Panama Canal and Costa Rica Cruise

Explore Costa Rica's natural wonders and cruise the mighty locks and waterways of the 100-year-old Panama Canal.

Starting at: $4,795 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Research facilities at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute  One of the many locks of the Panama Canal  Ships moving through a lock in the Panama Canal. Credit: Hemis/Alamy  Gatun Locks along the Panama Canal. Credit: Stan Shebs  Barro Colorado Island, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute  Research facilities at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute  STRI scientist at work in lab  STRI scientist at work in the field  Flora found in Panama  Squirrel Monkey  Red-eyed tree frog  Exotic Poison Dart Frog  Coati found in Panama  Metal Mark butterfly  The scarlet macaw. Credit: Harvey Abernathey  The delightful beaches of the San Blas Islands  Display of traditional <i>molas</i> on the San Blas Islands Credit: Hemis/Alamy  Traditional <i>mola</i> art work of the San Blas Islands Credit: Danita Delimont/Alamy


Save $1,000 per person when you book by June 24, 2016.

• Jan 27 - Feb 4, 2017

Join us for a spectacular cruise featuring the rain forests of Costa Rica and a full transit of the historic Panama Canal. As you journey through its waterways and mighty locks, which opened more than a hundred years ago, come to understand the worldwide impact of this amazing engineering feat. Get up close to spectacular flora and fauna at important national parks. Plus, enjoy an exclusive in-depth visit to the highly respected Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), where scholars and scientists take you beyond the visual world to the science of ecology, biology, botany, and more.

Highlights Include:

  • STRI: Meet with Director Matthew Larsen and STRI scientists who discuss their latest investigations in tropical ecology and evolution. You’ll also visit STRI’s Punta Culebra Nature Center to view the Institution’s work firsthand. 
  • Panama: Make a full daylight transit of the legendary canal, one of the greatest man-made wonders worldwide. Attend a specially arranged briefing by U.S. Embassy staff in Panama City and tour the Old Town.
  • Costa Rica: Discover the amazing flora and fauna of Manuel Antonio National Park and Curú National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Active Adventure: Go snorkeling at Panama’s Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection.
  • San Blas Islands: Cruise to these remote islands and meet with the indigenous Kuna people.

2017 Itinerary

Day 1­­ — Depart the U.S., San José, Costa Rica

Depart for San José. Upon arrival, check into the hacienda-style Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San José. The evening is at leisure.

Day 2 — San José, Puerto Caldera

The horticultural diversity of Costa Rica, the “Garden of the Americas,” is evident in the parks of San José. On the city tour, you’ll also see the interesting mix of architectural styles, including Spanish Colonial, Moorish, and Modernist. The National Theater is a regal Baroque edifice modeled on Milan’s La Scala. The National Museum’s exhibits feature impressive pre-Columbian Central American artifacts.

After lunch in a local restaurant, enjoy a scenic transfer to Puerto Caldera to embark the Star Pride. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Quepos for Manuel Antonio National Park

Experience an unparalleled diversity of wildlife in Manuel Antonio National Park’s lush tropical paradise, a captivating combination of rainforest, beaches, and coral reefs, home to more than 100 species of mammals, almost 200 species of birds, and various reptiles and amphibians. Expert naturalists will help you spot colorful toucans, screeching howler monkeys, camouflaged iguanas, squirrel monkeys, and rare and endangered species such as the scarlet macaw and quetzal, all of which are protected by law in this natural haven. On board the ship this evening, attend the Captain’s welcome reception. (B,L,R,D)

Day 4 — Cuŕu Wildlife Refuge

Unlike traditional nature reserves, Curú Wildlife Refuge is a unique blend of sustainable agriculture, forest management, and wildlife protection, encompassing five distinctive untouched habitats making it the ideal place to see the intricacies of co-dependent ecosystems. Board a Zodiac for a wet landing on the beach and enjoy a guided walk in the morning—the best time of day to observe an abundance of wildlife, including pumas, anteaters, ocelots, monkeys, otters, and more than 230 species of birds. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Isla Coiba, Panama

Designated a World Heritage site, Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection has emerged as a rich laboratory for studying coral, mammals, and plants. In addition to 69 species of fish, humpback, orca, sperm and Cuvier’s beaked whales are known to migrate through the marine park’s perimeter.

Explore Isla Coiba, the largest island in Central America. Once an isolated political prison, Isla Coiba today is a host of terrestrial wonders—untouched rainforest, rugged headlands, pristine white sand beaches, and mangrove thickets—the perfect environment for the evolution of new and endemic subspecies and for the preservation and protection of endangered species. Enjoy opportunities to snorkel or swim in the turquoise waters or encounter the wildlife during a guided nature walk on this tranquil and pristine paradise. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Panama City, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Punta Culebra Nature Center

Depart by coach for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Punta Culebra Nature Center for an exclusive, in-depth visit guided by the staff. The new Biodiversity Museum, designed by architect Frank Gehry, showcases the ecological significance of Panama’s exotic flora and fauna.

Central America’s most attractive capital city was founded in 1519 by Spanish explorers and rebuilt in the late 17th century. In Panama City’s “old quarter” known as Casco Antiguo, a World Heritage site, discover a charming neighborhood with cobblestone streets, a stunning 16th‑century cathedral, and many historic architectural edifices that remain intact.

Schedule permitting, attend a talk on Panama by a member of the United States Embassy stationed in Panama City. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Daylight Transit of Panama Canal, Colón

Cruise from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean through the mighty locks of the Panama Canal. Enjoy a specially arranged lecture on the history of the canal. Transit times through the canal are controlled by the Panama Canal Authority and traffic conditions. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — San Blas Islands, Holandes Cays

Cruise to the sun-drenched San Blas Islands, located on the Caribbean side of Panama and an extraordinary testament to Panama’s commitment to the indigenous Guna Indians, also known as the Kuna Indians, and their centuries-old language, customs, and culture. Villagers live in typical thatched roof huts, barter or trade in fish and agricultural products, and paddle dugout canoes, their main mode of transportation. Guna women continue to hand stitch traditional colorful molas (reverse appliqué panels) and wear winis, long strings of tiny beads wrapped around their forearms and legs in striking geometric patterns. Later, enjoy an opportunity to snorkel at pristine Holandes Cays, the most remote cays of the San Blas archipelago and home to a wide variety of coral and tropical fish species.

Join the Captain for a farewell reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Colón, Depart Panama City for U.S.

Disembark in Colón and transfer to Panama City for your return flight to the U.S. (B)