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1 Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Orion Cruise Reviews

We have traveled with NatGeo/Lindblad on several occasions, Galapagos, Iceland, Africa (NatGeo solely), Alaska and now Wrangel Island. I had looked forward to this trip for almost 2 years. My expeditions were not met however. Food: ... Read More
We have traveled with NatGeo/Lindblad on several occasions, Galapagos, Iceland, Africa (NatGeo solely), Alaska and now Wrangel Island. I had looked forward to this trip for almost 2 years. My expeditions were not met however. Food: Plentiful and good as always. Alcohol: Free flowing (I'm not a drinker, but it appeared it was free flowing). Excursions: Not so great. Our first stop was Provideniya. This town is ominous. There is nothing to see (building that have been deteriorating since WWII perhaps) and nothing to do. There are no shops or souvenirs to be had. We had some local townspeople put on a dance show, but that was it. The streets are dirty and it is depressing place to be. Uelen: Ditto. VERY ominous and dirty. The ivory museum was interesting. However, despite promoting the ivory on their website and in their handouts as well as the pre-trip briefing for this town visit, you cannot LEGALLY purchase these wares because the individuals who carve these brilliant pieces do not abide by the parameters set by CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species C.I.T.E.S.) which regulates same. Walrus, Mammoth and other ivory wares are BANNED. Basically, you are perusing carvings that are illegal in their derivation. Villagers put on another dance for us. Lorino: Ditto. Ominous, poverty stricken town. Under Russian law, they are allowed to hunt whales and fox. Thankfully, while we were there. . . . all of the 1500 fox cages were empty. And the only remainders of a whale were there blood/blubber covered bones that their dozens of dogs were eating (yes . . . gross). Nothing to see. Nothing to buy, except for one villager had ivory and pelts for sale, which again . . . are illegal to purchase. We did have a tug of war with the local villagers, which was interesting. Several men from our cruise volunteered and went against several men from the village who haul whales from the ocean for a living. When our guys won . . . the villagers were angry and stormed off. Wrangel island: Saw 80+ polar bears at about 3/4 mile to a mile away from the ship. We only did 4 zodiac runs the entire trip. Once to Wrangel Island to walk the tundra for 2 hours (looking at plants). No wildlife. Some geese. Old broken down buildings. LOTS of mud. Saw 1 polar bear from a zodiac run, but with 10 other people in the boat, the waves and the driver instructing us to sit down, don't move, don't get up and don't switch places . . . was nearly impossible to get a picture. When I came home from my Africa trip . . . I had over 8,000 pictures. Iceland and Galapagos over 5,000 pictures each. I have 7 pictures of "wildlife" from this trip. Geese flying overhead. 1 of a polar bear from 1/4 mile away. 1 of 2 polar bears 3/4 mile away and some other birds. That's the extent of my photos. I got tired of taking photo of ominous places. And plants just aren't my thing. NatGeo's photogs (as usual) were allowed to head out in zodiacs on their own to hunt down subjects for their photos, while passengers were boarded into a single zodiac 10-12 at a time. They do whatever it takes to get their shot. Sometimes I feel like I am paying for them to get their shots . . . shouldn't the passenger be the one able to take advantage of getting great photography and not the NatGeo photog who is there because you are paying for him to be there? The age demographic for our particular trip was much older than most NatGeo trips. We are 60 and 61 years of age . . . and we were the youngest by several years. It appears that NatGeo is moving towards Viking type trips . . . where there are less adventurers and more travelers who are completely satisfied with eating, drinking, napping and being entertained by a singing / dancing crew than head out in search of wildlife. A good portion of the passengers could not even get into a zodiac without the help of 4 people. At one point it became dangerous because passengers were either not listening, unable to listen or didn't care to listen to zodiac disembarking instructions . . . and 2 people in the back got hammered by the sea. And . . . many of them slowed us down during the 2 (yes . . only 2) outings that took place. So . . . is NatGeo becoming an extensive, expensive, dinner cruise? Is money the bottom line for them and the adventuring spirit has taken a back seat to wining and dining the older demographic? So . . . Waitstaff go out of their way to please you; ditto for housekeeping. Despite the brochure indicating that tips are NOT necessary or expected . . . a huge tip box is visible in the reception area on the last day. Photographers - you are paying for their adventure . . . so they get their shots . . . and as such try to be as personable as possible during the trips. What continues to happen though on these trips is that the photographers have their "help" session the very last day . . . so basically they are saying "if you photographed landscape in the dim light we had last Tuesday, then your settings should have been 'x'". What they don't do is help you PRIOR to encountering such conditions. So - basically, they are helping you after the fact, but they still get THEIR shots. Landry service - we used them 3 times and clothes came back in great order. Mud room - on our cruise the mud room was turned into a staff lounge and thus unusable by passengers. After excursions to the disgustingly and questionably dirty villages and the like, your boots go back into your rooms with you. There is a brief opportunity to wash them off after disembarking the zodiac, but there is usually a line to do so. When we arrived back home . . . I hot water soaked and disinfected all of our shoes. Wellness - I had a massage every other day with Allison. I love deep tissue massage . . . and she was very well trained and wonderful. Note: the small exercise room is just outside of the massage room door . . . so if someone is working out . . . you will hear them. A few sites claim that there is room service 24/7 on this cruise . . . that is absolutely not the case. The cruise never used the: ROV kayaks underwater camera video microscope crow's next camera hydrophone The staff divers were not allowed to diver purportedly due to military restrictions set by the Russians, but we heard that it was because the administrative staff forgot to file the necessary paperwork. Panoramic views from the lounge. Dining room is oddly situated on only the port side of the ship . . . almost like an afterthought. If you want a trip where you can eat as much as you like and socialize - this is the trip for you. If you want to drink as much as alcohol as you like and socialize - this is the trip for you. If you enjoy viewing plants - this is the trip for you. If you are in search of wildlife - do not take this trip. If I had known what this trip would be like . . . I would not have taken it . . . because the cost vs the experience was absolutely not worth it. What NatGeo and Lindblad are advertising is not what you get. We did not see hundreds of polar bears (at least within viewing range - maybe with a binoculars - 3/4 mile to a mile away), we did not visit the whale bone alley and despite Wrangel Island being touted as the most bio diverse island full of a plethora of wildlife (their words not mine), we saw nothing but birds. . . . and very few of them at that. For the cost . . . absolutely not worth it . . . and we could have gone to Africa 3 times for what it cost to go to Wrangel Island. Such a disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
National Geographic Orion Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 5.0 N/A
Dining 5.0 4.7
Entertainment 5.0 4.2
Public Rooms 5.0 4.8
Fitness & Recreation 5.0 N/A
Family 4.0 4.3
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 5.0 4.9
Value for Money 5.0 N/A

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