Lindblad Adventures: Discovering Patagonia on National Geographic Explorer

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Cruising with Lindblad is an immersive and convivial expedition experience that bonds attendees with each other and with the wonders of nature.

Excitement is building on day two of my cruise along the southernmost tip of South America as I layer up and hop on a zodiac, ready to navigate into a fiord that no other ship has been to before. Sure enough, I’m blown away by the stark beauty of the glacial-carved wilderness and the feeling of being an explorer on such a remote part of the planet. I’m sailing with a small group of event planners on Lindblad Expedition’s 148-passenger National Geographic Explorer, a ship with space for private events as well as convivial lounge and dining areas—all with great views to the outdoors. This is a true expedition cruise, enhanced by Lindblad’s partnership with National Geographic.

The Itinerary

Our Patagonian journey was seamlessly organized from start to finish, beginning with a tour day in Santiago, Chile and overnight at the Ritz-Carlton. Then we flew to Puerto Natales, Chile’s gateway to Patagonia, catching views of the magnificent Andes mountain range along the way. During six days sailing breathtaking Chilean fjords, we explored glaciers and forests on hikes and on zodiacs, guided by a team of extraordinary naturalists. And we were lucky that calm weather permitted us a kayak experience, paddling close (but not too close) to a calving glacier.

Kayaking in the ice-filled waters of a Chilean fjord, we could hear the eerie, loud rumbles of a calving glacier. A naturalist stood guard in a zodiac to ensure we didn’t get too close.
We explored every aspect of nature with Lindblad naturalists, from the tiniest leaf to the mightiest glacier. Seen here: Dan Olsen.

Along the way, naturalists helped us to spot the region’s singular wildlife. From massive Andean condors—the world’s largest bird—gliding far overhead to rockhopper and Magellanic penguin colonies along the rock face and from gigantic elephant seals to playful otters, we were immersed in Patagonian habitats. We learned about all facets of nature in this remarkable part of the world, and about the indigenous people who lived here despite brutally harsh conditions.

During our last two days, we explored Isla de Los Estatos (Staten Island) in Argentina—a pristine, windswept nature reserve declared off limits to tourism from 1923 to 2019, and now accessible only with special permission. It was worth waking up pre-dawn on our last morning for a sunrise zodiac tour to watch the wildlife wake up, with around 20 species of birds flying overhead and swooping into the water. My favorite were the adorable rockhopper penguins who scurried towards the water only to turn around, hop back up the rocky ledges, and repeat a few more times before eventually jumping en mass into the sea.

The Shipboard Experience

Captain Peik Aalto welcomed passengers at the start of the cruise and mingled throughout the expedition, even piloting zodiacs.

Lindblad’s National Geographic Explorer is a comfortable and immaculate polar expedition vessel with 81 outside cabins, some with balconies. The experience on board feels like casual luxury, with no hierarchies and a friendly vibe. The bridge is accessible for all passengers to visit 24-7. Captain, crew and naturalists mingle with passengers and often join for meals. The ship’s spacious lounge and dining room, with open seating for all meals, invited conversation. We enjoyed talks and visual presentations by our onboard expedition diver, a National Geographic photo expert and a guest speaker from the Wildlife Conservation Society, to name just a few.

The lounge bar menu offered many mocktail choices. My fave was the Cosmopolitan.

Every evening passengers met in the lounge for cocktails, passed hors d’oeuvres, an entertaining recap of the day’s adventures by naturalists and a briefing about what to expect the following day.

Lindblad for Groups

There are 17 expedition ships in the Lindblad fleet, ranging in size from accommodating 28 to 148 guests. “Our group and charter growth is off the charts,” Vice President of Affinity and Charter Sales Karen Kuttner-Dimitry told Prevue. “We’re currently working on 2025 groups /charters and are seeing tremendous interest from meeting and incentive planners. Lindblad’s intimate ships provide an ideal setting to develop and nurture relationships, forge strong bonds and valuable networking opportunities. Our smaller ships are especially popular for charter buyouts.”  For more information about chartering with Lindblad, visit here.

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