Explore Costa Rica's natural wonders and cruise the mighty locks and waterways of the Panama Canal during a daytime transit, plus meet with scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute at their Punta Culebra Nature Center.

Starting at: $5,995 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Ships moving through a lock in the Panama Canal. Credit: Hemis/Alamy  The scarlet macaw. Credit: Harvey Abernathey  Squirrel Monkey  Exotic Poison Dart Frog  Coati found in Panama  Metal Mark butterfly  One of the many locks of the Panama Canal  STRI scientist at work in lab  Flora found in Panama  The delightful beaches of the San Blas Islands  Traditional <i>mola</i> art work of the San Blas Islands Credit: Danita Delimont/Alamy  Display of traditional <i>molas</i> on the San Blas Islands Credit: Hemis/Alamy

A Cruise of Panama and Costa Rica

Featuring a Panama Canal Transit Aboard the Le Dumont d'Urville

9 days from $5,995

Explore Costa Rica's natural wonders and cruise the mighty locks and waterways of the Panama Canal during a daytime transit, plus meet with scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute at their Punta Culebra Nature Center.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

Other travelers had similar interests and enthusiasm for the Central American landscape and Panama Canal, which made the trip all the more a pleasure. The signature architecture of Panama City was a real eye-opener, especially after the excellent lecture prepared us for it.

- Carol, F.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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Overview

Join us for a spectacular cruise featuring the rain forests of Costa Rica and a full daylight 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

  • Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute: Visit STRI’s Punta Culebra Nature Center to view the Institute’s work firsthand. Here, STRI scientists will discuss the latest investigations in tropical ecology and evolution.
  • Panama Canal: Make a full daylight transit of the Panama Canal, one of the greatest man-made wonders worldwide. Also, visit the Agua Clara Visitor Center to view the Panama Canal Expansion.
  • Costa Rica: Make a wet landing at Curú Wildlife Refuge and take a guided walk to see an abundance of wildlife, including spider, howler, and capuchin monkeys, the scarlet macaw, and more than 230 species of birds. At Manuel Antonio National Park, walk with your expert naturalist to experience a lush tropical paradise of rain forest, beaches, and coral reefs—home to more than 100 species of mammals, almost 200 species of birds, and various reptiles and amphibians. And in San José, visit the National Museum and National Theater.
  • Active Adventure: Go swimming or snorkeling amid the sheltered waters of Isla Tortuga with its angelfish and sea horses. Enjoy snorkeling in the emerald waters of the rarely visited Isla Cébaco, where schools of vibrantly colored fish, giant manta rays, and four different species of turtles swim amid spectacular coral reefs. Plus, in the clear turquoise waters of the pristine Golfo de San Blas, enjoy another opportunity for swimming and snorkeling.
  • San Blas Islands: In these remote islands, meet the indigenous Guna people, renowned for their colorful mola artwork.
  • Small Ship Experience: Enjoy cruising aboard an upscale small ship that features sophisticated staterooms and public spaces, superb amenities, excellent cuisine, and an informal ambiance. This cruise features the Dumont d'Urville. This voyage will also host other leading cultural and educational institutions, which will add to the excitement and energy of the experience. See more information on this ship on the Tour Details page. 

Other travelers had similar interests and enthusiasm for the Central American landscape and Panama Canal, which made the trip all the more a pleasure. The signature architecture of Panama City was a real eye-opener, especially after the excellent lecture prepared us for it.

- Carol, F.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Panama City

Depart the U.S. for Panama City. Upon arrival, enjoy a scenic transfer to Colón to embark Le Dumont d'Urville. (D) 

Day 2 — 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.

This afternoon, enjoy an opportunity to snorkel or swim the clear turquoise waters of pristine Golfo de San Blas, populated with vibrant, untouched coral reefs and rich marine life.

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

Day 3 — Daylight Transit of Panama Canal, Colón

Cruise from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean during a daylight transit 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 4 — Panama City

Central America’s most attractive capital city was founded in 1519 by Spanish explorers and rebuilt in the late 17th-century. By special arrangement, visit the Punta Culebra Nature Center at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), a fascinating, open-air museum focused on marine science and conservation. Here, enjoy a specially arranged, Smithsonian staff-guided tour and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean side of the Panama Canal.

Following the STRI excursion, tour the “old quarter” known as Casco Antiguo, a World Heritage site, and discover a charming neighborhood with cobblestone streets, a stunning 16th-century cathedral and many historic architectural edifices that remain intact. Also visit the new Biodiversity Museum, designed by architect Frank Gehry of Guggenheim fame, showcasing the ecological significance of Panama’s exotic flora and fauna. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Isla Cébaco, Panama

A winding coastline of pristine sandy beaches and towering palm trees front the dense rainforests that dominate the rarely-visited gem of Isla Cébaco in the sparkling Gulf of Montijo. Enjoy opportunities for snorkeling in its emerald waters, where schools of vibrantly-colored fish, giant manta rays and four different species of turtles swim amidst spectacular coral reefs. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — 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. 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, all of which are protected by law in this natural haven. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Curú National 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 spider, howler and capuchin monkeys, the scarlet macaw and more than 230 species of birds.

Nestled in a private reserve near the stunning Nicoya Peninsula, idyllic Isla Tortuga is named for its tortoise‑like volcanic rock formations. Against a backdrop of coconut palm trees and white‑sand beaches, enjoy opportunities to swim and snorkel in this protected island’s clear, sheltered waters, home to fascinating marine life such as angel fish, spotted eagle rays and sea horses. Attend the Captain’s farewell welcome reception on board this evening. (B,L,R,D)

Day 8 — San José, Puerto Caldera

Disembark in Puerto Caldera and enjoy a scenic transfer to San José. 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 Pre-Columbian Gold Museum's exhibits feature impressive Central American artifacts, some dating back to 500 BC. After lunch in a local restaurant, check into the hacienda-style Costa Rica Marriott Hotel. (B,L)

Day 9 — Depart San José, Costa Rica for the U.S.

Continue on to the Costa Rica Post-Program Option or transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)