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National Geographic Sea Bird Cruise Review

Itinerary: Base Camp Baja - January 2018

National Geographic Sea Bird

Let me start this review by saying that I have been on a multitude of cruises. Big ships and small, Lindblad always being a favorite. As this was a new itinerary and new focus for Lindblad. I was intrigued and interested in how they were going to shape a trip to focus on the mind, body, and soul when there is always so much going on exploring the destination.

Partnership between Lindblad and Exhale Spa, allowed for this to happen through focuses on mind, body and soul together through Yoga, Barre, massages, spa services, and meditation. With that being said, I was completely blown away by this entire trip. My concern of green machine smoothies, kombucha, and exhausting workouts did not show its face.

Day 1

Great start, I have never been met at a departing gate by a member of a cruise company. Making sure we got to the right gate let me tell you. WHAT AN IMPRESSION IT MADE!!! Maureen, an associate with Lindblad was at LAX waiting for us! She was very knowledgeable and guided us all the way up until the security checkpoint. We flew on their suggested flight from LAX to Cabo San Lucas where Lindblad personnel met us as soon as we arrived. They took our luggage to a beautiful bus, which I swear had better seats and more legroom than the plane. Water and light snacks were provided for the 2-½ hour trip from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz. Our guide Mauro was absolutely fantastic and was able to talk about everything that we were seeing on the way. We even managed to catch a couple glimpses of some whales of the coast!

Once we arrived at the ship, check in was a breeze! They welcomed us with smiles and laughter. Stewards and deckhands escorted guests to their rooms before grabbing the bags and delivering them. We were in a Category 3 room, one of the larest on the ship. My husband’s first reactions to the stateroom were that of OMG, he is 6’3” and the bathroom was as big as his shoulders. A comfortable bed and not to worry about the rest.

Once everyone was aboard and settled in, they held the safety drill followed by a cocktail party before dinner. This is where we met the entire crew of who was going to be taking care of us for 4 days. Dinner was a beautiful buffet and a chance to meet with the rest of the guests. At dinner they explained the fabulous happenings for the next day, and all the different options you could do, Two different yoga sessions at different times throughout the day, with options for three different level hikes, paddle boarding or kayaking, or just lounging around the beach. Promised to be a busy fun day.

Day 2

After breakfast we departed to Espirito Santo by DIB. They had planned all levels of hikes: easy for photographers who wanted to focus on the beautiful scenery and wildlife. Medium for those that wanted a little bit more and still have time to relax on the beach, The long hike, which ended up being a boulder-hopping adventure to the top, where you could see the other ocean with incredible views. There we had a couple moments of silence to really take in the beauty. John from Exhale helped all of us get in touch with breathing exercises. After a couple moments of silence and thousands of pictures, and some history of the island, we made our trek back to the ship for a much needed lunch.

Lunch was a delicious skirt steak with a chimichurri sauce that really needed to be bottled and sold, as it was delicious After lunch and some time to digest, we were outfitted in our snorkel gear. I was impressed how organized it all was, with so little hassle. We made our way out to the dive boat and hopped into the water. I haven't done much snorkeling before, the staff were very helpful, and I felt in safe hands. There was a biologist with us in the water helping us find the fish, and informing us of what fish were swimming around us.. After an incredible show of oceanic beauty, we hopped back to the beach for an incredible dinner, bonfire, drinks, and bonfire stories. They finished it off with S’mores for those that can't have a bonfire without them, like me. This was absolutely incredible! Perfect weather made for a beautiful view as we ate and watched the sun set behind the mountains and showcase the ship in beautiful lighting.

Day 3

After hearing the previous night that we would be swimming with Sea Lions, I was supper excited that I made it to the early bird continental breakfast … gorgeous hand made muffins with a variety of fruit, and any type of coffee or espresso you cared for. Since it was a busy day starting in the water, breakfast was nutritious with all you would need to power you through the morning. Once we made it to the dive boat, we were supper excited to get into the water, and was actually quite surprised at how warm the water was. Almost immediately we started seeing huge pools of fish of all varieties ranging from puffer fish to angelfish. That’s when we got the first encounters with the sea lions. They were friendly and more curious about us than we were about them. They would swim right up you your mask and then duck under you. My husband had one that kept doing flips by him, and when he wasn't looking, actually nudged him for attention! Because of the instructions we were given, we were able to see these graceful but often clumsy animals in their natural habitat without any incidents. National Geographic is partnered with conservation efforts in the area to keep the animals safe, and the population thriving, We had to wear special life-vests that kept our bodies on top of the water, so as not to spook or encroach on any territories.

Back to the ship for a nice lunch while we sailed to Isla Partida where we were to spend the last night of the trip. My husband decided to do another long hike since he is the athletic one, while I searched the beach for fossils and bones while waiting to do Yoga on a paddle board…in the ocean. Now, I would not say that I have the BEST balance in the world, but I’m definitely not unsure of my footing. However, I spent more time in the water than on the board, and I had a BLAST! Watching the incredible talent of people actually doing headstands on the board without falling into the water. I sat on the board and congratulated myself on stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new. It is definitely up there with one of the best memories from the trip.

End of day was Captains cocktail hour and another fabulous dinner.The National Geographic photographer put together a slide show with a selection of pictures that were taken by the guests. It was a great way to share the memories of the trip and see things that maybe you hadn't. It was a little bittersweet that night as we all knew that the next day we would be getting back to our “normal everyday lives,” but these 3 days really did help rejuvenate, inspire and empower me to really take a deeper look inside instead of always looking outwards.

Day 4

Alas, we made our return into La Paz and everyone seemed to be dreading going back to the regular routine, but for me, this experience is once in a lifetime and definitely one that I would recommend. Even though the trip was brief, every day was packed full of exciting things to see and to try, never a dull moment. The crew was incredible! Hospitable and caring, always with a smile on their faces, even when holding a tray of margaritas in rocky sand, not easy.

I would do this trip again in a heartbeat! A wonderful experience. INCREDIBLE!!!

—Whitney Nestoras - Yorba Linda, CA