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12 Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Islander Cruise Reviews

I was so excited to go on this trip of a lifetime to someplace that I had just read about and never dreamed I would ever see in person. My two daughters selected this excrusion to celebrate many lifetime events, so I was along for the ... Read More
I was so excited to go on this trip of a lifetime to someplace that I had just read about and never dreamed I would ever see in person. My two daughters selected this excrusion to celebrate many lifetime events, so I was along for the ride. However, I was overwhelmed with the level of care that we received once we joined the team at Lindblad/Nat Geo. Every aspect of this trip was well planned. We could really relax and the biggest decisions of the day were chosing from a variety of fabulous activities geared to our level and interest. It was like we were on a trip with a college professor (really a park naturalist) to answer all of our questions and guide us to the most spectacular flora and fauna. The staff took excellent care of everyone on the ship and on land. The food was delicious and they happily accommadated our dietary requests. When we returned to Guayaquil there was a wonderful guide to take us through the beautiful Parque Historico and a beautiful hotel to rest in before our flight home. I was so impressed with Ecuador and their National Park system. With their guidelines, we were able to experience the best that nature had to offer in the Galapagos without the crowds. I would go back in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
I accompanied a friend who had taken two previous Lindblad/National Geographic cruises. We both seek experiences that combine education with unique travel experiences that focus on wildlife viewing, This cruise struck that balance. The ... Read More
I accompanied a friend who had taken two previous Lindblad/National Geographic cruises. We both seek experiences that combine education with unique travel experiences that focus on wildlife viewing, This cruise struck that balance. The wild and remote Galapagos archipeligro is striking in its rugged beauty, and it is home to some of the most unusual birds, reptiles and other creatures of the sea and the land in the world... not to mention adorable sea lions that are not at all afraid of humans, providing amazing opportunities for photography. The ship was comfortable and the crew warm and knowledgeable, especially the naturalists, one of whom grew up on the islands. Everyday included hiking and a variety of other activities, including snorkeling, paddle boarding, and zodiac rides, as well excellent tips on nature photography. Evenings offered educational lectures with a wealth of information. The trip included two nights at the Hotel Del Parque, a lovely Relais & Chateau lodging in Guayaquil, Ecuador. This cruise was quite expensive, but it more than delivered. I highly recommend it and would travel with Lindblad/Nat Geo again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We boarded the National Geographic Islander as the final part of our two week long trip to Lima, Machu Picchu and parts of Ecuador. This was not our first Lindblad expedition - we had previously done one in the Sea of Cortez to see the ... Read More
We boarded the National Geographic Islander as the final part of our two week long trip to Lima, Machu Picchu and parts of Ecuador. This was not our first Lindblad expedition - we had previously done one in the Sea of Cortez to see the great whale migration - so we knew what to expect. In summary: CABIN: We booked this expedition almost a year in advance and we picked the cheapest cabin. It was on the main deck. Yes, it was small but we had enough room for our clothes and toiletries. We had a window but since we spent very little daylight hours in our room, except to change shoes or clothes, we sometimes forgot it was there. The twin beds were pushed together to make one bed and the entire bed was pushed against the wall. The desk was on one side of the bed so only one person had a nightstand. Each side of the bed had a reading light and above the bed was a ledge that you could put your phone or glasses. There were enough outlets in the room to charge our devices. We didn’t need to bring adapters from the US. Closet was large and had shelves and hangers. This is also where the safe is located. We put our electronics there when we left the room, even if it was just to sit in the lounge. You cannot lock your room from the outside. We already knew this from past experience but it was a bone of contention with other tour members who had rather expensive and hefty cameras and lenses. Bathroom was a shower, sink and toilet in one room and that was rather tight so quick showers were the norm for us as we didn’t like being in there long. DINING: Large dining room with beautiful views. Breakfast and lunch were buffet, dinner was served except for the Ecuadorian buffet meal. A signup sheet was at the dining entrance every morning where we had to sign up for 1 of 3 choices - fish. beef/chicken, or pasta/vegetarian so the chef knew how much to cook. There was more than enough food and the vegetarians, vegans and anyone with food allergies never had a problem finding something good to eat. Most tables were 6-tops and 8-tops to encourage socializing. I saw only one 2-top that would be ideal for a couple except it was right by the door. The last night, we had a big cookout buffet meal on the sun deck that was lively and festive. Meals were always announced and around two hours were allotted for each meal. Otherwise the dining room was closed and many of us hung out around the lounge. LOUNGE: The lounge had a bar that Octavio presided over. There was a 24 hr coffee machine that made regular coffee as well as espresso, cappuccinos and lattes and other coffee mixes. Tea was always available as well. All of us learned how to use the coffee machine rather quickly which is mainly a matter of pushing buttons. At certain times of the day, fruit, crackers, cookies and small snacks are left out. Sodas and juice are also available all the time. The lounge was an all-purpose meeting space for emergency drills and when the guides wanted to make announcements about the next day’s events. It’s where most of use gathered for drinks and snacks before the 7pm dinner announcement. SERVICE: Service was absolutely first rate. Our room was cleaned when we were out hiking or snorkeling or swimming. Our carafe was always refilled with cold water. Little bars of Ecuadorian chocolate were left on our nightstand every night. Towels were replaced even tho we expected to use the same one everyday. We also had laundry done on the ship. There is no do-it-yourself laundry. Turn around was 24 hrs and it was like the laundry service you’d get at a 5-star resort. We spent about $40 on laundry. OTHER: The free WiFi on the ship was often slow and occasionally not available. You can buy faster internet. Details are in the cabin. I used the gym a couple times. There was a bike, treadmill and elliptical, as well as a few weights. The captain was sometimes in there on the elliptical, as well as some of the crew. The bridge was open and husband stopped by one night where the 2nd mate gave him a tour. The crew is Ecuadorian and the majority of them speak English quite well. This was a fantastic expedition and we plan to go on many more. The ship was first class, the crew was so professional and personable and we felt very well cared for. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
This was a family cruise with 6 of us going. Very interested in seeing the ecology of the Islands. Lindblad/National Geographic did not disappoint. In fact, it was so incredible we will never forget! We saw so much and learned so much. ... Read More
This was a family cruise with 6 of us going. Very interested in seeing the ecology of the Islands. Lindblad/National Geographic did not disappoint. In fact, it was so incredible we will never forget! We saw so much and learned so much. A wonderful immersive experience. Thanks to the best crew EVER! They were so caring and informative. The small ship meant everyone received the same amazing treatment and experience. We saw almost ever Animal we hoped and not from a mile away, but right there. We swam, snorkeled, hiked our way around 6 do the Islands and each one was an experience. Each one was absolutely stunning inits landscape and animal life. On board, the ship was beautiful and the food incredible. Locally sourced and delicious. The information talks were great. Keep in mind our expedition leader has been doing this for 40 years. You can understand how good they are! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
If you are like me, you imagine a cruise is about the closest thing to hell one could imagine for a vacation. But I must say that this trip was anything but hell. It was an amazing experience. First, the Islander only carries 48 ... Read More
If you are like me, you imagine a cruise is about the closest thing to hell one could imagine for a vacation. But I must say that this trip was anything but hell. It was an amazing experience. First, the Islander only carries 48 passengers, so everything was intimate and manageable. It was more like staying in a boutique hotel that just happens to move locations overnight. Second, the "house" staff on the ship were amazing. They care deeply about the passengers and enabling them to take advantage of their time on the islands. I could ask anyone a question about anything and they would go out of their way to help me so that I never had a worry and could concentrate on why we were there. The hotel manager, Daniel, ran an incredible operation and he, and everyone else, seemed to take great pride in their jobs. Third, the cabin was like a boutique European hotel room. There were three of us in Cabin 305 (one of two that can be configured as triples) and despite bringing way too much, we found a space for everything so our room was comfortable and very livable. Fourth, the meals were excellent and they took great care of their passengers with dietary restrictions. I am a vegetarian and Jose, the head waiter, sought me out every single day to ensure that I had something delicious to eat and was never hungry. After the second day, I had to avoid eating too much because there was so much good food to choose from. Fifth, and the reason you go to the Galapagos, is that it is an amazing opportunity to learn about a truly unique ecosystem. The Naturalists who are onboard are incredibly well educated, well informed, excellent ambassadors for the islands and their wildlife, and passionate about the environment and preserving the unique resources that are represented there. Every morning, we would wake to Daniel's voice on the PA announcing, "Ladies and Gentlemen, breakfast is ready in the dining room. Please join us." We'd eat and set out on our morning snorkel/kayak/zodiac ride/hike, returning a few hours later for lunch. After lunch, there would be a "siesta" time during which there was a children's program in which they would learn more and do something interesting. Then we'd head out for an afternoon adventure on that day's island. We'd return, have a "cocktail hour" lecture and briefing (which were excellent). Then we'd have our dinner (which were often theme dinners that let the staff show off "local" cuisine from various regions in Equador. And then people would retire while the boat traveled to the next island. We talked to a lot of people who arranged their own Galapagos explorations, but those require staying in one of the two inhabited towns and taking long daily excursions, often a few hours out and then a few hours back, limiting what you can see and explore. We also talked to people who went with other cruise lines--some much more luxurious. But nothing compared to what we experienced in traveling with a group that appreciates and promotes education. We were also deeply impressed with Lindblad's commitment to the people and the ecosystem. Prior to traveling, they provided informed us that they were supporting a school on Santa Cruz Island and provided us with their Amazon wish list. My son picked out a set of his favorite books (including Spanish translations) and we brought them with us. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the school and allowing him to present the books to a few of his middle-school peers. This trip moved me from being a cruise skeptic to recognizing that there is a place for journeys like this. If you want to visit an ecosystem like Galapagos, or Antartica, or the Arctic, and come away with a deeper understanding of the place you are visiting, then it is worth exploring a Lindlad/National Geographic cruise. I know we'll be on another one sooner rather than later. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We went on a Nat Geo Alaska cruise and the 6 of us just knew we had to do Galapagos with them again. It is just an over the top experience if you are looking for a very active and tons of info trip, with terrific staff, naturalist and ... Read More
We went on a Nat Geo Alaska cruise and the 6 of us just knew we had to do Galapagos with them again. It is just an over the top experience if you are looking for a very active and tons of info trip, with terrific staff, naturalist and crew..all exceptional. I needed a vacation after I got back! I gave our cabin excellent because it was so darn cute and I swear a few feet bigger than Alaska. Be forewarned though these are NOT your usual cruise cabins, very close quarters, but very efficient.. Breakfast and Lunch were very good.Dinner was fine. Just not overwhelming. They are small portions which we all liked and very elegantly done.. the bbq night was fun. Well the animals are the entertainment. other than that one night of local performers. The hikes, kayaking, snorkeling were all amazing.I now know everything possible about the blue footed boogie.. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This is our second cruise to the Galapagos with National Geographic in 10 years. The first time it was just my husband and I. This time we brought our six year old daughter. Both times were absolutely perfect in every way. The food was ... Read More
This is our second cruise to the Galapagos with National Geographic in 10 years. The first time it was just my husband and I. This time we brought our six year old daughter. Both times were absolutely perfect in every way. The food was excellent and bountiful. Meals were mainly on the ship. There was a massage therapist on board but I didn’t want to miss a single excursion to use her services! There is an on board gift shop that was opened several times and had quite a varied number of exquisite items for sale - carvings, clothing, jewelry, children’s books, art. There was a small gym and an upper deck on which to lay in a hammock or watch the stars. The naturalists were outstanding. The lectures were fascinating. Each day typically had two excursions out on the zodiac to an island. Sometimes three outings. We had one day with tortoises, one half day on a gorgeous beach snorkeling with sea lions, an excursion to see sea birds nesting and caring for eggs and chicks. Every day was amazing. I can not recommend this trip highly enough. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We have traveled with Lindblad before and have always found them excellent and this trip to the Galapagos was no exception. We flew from Miami to Guayaquil, then out to the Galapagos and Lindblad staff members were guiding us the entire ... Read More
We have traveled with Lindblad before and have always found them excellent and this trip to the Galapagos was no exception. We flew from Miami to Guayaquil, then out to the Galapagos and Lindblad staff members were guiding us the entire way. Once on the ship, the service continued at a high level. Days were filled with varied activities including hikes and snorkeling. There were occasional options for kayaking and paddleboarding, One day was spent on land visiting the Darwin Center and the Galapgos Tortoises. Lindblad calls their cruises excursions as the emphasis is not on visits to towns or shopping but on seeing nature and wildlife and understanding the history and ecology and geology of the areas visited. You do need to be capable of getting in and out of Zodiac (a small rubber motorized craft) to get on and off the ship, but the staff was extremely helpful in making sure everyone got on and off safely. Staff is extremely knowledgeable and helpful in increasing your understanding of the areas visited. We kept informed with different lectures, and a nightly recap, outlining the next day's activities. Excellent food and a well provisioned ship, all made for an enduring memory. I especially appreciate Lindblad's commitment to the countries where they travel and to environmental issues. We traveled as a group with 8 adults (7 seniors) with varied interests and abilities and each was accommodated. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We just returned from the trip of a lifetime on the National Geographic Islander (Lindblad), and since there aren’t too many recent reviews of this ship I thought I’d post a detailed one. So please excuse the length. If you don’t ... Read More
We just returned from the trip of a lifetime on the National Geographic Islander (Lindblad), and since there aren’t too many recent reviews of this ship I thought I’d post a detailed one. So please excuse the length. If you don’t want to read it all, the short version is: UTTERLY FANTASTIC! A bit of background as to why we chose the Islander. My husband is an academic, and is quite knowledgeable about evolution and biology. He wanted to be sure that the quality of the naturalists and the information provided would be as strong as possible, and we had heard rave reviews about this aspect of the NG tours (this proved correct). We are not “cruise people”, and wanted something very low-key and not fancy. We also wanted a mid-sized boat. The Islander fit the bill. Admittedly it was more expensive than other ships, but we felt it would be worth it, and we were not disappointed. We didn’t much care which itinerary we went on, since we didn’t have anything specific we felt we had to see (other than what we knew we’d see anywhere) so we were fine with their wait-and-see policy. Since my husband is not a strong swimmer, we also wanted something that would give us options for each outing in case he didn’t want to snorkel. Long before the trip we were sent lots of information about what to pack, and about the ship and the Galapagos. Shortly before we were to leave we received a packet with luggage tags, description of the process for meeting and getting to the ship, the final itinerary, and other details. The organization of everything was impeccable from start to finish. Everything was included except our transatlantic plane fare and alcoholic drinks, sundries on board, and gratuities. Lindblad had arranged for a van to meet us at the airport and take us to the Guayaquil Hilton Colon where a Lindblad rep met us and gave us details about meeting the next morning to get to the ship. Baggage was to be left outside the room quite early, and was transported to the airport. The passengers met in the lobby and took a bus to the airport, were ushered through check-in, and boarded an hour and a half flight to San Cristobal, where we then took another short bus ride to the dock. We then took the first of our many panga (or zodiac) rides on a short trip to the Islander, where we were met with warmth and enthusiasm by the staff. Our luggage was waiting for us in our rooms, and we had a brief time to dump our hand luggage and go to the lounge for our first orientation. Disembarkation was equally smooth. We were very lucky to have chosen a room on the top deck (406) with its own little glassed in “porch” area with a lounge chair, a small table, and two chairs, as well as numerous hooks on the wall for hanging our snorkeling gear, etc. The room itself was small but incredibly well designed, with a great deal of storage space, more than we needed. There was a ledge along one wall, with a small lip so nothing could fall off, a pitcher of water, two water bottles, two glasses, an outlet (we brought a surge protector with 3 outlets and two USB ports, which came in handy). Inside the closet was a built-in box with a lock, where we kept our passports and cash. There are no locks on the room doors, which was never a problem. The bathroom was extremely small but also very well-designed, with ledges and wire baskets for holding toiletries, and hooks for hanging toiletry bags. Towels were replaced several times a day. There were dispensers on the wall with shampoo, shower gel, and body lotion, and a large bottle of hair conditioner - and they were good products. I’m fussy, so had brought my own, but ended up using theirs. There was also a wall-mounted hair dryer which worked beautifully. I think the only room on the ship which was larger and had a larger bathroom was the suite at the front of the top level; the rooms on the lower levels were the same size, just without the porch area. I think there were one or two triples, which were also larger. We really enjoyed having the outside area both for lounging and for the extra space, but would have done fine without it. Everyone said you don’t spend much time in your room, and that was pretty true. You can find good pictures, including panoramic ones, on the Cruise Critic website. We had them make up the two singles as a queen; there was enough room to walk around the bed, and it was extremely comfortable. Orientations were in the lounge, a lovely large room with big windows, couches and chairs. Cocktail hour was here as well, and there were usually snacks available. Also a soda machine, espresso machine, and a small fridge for beer (honor system sign-up). Vanessa, the expedition leader, gave us our daily recaps, next day orientations, and other information here. Vanessa was amazing – cheerful, warm, funny, responsive, and especially wonderful with the children on board. We had about 6 kids under 12 and about 6 teens, all of whom were delightful and a joy to be around. They really added to the fun of the trip with their excitement, their questions, and their energy. I won’t go into detail here about all the amazing things we saw – wildlife, sea life, geological formations, etc. – but do want to add a word about the 3 naturalists on board: Enrique, Gianna, and Jonathan. All are natives of the Galapagos, and their love of the islands shines. They were incredibly well-informed – there was never a question they couldn’t answer – but more importantly they were fun to be with. They each had their own unique senses of humor, were unfailingly cheerful and responsive, and never made anyone feel silly or stupid for asking a question. How they do this so well week after week amazes me – their excitement felt like it was brand new, and it was contagious. They were patient with my husband who wasn’t that confident a swimmer; they encouraged him to keep trying the snorkeling and never made him feel bad when he wanted to quit. Most days we had at least 3 different outings, one of which was usually snorkeling. Often there was a choice of snorkeling from the panga in deep water or off of the beach. Several days there was an option to either kayak or paddle-board instead of snorkeling or instead of a panga ride. There was always at least one hike, sometimes with wet landings and sometimes with dry ones (which usually meant getting out onto rocks). Everything was perfectly organized and ran like a clock. I should say that the snorkel gear they provided was in great shape – like new, and in every conceivable size. No one had a problem with it. I brought my own full length skin to wear under the shorty wet suit, since I tend to get cold. The water ranged from about 65 to 72 degrees, and with the wet suit didn’t feel cold at all. They provide a mesh bag with your room number on it for all the gear, and there are hangers on either side of the ship to store them – one side for even numbered rooms, one for odd. There are hoses to rinse things off, and even a small electric wringer for bathing suits, which helped the drying. Food. There was a lot of it! I have to say, though, that the food was the least good thing about the trip, though it was perfectly fine and often excellent. It’s just that everything else was A+, and I’d give the food a B+, with the occasional A. Breakfast and lunch were buffet, most dinners were sit-down served meals, with choices made that morning (usually a fish, meat, or vegetarian option at each meal). Wine or beer were extra, and they had good options. Desserts were quite good – one, the passionfruit mousse, was fabulous. There were a few buffet dinners – the Ecuadorian feast, and the sky deck barbecue (that was my favorite). Meals were in the lovely dining room, all at large tables of 6 or 8, with open seating, which encouraged everyone to get to know each other and the staff. Weather. It was surprisingly cool. I had expected, and prepared for, blistering heat, but we had many overcast days which were nevertheless quite bright, but comfortable. I was glad I had thrown a few long sleeved shirts into my pack at the last minute. Also, the air conditioning on the ship was very strong – several times we asked them to turn it up to make it a bit warmer in the public areas. The bedrooms all had their own individual controls. We kept it off during the day, turned it on before we went to bed, and it was cool in seconds. Although the forecast I had checked before we left called for rain each day, as per people’s comments on this forum, that was totally inaccurate, and it never rained. Vanessa gave us advice about what to wear for each outing in the pre-dinner briefings. Packing. The one thing I would have liked to have brought is a small plug-in night light. Once the sun sets around 6pm it’s pitch black, and when the ship lights are turned off it’s very dark in the room. It would have been nice to have something dim to light the way to the bathroom without having to turn on the full bathroom light. We did laundry several times during the trip – they provided a bag, and if you left it on your door in the morning it was back before night (we spent a total of about $130 for the trip, a lot, and we could have managed without it). Most people, including us, wore quick-dry pants or shorts, a short-sleeved shirt, and a hoodie, fleece or light jacket over that. We were extremely diligent about using SPF50 sunscreen and had no sunburn problems. Binoculars were useful, sunglasses were a must. I never wore the hat I brought, and my husband only wore a baseball cap. We didn’t bring a whole lot, and could have done with less. I brought one sun dress, wore it a few evenings just for a change, but was the only one who did. As far as shoes go, we were surprised that the rule we had read about of taking off shoes after leaving the panga wasn’t even mentioned. I brought sneakers, tevas, and flipflops, and that was perfect. The sneakers for dry landings, the tevas for wet landings, and the flipflops for walking around the ship. My husband kept his shoes on in the ship. Photography. One of the naturalists, Jonathan, was also a photography specialist, and for those who were into it, he offered one–on-one help and advice as well as having a few group sessions. Unfortunately we’re not camera pros, but I know we would have appreciated his expertise if we were. We did buy an inexpensive underwater camera that was fun for using while snorkeling. Otherwise we used our iPhones. There was a videographer on board, Ashley, who chronicled our entire voyage and provided a DVD at the end. A note about seasickness. We had none. I put on a patch before we got on board just in case, but found the side effects (dry mouth and sore throat) too bothersome. I took it off and was just fine. We could definitely feel the ship rock, but found it soothing. I slept better on board than I have in a long time. It has taken a few days of being off the ship to get back my land legs; for a while if I closed my eyes I still felt as if I was rocking. Not a bad feeling though. As far as I could tell, no one on board had a problem. So a quick note about what we saw: sea lions galore and of all sizes, fur seals, iguanas (land and sea and one very rare hybrid), lava lizards, sea turtles, every conceivable kind of fish, rays, sharks, starfish, all 3 kinds of boobies (nazca, red-footed and blue footed) including red-footed boobies nesting with eggs and in a few cases with just-born chicks, pelicans, galapagos penguins, flamingoes, galapagos owls (rare), hawks, giant tortoises, finches, galapagos mockingbirds, galapagos doves, frigate birds, swallowtail gulls, albatrosses, herons, scorpions, and the skeleton of a sperm whale. All up close and personal – these animals and birds have no fear of people. And that doesn’t even mention the giant cacti, the incense trees, the lava tunnels and lava-covered island we hiked, or the post office barrel (one of the most charming customs I’ve encountered). All in all, the best trip I’ve ever taken! If you are undecided, go! You won’t regret it. Please feel free to message me if you have any questions. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Crew and naturalists were excellent. I was proud of being a woman as Cindy did a great job as the team leader. She Fabian Patricio, Christina and all others were very knowledgeable and answered all my questions with ease and grace. One ... Read More
Crew and naturalists were excellent. I was proud of being a woman as Cindy did a great job as the team leader. She Fabian Patricio, Christina and all others were very knowledgeable and answered all my questions with ease and grace. One of the biggest thrills was snorkeling with a Ga. penguin, many sea lions and marine turtles, colorful fish, hammerhead sharks, stingrays, and seeing sand dollars and starfish, red crabs with graceful, flowing plants. Going to Darwin Research Center was another highlight with my first view of the Giant Tortoises including the preserved Lonely George and learning his story. There many baby tortoises for use in research at the Center. The food was delicious and the chefs and the staff get an A+ for being friendly and very efficient on the ship. Going to the Galapagos has been a dream of mine while I was teaching high school biology. Finally, after 30 years, this dream came true. I was greatly impressed with Captain Carlos and his crew as he piloted us through several storms with great ease and skill. I would highly recommend this trip to others. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Our trip to the Galapagos began with a one night stay in Guayaquil, Ecuador. We stayed in the Hilton Colon a few days prior to the beginning of our trip and that worked out fine. We followed the advice of Linblad and only took taxis from ... Read More
Our trip to the Galapagos began with a one night stay in Guayaquil, Ecuador. We stayed in the Hilton Colon a few days prior to the beginning of our trip and that worked out fine. We followed the advice of Linblad and only took taxis from the hotel and not from the street. It is a nice little city to explore for a day or two. Our trip began with a flight to Baltra where we boarded our ship. Transfers were seamless and calm. All details were taken care of and there was a high level of communication. We immediately set sail during lunch to our first destination of North Seymour Island for our "introduction" to the Galapagos. During the trip we visited North Seymour Island, Bartolome Island, Rabida Island, Isabela Island, Fernandina Island, Santiago Island, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. Each island was unique and amazing. We snorkeled with sea lions, sea turtles, sharks, marine iguanas, penguins and many types of fish. We had opportunities to hike, kayak and paddle board. We went to the highlands and were able to interact with the giant tortoises. The naturalists on board (there were three) shared a wealth of information about the geology, animal life, marine life and bird life. They were very approachable and always were willing to share their expertise. Certain days there were different activities according to ability and fitness level. All excursions to the islands were via Zodiacs. Some were wet landings and others dry landings. We had a briefing every evening to share what the next days activities would be and how we would need to prepare and dress. The food was great. There was always a meat, fish or vegetarian option at dinner. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style and there were always great choices. Many passengers had special dietary needs and the staff made sure all details were taken care of. The servers were great and a lot of fun. There was no stuffiness or formality on the ship. Dress for dinner was casual and relaxed. We stayed in cabin 402 that was a suite so it had some extra room and it was in the front of the ship. The room was very nice with beautiful wood and it was always clean and tidy. There was a daily laundry service on board but we did not use it. This is not a ship for nightlife. We were all so exhausted from our daily activities it was early to bed for the majority. If you are looking for an educational type of trip that is fairly active definitely consider this trip. Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic run a wonderful program. Read Less
Sail Date March 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
National Geographic Islander Ratings
Category Editor Member

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