A Cruise of Panama and Costa Rica
Explore Costa Rica's natural wonders and cruise the mighty locks and waterways of the 100-year-old Panama Canal.
- Insights from the West of Ireland
- Fabulous shots from Smithsonian Journeys Expert Kirt Kempter
- Visiting Mount Fuji, by way of rural Japan
- Saturday in Pamplona
Join us for a spectacular cruise featuring the Costa Rican rain forests and a full transit of the historic Panama Canal. As you journey through its waterways and mighty locks, which officially opened in August 1914, come to understand the dramatic worldwide impact of this amazing engineering feat. Board your ship in Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, and stop to explore the magnificent flora and fauna of Manuel Antonio National Park and Curú National Wildlife Refuge and the breathtaking orchids of Casa Orquideas. Snorkel at Panama’s Granito de Oro and cruise to the remote island paradise of Coiba National Park. Then arrive in Panama City, where you’ll tour the Old Town before transiting the awe-inspiring Panama Canal. Once in Colón, cruise to the San Blas Islands, where the indigenous Kuna people have maintained their traditions for centuries, returning to Colón to conclude your voyage. Throughout your cruise, enjoy presentations by top experts, including Scott Palmer. Optional extensions to Panama and Costa Rica are also offered.
Day 1 — 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, 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 M.V. Tere Moana. (B/L/D)
Day 3 — Manuel Antonio National Park, Curú National Wildlife Refuge
Experience an unparalleled diversity of wildlife in lush, tropical Manuel Antonio National Park, 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. In this “Living Eden,” 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, protected by law in this natural haven.
Unlike traditional nature reserves, Curú Wildlife Refuge is a unique blend of sustainable agriculture, forest management and wildlife protection, encompassing five distinctly different untouched habitats making it the ideal place to see entire ecosystems coexisting. During a guided walk, look for the diversity of wildlife including pumas, anteaters, ocelots, otters and more than 230 species of birds. Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception on board this evening. (B,L,R,D)
Day 4 — Golfo Dulce
Located along the southern Pacific coast, this secluded natural wonderland was declared “one of the most biologically intense places on earth.” Explore flora and fauna firsthand on the grounds of the Saladero Eco Lodge, an exclusive, pristine private property accessible only by boat and encompassing nearly 500 acres of primary old-growth rainforest, tropical gardens, and beach, offering spectacular viewing of Costa Rica’s rich wildlife, including scarlet macaws and the endangered spider monkey. Visit Casa Orquídeas, a stunning, maze-like botanical garden of over 100 species of orchids, bromeliads, heliconias and edible plants, visitors can observe colorful toucans, scarlet macaws and jewel‑hued hummingbirds. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Coiba National Park, 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.
Linked by an underwater mountain chain to the Galapagos, Granito de Oro is a small island within the park known as the “live aquarium of Coiba.” Enjoy an afternoon snorkeling among its vast array of exquisite marine life including parrotfish and orange-sided triggerfish.
Visit 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. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Panama City
Explore Central America’s most attractive capital city, founded in 1519 by Spanish explorers and rebuilt in the late 17th century. See the many historic edifices within the designated World Heritage site—Casco Antiguo, with its cobblestone streets and its blend of architectural styles.
Visit the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center adjacent to the Panama Canal for an opportunity to see how the locks operate. Nearby, the new Biodiversity Museum, designed by architect Frank Gehry of Guggenheim fame, showcases the ecological significance of Panama’s exotic flora and fauna. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Panama City, Panama Canal, Colón
Cruise from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea 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; therefore, full transit during daylight hours is not guaranteed. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — San Blas Islands, Panama
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 way of life—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 to wear winis, long strings of tiny beads wrapped around their forearms and legs in striking geometric patterns.
Join the Captain for a Farewell Reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)
Day 9 — Colón, Panama City, U.S.
Disembark in Colón and transfer to Panama City for your return flight to the U.S. (B)
All program features are contingent upon final brochure pricing.