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9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We chose this cruise because we prefer small groups, good food, great destinations and comfort. . .we have been on two cruises, both small boats with a little more than 100 passengers. Normally we travel on our own, unguided but well ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we prefer small groups, good food, great destinations and comfort. . .we have been on two cruises, both small boats with a little more than 100 passengers. Normally we travel on our own, unguided but well researched beforehand. We found the Orion to be everything we thought it would be. . .comfortable, great views, a wonderful room, smooth running and quiet too and the staff were exceptional. Billy, our room cleaner was pleasant, friendly and quite capable. The staff that served us were outstanding and the Captain and crew were charming and professional. Many of the places we visited were educational as well as being extremely attractive locales. Our breakfasts and lunches and tea time were top-notch. . .dinners less so. For example; an Oso Buco would have required a chainsaw to cut the meat. . .my Halibut was cooked to a fare-thee-well. . so dry it was inedible and my wife had a fish meal that was too salty to eat. . the menus on the other hand were comprehensive and offered a wide range of choices. As for our expeditions. . .our first trip around the Weather Islands in Sweden was one in which a lot of quite old people got very wet. . I know I didn’t come on the tour to be beat up by ocean swells in a Zodiac so I don’t understand the purpose of that particular expedition. In Olso we booked the trip to the Market and a cooking class where they were going to show us how to prepare Tapis. . .the market is closed on Mondays and your organizers should have known that. . our guide on the bus was almost completely incompetent, and the cooking involved chicken breasts and fruit desserts. . and while quite good was not what was promised. On the other hand, Vigeland and Linda, our guide, was outstanding. And on our last expedition day. . our All Day trip to Osa. . it had to be modified because your contact in Osa could not field 2 buses instead having to drop some off at one venue and go back and get more passengers. . so the all day became a partial day. And finally. . . .clearing Customs and Immigration in Bergen became an ordeal for those of us suffering from Arthritis when the leader misdirected us to the wrong side of a very long building in the rain. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
In all honesty I went on this cruise because of the "freebies". I travel solo so I look for ways I can save money ( or I would travel with you more often). There was no solo supplement, had free air ( although I upgraded), and ... Read More
In all honesty I went on this cruise because of the "freebies". I travel solo so I look for ways I can save money ( or I would travel with you more often). There was no solo supplement, had free air ( although I upgraded), and picked up bar tab and crew tips. Lindblad/NatGeo is my favorite tour company. I like traveling at sea They have great speakers. They are quite knowledgeable in many areas. I learn a lot about the wildlife and nature in general. All shore excursions are included in the price. Most trips have an emphasis on wild life. We have choices of walks. The Orion has great food and is very "homey". There aren't too many people. The only thing I would wish for are mikes and head sets so you can hear what a speaker is saying when one is outside walking. It is impossible to hear a speaker without them. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2017
Every aspect of this expedition exceeded expectations (even though we had travelled with Linblad before). This was a photo expedition and we had full access to a photo instructor and a professional Nat Geo photographer at all times ... Read More
Every aspect of this expedition exceeded expectations (even though we had travelled with Linblad before). This was a photo expedition and we had full access to a photo instructor and a professional Nat Geo photographer at all times throughout the voyage. The captain and crew went above and beyond to provide access to all types of wildlife and scenic landscapes. (Polar bears, walruses, etc. and Norway's fjords and fishing villages) The onboard facilities, service, food and camaraderie were outstanding. Every request was fulfilled quickly and with courtesy and friendliness. The expedition leaders and naturalists were extremely knowledgable and friendly and the photo experts were incredibly helpful with technical as well as artistic advice and support. Every detail from the moment of our arrival in Oslo, to the charter flight to Svalbard, embarkation in Longyearbyen through final disembarkation in Copenhagen was handled professionally and without any stress or problems. I look forward to our next trip with Linblad. 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2017
Chose it for the destinations and the timing in early May. The whole "Expedition Staff" were great, especially Alizé, Jacob, Sisse and Dagny. I really like the totally all inclusive policy. I never took out my wallet. I ... Read More
Chose it for the destinations and the timing in early May. The whole "Expedition Staff" were great, especially Alizé, Jacob, Sisse and Dagny. I really like the totally all inclusive policy. I never took out my wallet. I didn't like the suggestion that maybe we should give to the tipping fund. It's either included or it not. Starting with two nights in Stockholm A 102 passenger ship is ideal. In all but Gdansk, we were right there in the middle of things The mess in the Hermitage was not Lindblad's fault but it was scary . We would have chosen not to go there rather than endure that. Someone should have known that May date was a national holiday. We really liked the three music programs organized by Jacob Edgar. His enthusiasm and knowledge are contagious. We will sail with Orion again! Klaipeda could be dropped for more time in Visby. Visby is very attractive and might even be worth an overnight visit. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
My wife and I booked this cruise almost a year ago. As with any cruise that involves international travel, one needs to be flexible and make sure you don't hold your expectations too high. Santiago Chili was not that impressive but I ... Read More
My wife and I booked this cruise almost a year ago. As with any cruise that involves international travel, one needs to be flexible and make sure you don't hold your expectations too high. Santiago Chili was not that impressive but I did not worry to much about that, since it was just a stopping point along the way. From the first day on the Cruise the crew and expedition staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable. The pace of the excursions was fine for my wife and myself but may be too much for small children or for people with limited mobility. Doug, the Expedition Leader was seemingly everywhere all of the time. We were all convinced he never slept. Between Doug and Captain Martin, our trip was the once in a lifetime trip we expected. We saw so many whales were convinced we will never need to ever take a whale watching trip again. I'm a history geek and the lectures by Dr. Andrew Atkins about the history of Antarctic exploration were fantastic. Regardless of their specialty, each member of the expedition crew were sufficiently knowledgeable that they could double as naturalist. With regard tot he Engine failure, yes it was a cause for concern since it occurred in the Drake passage. On the morning of the failure I woke about 2am because the ship was not moving. Nat Geo/Limbed has an Open Bridge policy so I went to the bridge, which to my surprise was still open. Doug and the Captain were on the bridge and in communication with Lanbad's main office. By the time I go the bridge auxiliary power was restored but limited our forward speed to between 3 and 7 knots. The next morning announcements were made concerning our status. The slow speed added another 36 hours to our trip. The crew immediately began organizing to help us with travel arrangement and keeping the younger guest entertained. Nat/Geo Linbad were extremely accommodating and quick about refunding our additional travel expenses. People have said to me "well in light of the emergency, this is going to be your last Linbad cruise." I've told them that as long as the Captain is of the same caliber as Captain Martin and the expedition staff was as competent and enthusiastic as Doug and his team, I'd go on the same cruise in a heartbeat. Overall this was an excellent cruise with a fantastic crew on a wonderful ship. I'd do it again without a second thought. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We have cruised over 50 times and were looking for different ports. This one was called Across the Baltic to Scandinavia. The National Geographic and Lindblad experts were excellent. Each day had a choice of two or three tours, all ... Read More
We have cruised over 50 times and were looking for different ports. This one was called Across the Baltic to Scandinavia. The National Geographic and Lindblad experts were excellent. Each day had a choice of two or three tours, all included, and sometimes in both morning and afternoon. Before we went, we saw a discussion on whether wine would be included with dinner. It is and they are good ones. All beverages, including alcohol, were included. Many of the ports are small towns on islands and the whole trip is more casual than many others we have taken. The real test of a cruise is how they respond when something does not go right. My husband had a health problem which developed at about the halfway point of the trip. The ship's fine doctor decided that he need to be sent to a hospital for evaluation. We were evacuated to a town in Denmark. The crew took care of setting up everything including an ambulance at the dock and a hotel for me. Two days later, it was determined that we could return to the ship. We were welcomed back warmly. The cabins are smaller than on many ships but are quite comfortable. There is no entertainment of the usual kind and no casino. There are lectures instead on a variety of topics. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
National Geographic to Norway and the Arctic..It was the nicest ship with the most amazing crew ever to sail the seas... The food was outstanding and varied every day..The bar, hot tub, bridge, bow and observation room/library were top ... Read More
National Geographic to Norway and the Arctic..It was the nicest ship with the most amazing crew ever to sail the seas... The food was outstanding and varied every day..The bar, hot tub, bridge, bow and observation room/library were top notch. There is not a bad thing to say about the Orion and her crew. The National Geographic Naturalists and Leaders on the ship rated from fair to outstanding..Some seemed bored to be with us...some were so fresh, excited and fun to be around..Some of the time, we felt like we came second to the time they spent promoting the NG product, taking pictures and video with several naturalists while we had to wait our turn for shore and zodiac excursions because the guides were tied up with the "promo" stuff.. For the price we paid, we feel that we should have had more time in kayaks, zodiacs and on shore, instead of waiting for the other group to return...there were 87 passengers...and 8 naturalists..so I think we could have had more time off the ship if they were available to us. The Journey through the fjords and up to Svalbard and beyond was a dream...I cannot wait to do it again on the Orion. The ship and it's crew were amazing and our cabin was like a 5 star hotel.. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
JELLYFISH LAKE, Palau – When several million stingless golden jellyfish invite you to swim and snorkel with them – an invitation you will receive nowhere else in the world – it would be rather rude to refuse. So a group of us don ... Read More
JELLYFISH LAKE, Palau – When several million stingless golden jellyfish invite you to swim and snorkel with them – an invitation you will receive nowhere else in the world – it would be rather rude to refuse. So a group of us don snorkels, masks and fins, and slip into the 28-degree water of Jellyfish Lake. What an amazing and unique experience to see and brush by clouds of these delicate, graceful creatures which have evolved in their landlocked lake over 20,000 years to have no need of poisonous stingers. They range in size from as big as a large fist to as small as the tip of your little finger. And their population in the relatively small lake does indeed run between five and seven million. What a start to this cruise on Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Orion. We are off to explore mostly uninhabited islands in and around Indonesia’s fabled Spice Islands – although one of the inhabited ones gained a spot in history because of its nutmeg tree…and by being traded for Manhattan. And what a cruise: Hiking, birding and cultural encounters ashore, snorkelling and diving in the surrounding seas with some of the world’s richest underwater flora and fauna, and all supported by knowledgeable lecturers, guides - and on this trip only, one of National Geographic’s most famous photographers. With only 102 passengers, the ship offers the cruise equivalent of glamping: top-level accommodation and dining on board plus, as expedition leader Tim Soper puts it, “shifting into true expedition mode once we leave the ship in our Zodiacs.” But don’t take my word for it. Come along with me as we cruise from Palau to Australia and decide for yourself. Major airlines serve Koror, the capital of Palau, which is a three-hour, 1,700km flight southeast of Manila. To avoid arriving at some midnight hour, I flew via Taiwan. (Check Circle Pacific fares which are often cheaper than return flights and allow you a more varied itinerary.) DAY ONE: There’s nothing like visiting a country to bring its history to life. For example, dot-on-the-map Palau was first colonized by Spanish explorers. Spain then sold these Micronesian islands to Germany, which lost them to Japan after losing the First World War – which in turn lost them to the U.S. after losing the Second World War. Yet all four countries contributed – and especially in the case of the U.S. continue to contribute – to Palau’s development and even culture. Although Palau has been an independent republic since 1994, it continues to use the U.S. dollar as its currency. Most tourists come from both the U.S. and Japan. It’s your typical tropical, relaxed, dreamlike paradise – palm tree beaches, air and ocean temperatures around 28 degrees day and night almost all year, turquoise lagoons, snorkelling and diving. DAY TWO: After our jellyfish encounter on Mecherar Island, local boat operators take us around mushroom-shaped karst limestone islands, large and small, where tidal and microorganism erosion have worn away the rocky undersides. In the afternoon we launch the kayaks to paddle peacefully among the islands to get a closer look at the “mushroom” undersides and vegetation, finishing the day with a snorkel over the corals. DAY THREE: During our day at sea, we meet some of our guide-lecturers, including David Doubilet who has specialized in underwater photography for the National Geographic for 43 years. Throughout the cruise naturalists, cultural/historical specialists and photographers provide fascinating insights to enrich what we are seeing, doing and learning. In one of the lectures we learn improved ecological management has increased the number of fish species here over the past decade to 374 from 285. DAY FOUR: Raja Ampat, Indonesia, comprises 1,500 small islands, cays and shoals. We anchor near Wayag Island – so far off the beaten track that immigration officials have to travel five hours by boat to reach us to clear the ship. At 10km north of the equator, the air and ocean temperature stays between 27 and 30 day and night. Divers do day and night dives, others snorkel off a deserted white sand beach into a variety of colourful corals, multi-coloured tropical fish and giant clams. Those who prefer to stay dry peer into the undersea wonderland from a glass-bottom boat. “There are more species of beautiful reef fish and gorgeous corals here in the Coral Triangle than in any other part of the world,” says David Cothran, photo instructor. In the afternoon, the Zodiacs finish exploring, round a corner of the island and find sunset cocktails and nibblies being served on the beach, ahead of a seafood barbecue dinner back on deck featuring 80 different delicacies prepared by executive chef Lothar Reiner and his kitchen crew. DAYS FIVE and SIX: We snorkel from a platform anchored between two Zodiacs and many snorkellers declare, “this is the best snorkel site yet.” We see schools of Thread Fin Anthias and other fish, large and tiny, some swimming in an orderly flow, others all over the place – normal or bright neon colours, stripes, spots; groups of tiny fish nibbling coral, feeding within the waving polyps, all varieties and shapes. The fish are matched only by the varieties, designs and colours of underwater flora: the corals, sponges, sea whips and many more. Tiny jellyfish are so translucent a camera’s autofocus doesn’t respond to them. A sharp-eyed diver spots a pygmy seahorse the size of a grain of rice. Over there, peeping out of a coral, is Nemo (a clownfish, aka sub anemone fish, aka sub damsel fish). Giant schools of barracuda swim by. It’s fun to just float, head down, in one spot, to watch fish emerge from under rocks and rock crevices, to see fish being “cleaned” – having parasites removed – by smaller, “cleaner” fish. Dappled sunlight and shadows mark the coral wall which falls away into deep water changing from light to dark blue. During an afternoon Zodiac exploration, schools of hundreds of tiny silver or blue fish speed jump out of the water for a fraction of a second, almost like a cloud of large insects. A variety of colourful tropical fish, and even a small grey reef shark, swim around the coral just centimetres below the surface. High above us an osprey swoops at a young sea eagle, which does a mid-air flip at the last minute to try to escape. Just above the waterline, our guide naturalist Richard White spots a carnivorous green pitcher plant, about 10cm long and indeed shaped like an elongated pitcher. In a neighbouring Zodiac, Palau-based guide and biologist/cultural specialist Ron Leidich finds an even larger specimen: close to 15cm. “Because nutrients are scarce, this plant has adapted by attracting and then digesting insects,” White says. “A sweet liquid in the bottom of the pitcher attracts the insects and the slippery sides prevent them from getting back out. The pitcher even has a lid, which closes when it rains to prevent the liquid from getting diluted.” A larger relative of the pitcher plant, able to “eat” mice and even small rats, once won “plant of the year” at the famous Chelsea Flower Show in London. We are delighted to see so many natural wonders up close, to have the good fortune to be in such a remote area and have the place to ourselves to explore. DAYS SIX to NINE: “For more than three centuries, Banda Neira (which usually doesn’t even show up on a map) was the centre of major contention between the native people and the Portuguese, Dutch and English,” naturalist Tom Ritchie briefs us. “Thousands of people were murdered, killed in military actions and enslaved over the possession and harvest of a small endemic species of tree found only here in Banda – the nutmeg. Along with the mace wrapping around the nut, it was perhaps once the most valuable spice in the world, prized for its ability to preserve and cure food, especially meat, in the days when there was no refrigeration or canning.” We go ashore on several islands to meet the locals in Yenwaupnor, Kokas, Banda Neira and Banda Run villages (Run was traded by the Dutch to the British for Manhattan in 1667). They put on welcoming and farewell cultural dances. Children get time off school to show us around. We walk along the streets with cats, dogs, chickens and goats, see colourful colonial architecture, sample the local spices, visit Dutch and Japanese fortification ruins, hike into the hills where our guide kicks off his flip-flops to climb a tree to cut down some coconuts to refresh us. We feel privileged to briefly share even a tiny bit of the lives of local inhabitants. DAY 10: Once again we are swimming off uninhabited beaches. We have another “best snorkelling day yet” between two of the five tiny atolls of the Lucipara Islands, in the middle of the Banda Sea – the tops of undersea mountains rising almost 2km from the seabed. I go snorkelling and just hang off the shelf in the slight current where the coral drops off to the very deep ocean floor, watching the fish – and three turtles (or the same turtle three different times) – swim by. I am often surrounded by clouds – thousands – of orange (Anthia) and also blue fish (Fusilier) smaller than my baby finger. DAYS 11 to 13: One more day of deserted island beachcombing, snorkelling and diving, one more day at sea and we end our trip in Darwin – reflecting on how lucky we have been to get up close and personal with such remote and magical islands and their inhabitants both above and below the water. Read Less
National Geographic Orion Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 5.0 0.0
Entertainment 5.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0

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