My trip on the National Geographic Endurance started in Iceland but most of the time was spent in Greenland. The trip was very interesting but is not for everyone. The crew told us several times “this is not a cruise, it is an expedition” and that turned out to be very much true. There was a published itinerary but it didn’t really get followed. Where we went was determined by the weather, ice conditions and what the guides found when they scouted possible landing sites. This was not a problem but is something that people should be aware of. In Greenland there are no docks so all exits from the ship require a wet landing. We did many hikes which were interesting and did see wildlife (polar bear, musk ox, Arctic hare) but the wildlife is sparse. The scenery is spectacular but most of what you see is either rock or ice. The icebergs are spectacular. The guides, naturalists and other experts on the ship were excellent. There were many interesting lectures and a couple of them about photography were both interesting and useful. Food and service on the ship is very, very good. Surprisingly, on an 11-day trip without any resupply, there was lots of variety and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables right to the end. National Geographic does the very best of the cruises that I have been on.
This was our second trip with Ashton and his team. They are excellent. So knowledgeable and professional! Ashton had to please clients from 23-86 years old. He suggested Linblad National Geographic to appeal to everyone. Their naturalists are experts and given wildlife viewing was a priority, Ashton thought this fit the bill. Further, my mother has severe hearing loss and we wanted her to be in an intimate environment with a patient and caring staff.
Ashton had to Intervene a great deal prior to departure, as Linblad over-sold the cruise and our family lost their spots. Ashton explained the unique multi-generational component of the trip. He got Linblad to put my family on a better ship and how he dealt with the compensation due to this error was extraordinary! We would not have had the happy and successful outcome without a pro like Ashton and his team.
Ashton listens, cares, has experience and makes difficult situations manageable. We are grateful for his expertise and hope to visit the Arctic with his guidance in the future. Antarctica and now Alaska have been home runs!
We embarked on an extraordinary seven-day Galapagos cruise with Silversea, where the volcanic islands of the Galápagos Islands unveiled nature’s wonders before us. Crystal-clear waters beckoned, inviting us to swim and snorkel alongside playful sea lions, penguins, iguanas, and graceful sea turtles, while secluded beaches and volcanic landscapes held untold secrets waiting to be discovered. Majestic Galapagos tortoises roamed the ancient terrain of certain islands and the avian paradise came alive with blue-footed boobies, flightless cormorants, and frigate birds. Guided by the Silver Origin’s knowledgable and enthusiastic naturalists, we ventured on exhilarating hikes and thrilling kayaking excursions, immersing ourselves in the diverse wildlife and gaining a profound appreciation for the delicate harmony of nature. Forever etched in our hearts, the Galapagos cruise with Silversea left an indelible mark, reminding us of the remarkable beauty and extraordinary biodiversity of this unique archipelago.
Silversea’s Silver Origin treated us to an incredible culinary journey, with skillfully crafted dishes featuring fresh seafood, tender meats, and delightful flavors. The fine wines perfectly complemented each meal, creating a memorable dining experience that expanded my palate and left a lasting impression. Service was as outstanding as you would imagine.
The trip was arranged by Ashton Palmer and his outstanding crew. They were easy to communicate with, listened to our initial thoughts and made suggestions to improve our experience. One important issue with us was we wanted good support should anything untoward happen during our trip since we were off the beaten path, and they gave us this feeling of ease.
I worked with Ashton Palmer and his team. I wanted to visit Alaska but due to pets at home we couldn’t be gone for more than a week. Ashton suggested taking a Lindblad National Geographic trip on the Sea Bird. The small ship has a capacity of 62 guests, but there were only 34 because it was beginning of the season. Ashton’s suggestion was exactly what we wanted (small ship, wildlife viewing, naturalist interaction, etc.). Going in mid-May, the weather was perfect. Working with Ashton and his team member Keri ensured I always had a person to could contact with any question, no matter how mundane. They also helped to coordinate the logistics of air travel, what to pack, and hotel accomodations.
Ashton’s office was wonderful. In particular, Gretchen answered all of our questions promptly and efficiently. She reassured us in a very kind and friendly manner throughout the planning of the trip. Swimming with sea lions and sea turtles and watching the courting process of the many birds in the Galapagos were probably our favorite experiences. Ashton’s team was able to book our neighbors on the same trip—with a cabin right next to ours. Traveling with good friends somehow increases the enjoyment of the trip. We highly recommend them, and wouldn’t hesitate to work with them again.
We had an absolutely amazing trip to Antarctica that was planned by Ashton Palmer and Paul Galleno. They suggested the National Geographic Lindblad Explorer, and what a choice that was. They were very responsive to all of our questions in an extremely timely manner. Because the Lindblad ship Endurance is one of two premier ships that go to Antarctica (the other is their sister ship Resolution), we were able to go further south than any of the other 60-plus ships traveling in the area at the same time. Consequently we never saw another ship. We broke thru the ice one night (there was no darkness this time of year) and walked out onto the ice with the captain. The bridge is mostly always open for viewing—it was a totally amazing experience and we thank Ashton for setting us up on the right course from the very beginning! Before we left we received extensive info on the COVID requirements for Argentina and the ship. We felt totally comfortable—all ship members wore masks but guests were not required. They offered insurance.
Our cruise from Ushuaia to Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula planned for us by Ashton Palmer was great, and timing in late November/mid December was perfect. To start planning, we exchanged several phone calls and many e-mails with Ashton and his staff to clarify our wishes. We wanted an expedition cruise not only to Antarctica but also to Falklands and South Georgia. Ashton elaborated in detail with pros and cons on several options and gave us an excellent recommendation. His staff also put us in contact with Exito Travel to reserve our flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and return. In trying to decide on the best option for us because of potential sea sickness, Ashton chose a perfect cabin location (mid-ship and low level) and a perfect ship, Greg Mortimer by Aurora. The ship was specially designed for polar travel (X-bow and ice-strengthened hull) and therefore provided very comfortable sailing. Almost all cabins had a balcony (not very useful in Antarctica) and elegant simple furnishings. Food was excellent, mostly buffet served by friendly cheerful staff wearing masks all the time. All other staff was also wearing masks. Passengers were not obliged to wear masks but majority of them did. The morning before boarding the ship in Ushuaia, Aurora company required and provided (charged) Covid test to all travelers. We understand that 4 people were not allowed to board the ship. When more cases of Covid were identified by the ship doctor during the voyage, they had to isolate in their cabin for 5 days (food was catered to them). Overall we felt safe all the time.
Antarctica was spectacular, and everything about the National Geographic Endurance met our expectations. It’s a great ship with wonderful staff and the expedition team was first-rate. We were very happy with Ashton’s guidance to go on this ship out of all the new options in Antarctica.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our family traveled to Alaska and sailed on the Lindblad National Geographic cruise up the Inside Passage from Sitka to Juneau from 6/11/22 to 6/18/22. We used Ashton Palmer to assist us with the planning and he and his staff did an excellent job. We were originally scheduled to depart in June of 2020 but the trip was postponed twice due to Covid. At every turn we relied on Ashton and his team for advice on whether and how to make the trip work and how best to prepare. They helped us ‘maneuver through’ the gauntlet of information and forms required for our trip; directing us to detailed itineraries, packing essentials along with recommendations on which equipment we should rent versus purchase, and assisting with travel insurance.
The trip was wonderful and the scenery was spectacular. It was especially gratifying to see the smiles of wonder on the faces of our two NYC-based twenty-something children as we spotted whales, eagles, sea lions, otters and calving glaciers throughout the journey. The naturalists on board provided a wealth of information on what we were witnessing every step of the way.
As Covid regulations and requirements kept changing, Ashton and staff kept us fully apprised on testing and risks associated with sailing on a smaller ship. Other than ‘holding our breath’ in Sitka while we waited for the crew to return with the results of our final Covid test prior to embarkation, we were confident that things would go smoothly. Of course we hadn’t anticipated that American Airlines would lose some of our luggage (it didn’t catch up to us until we reached Petersburg one day before the end of cruise), but the planning we had completed along with the assistance of the folks at Lindblad helped us to still have a great experience. The only information we didn’t have prior to embarkation was that we would not have any communications connectivity available during the cruise. While the retired folks didn’t mind being electronically untethered, the working folks had a couple of anxious days before we returned to civilization. We would still whole heartedly recommend Ashton and his team to anyone contemplating a Lindblad/National Geo cruise. They know what to expect and add considerable value in helping to plan and prepare for the journey. In fact, we met several people on the cruise that complained about difficulties communicating with Lindblad directly. Ashton’s office, on the other hand, provided us with excellent support and made themselves available whenever we had questions.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Just got back from Alaska on a National Geographic cruise we planned with the help of Ashton Palmer, and his team, and we couldn’t have been happier. While we originally planned a land-based trip, the many lengthy conversations with Ashton helped us solidify goals and make this choice. The small ship size was perfect and the staff and crew were as great as the wildlife and landscape experiences. We saw whales, bears, more bald eagles than we could imagine, sea lions, seals, etc.
With Ashton’s help we picked a cruise that had the Covid protocols we felt safe with and I would highly recommend Ashton and the cruise to anyone.
Once you begin a dialogue with him, It is clear why Ashton is on The WOW List!!
Thankfully we didn’t have any issues or problems but we were confident Ashton would have been there and solved them easily.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our cruise, “Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness” (May 14 – 21, 2022) could not have been more perfect. Ashton Palmer’s team helped us choose the cruise line and the particular cruise so that we were able to have exactly the kind of experience we wanted. They also helped us with all the details when our cruise was cancelled (twice) due to covid. They helped us choose the right trip insurance, and made sure the insurance policy was transferred both times the cruise was cancelled. While it wasn’t possible for them to suggest any special “experiences” since it was an all-inclusive cruise, we wouldn’t hesitate to work with them again in the future. Having them handle all the details put our minds at ease and enabled us to really enjoy our trip to the fullest.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL The Galapagos had always been on our bucket list and moved to the top of the list due to Covid, as we figured that being on a small ship would help isolate us and the ship required all passengers to be tested prior to embarkation. Until this trip I had done our own trip planning, but Ashton and his team have changed my mind.
During our initial hour-long call Ashton explained the pros and cons of different ships, and we discussed what time of year to visit, from the weather to animals. In the end we decided on Silversea in May. The ship was beautiful, the crew fantastic, and the food excellent. We were younger than most of the passengers (average age probably in mid 60s); although this wasn’t entirely surprising to us, the pace did end up being a bit slower than we had anticipated.
We snorkeled with sea turtles, penguins, and playful sea lions (it’s true that the animals have no fear of people); hiked beautiful islands; saw land and marine iguanas up close (almost tripped on them close) and walked among giant tortoises; and saw many exotic birds (yes the blue footed boobies’ feet really are bright blue).
Ashton highly recommended we visit Mashpi Lodge in the cloud forest as an add on to our trip. He was actually rather insistent, and we are glad he was, as the lodge and its staff were spectacular. Our only regret is he recommended two nights and we wish we stayed three. Note that it is a three hour drive from Quito, the last one over bumpy dirt “roads” and the main activity at the lodge is hiking in the forest. Although there were a few relatively easy options for activities, overall these were not simple nature walks—they were real hikes (and we only did moderate ones).
Ashton’s team, particularly Monica, was very patient with my many questions. I actually started to feel bad for asking so many questions and requesting so many different quotes, but they were all handled with good cheer.
Thanks to the Points Guy website for mentioning Wendy in an article, Wendy’s team for recommending Ashton, and Ashton’s team for putting together a fantastic trip.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Ashton Palmer was great to work with on our Galapagos Islands trip. Ashton spent enough time with us to understand our trip expectations and the things that we wanted and expected from our trip. He had the courage to tell us which cruise lines would meet our expectations and which ones would leave us disappointed. His suggested cruise line exceeded all of our expectations. We will definitely be using Ashton again for future expedition trips.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband, Jeff Grinspoon and myself, Jon Foley signed up for the Scenic Eclipse cruise from Ushuaia to the Antarctic Peninsula and then on to South Georgia and Falklands. We originally signed up for this cruise through Ashton’s team for December of 2020 and it was rescheduled (COVID) twice and the itinerary was a bit different and because of COVID restrictions, we were not allowed to land in the Falklands this trip but that was all beyond anyone’s control. We were delighted to be able to go this Jan-Feb, 2022 and had an amazing time.
Working with Ashton and his team through all of the COVID chaos and changes was overall a good experience that allows us to recommend them highly for any future travel. We felt they communicated as clearly and quickly as possible given that the situation was continually changing and decisions being made on the fly.
Our experience on the Scenic Eclipse was also overall highly positive. The COVID concerns remained however the testing processes were well managed and low stress for guests. As mentioned, we were not able to land on the Falklands but we felt that Scenic fully compensated with extra landings on the Peninsula and South Georgia. We were weather-lucky mostly in both locations and were forewarned that often the weather prevents as many landings as we made.
The Scenic Eclipse Team – the hotel/restaurant and expedition teams were amazing and continually tried to go above-and-beyond which was not always possible as several of the hospitality team members were down due to COVID. But Scenic flew them in half-way during the trip (to King George Island) so that they could then provide the full luxury service experience.
We questioned whether the two days at sea (rough sea) and four days back (also rough) were going to be worth going to South Georgia. In a word: unquestionably! Absolutely every stop was meaningful and usually magical in its own way. Jon actually felt often as if he were in a Disney movie with the ridiculous abundance of amazing animal life bounding around the equally inspired scenery.
We are not typically cruisers but found this was the best (and only) way to see both Antarctica and South Georgia. We loved this ship and the food was delicious. We felt the social areas could have been designed better to inspire more socializing. The lounge was an extension of the reception area/lobby and didn’t feel cozy or as inviting as one might hope. In warmer climates, there would be outdoor spaces that might serve but in the Antarctic, these were not functional. Our room was quite noisy at sea due to creaking at the wall/ceiling connection. Other guests did not have this noise issue. We were in suite 902.
We heard of a possible option to avoid the Drake Passage crossings by flying to King George Island then joining a ship – not sure which cruise lines offer this option.
Both the ship – the Scenic Eclipse, with its two helicopters (which we loved) and submarine (which was not best used in the murky South Sea), is a phenomenal way to see the 7th Continent – and we felt in very good hands with Ashton to coordinate this trip of a lifetime for us.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband and I just returned from a cruise to South Georgia and Antarctica on Le Lyrial. It was not the trip I started thinking we were going to take but a long conversation with Ashton and Chris set me straight. I originally wanted to see the northern lights but my timing was all wrong and they suggested that we head south instead as our January timing was perfect for the southern hemisphere summer. They presented me with several options for boats along with plusses and minuses for each. They also strongly suggested we include South Georgia on our itinerary and I am so glad we took their advice.
Our boat was chartered by Abercrombie and Kent for this sailing and they don’t miss a beat. We also purchased our insurance and our flights through A&K so they could be accountable if something needed to be changed. Chris helped me choose an appropriate cabin size and location and we were not disappointed. There was also a lengthy list of items that were needed for these unique weather conditions and their advice was very helpful.
Part of the appeal of this trip during Covid was the isolation but in reality, the Covid situation was so fluid that from the time we left until we flew back into the US, we were covid tested 6 times with the possibility that we would be quarantining somewhere foreign with a positive test. A&K were very conscientious about testing us at every location at their expense and there were typically a few people who we left behind as a result.
We were masked on the ship all the time except when we were eating or drinking and when we were outside on excursions. The itinerary was terrific and we were blessed with relatively calm seas and good weather. The A&K expedition crew was superb in that they were both knowledgable and very personable. The Ponant crew (restaurant and housecleaning) were also very good. Other than masking and repeated testing, it was easy to forget about Covid for a while.
The other way in which Covid affected us was this itinerary normally includes a stop in the Falklands but it had to be skipped because the Falklands are closed to outsiders. As a result, our first cruising length was three full days at sea from Ushuaia to South Georgia which was a long time. All in all, this itinerary contained seven full sea days and calm seas in the southern ocean are still fairly rough so this is not a cruise for the seasick prone.
The evening before our last day of excursions in Antarctica, we got news that there was a crew member with a medical emergency and the crew had determined we had to turn around and head back to Ushuaia for him to have surgery. As a result, we had a full extra day in Ushuaia and the expedition crew wanted to keep us in our bubble so we would test negative to be able to fly back into the US. They arranged for us to have a long afternoon catamaran ride in the bay at Ushuaia and it was the warmest day of the season (72 degrees). It was spectacular and such a great way to end our cruise, not to mention an inspired pivot by the crew who had to put it together quickly. Towards the end, several crew members did test positive and were taken off the boat to quarantine elsewhere. Fortunately, only one guest tested positive the whole time we were on the boat. It was pretty miraculous.
One other thing I’d like to mention about Ashton and Chris is that they were very savvy about Antarctica cruise ship amenities that are worthwhile vs. ones that are gimmicky and wouldn’t be particularly useful. You have to have a deep knowledge of the companies and their products to know this and I appreciated not making the mistake of being attracted to the shiny object of the day.
Would I use them again to arrange a similar trip? Yes.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Ashton Palmer and his team did an incredible job helping us plan our vacation of a lifetime to the Galapagos to celebrate our Dad’s 75th Birthday (and my 50th!). We booked this trip THREE YEARS AGO, before Covid was even a thought. We can’t believe that all fifteen of us made it and were so grateful to Ashton and his team for advising us and setting up all of our Covid testing (the rules on which changed 23 days before our departure!). My dad, sisters and their families all came. We spent 8 days / 7 nights aboard the Seamans Journey, which is a sturdy, and very comfortable catamaran that sleeps 16 passengers across 8 passenger cabins. The ship has a crew of ten that provided amazing service. It was incredible to have the entire boat to ourselves. Normally, they carry multiple families who don’t know each other. With no internet onboard, we spent real quality time relaxing together. My dad claims he spent more time with his grandkids on this trip than over the past 15 years combined! The itinerary is pre-set by the Galapagos park service so there were no decisions, no coordination, no arguments about anything! Although a few of the islands do have inhabitants, we ate all meals on board and slept on board every night- no need to pack & unpack, which was lovely. The food was delicious and they were fantastic at accommodating my one vegetarian and one dairy free family members. Like really fantastic. They had an alternate dairy free option at every turn- even her own hot cocoa waiting after snorkeling. The water is surprisingly chilly (even though we crossed the Equator twice!) but all wetsuits and snorkeling gear were available for a very reasonable $10 / day rental rate. Several of us are certified SCUBA divers and were a little upset before we got there that we wouldn’t be diving on this trip, but I have to say, the snorkels we did on this trip were more spectacular that any dives I have ever done, anywhere. We had penguins nibbling our fins, watched sea turtles noshing underwater and sea lions performing acrobatics in front of us–every single day. We saw rays and whales and sharks and eels and tons of colorful fish and starfish the size of hubcaps. If you like to snorkel, this trip will top anything you have done, I guarantee it! We also walked on young lava around volcanos, hiked up mountains, kayaked in caves, saw tons and tons and tons of all sorts of iguanas, swam on deserted white sand beaches, watched octopus in tide pools, walked next to giant land tortoises and saw lots and lots of blue footed boobies. There were more birds than I can re-count. Flightless cormorants were especially interesting to watch and learn about. We had a private English speaking guide (Camilo) with us the whole time and he was all you could hope for in a guide. Patient, knowledgeable, funny, insightful and kind. Our activities for the next day were posted on a white board every night and everyone could choose to attend any or all of the activities. No one held anyone back if they chose to stay aboard the ship and relax on the sundeck or read in the air conditioned lounge. It was a perfect multi generational trip. Highly recommended!!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband, my ten-year-old granddaughter and I traveled on a Lindblad/National Geographic cruise to Alaska earlier this summer. I originally found out about this cruise from a promotional brochure by the company. We sailed with Lindblad on two previous occasions and had very positive experiences. We were looking for an itinerary appropriate for our physical abilities as well as my granddaughter’s interests. Important to us as well was finding a ship with a three-person cabin.
What I did not know was what other small-ship expedition companies offered. To find out I turned to Ashton Palmer. We had a great initial phone call where we chatted about my requirements and limitations. Ashton pointed out the positives and negatives of other expedition cruises and we mutually came back to the Lindblad offering. He logically validated my opinion which put my mind at ease.
We signed up for this cruise in 2019 for the summer of 2020. The Covid situation kept the entire cruise industry in flux and plans were ever changing. Ashton’s team kept us informed whenever they received any new information. By the summer of 2020 we decided to roll our trip over to the 2021 season. The cruise line took measures to ensure our safety by requiring vaccination for all who were eligible as well as Covid testing five days out and immediately before boarding. Until very close to departure we were still not sure if the virus would stop us from going.
In the end we flew for the first time in two years to Alaska, boarded the ship and had a wonderful time. We were comfortable in our three-person cabin when we were not out and about viewing wildlife. There were staff dedicated to the children and activities designed for them. All the walks, zodiac rides or kayaking excursions accommodated a wide range of physical ability. Our memories will last a lifetime.
Thanks to Ashton and his team for helping me find the perfect cruise for us and staying with us through the turmoil.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos islands was wonderful. We had no problems while there and while Ecuador is well masked for Covid, we were given the choice of wearing a mask or not. We chose not to wear a mask unless we were among other people. Since our family group consisted of 17 people, we had our own travel conveyance and guides who gave us the choice of masking. They and we had all been vaccinated.
Ashton Palmer recommended at the onset that while our main interest was the Galapagos, we should consider spending some time in Ecuador. We did that and it was such a good addition to our trip. I would certainly recommend Ashton and his assistant Keri.
Ecuador is a beautiful country and the people are friendly, generous and kind and the staff at Pikaia Lodge on Santa Cruz island was exceptional.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We travelled to Iceland July 24 – August 3 on a Lindblad Expedition that was circumnavigating the island. Ashton helped us with all the details, including choosing a cabin on the side of the ship that always had a land view and ensuring that all of our Covid paperwork was in order so that we did not miss any deadlines. He also helped in finding a great rate on Icelandair for our flights. He was always very responsive to our calls and emails. We recommend him highly for anyone planning expedition travel.
The cruise trip to Baja was not what we expected and was a total disappointment. National Geographic Lindblad changed the itinerary (trip was booked 1 ½ years in advance) from the time we booked until our departure date – however, the travel specialist did not mention to us that the most crucial part of the trip (visiting a specific location in Baja for close whale interaction) was completely removed from the itinerary. This whale interaction was featured on brochures and was supposed to be the highlight of this Baja trip and only happens frequently at this specific location in Baja. With the itinerary change, the highlight of the trip was removed and thus making this trip an ordinary Baja cruise. We were not notified of the significance of this change and thus, not informed this would not be the right trip and experience we had wanted/expected. There is another National Geographic Lindblad trip that provided for this experience to have close interaction with the whales. The travel specialist did not know the Baja area well enough to provide proper guidance and planning for seasoned travelers. We would not have gone through with this trip if we were given the accurate information and were disappointed to find that out only after we were on the cruise with information from the naturalists onboard.
Response from Trusted Travel Expert Ashton Palmer:
Sometimes cruise lines—in this case, Lindblad Expeditions—need to alter itineraries. I am not entirely sure why Lindblad changed its itinerary several weeks prior to the trip departure date, but it may have been because of changing wildlife patterns in the region. When we advised Mr. Tsai of the itinerary change, we told him we were available to answer any questions about it. Mr. Tsai accepted the itinerary change without raising any further concerns. During the trip, one of the naturalists onboard told Mr. Tsai he was disappointed about the change and, in his opinion, it was not an improvement. When Mr. Tsai returned disappointed, I advocated on his and his wife’s behalf and obtained for them a $2,000-per-person future cruise credit. I’m not sure why Mr. Tsai did not mention that in his review. I’m sorry he did not ask me more about the itinerary change, as I would have been happy to provide or research additional information. I strongly encourage all travelers to research their trips and itineraries and to ask questions if there are concerns. I would add that the trips I specialize in are expeditionary in nature and specific wildlife encounters are not guaranteed. Also, there are sometimes itinerary changes, prompted by wildlife behavior, climate, or other influencing factors, therefore I encourage travelers to select an expedition cruise based not on one anticipated highlight or specific trip component, but on the entire program.
I had a family tragedy occur–a family member was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given max. of a year to live, so I had to postpone my planned 2019 Silverseas Antarctica trip to 2020. I had prepaid for the trip in full, also paying a 25% single supplement as part of the total cost.
Ashton was on it immediately. He assured me that he would do his utmost to move my trip forward by a year, with hopefully minimal financial impact. He contacted Silverseas to start the change process. Even though Silverseas had changed their single supplement policy and were charging a 50% supplement for 2020 cruises, Ashton was able to plead my case and have Silverseas waive the addtl 25% single supplement.
He and his team also worked closely with me to ensure my cabin choice (they guided my process since I’ve never cruised before), and they took meticulous care of the details of my trip, presenting me with a final packet containing all of the details of my cruise.
I had the time of my life, made many new friends, and am still astounded at the otherworldly and amazing experience I had, exploring the Antarctic continent.
Ashton made my trip effortless and truly stepped up in my time of need. Top-notch customer service and responsiveness for this first-time cruiser.
Ashton and his staff did a wonderful job planning and executing our cruise on the Silverseas Explorer to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and the Antarctica Peninsula.
We provided Ashton with our budget, time and desire to see wildlife and Antarctica. He explained the different cruise options and helped us pick the one which exceeded our expectations. The Silverseas Explorer Expedition Cruise was perfect. The staff and service level were excellent. The food was wonderful. The size of the ship and itinerary were devine.
Before the trip we had myriads of questions for him. His staff promptly responded even though many of our questions were answered already in the myriad of written information he had previously sent.
We could not have asked for better service from a travel specialist. We will definitely use him again should we wish to take other cruises.
Ashton’s recommendation for our Antarctica cruise was perfect. He and Brandye patiently discussed and picked up on our preferences, and then worked with us to get the exact voyage and cabin on Lindblad NG Orion for an outstanding trip.
We booked an Antarctica Cruise on the Hebridean Sky with Polar Latitudes, and a side trip to Iguazu Falls in Argentina/Brazil prior to the cruise.
All the arrangements were flawlessly made. Everywhere we went, things were set up and ready. We had great guides and expedition staff. One recommendation that was made was to book the kayaking in Antarctica right away if you wanted to do it because it fills up. This turned out to be very important. The kayaking was one of the highlights of the trip and there were 8 people on the waitlist. Some of those told us that their agent said they could decide on the ship if they wanted to kayak – that isn’t true.
The Hebridean Sky is very nice. The food is designed to appeal to British tastes as it is a British ship but it is very good. The expedition staff joined us for meals which was nice. It was open seating so this was good for meeting other people.
There was a rather large Chinese group as part of the passengers so all the announcements were both in English and Chinese. Not sure if that is always the case.
Tremendous trip. Exceeded our high expectations. We had a small problem with the transfer from an airport to our hotel. Ashton was on top of it and made sure everything was taken care of and we were satisfied. That is when a top notch travel agent proves their value. I would Recommend him wholeheartedly to any traveler.
The planner helped us find a small ship cruise on the National Geographic Quest. We enjoyed the week sailing along Costa Rica and Panama’s Pacific coast and completing the cruise with an overnight stay on the large lake in the Panama Canal as part of our transit of the canal. The ship was very comfortable, the service excellent, and the passengers friendly. Our Naturalist guides on ashore excursions were excellent.
From the beginning to the end Ashton’s team did an amazing job in helping us plan and organize our Antarctica trip. Ashton was incredibly knowledgeable about all the different cruises and tradeoffs between the boats. I don’t take crusies so this was all new to me and we ended up booking on Ponant which was a cruise line I hadn’t even heard of – but it was perfect for us on every front – from the dates to the quality of the team to the rooms and the food and wine. Ashton really helped me understand the differences so we could pick the best boat for us as well as understand the timing of bookings to get the best price. Once we booked Sarah took over as our main point of contact and she also was great at answering all our questions and helping us make all the little decisions around the next stage. I really appreciated that she told us when it made sense to book on our own vs book through the company and even monitored flights for us that they hadn’t booked – advising me of one flight that had completely changed. For anyone planning an Antarctica cruise, I would highly recommend working with them.
Ashton Palmer and his staff were extremely helpful in every way!
Planning a trip to Alaska felt overwhelming until we started working with Ashton Palmer. His personal knowledge and experience made selecting the National Geographic Quest to Southeast Alaska an easy choice. His recommendations were spot-on for our first ever cruise.
We wanted to experience Alaska’s history, glaciers, and wildlife. With Ashton’s assistance we began our adventure in Juneau with a Pilot’s Choice Helicopter flight over several glaciers and had the opportunity to land on two of them. Our seven day cruise gave us what we were looking for: glacier calving, white thunder, zodiac boating, kayaking, hiking, bushwhacking, whales, sea lions, seals, bears, and mountain goats. We completed our cruise with a two day stay in Sitka. It was a perfect way to enjoy the history and culture of this beautiful former Russian port.
With the careful and thoughtful planning by Ashton and members of his staff, Brandye and Marybeth, we had a spectacular time. We will definitely look to him for another small cruise experience.
Wonderful experience on a Lindblad cruise to Southeast Alaska. We needed to find a cruise that would accommodate our multigenerational traveling party and Ashton was incredibly knowledgeable and tireless in answering all my questions about the various options. He also was able to work with the cruise line to find spots on the date we wanted by upgrading one of the cabins at no charge to us! His staff was also very knowledgeable, advising on a variety of things from packing issues to post-cruise activities based on their own first-hand experiences. I would definitely use Ashton for my next small-ship cruise!
Although my husband and I have always made our own travel plans & reservations, when we decided to take a small-ship cruise in Alaska, we were overwhelmed by the number of choices to be made….which cruise line, which ship, which itinerary. When we decided to consult a travel agent, finding the right one became problematic until we found Ashton Palmer on the WOW list. Ashton called us and, after asking the right questions to help him determine the types of travel and experiences we’ve enjoyed, recommended three different cruises and an add-on trip to Denali National Park. We chose one of the three cruises and worked with Ashton’s team to finalize the plans. Although we booked our airfare and hotel stays independently, the logistics were complicated; it would have been difficult to accomplish without the timeline Ashton provided showing us when we had to be at various locations. The trip was fabulous! It hit everything on our “wish” list…..seeing glaciers & wildlife and learning about the Native Alaskan culture. We couldn’t have done it without Ashton’s help.
We were looking for the specialist who could put together a package of the Arctic Expedition; in luxurious surroundings on a ship, with great guides, and very last minute. Ashton and his team delivered this experience of a lifetime. It was exactly what we were dreaming about.
We enjoyed our trip to Southeast Alaska that was arranged by Ashton Palmer. My wife and I rarely take a cruise but we knew we needed to in order to see Alaska. The naturalists on board the National Geographic/Lindblad trip were very helpful and interesting. We found it hard to be so scheduled for meals, and there were no tables for two if we wanted to just talk together without introducing ourselves over and over again to new people. The hikes and kayaking were excellent as well as being able to see Whales bubble net fishing, sea lions, sea otters along with other animals. The cabin was roomy and excellent. All in all, we enjoyed our trip a great deal.
Ashton and his colleagues planned an Alaska cruise for our three-generation family. His guidance was impeccable, just as it was when he booked a Galapagos trip we took last spring. I really appreciated the fact that he had sailed on the ship we chose, and that his staff could also give us first-hand Alaska advice. Just as crucial, Ashton was able to explain our options when my mom got sick right after we paid for the trip but before we had purchased travel insurance. Happily, she rallied quickly and we were able to go. We sailed on the National Geographic Venture, a perfect choice for our group of four, ranging in age from 7 to 83. There was plenty of wildlife to see from the ship, and more than a dozen other kids for my grandson to play with when we weren’t hiking or Zodiaking around. We saw humpbacks and orcas, sea otters and harbor seals, black and brown bears, and more bald eagles than you can count. Thanks to Ashton for pointing us in the right direction, and to Lindblad for a well-run ship.
Have to say that our Alaska Escape cruise on Nat. Geo/ Lindblad exceeded my expectations. We took our 3 grown children with us on a birthday celebration and cruised the Inner Passage.
We met Ashton Palmer through Wendy and he and his staff were on top of every detail all the way. Flawless execution. We went to Alaska via a stay over in Seattle and Ashton and his wife even had lunch with us to discuss a potential trip to the Amazon. Can’t say enough about Ashton, Sarah Davenport and the whole team! Highly recommend!
We were delighted with Ashton’s patient and informative discussions with us regarding the “right” ship for our Arctic cruise. Caitlin and MaryBeth were also diligent in making sure we got the info we needed which sometimes became somewhat confusing. Everyone was enthusiastic and friendly throughout and always came through when we were concerned about information unclear to us or late in arriving.
The cruise overall was wonderful: The Arctic is awesomely beautiful. We got to see four polar bears, although from a distance, but were able to observe one of them for hours as he hunted seals (to no avail), even diving into the water to try to catch his prey. We watched him nap on the fast ice, etc. Saw walruses, reindeer, Arctic foxes, whales, seals, many birds….pretty much the entire fauna population of the area. The animals (birds the exception) don’t abound to say the least as in Africa, the Galapagos. What’s amazing is they’re there at all….The entire area is awesome. A bonus: we got to see the blooming of tundra wildflowers right through the snow, gorgeous and magical.
We enjoyed the ship: our suite was great (excellent choice, Ashton and Caitlin!!!!). We did learn from folks in other cabins that they didn’t have working windows: difficult because cabins were very warm. We slept with our windows open every night. With 24 hour sunlight or just light, cabins don’t cool down. Food was very good, service was very good. Ship was very lovely although not in a luxury category.
Some of the exploration staff were outstanding! Annie, Pat, Yuki, Francoise,, Aven and a few others were superb. Most were very friendly. Educational programs were spotty. Some were excellent: see names above. Some programs were reduced to info shared only during recap sessions. Don’t know why there wasn’t more “before” seeing the animals vs. “after” talks.
Another problem, and many passengers agreed, was that communication of general information was NOT good. We were awakened by loudspeaker. This announcement also quickly and sometimes blurrily told us where we were and what we were doing that morning. The only other information about the morning’s activities was typed on an 8 by 11 paper tacked up near the dining room and at other locations. We took to taking photos of the paper so we could read it later. Most other activities were communicated this way.
Given each cabin had a closed circuit TV, we thought activities could have been posted on the TV with guests informed as such. Also, an afternoon substantive snack, cocktail get-together, tea was apparently served each afternoon but we and most others only found out about it in the last couple of days of the cruise. There were other silly glitches of this sort. Management should figure this one out. It shouldn’t be that difficult a problem to sort.
However, despite our annoyance about this, we enjoyed everything else. Their communication model, however primitive, would not be a dealbreaker. And, the other guests were terrific: we really enjoyed meeting and spending time with all whom we met.
Thank you to Ashton, Caitlin, and MaryBeth. We’ve already signed up for a cruise to Antarctica with Ashton although not with Quark….but not because of the communication issues.
We booked our cruise to Southeast Alaska on the National Geographic Venture through Ashton Palmer. Ashton and his team were very organized, professional, helpful, and insightful. Ashton’s team responded to all of our questions on a near-immediate basis, and their responses were very helpful.
I specifically appreciate Ashton’s personal knowledge about the small cruise ship and his personal experiences with family travel on these types of cruises. I have two children with special needs, and we were concerned about whether they would be able to do all of the activities on the cruise. Ashton personally contacted National Geographic / Lindblad Expeditions and received assurance that my children would be able to do everything, and that the National Geographic staff would “make it work.” (Which they did and exceeded our expectations.)
Ashton’s expertise was exceedingly helpful, and I would not have any problem recommending his services to other families considering these types of trips. Ashton is truly an expert in this field of travel, and we look forward to booking our next trip with him and through his company.
Excellent referral! Travel specialist was awesome, exactly knowing what we wanted. You won’t be disappointed if you get this travel planner.
We traveled to Alaska in the National Geographic Venture (Lindblad Expeditions). It was an adventurous experience and we saw and learned a lot.
Ashton knew exactly how to plan the trip considering my 10 year old granddaughter would be with us. She and the adults feel it was a perfect trip.
I appreciated that I was given various options. The activities were well balanced with something for everyone. There was an explorer’s club which kept the children on board happy while teaching them valuable lessons about ecology and wildlife.
There were snorkeling options for every level. We got to see every animal and bird species as hoped. Blue and red Boobys, giant sea turtles, sea lions, penguins were all there. Hikes again were varied and suitable options were provided for all ages and abilities.
Ashton was very good in telling us about possible small ships for our trip to Alaska. He gave us the pros and cons of individual small ships, and the various selections for rooms. He even mentioned that one room was less desirable because it had a post outside the cabin window. We picked Uncruise and were very impressed and pleased with all parts of the trip.
For our three-generation family vacation, Ashton arranged a Galapagos cruise on the Lindblad/National Geo ship. It was a perfect match for us—knowledgeable guides, multiple outings every day to suit our differing athletic abilities, great food and a superb dining room staff who actually remembered all our food preferences. The trip went off flawlessly, but it was comforting to know that Ashton was in our corner had anything went wrong. Other Wow agents have rescued me from day-of-flight blizzards and other bad travel karma. I know Ashton would have done the same, just glad he didn’t have to!
Just back from cruising Antartica-what a fabulous trip! Ashton was able to steer us gently and professionally to Silversea’s Silver Cloud instead of the cruise line we were originally considering on our own. We are so thankful he did! 6 wonderful days of expeditions, culminating in taking the Polar Plunge at the Antarctic Circle. While not every cruise will get the opportunity to do that, our weather permitted it. But it was Ashton, after talking to us and LISTENING, who gave us 3 great choices initially then booked us into a beautiful suite on the Silver Cloud, giving us the trip of a lifetime.
Ashton was very helpful in helping us select a cruise line and was always available for our seemingly never ending questions. However it was during the cruise where he really demonstrated his value. We had an issue come up on our transfers to the ship and he jumped into action. He corrected the issue immediately. Would absolutely use him again.
Ashton and his team did a great job. They were on top of every aspect. Ashton worked with the dates we provided him and gave three great recommendations for our cruise to Antarctica. We selected the “Island Sky” with Polar Latitudes and were not disappointed. He coordinated all of our itineraries and provided advice when needed.
This was our fourth trip with Ashton Palmer’s team, and there is a reason that we go back to them again and again. We had a complex itinerary set up for a family voyage to Antarctica over winter break. In looking at our schedule, Ashton and the team saw that we had a few days before departing Santiago for Ushuaia where we might take advantage of some time in the Atacama Desert. Well, this ended up being the absolute trip of a lifetime, and the best travel advice we ever took. Atacama was stunning — a high, dry and visually spectacular desert landscape with daily excursions from the first-rate Explora Hotel. This was the perfect prelude to the Antarctica expedition, a frozen desert in its own right teeming with wildlife. As always, Ashton and his team managed every detail flawlessly, from the selection and booking of the hotel and expedition to the organization of every critical detail needed to ensure that the trip was seamless. This included ensuring that our family managed a complex series of flights with the least amount of stress. Every question we had was answered, often within hours. All of our trip documentation was well-organized, with Ashton’s team ensuring that all forms were submitted well ahead of time — they have a very convenient electronic platform to access all that we need. We also received a comprehensive trip packet covering every aspect of our trip well ahead of departure. Ashton’s team is professional, efficient, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. They go the extra mile to listen to your needs in order to find the best travel options for you. We are a well traveled family that only seeks the best, and will certainly be going back to Ashton in the future!
The service provided by Ashton Palmers and his team were great. Good ideas from them, and they answered questions promptly and cheerfully.
Ashton helped us chose the right cruise line, the right itinerary, the right ship, and even the right cabin. This was our first time on a cruise and he patiently answered all our questions and helped allay any concerns we had. I will definitely be working with him again on our next cruise.
Linblad/National Geographic Quest – Inside Passage/Coastal Alaska
My husband and I have just returned from 3 weeks in Alaska. We used Ashton Palmer, as well as Jennifer Santoyo and Sarah Anthony on his staff. I can’t say enough good things about them. They were always quick to respond to our questions or requests. They had suggestions to make our trip better, and ways for us to save money. For instance, I had not even considered adding a bear viewing component to our trip, but once Jennifer suggested it, we were all in. She worked with me to secure a cabin at the lodge of my choice. And she was supportive when there was a snafu on the lodge’s end. We spent 3 nights at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge and absolutely loved it there.
One concern with staying at Silver Salmon is sometimes bad weather comes in and the planes cannot fly to get you back to Anchorage or wherever. I knew this going in, but our itinerary was so tight I couldn’t add a day for wiggle room. Sarah spoke with David Coray at Silver Salmon and worked out a plan B. That took a load off of my mind.
The next leg of our trip was at North Face Lodge in Denali National Park. They only take reservations by phone and there are a limited number of queen beds, which we had requested. The day North Face opened reservations for 2018, Jennifer spent hours on the phone trying to get through to their 2 phone lines. She was successful and we had a room with a queen bed!
The final leg of our trip was a week spent on the National Geographic Quest with Lindblad Expeditions. Ashton had sailed on this ship in 2017. When I couldn’t find photographs of this ship he shared some of his own photos with my husband and me.
Ashton’s team supplied us with an updated itinerary at each step of the planning process. They contacted me when Alaska railroad opened up reservations for 2018. I didn’t have to keep checking and then contacting them. They were on top of everything.
Finally, Sarah did something that prevented a major headache on our part. Lindblad does not send out their final documents until 1 week prior to the voyage. Since our trip was 3 weeks long and the cruise was the final week of our trip, we would not be home when the documents arrived. Sarah contacted Lindblad and requested they send it out to her early, then she overnighted everything to us. I had not even thought about this potential problem, but Sarah had it handled.
I highly recommend Ashton to anyone planning a trip to Alaska. I was so glad I found him on the WOW list. This trip was to celebrate our 30th anniversary, and it exceeded our expectations!
Ashton and everyone at his firm that helped us were a pleasure to work with. Having never previously been on a small ship (we were on the National Geographic Quest week of July 8-15) or to Alaska, we had bombarded Ashton and Marybeth and Olivia with all sorts of questions (and probably tested their patience) – but they were able to get back to us on every single point, no matter how detailed the information requested. The advance documentation and preparation was excellent as well…all making for a great memorable trip. After we had booked the Quest trip through Ashton, we later decided to add Denali on our own (not through the Lindblad official add-on to the Quest itinerary). Ashton’s firm sprung into action and arranged everything for us seamlessly as well. Overall, a fantastic experience – as to the trip itself and to Ashton and his team for the guidance and assistance prior to, and during the trip (thanks for the bottle of wine waiting in our cabin!!)
From the very beginning, Ashton and his team were professional, knowledgeable, accommodating and friendly. We had excellent help in determining what gear to bring, which initially felt a bit overwhelming. They coordinated and did the follow through to insure that we had everything in place for our trip including, insurance, travel documents, clothes, hotels, flights, etc. It was seamless. They even arranged for Jeff to have a bottle of wine in our room upon arrival in celebration of his 60th birthday. I would highly recommend these travel specialists if you are planning to take an expedition boat cruise in Alaska. (We were on the Quest, a National Geographic/Linblad ship)
Planning this trip involved a series of detailed emails with Ashton Palmer and his staff, with the result that everything about the trip (to Peru) was perfectly tuned to our interests and abilities. In the Sacred Valley, we were paired with a guide who knew every stone at every site, and every corner of every town. We were able to visit a tiny village where textiles are created starting with shearing the alpaca and ending with weaving the finished product and saw how the different dyes are created, how the looms work, and how people live above 13,000 feet. We met our guides mother, who lives in an original Inca house and cooked us a snack. Talking to other travelers, it was clear how much more we saw of how people live than do most other tourists, and how much richer our experience was as a result.
From the Sacred Valley, we went to the Amazon to visit the Pacaya-Samiria reserve, something I’ve wanted to do my entire life. There are a lot of ways to see the Amazon, but Ashton pointed us to the one that gave us the immersive experience we wanted, and my unreasonable expectations were more than met. We ended in Lima, where the highlight was a tasting market tour with a chef followed by a 7-course lunch with the kind of commentary every home cook dreams of (“if only I had someone here to tell me how to make this delicious dish…” and there she was!).
Ashton Palmer is the person to work with if you want a chance to get closer to the place you’re visiting. We saw all the sights; but we did so much more than that, in exactly the way that suited us best. I can’t imagine how we would have put something together on our own. Most highly recommended!
There are many different ways to see the Arctic and many ships to choose from. Ashton presented them all and helped us narrow it down to one. He told us when to travel and made sure we had wonderful accommodations. Every detail was attended to from what to pack to touring options in Oslo
When I questioned the “bring your own boots policy“, he approached the tour operator and arranged to have the rental boots waiting for us on the boat. We had an amazing experience thanks to Ashton and his team.
Ashton Palmer and Sarah Anthony our travel coordinator on his team, did a wonderful job helping us plan our trip to Alaska’s Inside Passage on the National Geographic Quest in May. We had never taken a cruise before ( except small ones on rivers ) and were apprehensive because my husband gets seasick easily, moreover we always travel by ourselves and the Quest carries 100 passengers, which seemed large for us. After Ashton’s assurance that the Inside Passages waters were smooth and very much like a river, we signed up and enjoyed all facets of the voyage immensely. We especially appreciated the very detailed documents that Ashton sent us online very early on and also Sarah’s help when we realized we needed to rent additional gear because of the weather.
Ashton Palmer and his team, Jennifer Salinas, and Sarah Anthony were all outstanding/superb. From Ashton’s response to my initial inquiry to follow up from Sarah and Jennifer I was assisted on a regular basis with pre-trip advice and planning. I would use them again in a heartbeat.
I rated my overall trip experience as fair, as the logistics of the trip resulted in too much “down time” in transport between trip activities. This resulted from the trip itinerary and is not a reflection at all on the outstanding job done by Ashton and his team.
There are not enough superlatives in the world to describe the trip we just experienced. As Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton said, “Tongue and pen fail in attempting to describe the magic of such a scene.”
I cannot thank Ashton, Olivia, and Sarah enough for helping us organize the trip of a lifetime with A&K on Le Lyrial. They were with us every step of the way. From the beginning, they assessed exactly what we were looking for (down to what interior design style we preferred in hotels) and made informed recommendations for us. They are meticulous and organized–I especially appreciated all of the documents they have detailing hotels, ships, etc. and the dropbox with everything we needed! When we had to change our itinerary and switch ships entirely, they gladly handled it and made everything seamless. They truly want you to have the best trip possible and their passion for the destinations is obvious.
Excellent, accurate advice on our Antarctica Expedition. So glad they advised us well on which cabins were best for people prone to seasickness. Trip materials/ documents were complete. No detail was not attended to. Ashton’s knowledge + courtesy + that of his staff was appreciated!
Ashton was excellent in helping us to plan this trip. He guided us to the right cruise for Antarctica with teenagers and he and his office planned an outstanding trip to Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aries. He helped us make the right choices for the best trip we could have. Ashton and his staff were on top of all the details of our trip and helped us when the hotel used by the cruise line closed unexpectedly. The new hotel was great.
Ashton planned the trip of a lifetime to Antarctica for us! It was my last continent, and I cried when I arrived and cried when it was over. I had thought I wanted to fly over the Drake Passage because I was terrified of getting seasick, but I’m really happy I listened to Ashton. He said that flying over the Drake can mean delays on either side because of weather, and unless you have flexibility in your schedule, it’s not advisable. He highly recommended the Abercrombie & Kent ship by Ponant because it had the best stabilizers to handle the Drake, because the naturalist guides onboard were excellent, and because it would work for my 17-year-old. Also, my husband wasn’t as excited about Antarctica as I was and preferred more luxurious accommodations than the fly trips offer. So we kind of had to agree on the trade-off to make the trip happen: my bucket list vs. Marty’s desire to be more comfortable on a nicer boat. Ashton was perfect in assessing what everyone wanted. Marty now agrees it was the best trip we ever had, and we all want to come back on the longer trip, which would include South Georgia Island, where the king penguins are. I will also use Ashton again for the North Pole, hopefully soon. 12-26-17 until 1-12-18
Incredible way to visit our seventh continent!
Ashton along with Marybeth and Chris on his team were the perfect people to help us reach our family goal of visiting all seven continents. Ashton called me to learn about our family and our wishes for the trip. He directed us to the beautiful ship, Le Lyrial. Le Lyrial offered a family cruise with Abercrombie and Kent. Everything about this trip exceeded our expectations (and we went on the trip expecting great things). Our trip dates were December 28, 2017-January 7, 2017.
The crew on Le Lyrial was very knowledgeable, professional, friendly, and fun. The wonderful crew, combined with the very fun and friendly passengers on the trip made this a fantastic experience for our whole family. We enjoyed befriending people from all over the world. We and our three children were thrilled with the new friends their age. The young explorers program was great and set off the whole journey on a very positive note, with interesting information and fun activities. The people from Abercrombie and Kent and from Ponant all added great value to the trip. We learned so much from the lectures and enjoyed each excursion.
All of the animals were amazing! Our favorites were the penguins. We also enjoyed the seals, birds, whales, and even dolphins on our way back to Ushuaia.
The ship was beautiful, comfortable, safe, and clean. The food was delicious, too. This was our first expedition cruise. Many other passengers had done several cruises. We all agreed this one would be difficult to top.
Thank you to Ashton for booking this very special, memorable family vacation!
Ashton Palmer and his team are first class. We travel widely and I personally have visited over 80 countries for work or pleasure. Ashton’s team helped me and my family to arrange our single most rewarding and enjoyable trip by far — a Lindblad cruise to the Arctic. We have since booked two additional trips with him (Galapagos and Alaska), and are in the process of booking a fourth. Ashton spent a lot of time learning about our family and its preferences. He has access to a wide arrange of options and made sure to tailor them to our needs. Every detail is covered with each booking. Our itineraries were highly organized and provided to us both electronically and in hard copy. Ashton’s team also provided us with extensive information on each trip to help us to prepare and made sure we met every key deadline. Friendly and responsive, Ashton’s team always goes the extra mile, helping us to secure an airline refund for a trip segment that was canceled in Alaska due to weather. If you are considering an expedition trip or cruise, you just can’t do any better.
Ashton Palmer and Jennifer and Sarah on his team were all very helpful in planning this trip, The first part of the trip (July 4-13) was on a Lindblad/National Geographic ship which circumnavigated the island. Ashton set this up for us and even booked us into a cabin on the island side of the ship. From July 13-18, after leaving the ship, we had guides and tours in and around Reykjavik, which Jennifer and Sarah set up for us, with lots of back and forth planning until they had established the perfect itinerary, fulfilling all our wishes for the stay. On our first day in Reykjavik, there was a problem with a booking, and their people took care of the rescheduling and all worked out well. We then went to France for a week; and, on our return, they even set up a day tour for us during the layover; having also arranged for a hotel to keep the luggage we needed for Iceland but not for France. We had four different guides during the total of 6 days, and each was good and made sure we saw and did everything possible. The hotels were all very nice and centrally located. Even after we returned home, Ashton promptly helped us to obtain some information we needed. From beginning to end, Ashton’s team did all they could to ensure us an unforgettable experience.
Ashton and Allison at Expedition Trips were exceptional organizers. Ashton helped us zero in on an appropriate family friendly trip in Alaska. We considered cruises, large, then small, and finally ended up with a perfectly curated mix of fishing, backcountry hiking and glacier kayaking. Marybeth and Allison (and in her absence while on vacation Aubree) meticulously organized every detail and made sure that all our information was conveyed to the trip outfitter. We cannot say enough about the outfitter. Immensely professional staff eager to share their love of Alaska and its majestic scenery and wildlife. Only shortcoming as far as Expedition Trips may have been greater direction on where to stay in Anchorage. We stayed on the inbound at the Lakefront Hotel simply because it was a meeting place for our tour but the hotel is run-down and a bit unkept. On the return from the glacier lodge, we stayed an extra night at the Embassy Suites before returning home. A much better choice of hotel for families that need a little extra space and extraordinary ample breakfast (included in the daily rate) before their long travel home.
Travel specialist took the time to understand our needs and wants and put the perfect trip together. They were proactive, knowledgeable and responsive. They followed up throughout the process to ensure all would go well.
I first contacted Ashton Palmer in May 2016 because I wanted to arrange an Alaskan Cruise to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary with our children and grandchildren for the summer of 2017. He was extremely helpful in narrowing down our choice of cruises which focused on Alaska’s coastal wilderness with ample opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and Zodiac excursions. Communication with Ashton and Marybeth on his team, throughout the various stages of planning our expedition, was easy and thorough. I would definitely use them again if I were planning another cruise. Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness, July 23-30, 2017
Ashton and Marybeth on his team arranged the trip for us. We had already decided to join friends on this voyage, so it was really just a matter of asking Marybeth to book it. Their suggested cabin was perfect for us.
We have used their services before and knew that our request would be handled quickly and efficiently. They were able to book pre and post cruise hotels for us as well.
Any travel agent can book hotels and plane tickets. The good ones send you to wonderful places and suggest unique experiences. The really, really great ones come through when something goes seriously wrong and produce a trip that is still perfect. Ashton Palmer is in this last category.
We were already half-way through one of the greatest trips in a life of traveling (Atacama, Patagonia) when our Antarctic cruise was cancelled (mechanical problem) the day before we were to embark. We were stranded in Ushuaia, no hotels, no plans, no plane reservations, between Christmas and New Year’s so everything was booked up. We had no idea what to do or where to go and were having trouble even finding out what was happening. Ashton and his team got to work immediately, reassured us, clarified the situation, found us flights to Buenos Aires, a perfect hotel, new flights home, and negotiated a wonderful settlement from the cruise line. They have handled the refund process for us as well. This was not a small amount of work, and due to the time difference it involved them starting work as early as 5 am.
I have had trips go askew before, and have been stuck in more than one remote place; but I have never had a travel agent step up the way Ashton did. I would recommend him enthusiastically based just on the quality of the trip that was planned and the wonderful arrangements that were made; but I cannot say enough about the flawless service when we really needed it. By far the finest travel professional I have ever worked with.
We started the process of planning this trip around 18 months ago. Its been stress-free with all the planning. Anytime I had a question or needed clarification, I got an immediate response. The trip itself was flawless and rates as one of the best trips we have ever done. I will definitely use Ashton Palmer again if we plan another Polar expedition. Because this trip went so well, we are actually talking about doing an Arctic trip in the future.
Ashton and his team are second to none. They identified a range of incredible Arctic options for our family, and also provided a well-organized and systematic comparison of each trip (ship, itinerary, price, wraparound travel options, etc.). Emails and phone calls were responded to right away, and we received a comprehensive package of materials and trip guidelines that made it easy for us to make our way to a rather remote initial destination in Greenland. Ashton is clearly passionate about this work, listens to his clients, and is extremely service oriented. We could not recommend him highly enough.