We chose Linblad/National Geographic (Nov. 29th-Dec. 19th, 2017) because of the reputation of National Geographic. Touring Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island (the Serengeti of the Antarctic), South Shetland Islands, South Orkney Islands, and ultimately Antarctica was truly a trip of a lifetime. Bit of a cliche perhaps but it truly was awe-inspiring and life changing to walk amongst hundreds of thousands of penguins, seals, and sea birds. The crew on the National Geographic Orion, at every level, were friendly, helpful, anticipatory, informative, and a lot of fun! This was a very active cruise on a smaller ship (about 100 passengers) that offered different levels of hikes plus zodiac tours all with a specialist, most of whom had PhDs in their respective fields. Who knew that a lecture on the cryosphere (all things ice) could be so interesting? We learned so much about the flora and fauna of the Antarctic zone and saw so many marine animals, birds, and interesting plants. The food on board was always fresh (how do they do it when at sea for 3 weeks?), every meal different, and the bar a lively spot after a day of hiking and photographing these wonderful Antarctic creatures. We saw both fin whales and humpbacks feeding so close to the ship and even on a zodiac tour! The captain and expedition leader both get a shout-out as they endeavored to find areas of discovery teaming with wildlife while taking advantage of excellent weather conditions. Those few days we transited at sea between the Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica passengers availed themselves of yoga/stretch classes, stationary bikes, treadmills, elliptical machines, and 40 laps on the 6th deck=2 miles! Additional lectures added, during transit days, to our growing knowledge of this unique part of the world. Ultimately seeing these creatures in the wild led us, personally, to a decision to be more proactive in our support both financially and in sending emails to our elected representatives about the importance of this fragile area of our planet.
Delightful and roomy with room to spread out, utilize "living" area, incredibly comfortable bed, and bigger bathroom than I anticipated. Melvyn, our cabin attendant, was outstanding in maintaining our cabin cleaning it twice a day and making up our bed without imposing his tasks on our schedule. He was always friendly and attentive, and helpful without being overbearing.