Vacations & Travel - - Tried & Tested -

SHIP: Na­tional Geo­graphic Quest

ROUTE: Costa Rica to Panama DECK: Main Deck, 303

CABIN: 303

By Rod­er­ick Eime

When you have more than half a cen­tury’s ex­pe­ri­ence in ex­pe­di­tion cruis­ing, it’s fair to as­sume you know pre­cisely what needs to go in a ship de­signed ex­pressly for the pur­pose. That’s ex­actly what you have with Lind­blad Ex­pe­di­tions – Na­tional Geo­graphic’s brand-new 100-pas­sen­ger ship, Na­tional Geo­graphic Quest. You won’t find Quest pick­ing her way through the ice pack. In­stead she is in­tended to work in balmy trop­i­cal waters and the shel­tered wa­ter­ways of Alaska’s Inside Pas­sage.

I am aboard for a cruise through Costa Rica and Panama. In con­trast to other Lind­blad ves­sels, nearly half of the cab­ins have ex­ter­nal bal­conies and af­ford just the right amount of space for a trav­el­ling cou­ple and their gear. The ship car­ries 100 guests in 50 cab­ins over four decks. The top­most (bridge/ob­ser­va­tion) deck of­fers a bar/BBQ sun­deck, with the lounge deck be­low clev­erly de­signed to house a bar, lounge and the­atre. There is a li­brary and com­puter area, a gym and well­ness cen­tre and a sin­gle-sit­ting din­ing room in con­ve­nient bistro style. All this com­fort and con­ve­nience is of lit­tle use if the ex­pe­di­tions are not up to snuff, and this is one as­pect where Lind­blad is in­dus­try-lead­ing. Na­tional Geo­graphic Quest’s ma­rina is on the stern and de­signed for one-step board­ing into the Zo­di­acs. This con­trasts to some of the older ves­sels where you have to hang on down a wob­bly stair­way to a pitch­ing boat. And fi­nally, the qual­ity and ex­per­tise of Lind­blad staff and nat­u­ral­ist guides has al­ways, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, been top of the game. Also, their recog­ni­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal val­ues in such lit­tle things like straw-less drinks and re­fill­able wa­ter bot­tles means they do more than pay lip ser­vice to pro­tect­ing the oceans.

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