Arrive in Panama City / Embark in Colon, PanamaOn arrival, drive to Colon to board your ship and set sail for the first part of your Panama Canal transit anchoring in Gatun Lake. This unique interruption allows you to be one of the few ships that make the crossing in two days, as well as the only ship permitted the exclusive opportunity to explore impressive Barro Colorado, which is planned for tomorrow.
Barro Colorado / Panama Canal TransitIn the morning, board an expedition landing craft to head for Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatún Lake. This island has been the primary Smithsonian center for tropical rain forest study since 1923, and you have special permission to visit the facilities at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Meet some of the scientists and learn about their work before we reboard to continue our crossing. Often there is an opportunity to cross part of the Canal during the day, and another when it is dramatically lit at night.
Gulf of Panama IsletsThis archipelago of islands due south of Panama City has a storied past — pearls, conquistadors, buccaneers, and so much more. Explore the turquoise waters via expedition landing craft or kayak, where dolphins and whales have been spotted. Observe roosting and nesting magnificent frigate birds and blue-footed boobies on an otherwise empty stretch of white sand.
Isla Coiba National ParkIsla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks, where you may hike the tropical, moist forest trails. The area is also perfect for swimming and snorkeling amid tropical fish. Staff assists both novice and expert snorkelers alike. For those preferring a drier clime, the ship's naturalists take underwater footage, which animates evening gatherings in the lounge.
Golfo Dulce, Costa RicaToday make your first landfall in Costa Rica. At Casa Orquideas, a privately owned garden accessible only by boat and special invitation, see a profusion of orchids, and look for tanagers, parrots and gaudy toucans. Later, explore the forested bay of Golfo Dulce, ideal for kayaking or swimming.
Osa PeninsulaYour ship anchors off the remote Osa Peninsula and the environs of Corcovado National Park. Your exact landing spot for the day depends on sea conditions. You may swim in waterfall pools, horseback ride, or kayak. Trek through the rain forest for a chance to see three species of monkey in one day: howler, spider and squirrel!
Manuel Antonio National ParkThe abundant wildlife here is most active in the early morning, so be sure to get an early start. Lethargic three-toed sloths can be easy to spot, but it often takes the expert eye of a Naturalist to point out monkeys or vividly colored birds as they zip through the forest. In the afternoon, explore Costa Rica’s beautiful coast and find a great spot for a final hike or swim.
Disembark in Herradura / Transfer to MonteverdeDisembark your ship and head to Carara National Park, where the less dense rain forests make for easy bird sightings. Lunch at a local restaurant before venturing to the nearby Bat Jungle exhibit or hearing from an early Quaker settler of Monteverde. Check in to a family-owned retreat with privacy, expansive lawns and picturesque views of the cloud forest.
MonteverdeEnjoy breakfast at the hotel before visiting a butterfly farm where you have the opportunity to see dozens of local species in a short time. After lunch, tour the Monteverde reserve with trained Naturalists, relying on their expertise to spot mantled howler monkeys and possibly the rare resplendent quetzal.
Monteverde / ArenalFollowing breakfast at the hotel, visit a family-owned, third generation coffee farm. A local guide shares the culture of coffee farming in Central America, and you have a chance to pick coffee cherries during a tour of the grounds. After the tour, drive to Lake Arenal, which you can cross in 40-passenger boats en route to a restaurant on the lake’s far side. By the time lunch is finished, your motorcoaches and luggage is ready. Check into an elegant hotel surrounded by gardens and pastures with grazing animals, and enjoy a panoramic view of the smoldering Arenal Volcano afforded in each room.
Arenal VolcanoWalk the Arenal Hanging Bridges strung more than 3 kilometers through the rain forest canopy, and then explore the Arenal bridges winding through the dense forest. In the evening, relax in thermal pools naturally heated by the volcano.
Arenal / SarapiquíTransfer to Sarapiquí, stopping to visit La Selva Biological Station and some of the most immaculate primary tropical rain forest. Check-in to Sueño Azul, set in a private rain forest reserve at the convergence of two rivers.
SarapiquíFloat the Sarapiquí River on a relaxing journey or opt for an adventurous whitewater rafting trip. After lunch, you are free to explore on your own. Ride horseback to secluded waterfalls or pamper yourself with a yoga class or a day in the spa.
Sarapiqui / San JoseEn route to San José stop at Sibu Chocolatier, makers of some of the world’s finest organic chocolate. Here you can learn the Aztec & Mayan history of the cacao plant and enjoy a workshop on preparing chocolate. After a picnic lunch of traditional Costa Rican fare, visit one of San Jose’s fine museums. The day ends with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
San Jose / Return HomeAfter breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for the flight home.