At nearly 7:30 a.m., National Geographic Venture docked on the southern tip of Vancouver Island in Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia. The city is named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and, at the time, British North America. It is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, founded in 1843. Known as the “Garden City” today, Victoria enjoys a mild maritime climate and is famous for both public and private gardens, which help to keep it consistently in the top twenty ranking of cities worldwide for quality of life.

In the ‘Secret Garden’ tour, our guests were able to explore the British Royal Family’s grounds and immaculate gardens. Stunning redwood trees greeted us upon entry, soaring to the sky. The final two gardens were viewed after a recharge stop for coffee and pastries. While time permitted a maximum of two activities, there were plenty to choose from. A local historian led a walking tour through downtown Victoria, highlighting the importance of the buildings around us and how they came to be. Some guests donned helmets and saw the city by bicycle, ending at the area’s tallest totem. Still others enjoyed Victoria with a First Nations cultural tour, eating bannock and smoked salmon with Sharon.

We did our best to help everyone conserve a little energy for the cherry on top of our whirlwind visit, a private cocktail hour and viewing of the Robert Bateman Gallery. Robert Bateman is a longtime friend of Lindblad Expeditions, hosting guests in his private home in the early days. While sampling some delicious sparkling rosé and munching on beet-wrapped blue cheese, guests were dazzled as they learned more about the artwork and the artist.