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2 Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Quest Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

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
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
National Geographic Quest Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.7
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 0.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.0 4.2
Family 4.0 4.2
Shore Excursion 4.5 4.1
Enrichment 5.0 4.4
Service 4.0 4.7
Value For Money 4.0 3.7

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