Lindblad Expeditions’ New National Geographic Venture
Lindblad Expeditions welcomed the newest ship, the 100-passenger, 50-stateroom National Geographic Venture, to its fleet at a ceremony at the historic Treasure Island Pier 1 in San Francisco. My wife Colleen and I joined the inaugural cruise, a quick two-day adventure in San Francisco Bay in early December. The cruise was over much too quickly but gave us a great sense of how wonderful it is to sail an expedition voyage with Lindblad, and in such comfort on a beautiful new vessel.
Lindblad Expeditions founder and CEO Sven-Olof Lindblad tells a little about the Lindblad story during the christening ceremony of the new National Geographic Venture. Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic have had an alliance in cruising since 2004.
Crew line the deck in front of the bridge during the christening alongside the historic Treasure Island Pier 1 in San Francisco. The shiny and new NatGeo Venture, which was built in the U.S. at the Nichols Brothers Shipyard on Whidbey Island in Washington, will sail seasons in Baja California, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
Capt. Andrew Cook — yes, he says he’s proud to live up to his name as a Captain Cook — is master of the vessel.
There is an open-bridge policy on National Geographic Venture, which means you can stop by to see how the navigation of the ship works.
The bow area is the best spot to enjoy scenic sailing. We all rushed out for our sunset sailaway in San Francisco Bay toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
The bow even has a raised platform in the middle so passengers can better see wildlife in the surrounding waters during the voyage.
The sun is quickly fading in the distance, just past our view of Alcatraz Island.
Capt. Andrew Cook welcomes passengers onboard his spanking-new ship. The lounge area is a comfy space and a natural gathering spot for pre-dinner cocktails and to hear talks from the ship’s field staff and naturalists.
The dining room onboard National Geographic Venture features a buffet for breakfast and lunch. You can find numerous healthy choices, like organic chicken, salads, red and golden beets, and quinoa. There’s also a carving station and you’ll always find sweets to tempt you at the buffet, too.
The open-seating dining room on NatGeo Venture offers a moving window on the world.
This is my healthy breakfast — an omelet with turkey sausage, some kiwi, yogurt and other fruit.
I was amazed at my first meal, a lunch that was loaded with goodness from the buffet. I typically have trouble finding healthy choices on most cruise ships but not on National Geographic Venture.
I chose the rack of lamb for dinner. It was a good pick. The menu also always offers a seafood and vegetarian option.
Colleen said this avocado mousse with passionfruit, meringue and hint of beetroot and salt was the best dessert she has ever had.
Our cabin had plenty of open shelving, which I found nice to organize and have easy access to my camera equipment and other items.
The bed was fairly comfy in our stateroom No. 217, which has a balcony.
Binoculars are at the ready in the lounge for when wildlife is within sight.
Some of your activities take you into chilly waters, and Lindblad Expeditions has you covered with wetsuits. There’s also a telescope that sits at the front of the lounge so you can peep out on the scenery as you wish.
Or, you can just make like you see something at the front of the ship and sneak off with some more goodies from the snack area. No one will judge you.
There is a well-stocked bar in the lounge, with cocktails, wines and craft beers at the ready. We found the hotel staff onboard to be unfailingly friendly and good at anticipating passenger needs.
On Day 2, we headed out for our adventures. The marina at the back of the ship is where you load into Zodiacs.
We enjoyed a skiff tour around San Francisco Bay with our guide Emily Pickering.
National Geographic Venture sits off Angel Island in the bay.
The Sun Deck is at the back of the ship. It’s a wonderful place for enjoying the views and it’s also where the morning stretch class takes places each day.
In the afternoon, we went ashore at Angel Island for a hike at Mount Livermore.
The sunny weather made for ideal hiking conditions on the first day of December.
Nearing the top of Mount Livermore, we can see the skyline of San Francisco and much of the bay.
Two happy hikers enjoying reaching the peak. Our hike was five miles roundtrip.
We made it back onboard before sunset and settled in with a quick walk around the promenade on NatGeo Venture.
Then, it was time to reward ourselves with well-earned brews after a day of thrills. We quickly fell in love with the friendly Sebastian who was always there with a smile — and our beers.
The author gets another look at San Francisco Bay and breathes in the fresh air aboard the new National Geographic Venture.
Click the photo ⬆️⬆️⬆️ for John’s VIDEO overview of the Nat Geo Venture!
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