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Nat’l Geo Quest voyage, West Coast Costa Rica, Panama, Canal Transit (at night, fyi)

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National Geographic/Linblad Quest Voyage
West Coast Costa Rica and Panama with Canal Transit
San Jose (Puerto Caldera) - Colon, Panama

February 2022, 7 nights

Leaving aside the drama of arriving sans checked bag, this recounts my experience aboard the Quest.

Overall impressions: This small ship (100 passengers, we were 45) is comfortable, tidy, attractive, well staffed, and offers good and plentiful meals. This is not a gourmet cruise yet mealtimes are convivial, food is tasty and service usually quite good. Wines are quite good. Staterooms in all categories are small yet well organized and bathrooms are very good with great shower pressure. excursions, two or more a day, were all nature-focused but that is known to be the case. All featured a variety of exertion levels from “sit in chairs on the beach” to “climb up steep stoney path to waterfall.” Only one snorkel expedition. Dress was, praise all divinities, exceedingly casual if not downright rustic, befitting the expedition style of the cruise. Likewise this is a self-selected group of cruisers who are friendly, open-minded and unpretentious (barring one venture cap dude). Most over 60, fairly fit (but not I) and all courageous when it came to the zodiacs!

Ours was a Category Five cabin, the highest, slightly bigger than most with big picture window on the top deck. Next time I would choose one deck down (Category 4) which has a small balcony. Housekeeping was excellent.

The point of this sort of cruise is flora and fauna with emphasis on the latter. It’s all about leaving the ship on zodiacs to hike, walk, sit on beaches, see birds and butterflies, sloths and monkeys, sea life, and bouncing around on zodiacs. Zodiacs are the only way to get off and back on the ship during the entire voyage but for embarkation and disembarkation.

Expeditions were fun if a bit hair-raising for me. Crew were amazingly adept at helping even the most clumsy, wobbly, zaftig and inflexible get on and off the zodiacs. Guides were superlative and knew their stuff, and how to spot elusive birds and monkeys. They also were funny and worldly. I quite liked them. I left this cruise with enormous admiration for crew and guides.

The Canal transit was at night, starting around 9pm. Having been born and raised in Panama, I am blasé about this waterway but others were ecstatic. I’d have been happier with a daylight transit.

Highest category cabin: $10,200/pp
Lowest category $6,300

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  • 4 months later...

Thank you so much for your post!  We are thinking of doing this voyage in December (they will do the reverse route - Colon to San Jose - on our expedition).   Did you happen to do a pre-night through Lindblad prior to your voyage?  We will need to fly into Panama City a day early and I can't get a straight answer as to whether Lindblad will provide us with ground transportation if we book our pre-night through them.  Alternatively, I could just book a hotel and find a transportation company on my own, I suppose, but I've never been to Panama and feel unfamiliar with the area.  Thank you for any info you may have!

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