Arrive in Belize City and transfer to the Radisson Fort George Hotel for dinner and overnight.
In the morning, board small boats for a wildlife cruise through virgin marsh and forest. With luck, you may spot Morelet's crocodiles, northern jacanas, anhingas, and great egrets, as well as such rare species as snail kites and black-collared hawks. A short walk through the jungle brings you to the ruins of Lamanai, one of Belize’s largest Mayan centers. An interesting archaeological aspect of the site is the excavation revealing the multiple layers of pyramids built upon. In the afternoon, board the Island Sky and set out for the cayes of Belize.
Established in 1981, Lighthouse Reef's Half Moon Caye Natural Monument is a bird sanctuary and the only nesting site in the region for red-footed boobies. Observe these pelagic birds during nature walks, along with magnificent frigatebirds, ospreys, mangrove warblers, and white-crowned pigeons. The waters off Half Moon Caye offer excellent snorkeling among seafans and colorful fish.
Explore the largest of Honduras' Bay Islands, Roatan. The island has a mountainous backbone and is completely surrounded by coral reefs that are among the healthiest in the Caribbean. Crystal clear waters also offer excellent snorkeling 300 feet from the beach, where the water is only five feet deep. Other activities include an excursion to a botanical garden, shopping for mementos in the island’s west-end stores, or an exhilarating zip-line experience.
Attend lectures on the region's history and wildlife or simply relax on deck.
Far from mainland Colombia, rarely-visited Isla de Providencia is a warm and friendly, English-speaking island with the nostalgic feel of the Caribbean of yesteryear. An island tour this morning takes you to a parochial school and other points of interest ashore. Or, venture out to snorkel among a variety of fish, including colorful tangs and barracuda that populate the island's coral reef.
Arrive in lovely Costa Rica and board shallow-draft boats for an excursion among the Tortuguero Canals, home to 2,000 plant species, more than 400 species of birds, and 13 of Costa Rica's 16 endangered mammals. During your exploration of the raffia-lined waterways, you may spy sloths; howler and capuchin monkeys; wood storks, bare-throated tiger herons, roseate spoon-bills, Montezuma oropendolas, and ringed kingfishers; and crocodiles, caimans, turtles, iguanas, and the Jesus Christ lizard, so named for its unique ability to run across water. Return to the ship for lunch and set sail for Panama.
In the morning, disembark in the historic town of Portobelo on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. Famous for its trade fairs during the 17th century, Portobelo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During colonial times it was one of the most important strongholds of the Spanish Main in the Americas. You will visit Forts San Geronimo and Santiago de la Gloria as well as the Church of San Felipe. All the riches exploited by the Spanish in South America, including the Inca’s gold and silver, departed to the Old World from Portobelo’s Royal Customs House. After lunch onboard, enjoy a VIP tour of the five billion dollar Panama Canal expansion project that began a decade ago and is scheduled to be completed in 2015. You will go behind the scenes at the Panama Canal Expansion Observation Center to observe the four billion cubic meters of structural concrete that is being poured into the ditches that comprise the new set of locks from a vantage point rarely visited by the public, plus meet one of the authorities currently working on the expansion project.
The San Blas Archipelago is a group of over 350 islands stretching for 200 miles along Panama’s east coast. Largely roadless, many ringed with reefs, they vary in size from tiny uninhabited islets with a few palm trees to larger islands clad in jungle. Your explorations offer up-close views of the wildlife native to the archipelago.
San Blas is also home to the Kuna Indians, a semiautonomous tribe still practicing the traditions of their ancestors, including the crafting of molas, brightly colored, appliquéd fabrics. Meet the Kuna, learn about their culture, and admire or purchase molas. In the afternoon land at Holandes Caye to beachcomb or snorkel in the inviting waters.
During your daylight transit, the Island Sky gracefully navigates the canal’s three mighty locks, Gatún Lake, and the dramatic Gaillard Cut. Relax on deck and enjoy a historical perspective as you follow this famed waterway to the Pacific.
Panama’s remote Darién Province is one of the last unspoiled regions in Central America. In Zodiacs, make your way to Playa del Muerto for a wet landing to meet with the indigenous Emberá Indians who live in small thatched-hut villages. Primarily harvesters of forest agricultural products, they are also well-known for their baskets and the carvings they fashion from cocobolo, a dense hardwood. The Emberá are also famed for their music and dance, and as you approach the village, percussion and flutes celebrate your arrival.
Anchor off Isla Coiba for a two-day exploration of one of the largest marine parks in the world. On nature hikes search for more than 130 species of birds, including red-legged honeycreepers, crimson-backed tanagers, and brilliantly colored lance-tailed manakins. Zodiacs take you on excursions along wild shores and bring you to secluded beaches. Snorkeling is excellent as Coiba is also the site of a large coral reef where a convergence of currents reveals an array of eastern tropical Pacific marine life.
Zodiacs take you ashore for a walk to Casa Orquideas. This botanical garden is full of colorful tropical trees and exotic plants including many species of orchid. Pass lush flora as you walk along the trail looking for scarlet macaws that nest along the route. You may even spot white-faced capuchin monkeys, red-legged and shining honeycreepers, and chestnut-mandibled toucans among up to 100 species of birds that are attracted to the park. You may also choose to take a swim along the shoreline of Casa Orquideas, or take a leisurely stroll down the beach.
In the afternoon, board Zodiacs for one last cruise up Rio Esquinas (tidal dependent). Look for different species of birds and animals, as well as dolphins that call this complex maze of mangroves and canals their home.
Arrive in Puerto Caldera and disembark the ship. Transfer to San Jose and board your onward flights.