Posted 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.