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Wildlife of Costa Rica - bright tree frog

Natural and Cultural History in Central America

Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Le Dumont-d'Urville
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After sailing through the world-famous Panama Canal, which connects the Pacific to the Atlantic, you will enjoy the stunning beaches on Viveros Island in the heart of the Pearl Islands. Le Dumont-d’Urville will then sail on to the magnificent Darien National Park in Panama. This little corner of paradise is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to remarkable plants and wildlife. Rocky coastlines, mangroves, swamps and tropical rainforests vie with each other for beauty and offer a feast for photographers. This will also be the occasion for meeting the astonishing semi-nomadic Embera community. Your journey in Central America will end with a visit to two superb Costa Rican national parks: Manuel Antonio National Park and Carara National Park. Deep inside the tropical rainforest or under the rainforest canopy, you may be lucky enough to see multicolored birds and monkeys.  

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Colón, Panama | Embark
Day 2 : Panama Canal Transit
Day 3 : Viveros, Pearl Islands
Day 4 : Punta Alegre, Darien National Park
Day 5 : At Sea
Day 6 : Quepos
Day 7 : Herradura
Day 8 : Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica | Disembark


  • Admire the magnificent jungle and wildlife of Darien National Park
  • Discover beaches of Quepos
  • Sail through the Panama Canal, truly a masterpiece of civil engineering
  • Meet members of the indigenous Emberas community in Darien National Park


Le Dumont-d'Urville

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Wildlife of Costa Rica - bright tree frog Gatun Lock of the Panama Canal Squirrel monkeys Playa Manuel Antonio Bridge of the Americas Pacific entrance

Day 1 Colón, Panama | Embark

Colón is the second largest city in Panama, at the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal. Colón is today an important port, and the free trade zone created in 1953 contributed greatly to the development of the city.  Colón was founded in 1850 by Americans working on the Panama railroad connecting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts through the isthmus of Panama; the city rapidly overshadowed the older Caribbean ports of Panama when the canal opened.

Day 2 Panama Canal Transit

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Aboard your ship, experience something unique, that has inspired the imagination of numerous adventurers in the 20th century: sailing the Panama Canal. Its construction started in 1880 under the direction of Ferdinand De Lesseps. Abandoned then resumed, this marvel of engineering was completed by the United States in 1887 and opened in 1914. The canal crosses the Isthmus of Panama and links the Atlantic to the Pacific. Including three levels of locks and by raising ships to the level of Lake Gatun, almost as if the water was a lift, it allows them to avoid having to round Cape Horn.

Day 3 Viveros, Pearl Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Day 4 Punta Alegre, Darien National Park

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The most remote and least developed region of Panama, the province of Darien is an unspoiled land with an extremely rich variety of flora and fauna. It has an extraordinary scenery of rocky coastlines, mountain ranges, mangroves, rivers, and creeks. If you head for the Afro-Darienite village of Punta Alegre, you can gain a deeper insight into this unexplored area. This tiny coastal village is home to the Emberas Amerindian community. From Punta Alegre, you can head to Darien National Park, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site and considered to be one of the most diversified parks in Central America.

Optional Excursion: 

Embera Indian Village - length: 4h. The banks of the Darien are spectacular, from the mangroves in the magnificent San Miguel Bay, discovered in 1513 by Vasco Nunez de Balboa during the first crossing of the Isthmus of Panama, to the rocky shores between Garachiné and Jaque, where the forest tumbles into the sea from sheer cliff faces. From your ship, board local canoes (or Zodiac) to go and meet the Mogue community. Ventue into the heart of the mangroves, following the course of the river as it winds through the forest. To reach the village there is a short 15-minute walk on a good path. One of the community leaders introduces you to their many customs, while others explain the methods used to make their local crafts which include wooden sculptures, vegetable ivory objects for the men, and colorful baskets for the women. Finally, proudly sporting their body paint, they honor you with a dance demonstration to traditional music.

Day 5 At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the onboard photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observer marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 6 Quepos

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Quepos makes for a charming stop-off on the Pacific coast, just next door to the famous Manuel Antonio National Park, an untouched tropical natural reserve lined with white sandy beaches. The town's seafront is an opportunity to stroll through market stalls touting pineapples and bananas in the shade of the manchineel trees. In this coastal town criss-crossed with tree-lined streets in bloom, admire the houses and their incredible sculpted balconies. Enjoy a spot of shopping in the many traditional boutiques: pick up some handmade cotton clothing, ceramics embellished with Costa Rican designs, and home décor pieces in hand-painted wood.

Optional Excursions: 

Savegre River Floating - length: 5h. Depart Quepos on a 1 ¼-hour transfer by air-conditioned motor-coach, passing by palm, teak and Melina plantations to the rural town of El Silencio. After a short comfort stop where you can often spot toucans and macaws, continue toward the town of Santo Domingo, where a group of qualified guides with professional equipment are awaiting you to start this 2-hour amazing river floating. Your guide gives you an orientation about the river and its natural environment, which is considered one of the most beautiful rivers of Central America. The scenery and wildlife along the Rio Savegre are legendary, your opportunity to enjoy beautiful landscapes, including some native African oil palm plantations, white ibis, cormorants, egrets, crocodiles and herons, experiencing both action and periods of relaxation. A snack of fresh fruits are served at the river banks before returning to the pier.

River Boating through the Mangrove Lagoons - length: 3h30m. A ride through the mangroves is like visiting a place of another world. The species of trees that grow in the mixed waters of the ocean and the river make a unique and very fragile ecosystem. Most of these trees grow along the estuary, developing an aerial root system. As the tide goes down, the roots become suspended in the air creating a perfect place for crabs and crocodiles. In the upper part of the forest see monkeys and a great variety of birds including herons, egrets, and spoonbills among others. From the pier, embark your coach for the 25-minute ride to a launch from where a boat takes you to a private property for refreshments. Then your naturalist tour guide acquaints you with all the knowledge of the mangroves, an ecosystem extremely important and of which not too many people know. Your covered boat then takes you deeply into the mangrove, as you try to spot all the incredible wildlife that makes their home there. After a two-hour boat ride, arrive to the village where your coach is waiting to drive you back to your ship.
Manuel Antonio National Park - length: 4h. Manuel Antonio National Park is the jewel of the many Costa Rica’s national parks. Its fragile rainforest ecosystem shelters abundant wildlife, including the easy-to-see monkeys and a great variety of tropical birds. The dense rainforest opens into small trails where your naturalist tour guide acquaints you with all the information regarding the forest. Another great attraction are the white-sand beaches that meet the jungle. Your 1 ½-hour guided hike leads you to the beach where you can have time for sunbathing. Manuel Antonio protects 1,688 acres (683 ha) of tropical rainforest and over a thousand different species of flora. This walk is by far one of the best in Costa Rica, and a great opportunity to get closer to the forest that kisses the beach. The trail followed is very well maintained and is easy walking with no uphill climbs. Another hour of leisurely walking brings you back to the exit of the park with another opportunity of spotting wildlife.

Day 7 Herradura

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Herradura takes its name in Spanish from the horseshoe form of its bay, covered in lush tropical vegetation, its beauty enhanced by the hills that loom over it. This small town is surrounded by national parks that are remarkable for the rich variety of fauna and flora they protect. When your ship calls here, take a journey in small covered boats along the Tarcoles River, whose banks are home to crocodiles and iguanas. This mangrove also hosts the loyal and flamboyant scarlet macaw, with its red, blue, and yellow plumage, known for mating with the same partner for life.

Optional Excursions:

Pura Vida Gardens - length: 3h. A 30-minute drive brings you to Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls. This garden has been named the No. 1 garden in Central America by the Tropical Sierra Foundation. The trail begins with the country’s natural beauty of spectacular flora, fauna, waterfalls, and views of the Pacific. See the hundreds of flowers planted there, as well as several varieties of orchids from Costa Rica and from all over the world. The manicured walkways meander along a river or at the crest of a mountain and most are easily accessible. Enjoy a guided 1 ½-hour nature walk to cascades and look-out points. A fruit buffet and beverages are served at Pura Vida's main hall.

Carara National Park - length: 3h15. From Herradura, embark your coach for the 20-minute drive to Carara National Park, a low mountainous area of 11,600 acres (4,700 ha) going from the dry North to the very humid coast of the South Pacific. Your experience begins at the universal footpath, specially designed to make an easier and interesting walk into the forest. Follow your guide for a 1 ½-hour leisurely walk through the park. Endangered species like scarlet macaws, yellow-billed cotingas, laughing falcons, and others can be easily seen here, as well as several species of monkeys and other mammals and impressive reptilians and amphibians.
On the way back to the ship a stop is made for fruit and juice tasting.

Day 8 Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
The port of Puerto Caldera lies on the Pacific coast in the Gulf of Nicoya. Further inland, step into the midst of a luscious tropical forest. Among the countless natural wonders to be found here, the Poas volcano towers up in all its majestic glory. Venture deeper into the luxuriant canopy and enjoy a unique experience as you slide from one tree to the next in total safety. Back on firm ground, an untouched cove offers up glimpses of osprey, tireless fishing birds that circle the surf to catch their next meal. Say farewell to your fellow passengers and the crew and start your independent journey back home. 

Le Dumont-d'Urville

Per person starting at
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Deluxe Stateroom
Area: 19 m² Capacity: up to 2 passengers per cabin 4m² Private balcony; King-size bed or twin beds
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 4
Area: 19 m² Capacity: up to 2 passengers per cabin 4m² private balcony; King-size bed or twin beds
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 5
Area: 19 m² Capacity: up to 2 passengers per cabin 4m² private balcony; King-size bed or twin beds
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 6
Area: 19 m² Capacity: up to 2 passengers per cabin 4m² private balcony; King-size bed or twin beds
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Deluxe Suite
Capacity: up to 2 passengers per cabin 6m² private balcony
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Prestige Suite Deck 5
8m² private balcony King-size bed or twin beds
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Prestige Suite Deck 6
8m² private balcony King-size bed or twin beds
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Privilege Suite
Area: 32 m² Capacity: up to 4 passengers per cabin 8m² private balcony; King-size bed or twin beds
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Grand Deluxe Suite
Area: 45 m² Capacity: up to 2 passengers per cabin 30m² private balcony; King-size bed or twin beds
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Owner's Suite
Area: 45 m² Capacity: up to 2 passengers per cabin 30m² private balcony; King-size bed or twin beds


*Rates are capacity controlled and are subject to change without notice.

Cruise fares are per person and include the following:
  • All meals while on board the ship 
  • Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner
  • “Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
  • Evening entertainment and events
  • 24h room service (special selection)
  • English-speaking lecturer 
  • Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite
  • Highly experienced bilingual (French-English) Expedition team 
  • Park entry fees into protected areas
  • Complimentary boot rental on select cruises
  • Free and unlimited Wi-Fi (Internet access may be slower or in some situations interrupted, depending on certain geographic locations or other circumstances beyond our control).​​​
  • Gratuities to the onboard crew, local guides, and drivers
Cruise fares do not include:
  • Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned 
  • Optional excursions (can be booked onboard at additional cost)
  • Pre or post cruise programs, overland programs or shore excursions mentioned
  • Visa expenses and/or immigration reciprocity taxes if applicable
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional Spa package to be booked prior to your departure
  • Beverages other than the ones mentioned
  • Laundry services, hair salon and à la carte Spa treatments
  • Personal expenses, on board medical consultations and drug prescriptions
  • Cancellation/luggage/assistance/repatriation/medical insurance(s)
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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