Costa Rica & the Panama Canal Cruise

David Vargas
Horseback riding through Playa Caletas.
Alexandra C. Daley-Clark
Trekking through Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica.
David Vargas
Making your way through the Panama Canal.
Ralph Lee Hopkins
The Golden-Mantled Howler Monkey stares down at the camera.
Sven-Olof Lindblad
Kayaking through the waters of Costa Rica.
David Vargas
Guest getting reading for a zodiac trip.
Guests viewing off the bow of the Sea Bird & Sea Lion.


  • Hike into remote wilderness: see monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds
  • Transit the Panama Canal—a historical marvel of engineering
  • Kayak cool azure waters where the rain forest meets the sea
  • Explore idyllic islands and snorkel over a vibrant coral reef

Join this 8-day voyage through the Panama Canal, a marvel of historical engineering, and gain special access to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Canal Zone. Discover pure wildness as you snorkel in an undersea paradise and spot monkeys and sloths in the rain forests of Costa Rica and Panama on this coastal expedition aboard the Sea Lion.

Day 1

Arrive in Panama City / Embark in Colon, Panama

Upon arrival in Panama City, transfer to Colon to embark your home for the next week. Set sail for the first part of your Panama Canal transit, anchoring in Gatun Lake for the night.

Day 2

  • Ship
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Gatún Lake / Panama Canal Transit

In the morning, board an expedition landing craft for Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatún Lake. This island has been the primary Smithsonian center for tropical rain forest study since 1923, and for this trip 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 reboarding to continue your crossing. Often travelers have the opportunity to cross part of the Canal during the day, and another when it is dramatically lit at night.

Day 3

  • Ship
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Gulf of Panama Islets

This 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 you might spot frigatebirds, brown pelicans or brown boobies. Observe roosting and nesting magnificent frigate birds and blue-footed boobies on an otherwise empty stretch of white sand.

Day 4

  • Ship
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Isla Coiba National Park

Isla 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. The ship's staff assists both novice and expert snorkelers alike. For those preferring a drier clime, naturalists take underwater footage, which animates your evening gathering in the lounge.

Day 5

  • Ship
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Today make your first landfall in Costa Rica. At Casa Orquídeas, 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, expedition landing craft cruises or swimming.

Day 6

  • Ship
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Osa Peninsula

The Sea Lion 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 join a expedition landing craft cruise. Trek through the rain forest for a chance to see three species of monkey in one day: howler, spider and squirrel!

Day 7

  • Ship
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Manuel Antonio National Park

The 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 where you can find a great spot for a final hike or swim.

Day 8

  • Breakfast

Disembark in Herradura / Transfer to San Jose

Disembark your ship this morning in Herradura and drive to the airport for flights home, or on to other adventures.
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* Itinerary operates in reverse.
Single supplement varies by itinerary. A solo traveler matching program may be available, but is subject to availability.
Kids under age 18 save $500 per person
Costs Include:
All accommodations aboard ships or in hotels per itinerary or similar, all meals and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship, meals on land as indicated, air transportation where indicated as included, shore excursions, sightseeing and entrance fees, special access permits, transfers to and from group flights, use of snorkeling equipment and wet suits, use of kayaks (where available), gratuities (except to ship’s crew), taxes and service charges, services of a ship physician on most voyages, and services of our expedition staff.

Not Included:
Air transportation (except where shown as included), extensions, passport, visa, immigration fees, scuba diving (where available), meals not indicated, baggage/accident/travel protection plan, items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages, e-mail, and laundry. Gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion.