National Geographic Venture docked on the southern tip of Vancouver Island in Victoria, British Columbia just after 8:00 a.m. this morning. The capital city of British Columbia was named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and, at the time, British North America. Founded in 1843, it is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest. Known as the “Garden City,” Victoria enjoys a mild maritime climate and is famous for both public and private gardens, which help keep it consistently ranked in the top twenty cities worldwide for quality of life.

During the ‘Secret Garden’ tour, guests explored 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. Time only permitted a maximum of two activities, and 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.

While staff joined in the fun by touring the city in the morning, the undersea team had a different idea for the afternoon. It seemed no Lindblad dive team had ever explored the underwater area just outside of town. The only barriers to penetrating the waters of Victoria turned out to be time and travel. To overcome the travel barrier, our dedicated dive team pushed a cart nearly a mile to the breakwaters in hopes of helping our guests understand a bit more about what is going on beneath the water in Victoria. While the secrets of what was seen will stay a secret until tomorrow, I can tell you it was a rather incredible scuba dive!

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 has been a longtime friend of Lindblad expeditions, even hosting guests in his private home in the early days. While sampling some delicious sparkling rosé and munching on mushroom-topped chickpea cakes, guests were dazzled as they learned more about the artwork and the artist.