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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.

Great staff and guides; beautiful islands, incredible snorkeling

National Geographic Quest Cruise Review by Mikkosmom3701

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
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.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 215
Our cabin was spotless when we arrived and Dylan, our room steward offered turn down services every night as well as restocking our towels when we needed them. Every morning, we were greeted on the speaker with "Good morning, Buenos Dias my friends" from Cristian, our Expedition Leader. His voice was so soothing - it was great to wake up to.