If you partner with the National Geographic Society, like this line does, you’d better deliver adventure, right? Lindblad does, though don’t expect anything too extreme. These nature- and culture-focused cruises are the floating equivalent to “glamping” — they’re comfortable and not too challenging while still making your feel like you’ve explored the Great Outdoors.
What We Love
Onboard Specialists: Scientists and naturalists give lectures and join tours, making sure you don’t miss a breaching whale or a blue-footed booby. A National Geographic-certified photography instructor is also onboard to offer tips on how to capture the sights.
Kayaking: The ships are equipped with kayaks and you can paddle in places you never imagined you’d paddle, such as the Peruvian Amazon, in water that’s home to piranhas, anacondas, and creepy red-eyed caimans.
You Can Get Massages: Every ship has spa treatments, and they’re inspired by nature. Look for the Marine Iguana Salt Glow.
Best Known For
Included Tours: Escorted daily tours are included in your cruise fare and they have an active focus. Expect to spend your days snorkeling, diving, hiking, or riding in inflatable Zodiacs or skiffs, always with your binoculars in hand. You can join a group that moves slowly for those who want that, and there also are opportunities to explore on your own.
Uncrowded Small Ships: You are never part of the crowd on this line. The largest ship carries 148 passengers, and most carry only a few dozen. Best of all, the environment is so casual you could even walk around barefoot.
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Who It's Best For
Active Older Travelers: These cruises are for anyone who gets excited about seeing wildlife, though those under 50 might get bored with activities that aren’t strenuous, as well as the lack of nightlife.
Families: Specific family departures are offered in a variety of destinations, including the Galápagos Islands. The crew is great with kids, letting them do things such as drive a Zodiac.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
These Cruises Are Pricey: Expect to pay for the handholding. Galápagos cruises, for instance, start at $629 per person, per day.
The Cabins Can Be Tiny: Accommodations vary widely from ship to ship, so read the details carefully. Sometimes you get a big, hotel-like room, but you could just as easily end up in a tight space with a porthole.
Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.