View Full Version : Lindblad Expeditions to Alaska- Anyone done it?
August 24th, 2005, 02:10 PM
Hi. My husband, 9-yr old daughter, and I are investigating doing the Lindblad Expedition Alaska Coastal family cruise 8-5-06. We are big nature enthusiasts and did a fabulous eco-tour of Costa Rica with Abercrombie and Kent 12-04. Husband and I did the Holland America Alaska cruise in '92 and thought it was terrific. We want to do a much smaller ship this time to include more kayaking and hiking time.
Has anyone traveled with Lindblad? Is it worth the price? They were highly recommended by someone on our A&K tour.
Thanks for any opinions you can provide.
August 26th, 2005, 06:38 PM
Re, Lindblad Alaska Trip
We did the Inside Passage Trip in June and can't say enough good things about the trip and Lindblad. We had never done a cruise before and wanted a nature-oriented trip rather than the large ship cruise experience. We were initially put off by the price but heard excellent things about Lindblad and decided to bite the bullet. I would take a trip with them again. Apparently many people feel the same way because we had a lot of folks on our trip who had done another Lindblad trip.
Despite iffy weather, everything about the trip was extraordinary. The ships hold about 70 people and there were 5 naturalists on board - this is explains part of the higher cost. The naturalists were superb. There were 2 or 3 senior naturalists with a lot of experience and a couple of junior folks who were excellent in their fields but a bit less familiar with areas outside their specialty. The naturalists were on deck by 6 a.m. and seemed to enjoy pointing out the wildlife and giving as much explanation as one wanted.
The entire crew was friendly and more importantly, very concerned with safety. Transfers to Zodiacs and kayaks were handled well and the crew made sure everyone could do as much as they were capable of handling.
The small ships can change course to track some interesting wildlife and hang out at special spots if there is a spectacular sunset or something worth seeing. Special alerts went out at 10:30 p.m. when a pod of Orca whales was spotted.
The cabins are small and the bathrooms miniscule; however, everyone adjusted. We enjoyed being able to step out of our cabins onto the deck. The only cabins that I would not recommend are the lowest price category. They are small, with port holes and the passengers in them were the only ones who had complaints. We were in category 2 and the accomodations were fine. Although they are larger, I personally would not opt for category 3 as those cabins do not open onto the deck and are off the busy passageway between the dining room and the lounge. Category 4 cabins, which are toward the stern are bigger than #2 but I don't think they are worth the additional price.
The food was excellent. Breakfasts were buffet-style with any option you could imagine. Lunches consist of soup, salads, chili, etc. Dinners were served more formally and passengers have a choice of 3 entrees - meat, fish, vegetarian. We ate lots of fish, all of which was excellent. With advance notice, I am sure the kitchen crew would accomodate other requests. One nice note is that Lindblad provides free juices and soft drinks all day as well as house wine at dinner.
You mentioned bringing a child on the cruise. There were a couple of children on our cruise and they seemed to enjoy it. However, some kids may be bored and I would look into going on the weeks designated as Family Cruises. The typical cruise is geared toward adults and the average age is above 60.
The only parts of the trip that were disappointing were the land-based tours in Juneau and Sitka. They were rushed and we did not get to see much. I would recommend arriving a day early and seeing the sights on your own.
Hope this helps.
August 27th, 2005, 01:07 AM
Puffin, Thanks for your detailed comments re: the Lindblad trip. Yes, we would only do the family cruise as we know the passengers on other trips skew much older. We are very into birdwatching, hiking, and kayaking so Lindblad seems like a perfect fit for us.
We are of the mindset that you usually get what you pay for and our experience with Abercrombie and Kent (eco-tour focused) was phenomenal. Yes, it was pricey, but it was a magical vacation having a master naturalist with us in Costa Rica 24hrs a day for 10 days...
While I really loved "vegging out" aboard the Caribbean Princess last week, I missed being surrounded by fellow nature-enthusiasts. I care less about the glitz, glamour, and food, and more about the real "show" outside of the boat!
Your comments will help us make our decision. I hadn't talked to anyone who had done the Alaskan Lindblad trip, only a Lindblad Baja whale trip so it's nice to get a thumbs up from a recent traveler.
August 29th, 2005, 10:37 AM
Just one more thing. You may also want to look into two of Lindblad's competitors in small boat cruising in Alaska: Glacier Bay and Cruise West. Some of Cruise West's options offer more kayaking and hiking but don't travel as far. We did see a Glacier Bay boat tied up at the dock one night. It seemed a bit simpler than the Lindblad boat. I think the lounge and dining room may have been in the same space. It did, however, have a younger crowd and may have been more targeted to kayaking than the Lindblad trip, which uses the kayaks about three times during the cruise. One advantage to Cruise West is that the kayaks are launched from the ship. On Lindblad, the crew transports the kayaks and passengers to the shore. However, we chose Lindblad because of the expertise of the naturalists. From my research, it appears that Glacier Bay and Cruise West have one senior naturalist and the others are younger people (often natural history students), who double as crew. We liked having as many staff working as dedicated naturalists on board as we had. But there are many options and all of these lines travel roughly the same route.
Enjoy whatever trip you choose.
August 30th, 2005, 01:55 AM
Puffin. Thanks for the alternative recommendations because I found out yesterday that the price of the Lindblad tour will be over our budget. Because there will be three of us in a cabin, our only alternative is the highest price category putting the price per person at $5,600 (1/2 for our child). In addition to a cruise, we also want to go to Denali and Anchorage.
Cruise West and Glacier Bay cruises are more affordable and they have 10 -11 day tours that include a 4-day cruise + Denali. This would work better for us.
No question that a Lindblad cruise would be awesome...maybe when our daughter is away in college. Well, maybe when we're done paying for her college.
Thanks again for the helpful tips.
August 31st, 2005, 03:28 PM
Realtor, When you are planning your trip you may want to give some consideration to do the land portion on your own. The land our add-ons to some cruises are very expensive and often don't suit your interests. If you check out the regular Alaska message board you will notice the Budget Queen and other well-seasoned Alaska travelers always recommend doing it yourself. It is not only much cheaper but you can spend as much or as little time in a place as you wish.
August 31st, 2005, 09:17 PM
I believe Glacier Bay Cruiseline and not Cruise West takes kayaks with them. Cruise West does offer kayak excursions in various ports and I'm guessing that Glacier Bay Cruiselines have kayaks on all ships. I know the WEX and the WAVE do take kayaks with them.
If you are going to book with either Cruise West or Glacier Bay, I would do it soon if you want to take advantage of the early booking/payoff discounts. Cruise West's 2006 catalog is out and I believe Glacier Bay Cruiseline will be out in a couple of weeks or so.
I concur with Puffin regarding the land portion. You could probably do the land portion cheaper if you go independent than with the cruise company.
August 31st, 2005, 10:04 PM
I love Lindblad - we are going on our third trip with them in October - Snake and Columbia Rivers, In the Wake of Lewis and Clark. Previously, we have gone with them to the Galapagos and also to Antarctica. They have great naturalists and staff and comfortable ships, with good food. They are rather expensive, but often have good specials. The price of the Oregon trip was reduced by 25% and the Galapagos had free airfare from Miami.
September 2nd, 2005, 01:10 AM
Thanks for the suggestions and comments regarding Lindblad, Cruise West and Glacier Bay tours. Cruise West has an interesting 4-day kayak-heavy Prince William Sound + six day Denali/Anchorage tour that looks interesting and is much less expensive than Lindblad. It's not specifically for families although there probably would be other kids in the middle of the summer.
Lindblad has children's counselor's on their designated family tours so parents can go kayaking or other stenuous activities while the kids do less intense things with other children. We went on a family tour to Costa Rica with Abercrombie and Kent last December and this arrangement couldn't have been better.
I'm sure Lindblad, like A&K, is worth every penny. Problem is, I don't know if I have enough pennies to go that route...
Thanks again and keep the suggestions coming. We'll be making our decision soon to take advantage of early booking discounts what ever we decide.
September 2nd, 2005, 10:33 AM
Looks like you are well on your way to finding the right cruise. In making your decision, I would look carefully at the route the boat takes. The usual trade off for extra kayaking is less distance travelled. Glacier Bay is one spot that is missed by many cruises, either because the operator does not have permits or because there is not enough time. If you want to get up close to glaciers, icebergs etc, be sure that your trip will allow that.