Launched in 2018, Lindblad Expeditions' 100-passenger National Geographic Venture is a stylish expedition ship that can take guests to far-flung corners of the globe.
Travel Agent was onboard last week for the expedition line's seven-night "Exploring Alaska's Coastal Wilderness" itinerary between Juneau and Sitka, Alaska. National Geographic Venture, a sister to National Geographic Quest, is larger than Lindblad's 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Bird and National Geographic Sea Lion. Twenty-two of the 50 accommodations have step-out balconies.
We stayed in No. 204, on the Upper Deck. While our stateroom did not have a balcony, it did have two large windows and was very comfortable.
The Upper Deck was also one floor below the Lounge Deck, so it's just one flight of stairs or an elevator ride to all the action. This full deck of public spaces immediately above our deck included the spacious lounge/enrichment area with a library, computer space and bar, a large dining room with walls of windows on three sides, a fitness center and one spa treatment room, the purser's desk office and a small gift shop.
Bow access was just outside the lounge, providing easy access for spotting wildlife, such as bubble feeding humpback whales, brown bears and harbor seals
Just one deck below our Upper Deck was the Main Deck. Most notably, it's home to the Mud Room, where all guests have lockers for storing their wet boots, any outer gear desired and their PFD (personal flotation device). From here, guests embark the expeditionary Zodiacs for adventures close to glaciers, remote coves, harbors and small enclaves of civilization.
We'll talk more about the public spaces, Zodiac adventures and the experiential nature of a Lindblad sailing in upcoming stories, but, for starters, here's a look at our accommodations.
CAT-3 category stateroom, No. 204, has two large windows, providing good views. Whether sitting up in bed or at the small desk, guests can check out landscapes and seascapes outside and view any wildlife that might surface.
Light-darkening curtains allow guests to sleep in, if desired. Separate sheer curtains allow good light flow into the space, but keep direct sunlight (and heat) out.
Our stateroom was very comfortable. Twin beds convert into a queen-sized bed, outfitted with a supportive mattress, soft duvet and sheets, and four fluffy pillows.
The bed is flanked by two small end tables, each with a drawer and an open shelf below that. Nice lights above each also had a mechanism that held a reading light that could be pulled out. Storage under the bed allows guests to hide their suitcases, but also have them close at hand.
We loved the large wall of open shelves with small metal rods across the front bottom; that helped keep things from falling off. It's a store-all spot. We used it for binoculars, papers and clothing.
Small Desk and Atlas
Just after entry into the room, and opposite the bed, guests can sit at a small desk with a pull-out drawer, an elongated, mounted wall light and power for three-prong plugs.
It's small but adequate for using techie toys and tools brought from home, or if one prefers, writing down diary notes about the day's expedition activities. Positioned on the desk surface when guests enter their cabin for the first time is an aluminum/insulated water bottle. The ship has several water stations so guests can fill up whenever they wish. The desk also has a phone, a map (in our case it was Southeastern Alaska) and a leather portfolio book with postcards, paper and a handbook to explain the ship's services and features.
Since National Geographic Venture is an expedition vessel, it was fitting that the shelf above the desk displayed a large world atlas, a copy of National Geographic magazine and a brochure with Lindblad Expeditions' lineup of voyages.
In the vicinity of the desk is a volume control for the PA system. Lindlbad's expedition leader "wakes people up" most mornings with a wake-up call over the public address system, plus a call to breakfast. Throughout the day, too, announcements are made about what's ahead in the way of enrichment lectures or that it's time for guests to come to the Mud Room to board Zodiacs. Also, the PA system is used to alert guests if wildlife is spotted from the bridge or if the Northern Lights are active (as they were during our voyage). However, if guests prefer not to hear that PA system, they can simply turn the volume down or off altogether.
Adjacent to the desk is a horizontal rack of hooks, perfect for hanging coats or gear. Opposite that, a nice sized closet (width-wise) offers one hanging rack, two large wide drawers and two shelves with life jackets.
Keep in mind, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic is a casual cruise product. People are out hiking, paddle boarding, kayaking or taking Zodiac adventures throughout the day. The dress code is casual.
With that in mind, the closet opens to reveal a fairly wide hanging space, but the length of garments that can be hung there is about half the typical closet length for hanging clothes.
So, for example, guests can easily hang jackets, tops, shirts and folded slacks/pants, but not long dresses, although frankly, that's just not needed. We found the storage perfectly adequate for our needs.
This closet also has two very wide drawers, the equivalent of four regular drawers of space that might be found on a typical cruise ship. This worked very well for us.
Each cabin also has individual climate control, allowing guests to adjust the temperature to their liking. We like our air conditioning and it performed admirably.
Bathroom for No. 204
Guests have one step up into the bathroom, which is modest. But, we didn't feel cramped and, again, this is an expeditionary ship.
It has a singular sink, storage cupboards below that sink (holding a hair dryer) and a large mirror above the sink.
A toilet and roomy shower with a fabric curtain completed the facilities. The shower's hot water was consistently good on demand.
Botanically inspired shampoo, shower gel and conditioner are available in large pump bottles in the shower; they're refilled by the housekeeping crew.
But we really chuckled at and also appreciated the creativity of an Expedition Essential Kit, which featured a miniature black "Zodiac," a malleable plastic holder containing a mesh amenity bag with such items as lip balm, a Shout wipe, hand lotion and so on.
Unlike some other small-ship products that do not have Internet/Wi-Fi, Lindblad Expeditions' National Geographic Venture does have this option, a big plus for any guests needing to keep in touch with their office or their family back home.
We opted for the unlimited package throughout the voyage for $200, but other options are also available for those who just want to check email or surf the Web occasionally. As a result, we were able to surf from both the Lounge and our stateroom. For us, it worked surprisingly well.
Keep in mind, though, that the service may not work everywhere. Expedition cruises sail to remote areas. For example, the Wi-Fi did not work in Alaska's Endicott Arm; not surprising given the sheer rock walls on either side of the ship at points.
Also of note: This stateroom had no TV or streaming services/movies. That's likely not important to some clients, important to others.
We felt the housekeeping and the hotel director's staff in general were outstanding. We were well looked after and our stateroom was well maintained by the crew during our voyage.
What could be improved? While we liked our stateroom very much, we still (similar to experiencing another line's small-ship product in Alaska last year) can't get used to "no locking of doors" when one leaves the room.
Several guests told me they carried their passports with them everywhere because of that. I think the guest's comfort (or not) with that has a lot to do with whether they live in a metropolitan area.
That said, it was possible to lock the door once in the stateroom, a must from our end.
Outside the door is a nice 8.5-by-11-inch holder; here, the line puts the guest's lanyard with ship ID card, so that when guests leave the vessel, they swipe the card at a machine and then line is aware they are gone. They swipe their card again upon their return. This way the ship doesn't leave anyone behind. (It's one thing to do that in a city, quite another in a remote habitat frequented by bears and other critters!) Lindblad seemed to have a very good system for assuring all guests were back onboard before sailing.
That holder is also the place where the cruise line places the daily program for the next day each evening, along with the guest's final bill and other information.
Overall, we liked No. 204. It was comfortable and even a bit larger than some other small-ship accommodations spaces we've experienced on other vessels. Views out our two large windows were stunning.
Stay tuned here for more stories in the coming weeks about National Geographic Venture's activities, enrichment, research efforts, Zodiac adventures, photography options, active options, dining and service.