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Keel-billed Toucan

Panama and Costa Rica by Sea: The Natural Wonders of Central America – with Smithsonian Journeys

Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Le Bellot
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The San Blas Islands of Holandes Cayes, Panama City's Old Quarter, and the Darién National Park are highlights of Le Bellot's journey in Central America. Proceed to Fuente Amador and start your exploration of the Panama Canal. In Costa Rica, you may encounter sloths, the noisy howler monkey, and the white-faced capuchin monkey. The combination of forest and ocean provides a special opportunity to observe both terrestrial and seabirds.
Freighter in Gatun LocksDarien Jungle of PanamaExplore Coiba National ParkShips in Gatun Locks, Panama CanalZapatilla Cay, PanamaKeel-billed Toucan
Highlights
  • Explore natural splendors, local indigenous communities, and cross Panama Canal
  • Visit the Punta Culebra Nature Center at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)
  • Snorkel on beautiful Holandes Cayes, one of the islets of the San Blas Islands
  • See the lush rainforest of Darién National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Colon | 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: San Blas Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Located on the north-east coast of Panama, the San Blas archipelago is a string of coral islands in the heart of the Caribbean Sea. More than 300 islands and cays cover an area of 300 square kilometres offering travellers a multitude of treasures. Sheltered behind a long coral reef, the San Blas Islands are full of enchanting anchorages. The long sandy white beaches bound by crystal-clear waters will allow you to relax and enjoy incredible marine fauna before engaging with the Kunas Indian community. Still subsisting on hunting and fishing, they will welcome you in their villages of bamboo houses gathered near the beaches.

Day 3: Crossing the Panama Canal

  • 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 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 4: Fuerte Amador, Flamenco Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
An artificial peninsula situated at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, Fuerte Amador is the gateway to several noteworthy sites. Right near there, the impressive Miraflores Locks are a shining example of the engineering feats deployed during the construction of the Panama Canal. Further north, in villages nestling amid dense vegetation, lives the Embera tribe, guardian of the forest and of the Chagres River. These proud people have successfully preserved their traditions and their ancestral way of life, which predate the colonization of the region by the Spanish.

Day 5: Playa Muerto, 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 unspoilt land with an extremely rich variety of flora and fauna. Listed by UNESCO as World Heritage, Darien National Park offers its extraordinary scenery of rocky coastlines, mountain ranges, mangroves, rivers and creeks. Discover Playa Muerto, a tiny coastal village home to the Emberas Amerindian community. You will visit the village, attend traditional songs and dances of the locals, and admire beautiful local craft.

Day 6: 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 centre. 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 PONANT 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 observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 7: 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.

Day 8: Puerto Caldera

  • 1 Breakfast
The port of Puerto Caldera lies on the Pacific coast, in the Puntarenas region, at the mouth of the Gulf of Nicoya. Areas of wilderness stretch along the coast. Further inland, among the countless natural wonders to be found in the generous rainforest of the Costa Rica’s national parks, Poas and Arena volcanoes towers up in all their majestic glory. In this luxuriant natural setting, Costa Rica protects one of the planet’s richest biodiversity: monkeys, sloths, tropical birds, iguanas, crocodiles, waterfalls, canyons, and more than ten thousand species of tropical plants.

Ship/Hotel

Le Bellot

Ponant Sauna
Owner's Suite
Relax aboard

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$5,530
Deluxe Stateroom
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Deluxe Stateroom
19 m² area featuring a 4m² Private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Shower
Prestige DeckPrestige Deck
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Prestige Deck 4
19 m² area featuring a 4m² Private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Shower
Prestige DeckPrestige Deck
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Prestige Deck 5
19 m² area featuring a 4m² Private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Shower
Prestige DeckPrestige Deck
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Prestige Deck 6
19 m² area featuring a 4m² Private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Shower
Deluxe SuiteDeluxe Suite
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Deluxe Suite Deck 3
27 m² area featuring, 6m² private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, 1 sofa, shower
Deluxe SuiteDeluxe Suite
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Deluxe Suite Deck 4
27 m² area featuring, 6m² private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, 1 sofa, shower
Deluxe SuiteDeluxe Suite
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Deluxe Suite Deck 5
27 m² area featuring, 6m² private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, 1 sofa, shower
Deluxe SuiteDeluxe Suite
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Deluxe Suite Deck 6
27 m² area featuring, 6m² private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, 1 sofa, shower
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Deck Suite 5
38 m² area featuring an 8m² Private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Shower
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Deck Suite 6
38 m² area featuring an 8m² Private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Shower
Privilege SuitePrivilege Suite
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Privilege Suite Deck 5
32 m² area featuring an 8m² Private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Shower
Privilege SuitePrivilege Suite
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Privilege Suite Deck 6
38 m² area featuring an 8m² Private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Shower
Grand Deluxe SuiteGrand Deluxe Suite
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Grand Deluxe Suite Deck 6
45 m² area featuring, 40m² private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Bathtub
Grand Deluxe SuiteGrand Deluxe Suite
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Grand Deluxe Suite Deck 5
45 m² area featuring, 40m² private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Bathtub
Owner's SuiteOwner's Suite
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Owner's Suite
45 m² area featuring an 30m² Private balcony, individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Shower
Included
  • 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Port Fees
  • Unlimited Free Wifi
  • Onboard Entertainment 
  • Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and Gala Dinner
  • Gratuities to Onboard Crew
  • “Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
  • 24h Room Service (special selection)
  • English-Speaking Lecturer 
  • Highly experienced and bilingual (French-English) expedition staff
  • Park Entry Fees into Protected Areas
  • 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. 
  • Arrival & Departure Transfers
  • A program of onboard enrichment provided by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts
  • Luggage handling from the airport to the ship on the day of embarkation.
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Visa Fees
  • Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
  • Laundry Services, Hair Salon, and à La Carte Spa Treatments
  • Pre or post cruise programs, overland programs or shore excursions 
  • Beverages other than the ones mentioned in inclusions

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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