Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Ven­ture read­ies pair of Left Coast voy­ages

Part­ner­ship with Lind­blad Ex­pe­di­tions sees in­au­gu­ral sail­ings out of San Fran­cisco

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - TRAVEL - AARON SAUN­DERS

If you like your ships small and cruises ad­ven­tur­ous, you could hardly do bet­ter than Lind­blad Ex­pe­di­tions-Na­tional Ge­o­graphic (ex­pe­di­tions.com). Lind­blad, to­gether with its unique part­ner­ship with the fine folks at Na­tional Ge­o­graphic, has been pi­o­neer­ing small-ship cruises to ex­otic and off-the-beaten-path places for decades. These cruises have a hugely en­ter­tain­ing ed­u­ca­tional com­po­nent, and are suit­able for the en­tire fam­ily.

This fall, Lind­blad Ex­pe­di­tions will take de­liv­ery of its new­est ship, the 100-guest Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Ven­ture, which will call the Pa­cific Coast — from Baja to Alaska — home.

The first in­au­gu­ral sail­ing sets out from San Fran­cisco on Dec. 2 — a five-night Left Coast jour­ney that will tra­verse the state of Cal­i­for­nia. What’s more, Lind­blad’s CEO and name­sake founder, Sven Lind­blad, will be on board for this spe­cial jour­ney.

Dubbed Coastal Cal­i­for­nia by Sea, this voy­age de­parts San Fran­cisco — a daz­zling ex­pe­ri­ence in its own right — be­fore set­ting out for some of the state’s best-kept se­crets, with vis­its to An­gel Is­land, Sausal­ito, Mon­terey and Point Lo­bos, Avila Beach and Catalina Is­land.

Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Ven­ture’s sec­ond in­au­gu­ral voy­age is a 12-day jour­ney that de­parts San Fran­cisco on Dec. 7. This is a fan­tas­tic ad­ven­ture that sails between San Fran­cisco and La Paz, Mex­ico, through the heart of the Pa­cific Coast and Baja Mex­ico.

High­lights of this 12-day cruise in­clude snorkelling in Cabo Pulmo Na­tional Marine Park, the only hard co­ral reef in North Amer­ica with more than 220 species of fish. Guests will also be able to see the world’s largest salt mine in Guer­rero Ne­gro; ex­plore the shift­ing dunes of Isla Magdalena; and watch the sun rise over the mag­nif­i­cent rock for­ma­tions off Cabo San Lu­cas, Mex­ico, known as El Arco.

Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Ven­ture con­tin­ues in Baja, Calif., through­out the win­ter of 2018-19 be­fore sail­ing up the Pa­cific Coast in the spring to of­fer a wide va­ri­ety of ex­pe­di­tion itin­er­ar­ies in Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon, Wash­ing­ton State, Alaska and Bri­tish Columbia. Like the rest of Na­tional Ge­o­graphic’s fleet of ad­ven­tur­ous small ships, Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Ven­ture will be equipped with all the nec­es­sary gear and toys for weeks of fun in na­ture. With its for­ward-fac­ing ob­ser­va­tion lounge and plenty of open deck space, wildlife view­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy are front-and­cen­tre aboard Lind­blad’s lat­est and great­est.

The ship also car­ries a full fleet of mo­tor­ized Zo­diac rafts for in-depth ex­plo­ration, as well as a com­ple­ment of kayaks. Hikes of vary­ing lev­els of dif­fi­culty are of­fered in many ports of call, and I’ve found on my past sail­ings with Lind­blad that the com­pany does a great job of en­sur­ing that there is al­ways some­thing in­ter­est­ing to see and do, no mat­ter whether you’re off ex­plor­ing on­shore or en­joy­ing some down time on the ship.

Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Ven­ture also fea­tures Lind­blad’s B&H photo gear loaner pro­gram,

where guests can try the lat­est lenses, cam­era bod­ies and binoc­u­lars aboard ship. It also doesn’t hurt that the ship has its own ROV (re­motely op­er­ated ve­hi­cle) that can beam video back from 305 me­tres be­low the ocean; or that the on-board un­der­sea bow cam­era, video mi­cro­scope and hy­drophones can let you see and hear marine life as never be­fore.

Out of the ship’s 50 pas­sen­ger cab­ins, 22 will have their own pri­vate bal­conies — a rar­ity among small ex­pe­di­tion ves­sels of the past. Every cabin will fea­ture ei­ther win­dows or port­holes, and some will of­fer the abil­ity to ac­com­mo­date a third guest, while oth­ers will have con­nect­ing doors — per­fect for fam­i­lies trav­el­ling to­gether.

On Lind­blad, you find peo­ple who are well-trav­elled and cu­ri­ous about na­ture — and who would not oth­er­wise be on a big crowded cruise ship vy­ing for space at the pool deck. They like be­ing ac­tive. They en­joy learn­ing. And they love hav­ing fun in new places. You can go an en­tire week or two with­out see­ing an­other hu­man be­ing on some of the line’s itin­er­ar­ies.

If you want to shop till you drop, this may not be your cruise. If you’re look­ing for an ad­ven­tur­ous small-ship ex­pe­di­tion cruise that will let you see North Amer­ica’s Pa­cific Coast in a whole new light, this may be the cruise for you.

Happy cruis­ing.

Visit port­sand­bows.com, spon­sored by Ex­pe­dia Cruise­Ship­Cen­ters, 1-800-707-7327, cruise­ship­cen­ters. com, for daily up­dates on the lat­est cruise news, best deals and be­hindthe-scenes sto­ries from the in­dus­try. You can also sign up for an email news­let­ter on the site for even more cruise in­for­ma­tion. Aaron Saun­ders may be con­tacted di­rectly at port­sand­bowsaaron@gmail.com.

LIND­BLAD EXPEDITIONSNATIONAL GE­O­GRAPHIC

When Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Ven­ture de­buts in De­cem­ber, the ship will of­fer voy­ages along the Pa­cific coast from Baja north all the way to Alaska.

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