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17 Lindblad Expeditions Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

Each day was an adventure to experience the culture, wildlife and nature of the area. The naturalists and expedition guides were extremely knowledgeable and gifted teachers. The day was packed with activities. The ship was comfortable, ... Read More
Each day was an adventure to experience the culture, wildlife and nature of the area. The naturalists and expedition guides were extremely knowledgeable and gifted teachers. The day was packed with activities. The ship was comfortable, staff could not have been better and the food was so tasty. The morning stretch yoga was the perfect way to start the day. Especially enjoyed our Yale professor's film discussion at night! The trip was the Inside Passage from Seattle to Sitka, Alaska. I always refer to trips with Lindblad and National Geographic as "expeditions" not cruises. We discover the area with our expeditions leaders and guides and based on conditions, the path can be altered. We experienced very close encountered with breaching humpback whales, breaching minke whales, sea otters, snow geese, tufted puffins, calving glaciers, and much more. The ship's captain was very approachable and addressed our group often. The crew truly operated as a team and we always felt safe and in excellent hands!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
As a scientist and biologist, I wanted to explore the Galapagos Islands for myself to witness the uniqueness of species that motivated Charles Darwin to advance his factual theories on evolution and natural selection. The National ... Read More
As a scientist and biologist, I wanted to explore the Galapagos Islands for myself to witness the uniqueness of species that motivated Charles Darwin to advance his factual theories on evolution and natural selection. The National Geographic team aboard the Endeavor II gave us an exceptionally motivating expedition of the most unique location on our planet. The experience was enhanced by the warm, friendly, motivated and well-informed staff, especially the expedition leader, Carlos, who was also a comedian. There was no shortage of excellent Ecuadorian food and snacks and drinks. There was even time for early morning stretching on the observation deck and a work out in the gym. One of the most exciting experiences on board was meeting so many new people for the first time. The Lounge and Dining Room were large and cozy enough to make this possible. The frequent visits by zodiacs to the different islands highlighting the unique species was breathtaking to say the least. I've never seen so many beautiful creatures in my life. There's no doubt that I will do this expedition again, soon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We went on the Panama Canal/Costa Rica cruise in January, 2019. We love watching wildlife and thought this cruise would be a good way to do it. We have been to Costa Rica before - on a small bus tour on the Caribbean side so this was ... Read More
We went on the Panama Canal/Costa Rica cruise in January, 2019. We love watching wildlife and thought this cruise would be a good way to do it. We have been to Costa Rica before - on a small bus tour on the Caribbean side so this was different. We like being with like-minded people and under 100 passengers seemed manageable. We had 87 people on our cruise. The captain, officers and all of the crew made sure that we were enjoying ourselves and did not need anything. I would have given the dining rating an excellent but some of the Panamanian cuisine seemed too bland for us. That said, we always found something we liked. They always had other standard options for dinner if you didn't like what was being offered. They had an omelet station every morning, always had fresh fruit and wonderfully fresh salad greens. If my husband and myself were 'birders,' we would have enjoyed the rainforest hikes more. It seemed like there were definitely more birders than non-birders. But, mammals inhabit the same types of places so again, you never knew when something would appear. Animals are not on a schedule and many times they just don't make themselves visible. It would have been nice to see more but it just didn't happen. Obviously, rainforests are by nature humid and hot. I wish I brought more clothes with me because each excursion left you dripping. There was really no entertainment on the ship other than the presentations in the lounge. The ones we saw were very good. Unfortunately, we didn't attend most of them just because we were too tired and needed to be up early the next morning. The workout room had nice, clean equipment to use. Due to the size of the ship, the space was small. They also had yoga every morning that I did not take advantage of. All of the public areas were always spotless. They asked that we conserve water which is a very legitimate request and I think everyone was in the same conservation mindset. I told the captain that it would have been nice had we known about the wringer machines that were under the bridge where you could wash your clothes in the sink and wring them out in these machines. It was basically a 'spin cycle' like you have on your washing machine at home. Our clothes would have dried days quicker. We also didn't realize that there were hooks over the bathroom door until the last night of the cruise. Going through the locks of the canal was amazing. We have done it before on a larger cruise ship but this was much better and more intimate. The tour of old Panama City was great - The Biodiversity Museum was also great, especially their video presentation. That was not to be missed - with eight separate and angled screens, including the ceiling and floor. We had originally signed up for a rainforest tour until Cristian, the expedition leader, told us how important we would be to the local economy and how much the locals loved talking about their crafts and explaining their livelihoods - like the Hearts of Palm tour and then the Chocolate tour. We are glad we switched. We saw a lot and learned even more. The snorkeling in Panama was unbelievable. I wished we had seen the turtles and the reef-tipped shark that other people saw but just seeing all the colorful fish made it more than worthwhile for us. The excursions on the private islands were amazing. The picnic that the crew laid out for us on one of the private properties (on a beach) was beautifully done. It had to be so much work for them but they truly did a fantastic job. Don't forget to bring some cash because some of the local people bring their crafts to sell. I will suggest to others to bring enough T-shirts to change to; bring GOOD water shoes. Mine broke (and my husband's broke on the last Zodiac tour). I wore long pants in the dining room because I thought the ship was cold. Also, bring a sweater or sweatshirt. Take binoculars everywhere because you never know what or when you are going to see something. We used a GoPro in underwater housing for the snorkeling. I'm still very green with it, but I got a lot of fish. You can also get underwater pouches for phones if you want to take pictures. Have something that is waterproof for your good camera because it may very well get wet in the Zodiac from splashing. People on the ship seemed to range in age from maybe 40s (just a few) to probably late 80s. We met many people with all kinds of backgrounds and very interesting experiences. We have taken several cruises on large ships, one river cruise and this is our first Linblad/Nat Geo cruise. If you like walking through rainforests, snorkeling, beaches, want to see the canal and be with a great group of people, I recommend this trip. All of the staff, especially the naturalist guides, are very passionate about their profession, as they should be. Their passion was contagious. Our shipboard doctor was trained in emergency medicine and had many years of experience. He accompanied us on several tours and went on others that we did not. He was very outgoing, friendly and easy to talk to. He is a great conversationalist and dinner companion. His wife accompanied him as well and she, too, was very friendly and outgoing. A very big thank you to everyone associated in making this trip what it was. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
No doubt about it , this is a trip of a life time . The itinerary allows one to have a very in-depth exploration of Iceland----- its history , culture , wild-life and scenery . And the crew and the scientific resource persons on board ... Read More
No doubt about it , this is a trip of a life time . The itinerary allows one to have a very in-depth exploration of Iceland----- its history , culture , wild-life and scenery . And the crew and the scientific resource persons on board cannot be better. However , because of the rough open sea around Iceland and the fact that the ship often had to sail in rough water during dinner , I have to miss 4 dinners out of the 9 evenings. And I am not the only one--- half of the 8 people in my group vomited at least once or had to take motion-sickness medication at some stage. The ship even had to put up ropes in the corridor to allow people to hang on to as they walk to dinner/lunch. So ,if you are prone to sea-sickness , this is not a ship for you . Another thing that I never realize , nor was I able to obtain any information prior to booking is that the people in the lower cabins at the back ( stern) of the boat will suffer from terrible engine noise . We were in the 300 level ( one deck below the reception) , and the noise in our cabin was so terrible that I had to raise my voice just talking to my wife whenever she was more than 10 feet away. And it was simple not possible to turn on any quite music in the cabin. Mercifully , the noise was constant and after awhile , one sort of got used to it and every night, sleep would eventually come after a initial irritating phase. On the other hand , my friends who were at the same level but had cabins near the front( bow) of the boat , experienced very minimal engine noise throughout the day . If someone had reviewed that before , I would have chosen my cabin more wisely . I just could not understand why no one has even mention that in any past review. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was the first trip away from our young kids and wanted to do Alaska on a small ship. I found out how new this ship was and chased it down. Here are my notes. Quest Sunday - long day to buy time to get on ship at 5:30pm, they ... Read More
This was the first trip away from our young kids and wanted to do Alaska on a small ship. I found out how new this ship was and chased it down. Here are my notes. Quest Sunday - long day to buy time to get on ship at 5:30pm, they mean it and no-one got on before then. Juneau is boring and I wouldn't stay there. Tram was cool and worth it. When we did we got a person to take us to our cabin and desctibe all the features. There was more storage and room in our cabin than in hotel room. Don’t stay at recommended hotel - small rooms, noisy (loud) heaters (boilers) and it is just old. Our cabin on the ship was so much more spacious and has a crazy amount of storage, no way to use all of the drawers and other provided spaces. Pillows and blankets are amazing. Internet doesn’t work - too high latitudes for satellite to work.. I paid and got money back as we did get some cell service in small fishing villages but latency was so high that some applications wouldn’t work. Ship is a shield, so for any coverage you have to be on deck. Tracy Arm (Transit all night) Monday AM, I was pretty excited and woke up at 4am just to look around and saw icebergs out my window and I was on deck by 4:30am - and not only one. It was so crazy pretty that I stayed on deck pretty much to lunch. Food was very good all around. I’m not that picky and I give the food a B+ all around. Something for everyone and after meeting all the guests - no one had a bad thing to say. You get briefings before dinner and after breakfast every day. They over-communicate which seems annoying, but was rather useful. Staff is amazing all around. I can’t say enough good things and I look for those ‘cracks in the crew’ and found none. The respect for the naturalists was crazy high from fellow crew, not to speak of the guests. Monday was Tracy Arm and zodiac tours of the glacier. They take the entire guest list and chop into groups A, B, C and D. They use that to get rid of big lines for activities. We were in group C so they call on the PA to give us a 15 minute notice of when we should head to the mud room to put on Life jacket and board the zodiacs. Max wait was 10 minutes. They clearly have this figured out. Preso’s every day after lunch and dinner by very polished naturalists who know their stuff. I was crazy tired this night and crashed hard.. Speaking to other guests which I now had a chance to socialize with - was the same. Tuesday Morning - hit the zodiacs to go see icebergs that have calved off the glacier. Sounds boring? - look at the pictures and video. Amazing morning - water perfectly still and warm. We all got amazing photo’s - walk on fire trail, banana slugs and bear skat. Then kayaking that wasn’t so interesting but good exercise. Petersburg at lunch - great sleepy fishing village. Could arrange floatplane flights. Or walking (or van) into town or taking a free bicycle which we did. Very nice stay and we had dinner while the ship pulled out of port. This was a real treat. MIT alumni group on board and a professor gave a talk on climate. Very interesting and nice people. weather turned hawaii and we had upper 70’s, sun and heat. crazy. Wish I had more t-shirts. I wore shorts to dinner 4 nights in a row. Wednesday early morning hiking - no so interesting and then kayaking, was cool but not the best. Afternoon (Wednesday) was ok hiking morning, but ‘activity watching in afternoon cruise’ which started out pretty boring, everyone looking but some sea lions. Weather was hot in the sun. Then someone in bridge saw something on the port shore - ship turned too hard and some dishes went flying(turns out that was autopilot accident) - but we found a large group of humpbacks were bubble feeding on the shoreline. They split into 2 different groups and were amazing. We had that all day where I stopped counting at 25 ‘breaches’ of the bubble fishing. Most amazing day ever. Would check most folks bucket list to see 1 or 2, but 25+. You have never seen a more satisfied group of passengers and crew that dinner. Most of us knew that was a ‘1 in a lifetime’ afternoon. I hope I can post a few photo’s. Thursday (Icy Strait) - morning hiking in a great rainforest - like walking on sponges. lots of wild flowers and such. After that taken to ‘kayak beach’ where we kayaked ‘follow the leader’ around the Idaho inlet and it was awesome. Guest MIT lecture on Climate and then zodiac rides (A, B, C & D) with real alaskan weather and saw whales, sea lions, otters, eagles taking fish…. great lunch day (turkey) Afternoon zodiac tour of the Inian islands. Amazing - saw whales, sea lions, otters and a Bald Eagle took a 1/2 fish from a sea lion thirty feet in front of our zodiac. I have a picture of that that Tom caught - amazing. took it easy and let folks take naps and slow down a bit. Great dinner and lecture after about summer solstice, some video of diving around the kayak route and Chelsey talking about seals, sea lions and Otters - awesome. Got cold and folks went to sleep. Alaska part 2 Plan for the best - you have your cold weather gear, but you have crazy storage on the Quest - don’t forget t-shirts and shorts. On my trip I left our walk weather stuff in Florida and regretted it. We had 3 days in a row where it hit upper 70’s and I was hot in the sun. I had only 1 pair of shorts and wish I had more. We had *lots* of empty drawers we could have used. Suitcases fit under the bed (easily) Video and camera My wife brought her DSLR (Canon) and they have free lenses for you to use on the ship. She borrowed a few 600mm lens and got the best whale photo’s of the trip. There are at least 2 professional photographers on the trip who will spend as much 1:1 time as you want. Take advantage of it. Star of the show is my iPhone 10 using 4K 60fps video. You can zoom like crazy and will be able to post-process great video. My MacBook air wasn’t powerful enough to do that and iCloud is setup that I needed WiFi (that doesn’t work at those latitudes - so don’t pay for it) I would let the iPhone take video if the whales are around - if you get it, great. If not - delete and try again. Don’t wait till you see them - will be too late (for bubble fishing). Same for glacier calving - I would record for 3 minutes and delete if nothing happened, but if it does - you will get most or all of it in 4K video. Clothing 1st day was cold and clear. I had bought these wind pants with a thin layer of fleece on the inside and they were killer good. My go to pants when cruising or a colder zodiac ride. Too hot for hiking when in 60 or 70’s, so I used my hiking pants and was ok to be a little cold on zodiac ride (10 minutes) and very comfortable on the hike. Front or side pockets to keep iPhone kept if very handy when something unexpected happened, which seems to be all the time Saturday We signed up for the ‘strenuous hike’ and had a good workout though the rainforest to a lake where the guides were surprised had some salmon already. I used my polarized sunglasses to get some good video on my iPhone. After we hiked back down we put on the low profile life jackets and went kayaking in this amazingly clear water. Most of the folks all agreed this was the best of the Kayaking on the trip. Good workout - back to the ship and ate a good lunch. The rest of the afternoon was cruising and looking for wildlife - most folks were tired and slept or started packing. This part of the cruise there seemed to be otters everywhere and I got my otter photo’s here. Right before dinner I was on the bow with some other folks when we saw porpoises on the bow. They rode the bow for 25 minutes and I got my iPhone out there for 4 minutes until my fingers were too cold to hold the phone. Some amazing video I need to edit when I get home. That night after dinner we did the guest slideshow. Each guest could submit 10 of their best photo’s and it was amazing what people got. Anyone could download it from 2 iMacs they had in the lounge. Was very fun. Lots of folks exchanging email addresses and the like for the rest of the evening. Also having some drinks with the crew as you have gotten to know them pretty well at this point. Last day We anchored outside Sitka. Hit the dock at 6am. 6:30am wake-up call. 7am breakfast and they wanted all bags (tagged) and put outside cabin before 7am. Most of us were on same flight from Sitka to Seattle at 2pm. There were 97 passengers. 13 were under age 18. 3 groups of families Grandparents and kids. Bunch of retirees - good group of folks. I'm 53 with wife 46 and we had a great time. Never felt crowded, but we had insane weather. Ask for tour of engine room and kitchen - very cool. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
My travel is, for the most part, independent so read what I have written here with that in mind. On occasion, I’ve tried a cruise or a guided tour in the hope that traveling with experts would enrich the experience even if it means being ... Read More
My travel is, for the most part, independent so read what I have written here with that in mind. On occasion, I’ve tried a cruise or a guided tour in the hope that traveling with experts would enrich the experience even if it means being tied to a large group of travelers that may not share my interests. When I’ve done this, I’ve kept it short, understanding that if it is good, I can always go on a longer trip with the same company. In early January, my teen son and I traveled with Lindblad’s Base Camp Baja: Espiritu Santo trip. The cruise was a partnership with Exhale, a company focused on wellness via yoga, meditation, and exercise programs. Lindblad pitches their program as an education-driven experience that gives insight into the natural world you are sailing through and the challenges of conservation. National Geographic co-markets the cruises and provides onboard photographers to deepen the experience for the guests through ongoing photography advice. Personally, I was hoping it would be a photography seminar of sorts provided by a professional. Taken together, I couldn’t imagine a better combination of activities. The cruise left La Paz, on the National Geographic Sea Bird, a 62-guest ship with 31 cabins, and circled Espiritu Santo an island wildlife preserve in the Gulf of Mexico. Stops on the trip were made for snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, and paddle boarding as well as on-beach yoga. We learned from the staff that including Exhale in the program did attract a younger demographic to the trip than on their other cruises (which tend to be retirees and their families). The most memorable parts of our trip were: 1) Snorkeling with the sea lion pups. This encounter with the playful and acrobatic pups brought us close up to an iconic part of the ecosystem. The pups would dive, dart, and dodge around the snorkelers while also wrestling with one another and occasionally nibbling on a snorkel fin. Fortunately, there was no reward provide to the sea lions (in food) and our visit was not disrupting their lives except a long snooze that was ongoing during our time there. 2) Seeing the sea glow with bioluminescence as we returned from dinner on the beach. The zodiac pilot stopped, turned out the lights and shared with us what was happening to create the water to sparkle green in the wake of the boat. This was magical. 3) A chance encounter with a small pod of orca whales hunting rays. It was our first time seeing orcas and the boat was abuzz as they corralled the rays together. At one point, they swam alongside the boat and we could clearly see their distinctive white and black patterns. Apparently, this was a rare sighting with few of the staff or crew having seen orcas onboard. 4) Sunrise yoga on the aft deck. The instructor was excellent and the setting simply beautiful. The areas that Lindblad needs to improve: 1) Although the food onboard was good it fell short of expectations. The salads available for lunch and dinner and were excellent. Breakfast was also good. Fish entrees lacked flavor or adequate searing (tuna). The chicken also lacked flavor and was dry. The beef was excellent for one meal and poor the next. Accepting the challenge of cooking for the whole ship in a limited space, I am satisfied with the meals but did expect more. 2) Lindblad did not follow through on their partnership with Exhale and failed to provide the promised programming (as per their marketing materials). During the trip, the single Exhale employee onboard lead sunrise yoga classes (2), paddleboard yoga (2), and evening chill yoga classes (2). There was no Exhale core fusion boot camp, mindfulness hikes, post-hike stretching, or meditation sessions (all promised). In other words, lots of yoga and nothing else. There should have been two people from Exhale onboard and Lindblad should have taken their promises seriously. 3) Hire better photographers and naturalists. The lead photographer onboard was not a professional and had a basic knowledge of photography. Add to that she was not the friedliest person and we quickly learned to steer clear of her while onboard. The naturalist shared little beyond the obvious and the names of islands we didn’t really need to know. Pair that with him being out of shape and our hike became a tedious walk. Near the top, the naturalist told us we wouldn’t be going to the top for fear of disturbing the ecosystem even though a footpath was clearly visible curling up the hillside. If photography and observing the natural world are going to be Lindblad’s trademarks, they need better staff. 4) Staff that talked less about their experience working for Lindblad and more about nature, photography, and wellness. It’s only natural for people to talk about themselves but I lost interest eventually and was left asking why we weren’t talking more about sea life, etc. Training would give the staff the tools to turn the guests’ attention to what is truly meaningful on the trip. Unacceptable parts of the trip: 1) This trip was about nature but Lindblad insisted on having a videographer operating a drone again and again. In case you’ve not been around one, drones will drown out the sound of birds, disturb the wildlife, and make you wonder if there is a very large bee buzzing around your head. Understandably the videographers asked us just to ignore them as they captured footage for their marketing videos. Easier said than done. Lindblad sacrificed the guests’ experience for their own marketing needs and it sucked. 2) The captain set sail on the second morning midway through the sunrise yoga. I had the impression he hadn’t gotten the memo that this was a wellness cruise and that maybe it was best to wait half an hour so the 20 guests on the aft deck didn’t need to worry about toppling over as the ship swayed as it steamed north. As we disembarked the next day, I overheard the captain speaking with a crew member about how terrible “these short trips” were and I realized that he hadn’t given a thought to the yoga taking place. Lindblad needs to take seriously the core principles of their business (not just print them in their marketing materials) and hire staff that is dedicated to it. The trip leader needs to have an itinerary for each trip that actively pursues those principles and, if it is a wellness trip, make sure that is central. The company’s goal is to be the best in class and this will not happen without sustained attention to staffing and how that staff executed onboard. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
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
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
Sail Date November 2017
This small ship, the Lindblad-National Geographic Sea Bird, was able to go into the small bays of the inside passage of Alaska to kayak around icebergs while we got to watch seals swim around us and bears up close on the shore. The staff, ... Read More
This small ship, the Lindblad-National Geographic Sea Bird, was able to go into the small bays of the inside passage of Alaska to kayak around icebergs while we got to watch seals swim around us and bears up close on the shore. The staff, the naturalists, made our trip! No other like it. There was a big ship watching us from the mouth of the bay because they couldn't fit where we went! They took us to a glacier by zodiac and saw it up close. We saw a piece calve and fall into the water with a big boom! Then our naturalist plucked a same bit of ice floating in the water and told us the history and journey that piece took through time. Activities were stellar. Service and knowledge made our trip. More food than we could eat. The cabin was small, but we were only there to sleep. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
I visited the Galapagos Islands in Oct. of 2012 and it was and awesome trip. I've always wanted to go back. This year, I decided to take my two adult daughters on a cruise. the stars aligned and the July -Aug cruise fell into place ... Read More
I visited the Galapagos Islands in Oct. of 2012 and it was and awesome trip. I've always wanted to go back. This year, I decided to take my two adult daughters on a cruise. the stars aligned and the July -Aug cruise fell into place for all of us time wise. The girls had a fantastic, jaw-dropping time and said it was best vacation ever. We shared a cabin for 3, which tho lacking in enough storage drawers, was comfortable and sufficient for the little time we spent there. The food was amazing, lots of choices and specialty foods. One of my daughters is vegan and I eat gluten free. Every meal and snack time, there were dishes especially prepared for both of us. There were others with dietary requirements and all were personally taken care of. Service was A-One. Excursions were amazing and led by very experienced Naturalists. The atmosphere is casual..no dressy dinner clothes needed. The ports were an adventure every excursion with lots of wildlife..flora and fauna to see and experience, like snorkeling among sea lions, sea turtles, marine iguanas, penguins and tropical fish. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
For the money, my recent cruise to Greenland and Canadian Arctic was a bit of a let down. First, we were misdirected at the Reykjavík airport and the bus actually left without us! And did the same to at least one other person. The ground ... Read More
For the money, my recent cruise to Greenland and Canadian Arctic was a bit of a let down. First, we were misdirected at the Reykjavík airport and the bus actually left without us! And did the same to at least one other person. The ground tours were ok but very rushed, and they paraded us around Iceland for 6 hours or so after arriving at 6am from a 5-hour flight. The parting lunch was abysmal, and the restaurant was so crowded the food buffet was mostly inaccessible. I finally found a seat and a tour rep asked me to move so a couple could sit together! Then no one had any idea how the luggage would be retrieved by us at the airport going to Greenland, but clearly told us it was solely our own responsibility. Wow. The cruise itself was great, but again, there was a complete lack of organization by the expedition crew. And most, but not all, expedition crew were really very unfriendly and downright arrogant. The leader even rushed me along into the zodiac leaving an island, and I was one of the fast ones. Another one mocked me for not getting out of the way quick enough so he could photograph a site without people in it. Also, why does the staff get to sit in the first-class seats to and from Greenland/Iceland? And on the ship, while everyone occupied the bow area to photograph interesting animals, the best spots were taken by the Nat Geo photographers. They are PAID to be there, while the guests paid for the experience. Surely we should have access to the very front first. Back in Iceland, the same disorganization continued. Where are the bags?, no one knows, come down at 9am to ID your bag, then the story changes. The very high price is supposed to, in part, avoid these types of things. But apparently not. The ship itself was very clean and pleasant. Her crew was excellent. The food was not bad, but gets repetitive after a while. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
This was a family affair. Thirteen of us ventured to Baja and the Sea of Cortez in March. Linblad did its typical excellent job of showing us the sights and helping us to appreciate the diversity of wildlife in the area. The highlight for ... Read More
This was a family affair. Thirteen of us ventured to Baja and the Sea of Cortez in March. Linblad did its typical excellent job of showing us the sights and helping us to appreciate the diversity of wildlife in the area. The highlight for my wife and me was going out on Zodiac boats to see the whales. My niece was very good at splashing the water and attracting the young "baby" whales to the boat. We all got a chance to pet the head of the inquisitive whales. The naturalists were excellent, knowledgeable and engaging. The onboard Naturalist/Photo Instructor Rab was outstanding. He offered great tips and came along on the excursions and made suggestions to we passengers. Rab allowed passengers to submit their favorite 5 photos to share with other passengers. Be sure to bring along something like a 16+ GB USB flash drive to get a copy of those pictures. My only substantial complaint is with the shorties provided to passengers for snorkeling. Using shorties seems to be a standard with Linblad Expeditions. The Sea of Cortez is cold. You need more than a shortie to be comfortable and stay in the water for a prolonged period of time. Several in my group brought along a full wetsuit, a hood, booties, and gloves for increased comfort while snorkeling. In between snorkel trips (3 as I recall), the ship provided hangers on deck to let the wetsuits drip dry. I also brought along my own flippers and mask; the ship did provide those for guests to use, along with flotation vests. Be sure to bring along a mesh bag if you bring your own. At Puerto Gato, we had the chance to do stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. My wife and I had outside Cabin 219 on the main deck. It was in a very good location from one perspective: just step outside for instant whale watching. The not so good is that the cabin was below an open deck (the Sun deck). Someone--a crew member I think--was jumping rope on the Sun deck above the room early one morning. I went up and mentioned that it was noisy in the room below, and the person stopped the activity (and never repeated it). There were plenty of hooks, hangers, and cubbyholes in the cabin for storage. I brought along some magnetic hooks to put on the walls, but discovered the cabin walls were not made of metal. The only place to get the hooks to stay was on the cabin ceiling. Be forewarned that the combined bathroom/shower is small and cozy. There was a larger bathroom on the Sun deck. The bed was comfortable. My group, and I think most passengers, flew to Los Angeles airport and caught an AeroMexico charter flight to La Paz, Mexico. Transfers from and to the airports in Mexico were handled flawlessly by the staff. Be aware that you will have a long bus trip (3 hours or so) when you transfer to San Carlos. Expect to get to the ship after 8:30 pm local time. The bus trip for the La Paz airport is only about 45 minutes. Expect great treatment from the staff. We were greeted with champagne upon arrival at the ship (M/V National Geographic Sea Bird). We got complimentary wine at the special Mexican Fiesta Dinner. At Puerto Gato, we had dinner on the beach with complimentary margaritas and wine. Drinks on the ship were reasonably priced. You could get a bottle of wine at dinner; there was a good selection, and again the prices were reasonable. The food was tasty. One night we had music on board from a local, 2-person band. We did visit one town during the expedition. We got to spend several hours in downtown San Jose del Cabo. We had a guided tour, followed by free time. I did find Wi Fi at one of the restaurants. Typical of Linblad Expedition trips, we went on several nature walks. The Naturalists were a fountain of knowledge, and historical knowledge, because many have been coming to the Baja area for many years. The lectures on the ship were informative and entertaining. We got to see several species of whales, from the ship and close up on the Zodiac boats. Overall, it was a very good trip. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
My wife and I took the one week Galapogos excursion on the Linblad National Geographic on the ship Islander in mid-February. It was a fantastic experience, exceeded our admittedly high expectations and a trip we can recommend highly. ... Read More
My wife and I took the one week Galapogos excursion on the Linblad National Geographic on the ship Islander in mid-February. It was a fantastic experience, exceeded our admittedly high expectations and a trip we can recommend highly. Here are some further thoughts on the subject. NATURALISTS MATTER. A critical feature of the experience were the three naturalists that guided every hike, boat ride and snorkel. The ability to make a 1 mile hike into an interesting and engaging two hour nature experience is dependent wholly on the naturalists. The three on our trip were extraordinary and well versed in the smallest detail of the geology, history, flora, fauna and culture of every stop. We had been told by others who did the Galapagos (with other providers) that most naturalists who work in the islands aspire to get hired by Linblad/Nat Geo, and therefore, they get the best. While we have nothing to compare it to, our experience was excellent. I would pick Linblad/Nat Geo for that reason alone. ACTIVITY LEVEL. The pace was significantly more active than we imagined, and to our liking. The ship accommodations matter, but we didn’t have as much lounging time as I had thought. We kayaked twice (regulations limit the number of kayaks they can send out), and we took every boat ride, snorkel and hike offered. While that pace was by no means exhausting, some guests opted-out on occasion. The pace of the hikes was leisurely and the terrain well handled by all except a few of the more frail passengers. Even on the more rocky trails, a pair of sturdy hiking sticks for less active folk (supplied by the boat) were all that were needed. Typically, we started before or just after breakfast, got in one or two events before returning to the ship by noon for lunch, lounged or napped, and then resumed excursions at 3:00 to avoid the mid-day heat. SHIP CONDITION. Despite being a slightly older ship and not having been renovated recently, the ship was in excellent condition with beautiful teak accents, shiny brass hardware, nice carpets, and always impeccably clean with three room services per day! There was nothing worn or old about it. CLOTHING. The dress was quite casual, and what I would call “resort casual.” Shorts, t-shirts, polo shirts, bathing suits and casual sun dresses predominated. During mid-February it was quite hot mid-day so wicking active gear, loose shirts and sun protection clothing was key. Air conditioning kept the interior of the ship pleasantly cool. Next day laundry services (at hotel prices) are available. FOOD. The food was really good. It was not fine dining in the metropolitan sense, but it was tasty, varied and plentiful. Alcohol was reasonably priced from $4 for a local (and good) beer to $8 for a glass of decent wine. Tellingly, most passengers felt like they were gaining lots of weight on the trip! GYM. For fitness buffs, there was a small gym with two high quality treadmills, an elliptical and a good spinning class-styled exercise bike. It had some dumbbells up to 25 pounds. The gym has large windows with great views. It was rarely used with most succumbing to a nap or a book in the shade during the siesta break, and therefore getting a machine was never an issue. WATER. Water temps for swimming and snorkeling were in the 70’s on our itinerary (which can vary) in mid-February. The shortie wet suits provided were buoyant and kept us warm enough to be the last out of the water on most snorkel outings. Some guests also wore rash guards or SPF clothing, either in place of, or underneath wetsuits. Some guests and the guides did fine without the wetsuits. The snorkeling gear was good. I have my own gear but left it at home, and was glad I did. Some put an underwater camera or GoPro to good use, but Linblad provided us with a great DVD filmed by a photographer that accompanied us on all our excursions so we all got some great footage to take home! SERVICE. The service was excellent. I think there are 42 crew or so for 46 guests. The entire staff was professional, efficient, accommodating and helpful. It was our first Linblad experience but likely not our last. STATEROOMS. As to which stateroom to pick (level 2-4) there are some considerations. All have excellent cabin level air conditioning, so you could make your stateroom as cold as you pleased. The level 2 and 3 rooms do not have a window or portal directly to the outside, but rather have a small window that looks through an exterior hallway (either the library on side 302-304-306 with less traffic) or the computer lab (301-303-305 with slightly more traffic) which also serves as the entry to the lounge. Those walkways are floor to ceiling glass so lots of light shines through, but we mostly kept the curtain pulled on our porthole for privacy. As to the level 2 staterooms, we were told by guests in 210 and 208 that they were closest to the engines and may have had a bit more engine noise at night. The area between 205 and 208 is where the guests gather to disembark, which is not a problem if you are disembarking with them, but if you are looking to sleep through it, it might have been loud. We thought the best value were staterooms 306 and 305, as those are sized to accommodate three passengers, and if they will give you one of those as a double, the extra room in the form of a day bed/couch is nice. The remaining level 3 staterooms, and the level 4 staterooms (but for 401 and 402, see below) are all about the same size. The difference is that the 4 level rooms have a small enclosed “porch” that some guests used as a place to hang wet clothing, but does have enough room for two people to sit with a book or a drink (it is slightly bigger than it looks in pictures.) The level 4 rooms are more private than the level 3 rooms (no exterior traffic), and had more light due to the window on the door to the deck. Staterooms 401 and 402 (on an older brochure I think those were labeled 501 and 502) were really spectacular with large dramatic windows overlooking the bow and sides of the boat, with the same small but functional enclosed decks like the other level 4 rooms. By comparison to any other staterooms, the light in those rooms was extraordinary. The bathrooms too were larger in those suites. The exterior walkways (rather than internal) offer the great benefit of providing many air conditioned places to lounge on either side of the ship with fantastic exterior views. Of course the lounge to the stern and two upper decks (open but shaded) also provide lots of space. The public spaces are sufficiently varied for socializing, or napping, reading or sunning in relative privacy. Therefore, we used our stateroom mostly to sleep, nap, shower and change, and lounged elsewhere on the boat. So overall, as you consider the class of accommodations, we thought 1) a level 2 stateroom offered a great overall experience because the you spend so little time in your room and this trip is about the outdoors; 2) if you are on level 2, rooms 201-204 might be quieter, but noise was never really an issue; 3) the premium for the extra space of 303-306 was worth it to us; 4) if you want to splurge and the stateroom matters to you the most, splurge on 401 or 402; you won’t be disappointed with the premium space. But regardless of which accommodations you pick, make sure you pick one and go. It is a unique travel experience like none other on the planet. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
I was referred to this cruise/expedition by our dentist! As it turned out, he was exactly right! My daughter had the most enjoyable experience of our lives! When we arrived in Ushuaia, we were taken to a catamaran where we were treated ... Read More
I was referred to this cruise/expedition by our dentist! As it turned out, he was exactly right! My daughter had the most enjoyable experience of our lives! When we arrived in Ushuaia, we were taken to a catamaran where we were treated to a wonderful lunch and saw a little part of scenery Ushuaia. When we arrived at the port which we were to embark, we were greeted by a friendly, smiling crew member who welcomed us aboard the ship. Once on the ship, we were asked if we wanted to register at the time we boarded or if we would like to be taken to our cabin. We chose to be taken to our cabin and, without hesitation, they took us. Once we reached the cabin, they showed us all about the cabin to make our stay more comfortable. The cabin was cozy and comfortable and well appointed. The ship was beautifully appointed and it was rather easy to find our way around once we settled in. After we settled into the cabin, we went to register ourselves into the ship. It was quick and easy with not much waiting. The dining room was equally beautiful and our dining requests were met every step of the way! The staff was friendly, polite and efficient and they tended to our every need! The quality of the food served was top notch and there was no skipping on service! All of the dining room staff went out of their way to meet our needs from our first meal to our last! Each day, our schedule was full of activities and interesting seminars on Antarctica and other topics of interest! There was never a time in the day when there was nothing to do, unless you chose to do nothing but relax or read. It was always interesting and NEVER boring! What we found to be interesting is that this cruise/expedition was made up of mature passengers, but also of young adults who enjoyed the interaction by all! I believe that all of us learned something from everyone! Aside from going on shore and seeing glaciers up close in addition to the wildlife, it was wonderful to be able to go anywhere on the ship including the bridge where we were welcomed with open arms. Not only did the crew allow us to enter the bridge at anytime, they were willing to explain to us what we were seeing and what we could expect as we were traveling along! They pointed out interesting sites and went into detail about what we saw in order to help us understand all that we were seeing! They explained all about what they were doing, as well, which made the trip even more interesting. The naturist were informative and interesting! Needless to say, the service that was provided was the best that I have ever seen. Every detail was thought of and nothing was ever left out! I could not have asked for more as it went beyond my expectations! If I had the chance to go again, and I hope I do, I would do it again in a heartbeat! Furthermore, I would recommend this cruise/expedition to anyone at anytime! The money spent to book this trip was more than worth it! Thank you to the crew, Linblad and National Geographic for the trip of a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
The Lindblad/National Geographic team on the boat was superb. The 7 naturalists (all certified by the Galapagos Nationa Park) were incredibly well trained and knowledgeable the wildlife, the ecosystems, and local history and culture. Two ... Read More
The Lindblad/National Geographic team on the boat was superb. The 7 naturalists (all certified by the Galapagos Nationa Park) were incredibly well trained and knowledgeable the wildlife, the ecosystems, and local history and culture. Two of them also served as photography advisors and videographers. All of the passengers were encouraged to share some of their best shots and the videographer share his work. We also had the opportunity to learn more about the life of Charles Darwin, watch an extensive documentary from National Geographic, visit a local school training children to become naturalists, etc. Each day we spent time visiting one or two islands with vastly diverse species of wildlife, ecosystems, and recreation opportunities. The meals were well prepared using very healthy foods (except the desserts) and the dining room staff was excellent. The other crew members, from the ship captain's team to the cooks, housekeepers, etc. were also very supportive. All of the logistics arrangements were very well handled. We met many interesting fellow passengers with whom we spent field trips, group meals and many hours of fascinating informal conversations. It became a small community of fellow nature enthusiasts within hours of boarding the vessel and stayed that way until we departed at the airport eight days later. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We wanted to make our 7th continent and this worked well. The 1 star is off for the excursions in Bueno Aires and Ushuaia could have been improved with voice boxes (a la Viking) and more information so we could hear the guide instead of ... Read More
We wanted to make our 7th continent and this worked well. The 1 star is off for the excursions in Bueno Aires and Ushuaia could have been improved with voice boxes (a la Viking) and more information so we could hear the guide instead of her having to shout. The food on the boat was nothing to write home about, but it was adequate. The food is not why you take this cruise. The catamaran cruise on the lake in Ushuaia would have been improved with commentary about the Tierra del Fuego National park. There was a flash strike by LAN on our day of departure and everyone going home missed their international flight, since we didn't get to EZE until 1 am. Lindblad and the cruise director did an excellent job getting us back in the Sofitel for a night and getting our replacement flights home, plus covering expenses quickly. They must have a rapid response team or something because their response to a crisis was excellent. The parkas that come with the cruise are really very nice. It also comes with an inner lining that is outstanding. On many of the Antarctica excursions on the ice several people would wear just the inner lining. Depending on the weather, the same was true for when the ship was cruising the ice watching for whales, seals, and penguins. I would suggest at the very least, renting their boots, so you dont have to pack your own. They were quite good. We brought our own ski pants, but many others rented. There are hiking sticks available for free (beat up sticks) if you want them, so we didnt need to rent those. This is a very casual cruise so no need to dress up. Some crew were in the lounge during the day in shorts and a T shirt and this did not offend us. Plan on a poor internet experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
This is not your big boat cruise. I've been on those and the whole reason for the choice of this ship rather than the 2800 passenger ship that was also in those waters with us is to become intimate with the flora and fauna, make ... Read More
This is not your big boat cruise. I've been on those and the whole reason for the choice of this ship rather than the 2800 passenger ship that was also in those waters with us is to become intimate with the flora and fauna, make photographs. We sailed into all the nooks and crannies along the route, stopping for zodiac trips to shore with NatGeo photographers who were also naturalists, so we learned not only how to make great photographs, but also details about what we were photographing. Many times, one would hear the engine die followed by an announcement that wildlife had been spotted on shore and the captain would nose the boat very close to shore so everyone could get a good look and great pix. Don't know about other cabins, but no problems with smells in my cabin and the overall appearance of the ship was clean and tidy. The cabins are small - a place to crash after a busy day experiencing all there was. The shower/head was really tiny - to take a shower, throw some liquid soap against the walls, step in and turn around a few times. Don't forget to draw the curtain between the shower and the head or you will be trying to dry off with wet towels. But then again, I had one of the small cabins. There are a few larger ones. If you want a luxurious stateroom, take the 2800 passenger ship. You'll sort of get the experience. But if you want to get the pix of the black bear whom you could see had recently been in a fight, you are looking for something like this. PIX at http://flikr.com/photos/clind/albums. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
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