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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
Chosen as a frequent traveler when offered a discount. Went with a travel buddy and shared a forward cabin. Lovely even if a bit small. It took a fair amount of rolling making the first 3 days a bit unsettling. As we went south we were in ... Read More
Chosen as a frequent traveler when offered a discount. Went with a travel buddy and shared a forward cabin. Lovely even if a bit small. It took a fair amount of rolling making the first 3 days a bit unsettling. As we went south we were in calmer seas and enjoyed the ship not only as an adventure but as a guest of the "hotel". The crew on the Orion is proud of its staff and well it should be. Always smiling, they freshened our cabin daily, served us with glorious food. Even opened a new bottle of wine that was not offered that night, just for me. The sailors took great care to assist us into the Zodiacs for forays to the beach to snorkel. I was assisted by one of the expedition onto a paddleboard, instructed how to stand and off I went into the blue water, master of my own rig. Exciting. I learned to snorkel with their help. The photography staff helped me to take better pictures and showed me how to get underwater videos with my GoPro. We visited villages on 3 islands, greeted with enthusiasm with welcoming ceremonies, native dances and food. The ethnomusiciologist heard the choir of a Christian church on a previous cruise and asked them to come on the day we were to arrive (Wednesday) and sing for u s. They agreed, rushed home from work to dress in their Sunday finery and be at church when we arrived at 4PM. Their singing was so heartful that we were all inspired. We were happy that the pastor asked them to stand in a line to greet us all as we left. We hugged and kissed in the proper French way, one of the cruisers received a hat from one of the congregants. Merci's and bon voyage to us all as we thanked them for giving us the opportunity to hear hymns in their Polynesian language. On the last night, we had the opportunity to thank the captain, meet and thank the chef. thank our servers, and to clap for those crew members who were in the engine room, who kept the ship moving. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Whales! Not only did we see blue whales, gray whales and humpback whales, we were also close enough to hear them, and feel the spray of the "blow." The arcs of dolphins, rolls of sea lions, flights of pelicans, and spirals of ... Read More
Whales! Not only did we see blue whales, gray whales and humpback whales, we were also close enough to hear them, and feel the spray of the "blow." The arcs of dolphins, rolls of sea lions, flights of pelicans, and spirals of frigate birds were also impressive. The strolls through the desert were also compelling and a stark change from life on the water. The staff were experienced, enthusiastic and informative. They really made the expedition a success! They were all amazing and all added a special touch to the experience. The onboard expedition recaps, talks and photo lessons really enhanced the experience. The cabins were more comfortable than you might expect on an "expedition" though they are admittedly small and no frills. Who'd want to spend much time in their cabin with whales, seabirds, amazing scenery, and observations with fellow explorers to enjoy on the decks? I'd highly recommend this expedition! 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: June 2017
We decided to take Lindblad/National Geographic to the arctic because we had gone on a Lindblad cruise to Baja two years ago and loved it - But this was even better. We had one of the least desirable cabins (we booked late) but it was ... Read More
We decided to take Lindblad/National Geographic to the arctic because we had gone on a Lindblad cruise to Baja two years ago and loved it - But this was even better. We had one of the least desirable cabins (we booked late) but it was still more than adequate. The ship's public spaces are surprisingly commodious; lots of empty places to sit if you wanted to be alone. Very attractively designed. The food was ridiculous it was so good. Actually, a bit "much" sometimes. Everything was brilliantly organized and worked like clockwork. And the entire staff was so good humored and helpful. The most amazing part of the trip was the quality of the programs. We wanted to learn about the animals, the geology, the effect of climate change, the plants, the towns...everything. My standards are pretty high (I am a university professor) but everything was professionally planned and presented, with both enough information for the serious as well as enough entertainment for the casual. The program staff was unbelievable both in terms of expertise and also approach-ability. We so much enjoyed getting to know the naturalists, geologists, photographers, etc. You will probably find this hard to believe (I did at first!) but they really make you feel like a welcome guest. I should add that I was quite worried before i went about the fact that i am mobility impaired. The accommodations that were made to help me out were really outstanding,even though I was not able to do much of the hiking and kayaking. Everyone made it possible for me to do as much as I could, and did so without stressing me out in any way. It was helpful that there was a good quality elevator that made most parts of the ship easily accessible. THANK YOU, LINDBLAD/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC!! Excellent service, Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
I researched Alaska & what I wanted to see and do. I looked at land trips, cruise ships & other smaller ships. I went with the National Geographic Seabird for the itinerary, the educational aspect & the companies care for the ... Read More
I researched Alaska & what I wanted to see and do. I looked at land trips, cruise ships & other smaller ships. I went with the National Geographic Seabird for the itinerary, the educational aspect & the companies care for the environments that they visit. The very first evening the Captain and the staff made it clear that this was going to be an adventure! That the itinerary could change depending upon what we come across, such as whales, or what the weather does. The crew & staff took things to the next level. They were all interactive and personable. They all took the time to add value for each and every passenger. The food on board was exceptional! The activities varied and extensive! The ports were all different so we felt as if we saw a very good cross section of Alaska! The ship was very well outfitted & very comfortable! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
This was a cruise of the Baltic Sea. Chose this cruise because we had never been to that part of the world. Embarked in Stockholm and cruised to the Finnish coast (where we hiked and kayaked in a remote area); then on to St. Petersburg, ... Read More
This was a cruise of the Baltic Sea. Chose this cruise because we had never been to that part of the world. Embarked in Stockholm and cruised to the Finnish coast (where we hiked and kayaked in a remote area); then on to St. Petersburg, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and ending in Copenhagen. The historians and naturalists on board lectured about the history of the region and particularly how affected countries broke from Soviet control. There was also an ethnomusicologist on board who introduced us passengers to the music of the countries we visited by arranging for attendance at performances. This trip included anything from the bar; wine flowed at cocktail time and at dinner. Service on the Orion was impeccable, meals beautifully served, offering meat, fish, and poultry selections. Breakfast and lunch are buffets with a wide variety of hot dishes and cold salads. Ship holds just 100 passengers and has a small fitness center, a library, and an outdoor restaurant if weather permits. A minor criticism is that chairs in the lounge and library/observation area are straight, hard, and uncomfortable. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 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
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