National Geographic Quest & National Geographic Sea Lion

Intimately scaled expedition ships, designed to connect you to nature


National Geographic Quest and National Geographic Sea Lion are the perfect ships to explore the tropical coasts of Costa Rica and Panama. To build them, we turned to Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, who have been building boats on beautiful Whidbey Island since 1964. We entrusted them with the newly built Quest, and are proud that it is the first expedition ship of its kind to be made entirely in the U.S.

In addition, the Quest achieves some other notable firsts. She is the first ship in our fleet voyaging in these geographies with step-out balconies (available in 22 of the 50 spacious cabins), plus 6 sets of connecting cabins for families and groups; and a designated mudroom for expedition gear. Although the Sea Lion has seen her share of voyages, she is maintained in pristine condition, and the perfect platform for our newest exploration of these waters, Wild Costa Rica Escape: Guanacaste’s Coral Reefs & Volcanic Peaks.

Equipped for comfort and active exploration

Comfortably accommodating 100 guests, Quest is larger than the 62-guest Sea Lion, but has the same shallow draft depth, allowing us to navigate the same inner reaches and provide the same intimate experiences of the charismatic regions we explore. Her twin expedition craft landing platforms allow us to rapidly get on and off the ship to take advantage of wildlife sightings and to ensure we maximize our time off the ship exploring. Designed with decades of expedition experience in the region, the purpose-built vessel also features open decks, generous windows, and specialty tools for exploration—ideal for exploring the tropical waterways of Central America.

Comfortably designed cabins

The Quest accommodates 100 guests in 50 outside-facing cabins, which are efficiently designed, with sizes range from the 136-square-foot category 1 to the 185-square-foot category 5 suite. Twenty-two of the 50 cabins feature small balconies with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that bring in the spectacular views and ample natural light. Twelve cabins connect via internal doorway access allowing families to combine their rooms. Plus, all category 5 suite cabins can accommodate a third person on a convertible sofa bed. The Sea Lion accommodates 62-guests in 31 outside cabins. Her inviting public spaces foster a sense of shipboard life where everyone is integral to the adventure, engendering a sense of expedition community. She has been compared by Andrew Evans, National Geographic writer, as the '"closest thing" to Cousteau’s Calypso he’s ever had the pleasure to be on.

Comfort & convenience in every room

On the Quest, every cabin has two portholes, a large window or balcony, Wi-Fi access, and temperature controls. Bathrooms are modern and stocked with botanically inspired hair products, soap, and shower gel, plus a hairdryer. Every room has outlets and USB outlets for charging your camera gear or electronics, and space for luggage storage. The Sea Lion is equipped with tools for exploration that guarantee us an in-depth experience in all the places we explore, and her open bow is a natural gathering place that accommodates the entire community at once for shared wildlife viewing experiences. Our expedition style is active, casual, and engaged. There is no need for formal clothing, and the services offered aboard ensure travel is effortless. Learn more about life aboard, including dining, or see our cabins. After a day of exploring, you’re invited to relax in Sea Lion’s open spaces on deck or recharge with a wellness treatment.

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