Day 1 Bridgetown, Barbados
Embark the Silver Explorer and depart on your exciting expedition – “Caribbean Sea Adventure”. This evening, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team and attend a Zodiac briefing.
Day 2 Scarborough, Tobago
This morning plan to explore the Buccoo Reef by glass bottom boat. As you pass over coral gardens, your local guide will point out various undersea life en route to the reef, where you can snorkel in the warm water and learn about the colorful plants and tropical fish with your onboard marine biologist. Continue your tour to the Nylon Pool – a sand bank out at sea where you can enjoy a leisurely swim in the shallow waters. Make your way back to Pigeon Point Beach and return to Silver Explorer for lunch.
Your afternoon excursion takes you on a drive along the windward coastline, passing through several small villages before arriving at the Tobago Cocoa Estate, which is situated in the oldest forest reserve in the western hemisphere. During your walking tour, learn of the cocoa industry’s history and the multiple stages of the cocoa production including a visit to a mud oven and a cocoa house where the cocoa is dried. Enjoy the lush vegetation of Tobago’s rainforest while you tour the estate.
Day 3 Port of Spain, Trinidad
Also known as Mucura, Port of Spain is the capital and commercial center of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The local population is an astonishing melting pot of African, Asian, Indian and European, as is the architecture. From Hindu temples to gingerbread rococo the variety of buildings offer an eclectic international mix that represents the city’s many cultures.
Your scenic drive takes you past magnificent buildings overlooking the Queen’s Park Savannah as you head east to Lopinot Village, one of the few villages that has held on to its heritage. The village is named after a Frenchman who came to Trinidad in 1800 and settled in this area with land granted to him for services rendered to the British Crown. Lopinot is rich in history and culture and a local guide will bring this to life through stories and parang songs. Parang is the traditional music of Trinidad’s Christmas sung in Spanish and played on string instruments. Next visit an old cocoa and coffee plantation to learn how the Spanish settlers grew and processed these products in the traditional way. Have the opportunity to taste the sweet cocoa beans. Visit an organic herb and spice garden before returning to the port.
Alternatively, join your onboard naturalists who will be keen to point out the variety of flora and birdlife on a visit to the world-famous Asa Wright Nature Center, a 200-acre bird sanctuary and conservation center located deep in the hills of the Northern Range. Following your 1-1/2 hour drive be met by a knowledgeable guide for an informative nature walk through the lush tropical forest of exotic trees and colourful flowers. While sightings are not guaranteed, you’ll want to keep a watchful eye out for toucans, manikins and hummingbirds as well as graceful butterflies that live in this unique environment.
Day 4 At Sea
Gather in The Theatre to hear fascinating tales of adventure or to learn about the region’s endemic wildlife and remarkable nature. The Expedition Team members are experts in a variety of scientific fields. Other onboard diversions include spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Centre, and, of course, exquisite dining experiences.
Day 5 Los Roques, Venezuela
Los Roques Archipelago National Park was created to protect a marine ecosystem of coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds. The park covers 221,120 hectares (546 acres), making it the largest marine park in the Caribbean Sea. Its coral reefs host incredible underwater fauna and flora, and its beautiful beaches of white sand and crystalline waters make it a diving paradise. These waters contain 61 species of corals, 200 species of crustaceans, 140 species of mollusks, 45 species of echinoderms, 60 species of sponges, and 280 species of fish. In addition, 92 bird species, 50 of which are migratory, can be seen in the park. Four globally endangered sea turtle species nest regularly on the islands.
On a Gran Roque city tour visit the Plaza Bolivar Los Roques where you can appreciate the local architecture and do a bit of souvenir shopping, The Temple of the Virgin del Valle, The Enramada where you can see local fishermen at work, and a lighthouse from the 1800s with spectacular views. Your tour concludes with a demonstration of music and dance typical of the Venezuelan coast. At Madrisky Cay, relax on a beautiful beach in the shade of a large umbrella while sipping local beers and snacking on local seafood favourites such as ceviche. Hop aboard a speedboat for snorkelling tour or join a walking tour to the island of Cavo Pirata, where you will learn of artisanal methods of lobstering.
Day 6 At Sea Cruising the Caribbean Sea
Binoculars in hand, head out on deck to watch for seabirds and marine mammals. Attend informative lectures that will prepare you for the upcoming ports-of-call and the many possible unscheduled adventures that lie ahead. Peruse an array of titles and topics in the well-stocked Library, enjoy the finest cigars and cognacs at the Connoisseur’s Corner or indulge in any of the other special amenities offered aboard ship.
Day 7 Santa Marta, Colombia
Santa Marta is world famous for the beauty of its geography including the Sierra Nevada Mountains – the highest coastal mountain range in the world. Where the mountains sweep down to the sea, Tayrona National Park can be found. Covering an area of 37,000 acres, the landscape varies from white sandy beaches to semi-tropical rainforest and is home to over 100 species of mammals, 200 species of birds and 50 species of reptiles. The Paujil, a breed of hen, is indigenous to the park, as is the majestic condor that nests in the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Monkeys can often be seen along the fringes of the beaches.
For guests who choose the full-day tour option, begin by exploring the park together with a local guide, walking along natural pathways through the semi tropical jungle towards the beaches. Depending on the condition of the sea, it may also be possible to take a swim. Continuing by tour coach along the coastal road, arrive at the Don Diego River, which was the setting for the film The Mission. An easy 20-minute walk takes you to the Tayronaka ruins where you will enjoy a delicious, traditional lunch of local Sancocho – a hearty soup with meat and local vegetables such as yucca, green banana and potato.
Colombia is home to approximately 26 different indigenous groups, and this is a unique opportunity to explore the remains of the Tayronaka terraced settlements built between 800 and 1600 AD. Your local guide will explain their construction and lifestyle of the Tayrona people. Though the Tayrona people no longer exist, members of another indigenous group, the Kogi, are believed to be their direct descendants, and will be on hand to demonstrate some of their traditional life skills. Before your return drive, step inside the small, one-room history museum and reconstructed round-house.
Alternatively, a half-day tour option is also available for guests who wish to take in the historical highlights of Santa Marta. Visit the small Gold Museum that houses some interesting gold and pottery objects from the local indigenous cultures. From here continue to Colombia’s oldest church. Built in the 17th century, its simple but beautiful interior is dominated by an Italian marble alter, a fine barrel roof and chandeliers. After a brief stop for refreshments at the lovely Parque Santander, drive to the revered La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino. Set in beautiful grounds, this hacienda was built in the 17th century and once produced rum, sugarcane and honey. More importantly, it was where Simon Bolivar, the liberator of Colombia, spent his final days and died in 1830. Visit the house and grounds, and not miss the statue of Bolivar that offers a puzzling trick of the eye.
Day 8 Cartagena, Colombia
One of the grand ports of the Spanish Main, Cartagena’s founding dates to 1533. With its fascinating history, old walled city, formidable fortresses and colonial architecture, Cartagena is considered one of the most captivating ports in the Caribbean. Departing from the port, the half-day tour option begins with a panoramic view of the San Felipe de Barajas Fortress, considered to be the most outstanding feat of Spanish military engineering in the New World. Its construction began in 1536 and lasted 121 years. Within the walled city, see beautifully preserved colonial houses, churches, museums, and the Plaza de Bolivar where the Inquisition Palace and cathedral are located. Enjoy some free time for shopping or to take more pictures before visiting the San Pedro Claver Cloister and Monastery followed by the ornate Heredia Theater. Built in 1911 from the ruins of the old Mercy Church, the Theater has been restored as a cultural center. See this for yourselves with a performance by local artists of traditional music and dance. Enjoy some free time this afternoon to continue exploring the city on your own.
Alternatively, choose a full-day excursion that begins with a visit to La Popa Monastery. This ancient monastery at the top of a hill can be seen from any point in Cartagena and in turn, it offers a privileged view of the city. Built at the beginning of the 17th century, the monastery was used several times as a military fortress due to its strategic location, and is still inhabited by monks today. Your tour continues with a visit to the San Felipe de Barajas Fortress and a guided walk through the walled city. (See half-day tour description above.) Leaving the city, next head out to the fishing village of la Boquilla where you will first enjoy a three-course lunch at a beach side seafood restaurant, then continue on to the local mangrove swamps. Navigate the shallow waters of this protected ecosystem in canoes paddled by local fisherman. Gliding through the “tunnels” of overhanging Mangrove trees, your guides will describe the wealth of flora, fauna and birdlife to be seen including kingfisher, white heron and pelicans.
Day 9 San Blas Islands, Panama
Today you are given a rare opportunity to experience the Caribbean as it was before the European explorers came here. The San Blas Islands, or Kuna Yala Reserve, is home to the Kuna people who are believed to be descendants of the Caribs. On isolated Ilsa Perro meet the Kuna Indians and gain insight into their colourful traditions, which are passed from one generation to the next through dances and chants. These customs and life events are sometimes chronicled in their Molas. Molas are handcrafted artwork that has become popular tourist souvenirs. Made by Kuna women, these rainbow-coloured fabrics are adorned with jungle animals, birds, fish or geometric patterns and brimming with creativity.
During your afternoon learn more about local culture and see presentations of traditional dances. Shop for local handicrafts and perhaps get a henna tattoo or traditional ankle bracelet made by one of the Kuna women. Afterwards, enjoy swimming, kayaking or snorkelling off the pristine, white-sand beaches of Perro Island. Join your onboard Marine Biologist for an exhilarating snorkel tour. This idyllic island is surrounded by coral reef that shelters a dazzling diversity of marine life.
Day 10 Colón, Panama
Arrive in Colón early in the morning. Following breakfast on board, disembark the Silver Explorer.