I used the gym a couple times. There was a bike, treadmill and elliptical, as well as a few weights. The captain was sometimes in there on the elliptical, as well as some of the crew. The bridge was open and husband stopped by one night where the 2nd mate gave him a tour. The crew is Ecuadorian and the majority of them speak English quite well. This was a fantastic expedition and we plan to go on many more. The ship was first class, the crew was so professional and personable and we felt very well cared for. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We took the 1 week Galapagos trip on the Islander (48 psgr capacity) as a family of 4. This is a relatively new tour for Nat Geo/Lindblad, 2 days shorter than their standard trip to accommodate people with limited vacation schedules, and ... Read More
We took the 1 week Galapagos trip on the Islander (48 psgr capacity) as a family of 4. This is a relatively new tour for Nat Geo/Lindblad, 2 days shorter than their standard trip to accommodate people with limited vacation schedules, and we chose it primarily because it worked for the younger generation in our group (Millennials with limited vacation time). We came in with high expectations, due to the Nat Geo name, but had only mixed results. The itinerary included San Cristobal, Espanola, and Floreana, the Eastern portion of the archipelago. We were in a Main level cabin, which seemed to get much less movement than those two floors up. Loved being able to go straight from panga to room hot shower after snorkeling. The Galapagos are indeed amazing, and our overall memories of the experience are fond. Our single biggest complaint? With only 4 full days on the water, every day counts. Nat Geo is famous for not publishing their itineraries in advance, so imagine our surprise to only be visiting 3 islands in that 4 days. Two days were dedicated to San Cristobal - with the second day being a total bust (a 45 minute walk in an interpretive center, a 3 hour round trip to see 30 small turtles at a breeding center, and a high school student presentation). Ridiculous, and a rip-off. The 4 days you will get are totally the luck of the draw, and the shorter format increases the risk that you will get a crummy hand. We had other concerns (lack of quality onboard programming, food was average), but could have powered through those. It would be remiss of me to not recognize some of the extraordinary highs we also had on this trip - amazing snorkeling and kayaking on the last two days (with great visits to Espanola and Floreana), stargazing one night from the bow of the ship, and outstanding opportunities to view all kinds of birdlife. Loved the open bridge policy, and the Ecuadorian staff exuded pride and commitment to protection of the Galapagos. The ground staff was exemplary. This shorter trip has a lot of potential - it attracts a younger population and, from our perspective, is a very efficient use of time - but NG can not approach the itinerary in such a sloppy way if it expects it to be successful. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was a family cruise with 6 of us going. Very interested in seeing the ecology of the Islands. Lindblad/National Geographic did not disappoint. In fact, it was so incredible we will never forget! We saw so much and learned so much. ... Read More
This was a family cruise with 6 of us going. Very interested in seeing the ecology of the Islands. Lindblad/National Geographic did not disappoint. In fact, it was so incredible we will never forget! We saw so much and learned so much. A wonderful immersive experience. Thanks to the best crew EVER! They were so caring and informative. The small ship meant everyone received the same amazing treatment and experience. We saw almost ever Animal we hoped and not from a mile away, but right there. We swam, snorkeled, hiked our way around 6 do the Islands and each one was an experience. Each one was absolutely stunning inits landscape and animal life. On board, the ship was beautiful and the food incredible. Locally sourced and delicious. The information talks were great. Keep in mind our expedition leader has been doing this for 40 years. You can understand how good they are! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
Visiting the Galapagos Islands has been on our travel list. When we were offered an opportunity to do it with friends we immediately agreed. This cruise was hosted by Lindblad / National Geographic. The cruise was great, there was no ... Read More
Visiting the Galapagos Islands has been on our travel list. When we were offered an opportunity to do it with friends we immediately agreed. This cruise was hosted by Lindblad / National Geographic. The cruise was great, there was no part of the cruise which I found lacking or poorly done. L/NG provided the smoothest transition from the airport to the hotel on the day of arrival and then the same service the next day as we flew out to the GI and boarded the Endeavor II. The handling of the people and our luggage was smooth, and quick. They transferred the people and luggage from shore to the ship in Endeavor II zodiacs. By the time we completed the buffer lunch our luggage was in our room. We traveled to and visit 6 islands, with hiking, snorkeling or kayaking available to see this natural wonder up close. Each days events were briefed in detail the night before, during an open bar happy hour, and then again in the morning. Carlos the Expedition Leader kept track of what was going an insured that the schedule was kept in order to accomplish the myriad of events which occurred through out the day. Ecuador does not allow individuals onto the islands with an Ecuador licensed Naturalist. There were seven Naturalists on board the E II. The lead all the small group tours, hikes and snorkeling. They were very knowledgeable and all were native to Ecuador. The promised sightings of the varieties of wildlife and birds always happened. Breakfast was always a buffet. Lunch was also a buffet. Dinner was a menu selection of local seafood and other meats. There were always at least three choices. One of which was Vegan/Vegetarian. The food was awesome. The ship crew was friendly and always helpful. If they had trouble with English they would find someone to help them and then help you. All the Dining and housekeeping staff spoke English fluently. The Deck Crew and Engine Crew understood English, but did not necessarily speak it well. However, they never ran away if you asked a question. They always got answer. The crew was very proud of its ship. It was clean, and in very good repair. I highly recommend this cruise, Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
All I can say is our “expedition” with Nat Geographic far exceeded our expectations. We went with Linblad and National Geographic in the Nat Geo Endeavor 11 because we knew they had been there the longest as far as a “cruise line” ... Read More
All I can say is our “expedition” with Nat Geographic far exceeded our expectations. We went with Linblad and National Geographic in the Nat Geo Endeavor 11 because we knew they had been there the longest as far as a “cruise line” But this was not a cruise.. it was indeed an Expedition! Full of hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and lectures, loaded with information on everything “Galapagos” for the 7 days we were fortunate to experience all of it. As I said, This was a week long amazing, beautiful course in the Galapagos. We are NOT cruise people, we love active vacations. And this is exactly what we received. The entire staff was gracious, well educated on where we were, extremely wanting to please. I was most impressed by the hotel management and attention to detail, even in the dining room. We were not only served organic, sustainable typically Ecuadorian fare, but we were also served up an education on local cuisine including meats, fruits, vegetables, spices, desserts .. which also added to a very well rounded “immersion” in everything Ecuador! Naturalists gave us their rich wealth of information. Tips on Photography, both on land and under the sea. Lectures everyday were well attended.. by the entire guest population on the ship. Rooms were well appointed and cared for. Housekeeping was also impressive as rooms were tidied up 3 times a day, laundry was usually back same day.. The ship paid very strict attention to cleanliness, as there were hand sanitizer stations all over. Ship doctor was always available, even graciously, for 1 bandaid. I will most definitely look forward to my next Linblad Nat Geo trip. Hopefully Antarctica! (Only if Emma and Walter are our Naturalists!!! Book this trip if you’re interested in seeing and experiencing everything the beautiful Galapagos has to offer through the eyes of knowledgeable professional hosts. It’ll be worth every Penney. It really was the trip of a lifetime. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
When it comes to wildlife, outdoor exploration and comfort, Linblad-National Geographic is top of the line. We chose the Galapagos because we wanted to be outside exploring and photographing. The Endeavor II provided a highly functional ... Read More
When it comes to wildlife, outdoor exploration and comfort, Linblad-National Geographic is top of the line. We chose the Galapagos because we wanted to be outside exploring and photographing. The Endeavor II provided a highly functional and comfortable boat for the experience. Our cabin was large enough for two people to comfortably enjoy the week long trip without feeling crowded. The windows allowed for excellent viewing even when we were in the room. The boat staff also exceeded expectations. Carlos, the food maestro, provided healthy but incredibly flavorful options. We had the best of the best local food. He remembered our names and our food preferences--remarkable for a 98 person passenger list. Likewise, the naturalists on this boat were also exceptional. The photography expert, Antonio was quite good. Rather than focusing on camera mechanics, he focused on composition and what really makes a photograph special. He skipped all the technical mumbo jumbo and talked to us about how to tell a story in pictures. He used examples from the Galapagos so we had real concrete ideas of what to photograph on each day's adventure. My husband snorkeled every day. I hiked and kayaked. We both were thoroughly exhausted at the end of each day so we savored every sunset in this beautiful island setting. For people looking for an active, busy vacation, this is a good fit. The Galapagos dazzles with its underwater sea life, colorful birds, sea lions everywhere, land tortoises and iguanas with personality. Highly recommend booking a trip on the Endeavor II. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We booked a cruise to the Galapagos on the National Geographic Endeavor through Lindblad Travel for myself, my wife and three adult children/partners. We paid a small fortune for the trip, and yes, we had a wonderful trip to and around ... Read More
We booked a cruise to the Galapagos on the National Geographic Endeavor through Lindblad Travel for myself, my wife and three adult children/partners. We paid a small fortune for the trip, and yes, we had a wonderful trip to and around the Galapagos. That said, however, I would never book another cruise through Lindblad/National Geographic. The cruise is listed as 10 days, but it is actually a short 7 days. The count one day to get to Guayaquil, one day in Guayaquil, and one day back at Guayaquil as part of the "10 days". The last day was the worst, in that we were forced to get up at 6 AM (through a mandatory announcement), have our baggage out the door by 6:15, and at breakfast at the same time. This was so they could clean the cabins for the next cruise. We then sat around in the lounge (we were not allowed to return to our rooms) for two hours watching advertising videos in the lounge before being ferried/bussed to the airport, where we again waited for two hours for our short flight back to Guayaquil. For the last day of the "cruise" in Guayaquil, we were offered a tour of a sad local zoo and historic park. The personnel on the trip were highly variable. The cruise "leader" was an absolute disaster. We got so we hated his smarmy voice coming out of the PA system every morning. At the end of each day he told us what a great time we had and then pushed for contributions to their various charities in the islands. We were told that $500 per person was the "average" contributed by passengers and we wanted to be sure to meet that average. The naturalists were also variable. They were obviously bored by the trip, having made it so many times in the past. When we asked about a bird or animal, we were given pat answers without them even looking at the critter. One of them had training in biology (iguanas were his speciality) and the other were simply "certified guides" who had "guide" training. They were not particularly knowledgeable about the local flora, fauna or geology, and not very interested in engaging in conversation about it. Food on the ship was at best average, with most of the main dishes overcooked and most of the sides the same thing meal after meal. We were told on multiple occasions that we were expected to tip $180 per passenger for the crew collectively. On a cruise this pricey, why don't they pay their personnel a decent living wage? On the plus side, most of the dining room personnel were terrific. The ship cruised to several islands that are not accessible by way of the land tours or the smaller ships. The availability of good snorkeling gear, wet suits, paddle boards, and kayaks was very welcome and allowed us to do some terrific snorkeling interspersed with interesting walks and hikes. We swam with sea turtles, sea lions, penguins and beautiful fish, walked among land tortoises, nesting frigate birds, dancing boobies, and more iguanas than you could count. The Galapagos Islands are a fantastic world resource and we feel lucky to have visited, but we would not recommend the over-priced National Geographic/Lindblad expedition. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
If you are like me, you imagine a cruise is about the closest thing to hell one could imagine for a vacation. But I must say that this trip was anything but hell. It was an amazing experience. First, the Islander only carries 48 ... Read More
If you are like me, you imagine a cruise is about the closest thing to hell one could imagine for a vacation. But I must say that this trip was anything but hell. It was an amazing experience. First, the Islander only carries 48 passengers, so everything was intimate and manageable. It was more like staying in a boutique hotel that just happens to move locations overnight. Second, the "house" staff on the ship were amazing. They care deeply about the passengers and enabling them to take advantage of their time on the islands. I could ask anyone a question about anything and they would go out of their way to help me so that I never had a worry and could concentrate on why we were there. The hotel manager, Daniel, ran an incredible operation and he, and everyone else, seemed to take great pride in their jobs. Third, the cabin was like a boutique European hotel room. There were three of us in Cabin 305 (one of two that can be configured as triples) and despite bringing way too much, we found a space for everything so our room was comfortable and very livable. Fourth, the meals were excellent and they took great care of their passengers with dietary restrictions. I am a vegetarian and Jose, the head waiter, sought me out every single day to ensure that I had something delicious to eat and was never hungry. After the second day, I had to avoid eating too much because there was so much good food to choose from. Fifth, and the reason you go to the Galapagos, is that it is an amazing opportunity to learn about a truly unique ecosystem. The Naturalists who are onboard are incredibly well educated, well informed, excellent ambassadors for the islands and their wildlife, and passionate about the environment and preserving the unique resources that are represented there. Every morning, we would wake to Daniel's voice on the PA announcing, "Ladies and Gentlemen, breakfast is ready in the dining room. Please join us." We'd eat and set out on our morning snorkel/kayak/zodiac ride/hike, returning a few hours later for lunch. After lunch, there would be a "siesta" time during which there was a children's program in which they would learn more and do something interesting. Then we'd head out for an afternoon adventure on that day's island. We'd return, have a "cocktail hour" lecture and briefing (which were excellent). Then we'd have our dinner (which were often theme dinners that let the staff show off "local" cuisine from various regions in Equador. And then people would retire while the boat traveled to the next island. We talked to a lot of people who arranged their own Galapagos explorations, but those require staying in one of the two inhabited towns and taking long daily excursions, often a few hours out and then a few hours back, limiting what you can see and explore. We also talked to people who went with other cruise lines--some much more luxurious. But nothing compared to what we experienced in traveling with a group that appreciates and promotes education. We were also deeply impressed with Lindblad's commitment to the people and the ecosystem. Prior to traveling, they provided informed us that they were supporting a school on Santa Cruz Island and provided us with their Amazon wish list. My son picked out a set of his favorite books (including Spanish translations) and we brought them with us. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the school and allowing him to present the books to a few of his middle-school peers. This trip moved me from being a cruise skeptic to recognizing that there is a place for journeys like this. If you want to visit an ecosystem like Galapagos, or Antartica, or the Arctic, and come away with a deeper understanding of the place you are visiting, then it is worth exploring a Lindlad/National Geographic cruise. I know we'll be on another one sooner rather than later. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We were looking for an exploration trip toGalapagos which was on my bucket list. National Geographic has an excellent reputation. A friend had gone on the Endeavor several years ago and described it as the trip of a lifetime. We choose ... Read More
We were looking for an exploration trip toGalapagos which was on my bucket list. National Geographic has an excellent reputation. A friend had gone on the Endeavor several years ago and described it as the trip of a lifetime. We choose the Islander for its size, thinking we would receive indiviualized attention. We choose the date knowing there would be less children. We elected to take the extention to Mashpi which greatly exceeded my expectations. There were 6 in our group and we had 2 guides who made sure we were safe and saw everything! We hiked, rode the Dragonfly, climbed the observation tower, rode the Skybike, hiked to the Life Center, and did a night hike. Very active. Ana, the manager, did a great job with her young staff. They were there to assure that everyone had an unforgettable time. Metro Touring also exceeded expectations. They answered questions, gave instructions, were punctual. They had a knowledge of their country and a pride that they wanted to share. We were met in Baltra by a naturalist whose reason for being a naturalist was to travel to Galapagos. He even acknowledged that this tour group met his requirement for the year. He was more interested in getting everyone on the bus then assuring everyone was present. This set the tone for the trip. The first stop was North Seymour and we quickly learned there was no time to lag as the naturalist would continue on. No problem, I am a fast learner and knew what to expect. The Naturalists were very knowledgeable about the islands, vegetation, wildlife. They appeared to have a passion for the islands and wanted to share their passion. However, I was disappointed in some attitudes. For example, several years ago I broke an anke causing me to have some balance issues, and being slower. But that doesn't mean I can't do something, it justs takes longer. Unfortunately, that wasn't tolerated. My friend doesn't swim and wasn't comfortable snorkeling in deep water. I would not snorkel without a buddy, something that goes with my diving training. We had a brief intro to shallow water snorkeling. Time was not spent with individuals who were uncomfortable. In fact, I was assisting another indiviual who had never snorkeled, trying to get her comfortable. I kayaked twice in my life and enjoyed it. Once in the Tasman Sea and once in Prince William Sound. Both time we received instructions on kayaking and what to do if the kayak tips over. Here we transferred from the Zodiac to the kayak, no refresher, no safety instructions. As we struggled to get to the shore, the naturalist kayaked by, went to the head of the group, and ignored the rest of us. There were times that if you didn't snorkel in the deep water or take a challenging hike, you were left on the boat. Why couldn't there be less challenging trips or a slower paced trip, why couldn't there be more zodiac trips around the islands? The 'hotel staff' were great. The waiters, bartenders, and Alexa did a nice job. The wait staff went out of their way to make meals enjoyable, remembering I was a tea drinker, my friend green tea. I feel the Natualists are contracted for the trips and not truly a team. I have worked with teams, customer service and recognize teams that work together. I feel thenaturalists were assigned or contracted for this trip. As I stated, in Mashpi, there were 2 naturalists for our small group who assured each of us enjoyed the experience. In Galapagos the Naturalists did not assure everyone was ok, they shared their wealth of knowledge but did not go the extra step. Activity level listed as light or moderate. I had a massage that exceeded my expectations! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We thought we would be on the trip of a lifetime with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. The ship and staff onboard were wonderful. The naturalists were a disappointment. They were very knowledgeable and full of ... Read More
We thought we would be on the trip of a lifetime with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. The ship and staff onboard were wonderful. The naturalists were a disappointment. They were very knowledgeable and full of information but their concern for the passengers left a bit to be desired. On our Kayak expedition no effort was made to make sure everyone was familiar with how to kayak - just told to get in the kayak and head towards shore. When my friend and I couldn't get the hang of it right away and were going in circles, our naturalist went ahead with the other kayaks and left us on our own - we had to wave to the zodiac and have him pick us up. There were long walks for those who thought they were in excellent condition and could do a quick hike up in challenging terrain. There should have been opportunities for those who didn't think they could make the "challenging" hike to do a shorter hike instead of just sitting on the ship. Some times there were zodiac rides which were great but there could have been an option. There were several opportunities for experienced snorkelers to snorkel. But if you were inexperienced there was really only one time for snorkeling from the beach. And if you had never snorkeled before there was no one to work with you on the basics. We had cabin 403 on the Upper Deck. We were under the impression that it was the same size as the other cabins since we paid the same price - but once we got onboard and saw one of the other cabins we felt we were in a much smaller cabin. We knew the terrace was going to be smaller but the other cabins were significantly larger terraces than ours. Some information about ways to communicate from the ship would have been useful. Passengers who had What's App loaded on their phones were able to text back home. It would have been nice to know this ahead of time. Also, I only knew about the camera shelf to get your camera adjusted to the outside air after I heard a naturalist talking to another passenger about it - I don't remember an announcement being made about it - should have been done the first day onboard. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
...chose NG/Lindblad due to excursion options each day No question that there were different options for all three of us for virtually all outings. The various choices were well distributed throughout the week. Guides were ... Read More
...chose NG/Lindblad due to excursion options each day No question that there were different options for all three of us for virtually all outings. The various choices were well distributed throughout the week. Guides were knowledgeable and generally enthusiastic about the islands. However, I did expect more venturing off the coast, especially on Isabella, where there were other things to see and experience. Most guide books summarize quite a few different points of interest; most of these were not offered. I realize that this is a live aboard experience and the coast is the focus, but a blend would have been an advantage. As noted, guides were very educated and informed on the science and natural aspects. Some of the people skills were lacking. Back and forth from kayak to zodiac, asking a spouse if she knew here right leg from her left was not part of the personal ambiance, nor was using the term "gringo" when most of your passenger manifest is American. Way too much food. Could have very easily gone with breakfast and dinner, skipped the mid-day meal in favor of more time out and about. Ordering a very athletic young man--a fish in the water--to "snorkel buddy" with a senior who was not at all comfortable in deep water was not at all appropriate. Did not pay a large sum for the vacation to be a lifeguard, and some naturalists forced the buddy system while others did not. Good trip, saw things and enjoyed experiences that were one-time only--a true gem. These areas noted are worth some improvement. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We went on a Nat Geo Alaska cruise and the 6 of us just knew we had to do Galapagos with them again. It is just an over the top experience if you are looking for a very active and tons of info trip, with terrific staff, naturalist and ... Read More
We went on a Nat Geo Alaska cruise and the 6 of us just knew we had to do Galapagos with them again. It is just an over the top experience if you are looking for a very active and tons of info trip, with terrific staff, naturalist and crew..all exceptional. I needed a vacation after I got back! I gave our cabin excellent because it was so darn cute and I swear a few feet bigger than Alaska. Be forewarned though these are NOT your usual cruise cabins, very close quarters, but very efficient.. Breakfast and Lunch were very good.Dinner was fine. Just not overwhelming. They are small portions which we all liked and very elegantly done.. the bbq night was fun. Well the animals are the entertainment. other than that one night of local performers. The hikes, kayaking, snorkeling were all amazing.I now know everything possible about the blue footed boogie.. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
My trip highlight was swimming side by side with a Penguin. The adrenalin was rushing as I found myself swimming competitively to keep up with a feeding penguin. It was a bonus to add a pre-trip to Mashpi with the Galapagos trip. It ... Read More
My trip highlight was swimming side by side with a Penguin. The adrenalin was rushing as I found myself swimming competitively to keep up with a feeding penguin. It was a bonus to add a pre-trip to Mashpi with the Galapagos trip. It completed our Ecuadorian adventure from cloud forest to islands. The onboard dining experience was excellent. They walked me personally thru every meal to assure me what I could choose as gluten free. The daily onboard and offboard activities were planned to perfection and the guides / photo instructors added value with their knowledge to point out things that would have been easily missed. The local guides added value and expertise to the experience. It was also a plus to have Sven Lindblad and his mother on the trip and to know that they genuinely care about their customer's experience and supporting populations in the areas where they offer expeditions. Their interest in helping maintain and restore the local culture and ecology is outstanding and speaks well for the company. To see and hear them in person confirmed to us that we picked the right company to tour with. Look for us on future expeditions. We're already looking ahead and making plans. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Going to the Galapagos was a life long dream. Since I learned about it, I've wanted to go there for over 50 years. As we researched options for our trip we found that National Geographic / Linblad offered the best value for the ... Read More
Going to the Galapagos was a life long dream. Since I learned about it, I've wanted to go there for over 50 years. As we researched options for our trip we found that National Geographic / Linblad offered the best value for the money. We thought they would have the most knowledgable naturalists and would provide a quality experience. We were right! Everything ran without a single problem. We did not book our travel with Linblad. But their team contacted me prior to the trip to ensure I had everything in order, including my plans that weren't part of their responsibility! They made sure everything was going to work out for us. They did the same on the back end of the trip, ensuring we had a late checkout and transportation to the airport. During the cruise the attention to detail and service was outstanding. We had 3 to 5 excursions a day to snorkel, hike, take photographs and more. Every time the zodiacs were ready with no delay or issues. The naturalists were the highlight of the trip. They knew the wildlife and made sure people stayed within the allowable boundaries, ie. 6 ft from the animals. They knew the best places to see the different species and how to get the best lifelong photographs. They made very excursion special. In our week, we saw everything we hoped to see. It was awesome. Our cabin was clean and comfortable with plenty of space. The shower was good size and allowed for a comfortable shower without sticking to the shower curtain like some cruise ships. The food was great and included the different foods of Ecuador. It was well prepared and well run. The head waiter knew I didn't like coconut and provided me with an alternative for every dish that had coconut! That's the kind of service Linblad provided; it was very personal and specific to individuals. We chose to take part in every excursion. We were tired, but it was worth it. Something great happened every time, whether we were on land or in the water. One other thing I want to mention is the help with photography. The National Geographic photographer on board was very good (there is one on every trip). He helped me improve my abilities with just a few short conversations. Because of his help and the experience I had I am considering taking a trip with NatGeo / Linblad that is focused on photography! I highly recommend Linblad and National Geographic. It was a trip of a lifetime, and they played a large part in making it the trip of a lifetime! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Recommended by friends as the best trip to the Galapagos. Nary a complaint from me or my traveling companion - it was really fantastic. Ship was attractive and comfortable, naturalists were well informed and congenial, food was ... Read More
Recommended by friends as the best trip to the Galapagos. Nary a complaint from me or my traveling companion - it was really fantastic. Ship was attractive and comfortable, naturalists were well informed and congenial, food was surprisingly delicious, and coordination of all our various activies on land and on water was well orchestrated throughout. I especially enjoyed all the "active" excursions including snorkeling, sea kayaking and hiking. Great to see all the animals at such close range and during the mating season for many of the species, like the blue footed boobies and the frigates. I found the trip to be very relaxing and a total getaway from the stresses of every day life. One suggestion would be to add some kind of structure, even a canvas awning, to a large area of the observation deck, especially where there are chaises. Often in the afternoon it was too hot to relax outside. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2018
For anyone who loves watching birds and animals in their natural habitat this was certainly the cruise to take thanks to Lindblad and National Geographic. The night before boarding our ship we were met by helpful Lindblad staff at the ... Read More
For anyone who loves watching birds and animals in their natural habitat this was certainly the cruise to take thanks to Lindblad and National Geographic. The night before boarding our ship we were met by helpful Lindblad staff at the Guayaquil Airport and taken to The Hotel Del Parque, a beautiful 19th century retreat close to the airport, not that you'd ever know because of its lush tropical surroundings. The hotel staff was very welcoming and friendly as well. The next morning after a beautifully set up breakfast buffet on the hotel's patio we were taken back to the airport where we flew to San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands to board our ship. Right from that point on we saw all kinds of sea lions, colorful crabs, pelicans, and iguanas and we would be seeing many more in the coming days. It had begun to rain as we took the Zodiac from the dock to the Islander anchored off shore but the minute we boarded the ship we were greeted and welcomed like family. I cannot say enough about the friendly staff/crew of the Islander, even those on the ships bridge. Our cabin was very comfortable and the additional glassed in terrace off our cabin consisting of a lounger, two chairs and a table made our accommodations seem much larger. Dining on the ship was very good with a selection of food that should have pleased anyone. In the morning a nice breakfast buffet was served and a menu of three entrees posted to select from for that evenings dinner. All sounded very good which made my choice hard. The waiters and bartenders learned our names by the very next day and quickly learned our certain preferences for various beverages and food items. The naturalists, Greg and Jose as well as our expedition leader Vanessa, who guided us all over the islands were a pleasure to be around. They were knowledgeable but never boring and it was easy to see that they really enjoyed their job. On Isla Santa Cruz we saw the giant tortoises, visited a place where we sampled and watched moonshine being made and had a very nice buffet lunch at a farm where afterwards we were able to walk among the numerous wild giant tortoises. I believe it was that night during which local entertainment was brought on board the Islander to dance and play the native instruments which I thoroughly enjoyed. Our last day of the cruise was spent on Genovesa Island where we were able to walk by numerous frigates and boobies with their little babies so close that you could have touched them. This was a perfect opportunity to get some good up close pictures. The planned activities for the passengers were also very appealing. I can now say I have jumped off ship into the ocean and have snorkeled among sharks and sea lions. Another nice on board feature was the assortment of good quality gift items offered for sale as well as T-shirts located by the reception desk. As we disembarked the ship on our last day it was really hard to say good bye to all the friendly staff and crew who at that point seemed more like friends and family. I would most certainly love to take another cruise on board the Islander. After returning to the Hotel Del Parque we were offered a tour of hotel grounds which were very impressive. There is an excellent restaurant, Casa Julian on the grounds which offers local cuisine and outdoor dining with a view of the Rio Daule River. My traveling companions and I chose to spend an extra two days in Guayaquil. There is so much to see that I strongly recommend doing so. The hotel may be a drive from downtown Guayaquil but the taxi ride was very inexpensive compared to what we would pay in the US. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We have traveled with Lindblad before and have always found them excellent and this trip to the Galapagos was no exception. We flew from Miami to Guayaquil, then out to the Galapagos and Lindblad staff members were guiding us the entire ... Read More
We have traveled with Lindblad before and have always found them excellent and this trip to the Galapagos was no exception. We flew from Miami to Guayaquil, then out to the Galapagos and Lindblad staff members were guiding us the entire way. Once on the ship, the service continued at a high level. Days were filled with varied activities including hikes and snorkeling. There were occasional options for kayaking and paddleboarding, One day was spent on land visiting the Darwin Center and the Galapgos Tortoises. Lindblad calls their cruises excursions as the emphasis is not on visits to towns or shopping but on seeing nature and wildlife and understanding the history and ecology and geology of the areas visited. You do need to be capable of getting in and out of Zodiac (a small rubber motorized craft) to get on and off the ship, but the staff was extremely helpful in making sure everyone got on and off safely. Staff is extremely knowledgeable and helpful in increasing your understanding of the areas visited. We kept informed with different lectures, and a nightly recap, outlining the next day's activities. Excellent food and a well provisioned ship, all made for an enduring memory. I especially appreciate Lindblad's commitment to the countries where they travel and to environmental issues. We traveled as a group with 8 adults (7 seniors) with varied interests and abilities and each was accommodated. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
The service, food, and attention to detail was excellent! I would strongly recommend this trip for anyone looking to see and experience a place that is filled with beautiful landscapes, amazing wildlife, and 5 star food! The crew and ... Read More
The service, food, and attention to detail was excellent! I would strongly recommend this trip for anyone looking to see and experience a place that is filled with beautiful landscapes, amazing wildlife, and 5 star food! The crew and naturalists were very friendly and went out of their way to make sure everyone had a great time. Every aspect of the trip was well planned and easy for our first trip out of the Country. We met some great people from all over the world and I as sure we will stay in touch over the years. The snorkeling was the highlight of the trip as we saw hammerhead sharks, giant sea turtles, penguins, sting rays, sharks, sea lions and thousands of beautiful fish. This was not a cheap trip but if you are looking for a first class experience all the way I highly recommend this trip. If you are looking to lay on a beach with a book then this is not the trip for you. They have you going every day and there are activities for everyone. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We just returned from the trip of a lifetime on the National Geographic Islander (Lindblad), and since there aren’t too many recent reviews of this ship I thought I’d post a detailed one. So please excuse the length. If you don’t ... Read More
We just returned from the trip of a lifetime on the National Geographic Islander (Lindblad), and since there aren’t too many recent reviews of this ship I thought I’d post a detailed one. So please excuse the length. If you don’t want to read it all, the short version is: UTTERLY FANTASTIC! A bit of background as to why we chose the Islander. My husband is an academic, and is quite knowledgeable about evolution and biology. He wanted to be sure that the quality of the naturalists and the information provided would be as strong as possible, and we had heard rave reviews about this aspect of the NG tours (this proved correct). We are not “cruise people”, and wanted something very low-key and not fancy. We also wanted a mid-sized boat. The Islander fit the bill. Admittedly it was more expensive than other ships, but we felt it would be worth it, and we were not disappointed. We didn’t much care which itinerary we went on, since we didn’t have anything specific we felt we had to see (other than what we knew we’d see anywhere) so we were fine with their wait-and-see policy. Since my husband is not a strong swimmer, we also wanted something that would give us options for each outing in case he didn’t want to snorkel. Long before the trip we were sent lots of information about what to pack, and about the ship and the Galapagos. Shortly before we were to leave we received a packet with luggage tags, description of the process for meeting and getting to the ship, the final itinerary, and other details. The organization of everything was impeccable from start to finish. Everything was included except our transatlantic plane fare and alcoholic drinks, sundries on board, and gratuities. Lindblad had arranged for a van to meet us at the airport and take us to the Guayaquil Hilton Colon where a Lindblad rep met us and gave us details about meeting the next morning to get to the ship. Baggage was to be left outside the room quite early, and was transported to the airport. The passengers met in the lobby and took a bus to the airport, were ushered through check-in, and boarded an hour and a half flight to San Cristobal, where we then took another short bus ride to the dock. We then took the first of our many panga (or zodiac) rides on a short trip to the Islander, where we were met with warmth and enthusiasm by the staff. Our luggage was waiting for us in our rooms, and we had a brief time to dump our hand luggage and go to the lounge for our first orientation. Disembarkation was equally smooth. We were very lucky to have chosen a room on the top deck (406) with its own little glassed in “porch” area with a lounge chair, a small table, and two chairs, as well as numerous hooks on the wall for hanging our snorkeling gear, etc. The room itself was small but incredibly well designed, with a great deal of storage space, more than we needed. There was a ledge along one wall, with a small lip so nothing could fall off, a pitcher of water, two water bottles, two glasses, an outlet (we brought a surge protector with 3 outlets and two USB ports, which came in handy). Inside the closet was a built-in box with a lock, where we kept our passports and cash. There are no locks on the room doors, which was never a problem. The bathroom was extremely small but also very well-designed, with ledges and wire baskets for holding toiletries, and hooks for hanging toiletry bags. Towels were replaced several times a day. There were dispensers on the wall with shampoo, shower gel, and body lotion, and a large bottle of hair conditioner - and they were good products. I’m fussy, so had brought my own, but ended up using theirs. There was also a wall-mounted hair dryer which worked beautifully. I think the only room on the ship which was larger and had a larger bathroom was the suite at the front of the top level; the rooms on the lower levels were the same size, just without the porch area. I think there were one or two triples, which were also larger. We really enjoyed having the outside area both for lounging and for the extra space, but would have done fine without it. Everyone said you don’t spend much time in your room, and that was pretty true. You can find good pictures, including panoramic ones, on the Cruise Critic website. We had them make up the two singles as a queen; there was enough room to walk around the bed, and it was extremely comfortable. Orientations were in the lounge, a lovely large room with big windows, couches and chairs. Cocktail hour was here as well, and there were usually snacks available. Also a soda machine, espresso machine, and a small fridge for beer (honor system sign-up). Vanessa, the expedition leader, gave us our daily recaps, next day orientations, and other information here. Vanessa was amazing – cheerful, warm, funny, responsive, and especially wonderful with the children on board. We had about 6 kids under 12 and about 6 teens, all of whom were delightful and a joy to be around. They really added to the fun of the trip with their excitement, their questions, and their energy. I won’t go into detail here about all the amazing things we saw – wildlife, sea life, geological formations, etc. – but do want to add a word about the 3 naturalists on board: Enrique, Gianna, and Jonathan. All are natives of the Galapagos, and their love of the islands shines. They were incredibly well-informed – there was never a question they couldn’t answer – but more importantly they were fun to be with. They each had their own unique senses of humor, were unfailingly cheerful and responsive, and never made anyone feel silly or stupid for asking a question. How they do this so well week after week amazes me – their excitement felt like it was brand new, and it was contagious. They were patient with my husband who wasn’t that confident a swimmer; they encouraged him to keep trying the snorkeling and never made him feel bad when he wanted to quit. Most days we had at least 3 different outings, one of which was usually snorkeling. Often there was a choice of snorkeling from the panga in deep water or off of the beach. Several days there was an option to either kayak or paddle-board instead of snorkeling or instead of a panga ride. There was always at least one hike, sometimes with wet landings and sometimes with dry ones (which usually meant getting out onto rocks). Everything was perfectly organized and ran like a clock. I should say that the snorkel gear they provided was in great shape – like new, and in every conceivable size. No one had a problem with it. I brought my own full length skin to wear under the shorty wet suit, since I tend to get cold. The water ranged from about 65 to 72 degrees, and with the wet suit didn’t feel cold at all. They provide a mesh bag with your room number on it for all the gear, and there are hangers on either side of the ship to store them – one side for even numbered rooms, one for odd. There are hoses to rinse things off, and even a small electric wringer for bathing suits, which helped the drying. Food. There was a lot of it! I have to say, though, that the food was the least good thing about the trip, though it was perfectly fine and often excellent. It’s just that everything else was A+, and I’d give the food a B+, with the occasional A. Breakfast and lunch were buffet, most dinners were sit-down served meals, with choices made that morning (usually a fish, meat, or vegetarian option at each meal). Wine or beer were extra, and they had good options. Desserts were quite good – one, the passionfruit mousse, was fabulous. There were a few buffet dinners – the Ecuadorian feast, and the sky deck barbecue (that was my favorite). Meals were in the lovely dining room, all at large tables of 6 or 8, with open seating, which encouraged everyone to get to know each other and the staff. Weather. It was surprisingly cool. I had expected, and prepared for, blistering heat, but we had many overcast days which were nevertheless quite bright, but comfortable. I was glad I had thrown a few long sleeved shirts into my pack at the last minute. Also, the air conditioning on the ship was very strong – several times we asked them to turn it up to make it a bit warmer in the public areas. The bedrooms all had their own individual controls. We kept it off during the day, turned it on before we went to bed, and it was cool in seconds. Although the forecast I had checked before we left called for rain each day, as per people’s comments on this forum, that was totally inaccurate, and it never rained. Vanessa gave us advice about what to wear for each outing in the pre-dinner briefings. Packing. The one thing I would have liked to have brought is a small plug-in night light. Once the sun sets around 6pm it’s pitch black, and when the ship lights are turned off it’s very dark in the room. It would have been nice to have something dim to light the way to the bathroom without having to turn on the full bathroom light. We did laundry several times during the trip – they provided a bag, and if you left it on your door in the morning it was back before night (we spent a total of about $130 for the trip, a lot, and we could have managed without it). Most people, including us, wore quick-dry pants or shorts, a short-sleeved shirt, and a hoodie, fleece or light jacket over that. We were extremely diligent about using SPF50 sunscreen and had no sunburn problems. Binoculars were useful, sunglasses were a must. I never wore the hat I brought, and my husband only wore a baseball cap. We didn’t bring a whole lot, and could have done with less. I brought one sun dress, wore it a few evenings just for a change, but was the only one who did. As far as shoes go, we were surprised that the rule we had read about of taking off shoes after leaving the panga wasn’t even mentioned. I brought sneakers, tevas, and flipflops, and that was perfect. The sneakers for dry landings, the tevas for wet landings, and the flipflops for walking around the ship. My husband kept his shoes on in the ship. Photography. One of the naturalists, Jonathan, was also a photography specialist, and for those who were into it, he offered one–on-one help and advice as well as having a few group sessions. Unfortunately we’re not camera pros, but I know we would have appreciated his expertise if we were. We did buy an inexpensive underwater camera that was fun for using while snorkeling. Otherwise we used our iPhones. There was a videographer on board, Ashley, who chronicled our entire voyage and provided a DVD at the end. A note about seasickness. We had none. I put on a patch before we got on board just in case, but found the side effects (dry mouth and sore throat) too bothersome. I took it off and was just fine. We could definitely feel the ship rock, but found it soothing. I slept better on board than I have in a long time. It has taken a few days of being off the ship to get back my land legs; for a while if I closed my eyes I still felt as if I was rocking. Not a bad feeling though. As far as I could tell, no one on board had a problem. So a quick note about what we saw: sea lions galore and of all sizes, fur seals, iguanas (land and sea and one very rare hybrid), lava lizards, sea turtles, every conceivable kind of fish, rays, sharks, starfish, all 3 kinds of boobies (nazca, red-footed and blue footed) including red-footed boobies nesting with eggs and in a few cases with just-born chicks, pelicans, galapagos penguins, flamingoes, galapagos owls (rare), hawks, giant tortoises, finches, galapagos mockingbirds, galapagos doves, frigate birds, swallowtail gulls, albatrosses, herons, scorpions, and the skeleton of a sperm whale. All up close and personal – these animals and birds have no fear of people. And that doesn’t even mention the giant cacti, the incense trees, the lava tunnels and lava-covered island we hiked, or the post office barrel (one of the most charming customs I’ve encountered). All in all, the best trip I’ve ever taken! If you are undecided, go! You won’t regret it. Please feel free to message me if you have any questions. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this particular trip because of the educational value and Lindblad Expeditions because we had such a wonderful experience on a previous cruise. The embarkation/ disembarkation went very smoothly. Someone met us at the airport and ... Read More
We chose this particular trip because of the educational value and Lindblad Expeditions because we had such a wonderful experience on a previous cruise. The embarkation/ disembarkation went very smoothly. Someone met us at the airport and guided us to the hotel. All the tours, entrance fees and transfers were provided for us. Luggage tags, name tags and travel documents were mailed to us about 3 weeks prior to departure. We did have a little frustration with this as one person in our group had moved a few months earlier and although his address was changed with Lindblad, his documents still got sent to the old address. Fortunately, everything did finally arrive the week before departure. After this, the trip went as we had planned. This ship is very intimate with only maximum 47 guests. With 6 people in our group, we had 2 cabins with 3 single beds each. Most cabins sleep 2, so we didn't have any sitting area as the couch was the third bed but the main lounge area more than made up for that. The bathroom was very tight but sized for the small ship. The crew and service was very good. They bent over backwards to see that we were comfortable and had everything we needed. We made many new friends, some of whom actually live close enough that we may see them again. Open seating at meals made it really easy to visit with the other passengers, although we did not do this at meals as we had our 4 grandchildren with us. The Young Explorer program brought the kids together as a group to talk about their experiences and discuss the diversity of the wildlife. This cruise has lots of walking/hiking and enough water activities such as snorkeling, kayaking and paddle boarding planned. Some of the guests even swam off the side of the ship! The wildlife was amazing...Blue footed Boobies, Sea Lions, Iguanas, and even a Galapagos Penguin. Learning about the other side of the world from a book is one thing but actually experiencing it is something altogether amazing. Due to the pristine nature and uniqueness of this area, tourist travel to the islands is very strictly regulated. There are actually 2 itineraries that Lindblad offers, so you would need to visit twice to see all the islands have to offer. All in all, we had a great time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
One of our goals was to go to the Galapagos Islands and this experiential trip did not disappoint. You'll find scenery and wildlife not found anywhere else in the world. We were pleasantly surprised with the friendliness of the ... Read More
One of our goals was to go to the Galapagos Islands and this experiential trip did not disappoint. You'll find scenery and wildlife not found anywhere else in the world. We were pleasantly surprised with the friendliness of the crew. Many greeted us by name, even without our name badges on. The crew is quite talented which provided an additional layer of fun. They even made us a special cake for our honeymoon/anniversary complete with song and other festivities. We've been on other cruises, however, make no mistake, this is an expedition versus a traditional cruise. There are at multiple outings each day and you don't want to miss any of them. One of the other unique aspects to this particular expedition is every staff member on the ship was Ecuadorian. The Naturalists were locally trained experts who internalized the nuances of the area throughout their entire lives and were able to pass on that knowledge to us-the interlopers. We were so happy with this experience, our first with National Geographic, we plan on taking another adventure in the next year or so. One word of advice I'd give to serious photographers is you may want to stick with specific photo expeditions versus a general expedition. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
My husband had been wanting to visit the Galapagos Islands, especially after my positive and wonderful experience 4 years earlier with Lindblad Expeditions, November 2013. We were not disappointed by any means. Each island is unique in ... Read More
My husband had been wanting to visit the Galapagos Islands, especially after my positive and wonderful experience 4 years earlier with Lindblad Expeditions, November 2013. We were not disappointed by any means. Each island is unique in the landscape, animals, birds and experience. Each of the naturalists were excellent offering massive amount of interesting, fun and informative detailed information of everything we sighted and experienced! The captain, officers and crew were always friendly with smiles and knew our names within in a day or two, as well as knowing each of our preferences for food, drinks and seating areas. The 2 or 3 fresh juices made daily were beyond delicious and served at each breakfast, in the lounge, library and every time we returned to the ship after an island outing. A couple of times after cool snorkeling exploring, hot chocolate was offered as well as Bailey's, if we liked. Every meal was yummy with wonderful tastes and flavors from the Ecuador area. I thoroughly enjoyed my second experience at the Galapagos Island! The voyage and guests lived up to all my past travel with Lindblad Expeditions, since 1999, as being informative, exciting, adventurous and wonderful. Thank you for the outstanding experience and all that you do and offer! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Wanted to do something very special for our 25 th wedding anniversary . Nature and evolution in front of your eyes, absolutely amazing. All guides were so knowledgeable, in many fields, Geology, Biology ,Ornothology, and more, all ... Read More
Wanted to do something very special for our 25 th wedding anniversary . Nature and evolution in front of your eyes, absolutely amazing. All guides were so knowledgeable, in many fields, Geology, Biology ,Ornothology, and more, all expeditions were very well organized , mostly by Zodiacs wet or dry landing. Even though I am somewhat handicapped, knee replacements, I managed it well. Every day was a new adventure, we met very many nice people and made new friends. Tour of City Coaquil was very interesting. Ecuador is a very interesting country. Enjoyed some of their dance and music. One day we had Ecuadorion food, very good. Impressed by their effort to help the environment. We had Coca Cola without corn syrup, tasted great. Also air service to the Galápagos was great. We flew Avianca to and from the Galápagos Surprised to see so many other airlines to service the islands. Weather their was always comfortable 70s temperature even on the equator . People who live there are very lucky. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Outstanding learning experience and opportunity to hike, swim & snorkel in a pristine natural environment in the company of fantastic naturalist/guides. The ship was beautifully appointed and service was excellent. Our expedition ... Read More
Outstanding learning experience and opportunity to hike, swim & snorkel in a pristine natural environment in the company of fantastic naturalist/guides. The ship was beautifully appointed and service was excellent. Our expedition leader Emma Ridley was professional, well-organized and extremely personable. The zodiac drivers were amazingly skillful. I especially appreciated the emphasis on safety, and the care all guests received, from the senior citizens to the youngest children. And all the animals & birds lived up to expectations!!! Loved those Sally Lightfoot crabs! The meals were delicious, with local flavors and more than sufficient variety. I did the western itinerary and I would love to do the eastern itinerary. All transfers and connections were efficiently handled. Fine hotel in Guayaquil for first & last nights. Entertainment was not cruise ship style (comedians, magicians, musical revues) - instead we had lectures, slide shows, a "crossing the Equator" party, and some folkloric/traditional musicians and dancers. The lounge was equipped with multiple plasma screens which could be viewed from all seats. All transfer points & connections efficiently handled. System for assigning snorkel gear was very well organized - the plan was to keep the same items for personal use for the entire cruise. The total experience was fantastic, but the naturalist/guides stand out for their contribution to the excellence of the entire cruise. Read Less
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