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: $5,995 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

Join us for a spectacular cruise featuring the natural treasures of Costa Rica, a full transit of the historic Panama Canal, and an exclusive in-depth visit to STRI. Costa Rica Pre-Program and Panama Post-Program options available! 

Please call or ask us a question to register your interest for our 2017 program.

Highlights Include:

  • STRI: Meet with STRI director
and scientists and see up close the Smithsonian’s work in ecology, biology, and botany.
  • Panama: Make a full 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, plus the breathtaking orchids of Casa Orquideas.
  • Active Adventure: Go snorkeling at Panama’s Granito de Oro and Coiba National Park.
  • San Blas Islands: Cruise to these remote islands and meet with the indigenous Kuna people.


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 — Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City

Arrive in Panama City and depart the Tere Moana. Transfer by coach to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s (STRI) Punta Culebra Nature Center

The center is a former military outpost with a breathtaking view of the canal entrance and coast. The site has been converted by STRI into a center for environmental outreach and marine education.  Marvel at the diversity of colorful tropical frogs in our new amphibian display.  Explore the facilities with experts in marine and terrestrial tropical biology, and learn about the important work and current projects of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Enjoy lunch on the ship, then take a walking tour through Panama City’s Casco Antiguo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and discover a charming neighborhood with cobblestone streets and a stunning 16th-century cathedral.

In the evening, return to the ship and enjoy a specially arranged lecture by a diplomat from the U.S. Embassy in Panama. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Panama City, Panama Canal, Colón

Begin the day with a tour of the Miraflores Locks and Visitors Center and the Biodiversity Museum, an affiliate museum of the Smithsonian. Return to the ship and 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)