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Cruising Coastal South America: Costa Rica to Peru - 2019

San Jose • 9-night expedition cruise with Puntarenas, Quepos, Golfito, Isla de Coiba, Manta, Trujillo • Lima
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Originating in Costa Rica, one of the globe’s happiest countries, this auspicious voyage aboard the state-of-the-art expedition vessel ms Roald Amundsen brims with exotic nature, remote locales, and outdoor activities in breathtaking Central and South American harbors. We’ll discover the tropical biodiversity of Costa Rica’s national parks, explore an Eden-like orchid reserve, trek to Panama’s remote and storied Isla de Coiba, and more. Cultural insights abound, too: See where real Panama hats are made (hint: not in Panama!), venture into pre-Columbian ruins in Peru, and absorb the architectural marvels of vibrant, exhilarating Lima — one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites rounding out this journey.

Away from your adventures on land, you’ll enjoy plenty of rejuvenation and excitement aboard a truly unique Hurtigruten expedition vessel, outfitted with an infinity pool, high-tech science center, three restaurants, and smartly designed with Scandinavian flair. This state-of-the-art achievement is designed to bring you to the most spectacular destinations in a way that is not only beneficial to the environment, but also delivers luxury in an unimaginable way. As you near the equator, you might even participate in a special onboard ceremony to commemorate the occasion of crossing the equator by boat — and also to celebrate that by choosing this trip you’ve made a very, very good decision.

Click here to get a glimpse of the wildlife you may encounter on this adventure — plus, tips on how to capture the perfect photo for a lifetime of memories.

San José to Lima

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DAY 1:

Depart home for San José, Costa Rica

Welcome to one of the happiest countries on Earth! Enjoy a Welcome Briefing and Dinner at the hotel tonight.

Included meals:


DAY 2:

The way to San José

Enjoy a day at leisure in San José. Costa Rica’s airline hub is often overlooked by travelers who simply beeline to the coast. But beneath this bustling capital city is a charming underbelly, full of diverse architecture, echoes of reggaeton and calypso everywhere you go, and a lively culinary scene.

Included meals:


DAY 3:

A bevy of sights — from museums to volcanoes — in San José

Take a second day to see the sights in and around San José. Stroll the city’s accessible main thoroughfare, Avenida Central, for a bevy of museums, parks, plazas, shops, and restaurants. Don’t miss the opulent National Theater, filled with marble sculptures and ceiling murals by French and Italian artists, then head to the National Artisans Market and the Mercado Central for both souvenirs and cheap eats. Alternatively, if getting out of the city is your thing, there’s no better place to check out than the towering Arenal Volcano and its neighboring hot springs.

Included meals:


DAY 4:

San José up close, handicrafts, and embarking the ms Roald Amundsen

We’ll make our way toward Puntarenas first thing this morning, first embarking on a panoramic tour of San José. We’ll stop to have lunch in Orotina before continuing on to port, where we’ll board the ms Roald Amundsen, a state-of-the-art vessel equipped with sustainable hybrid technology, and your new home away from home. Welcome aboard!

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 5:

Exploring Costa Rica’s biodiversity

Waking up in Quepos is sure to be a delight — this lush enclave on the Pacific is also the entryway to Manuel Antonio National Park, where we’ll spend the morning. Unforgettable Moment: While small in size, Manuel Antonio National Park is a behemoth when it comes to biodiversity. Home to more than 109 mammals and 184 bird species, the park’s white sand beaches, mangroves, lagoons, rainforests, hiking trails, and coral reefs are a microcosm of Costa Rica’s all-around natural magnificence. We'll take a guided tour of these natural wonders; adventurous travelers shouldn’t miss the park’s series of zip lines for a totally new perspective of the area!

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 6:

A botanical treasure trove, natural medicines, Golfito’s beaches

Step inside Casa Orquídeas, an exquisitely landscaped private tropical garden with hundreds of species of ornamental and edible plants. Unforgettable Moment: Owned and operated by an American couple, this veritable Eden features widespread orchids, bromelias, heliconias, cycads, ornamental palms, and flowering gingers, which we’ll see on a guided walk that includes touching, smelling, and even tasting. Cultural Discovery: During your tour, learn about natural medicinal plants and their uses, and sample some exotic fruits you’ve likely never even heard of during your tour.

Don’t forget to have your camera and even binoculars on-hand — the garden’s plants are magnets for an array of birds, butterflies, insects, and more. You never know what you might see here — including dolphins, sea turtles, rays, and occasionally whales during the scenic 20-minute boat ride to this botanical treasure trove.

Back in Golfito, hit the beach for some relaxing, surfing, or swimming, or explore more nature in nearby Piedras Blancas National Park, which offers walking tours through rainforests and the chance to view waterfalls, monkeys, bats, exotic birds, and even sloths!

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 7:

Exploring remote Isla de Coiba

Today we’ll tender to Panama’s Isla de Coiba, a stunning marine preserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site with quite the intriguing backstory. This biodiverse island was established as a penal colony in 1919, but in the early ’90s the brutal prison started the process of shuttering, relinquishing the island in 1991 to inaugurate what would become Coiba National Park. The last convict was released in 2005, and today the only real dangers are the caimans stalking the island and 33 species of sharks — including the majestic whale shark. Unforgettable Moment: Explore this remote tropical islet on your own today. Snorkel these waters renowned for stunning undersea biodiversity, enjoy the gorgeous white sand beaches, or discover the island by foot for some wildlife scoping of your own.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 8:

Commemorating an equator-crossing on a day at sea

We’ll spend a day at sea as we sail toward Ecuador and cross the fabled equator. Unforgettable Moment: It’s not every day that you cross the equator by boat, so we’ll commemorate the occasion with a special onboard ceremony.

The ms Roald Amundsen is also a floating university, and in addition to the high-tech activity center and special equipment on board, vessel staffers are handpicked experts in biology, history, photography, and geology, and will offer onboard lectures and activities pertinent to your ports of call and area wildlife.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 9:

From hats to nuts in Manta and Montecristi

Today we make landfall in Manta, an affluent port town and Ecuador’s commercial fishing hub, announced in the form of a large tuna statue. We’ll learn about the area history and politics with a visit to the Eloy Alfaro Museum, named so after José Eloy Alfaro Delgado, a beloved two-time Ecuadorian president born in the town of Montecristi.

Unforgettable Moment / Cultural Discovery: Montecristi is a highlight for us today, as it’s the rightful birthplace of the Panama hat . . . in Ecuador. We’ll visit a local market where we’ll see how these traditional straw hats are hand-woven — taking several months to make the finest examples. A superfino Panama hat can, according to rumor, hold water — and when rolled for storage can pass through a wedding ring! We’ll also visit a factory where the tagua nut is fashioned into everything from jewelry to handicrafts. Spend an afternoon at leisure back in Manta.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 10:

Relax, learn, and enjoy life on the ms Roald Amundsen

Continuing southward toward Peru, we’ll spend a day at sea, which offers more opportunities for onboard relaxation, learning, and enjoyment. Whatever your whim, you’ll find it aboard the ms Roald Amundsen, furnished with elegant lounges, cabins, and recreation and viewing areas. Your onboard team will offer scintillating lectures to contextualize your experiences in South America and deepen your knowledge of this fascinating continent.

You’ll also appreciate creative and delicious food in three onboard restaurants that blend Norwegian tradition with international gastronomy. Savor this experience on the ms Roald Amundsen, the world’s most advanced expedition vessel!

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 11:

Visiting the largest adobe city in the Americas

The striking colonial city of Trujillo comes into focus today as we spend the morning touring it, beginning with Chan Chan, the pre-Columbian capital of the Chimor Kingdom. Unforgettable Moment: Located in the Moche Valley, this sprawling UNESCO World Heritage Site is comprised of nine “citadels,” or palaces, and is considered the largest adobe city in the Americas and the second largest in the world.

Afterwards, we’ll transfer back to Trujillo, enjoying views of its beaches and neighborhoods along the way. In Plaza de Armas, Trujillo’s historic city square, we’ll admire the colonial and religious architecture of buildings and even residences — large, colorful homes featuring exquisite wrought iron trellises and windows.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 12:

Heading toward Lima with luxury to spare

As we continue our trek to Lima, take this time to relax aboard your state-of-the-art Hurtigruten vessel, built by Rolls-Royce and outfitted with luxurious amenities including a wellness center, sleek sun deck, hot tubs, and large outdoor infinity pool perfect for taking in some sun while simultaneously taking in the unforgettable South American views.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 13:

Panoramic Lima and Peruvian cuisine

Today we’ll embark on a panoramic tour of Lima, checking out the city’s oceanfront and the Park of Love, where you can’t miss El Beso (The Kiss), a passionate statue that depicts sculptor Victor Delfín and his wife locked in a kiss. Unforgettable Moment: We’ll make our way to Lima’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and view the Plaza Mayor, site of the Archbishop’s Palace, Lima Cathedral, and Government Palace, where we’ll witness a changing of the guard ceremony.

Cultural Discovery: We’ll enjoy a typical Peruvian lunch, the main meal of the day here, which typically features Peruvian standards like ceviche, lomo saltado (stir-fried beef and potatoes), or arroz con pollo, a deceptively simple rice and chicken dish. For dessert, we’ll sample a regional specialty — lucuma ice cream. Often likened to sweet potato or butterscotch, the lucuma fruit is indigenous to Peru and used in a wide variety of desserts. This evening, we’ll recount our adventures over a Farewell Dinner at the hotel.

Included meals:

Breakfast  & lunch

DAY 14:

Living leisurely in Lima

Acclimate to Lima with a day at leisure. Enjoy the ocean views from the city’s tidy lanes, discover its emerging arts scene, and find something delicious for lunch and dinner in this culinary dynamo. Here’s a helpful hint: Lima is renowned for ceviche, fresh seafood “cooked” in citrus juice, and is home to more than 16,000 cevicherias. Afterward, why not meander through the Barranco neighborhood, where art galleries, boutiques, a boardwalk, and the colonial homes of Lima’s elite epitomize this city that just keeps getting better.

Included meals:


DAY 15:

Another day in whimsical Lima

Soak in Lima’s offerings with a second day at leisure. There’s plenty to explore — from the ancient Catholic catacombs beneath the San Francisco de Lima Basilica and Convent to the renowned Larco Museum’s more than 50,000 pieces of ceramics. Or simply stroll the city streets for unexpected delights, boutiques, cafés and restaurants. Lunch will be on your own, so take this time to fully delve into one of Lima’s exciting gastronomic hotspots before reconvening tonight with your fellow travelers for a Farewell Dinner at the hotel.

Included meals:

Breakfast & dinner

DAY 16:

Return home

Perhaps you’ll take our optional tour to the Larco Museum today, or simply spend a morning at leisure to wind down from our adventure. Tonight, you’ll fly home.

Included meals:

Optional Tour: Larco Museum

Larco Museum

  • Approximate Cost: $69 USD per person
  • Approximate Time:
  • Location: Lima, Peru
  • When: Half-day tour
Embark on a special evening tour of the splendidly unique Larco Museum. Housed in a former mansion and built on the site of a pre-Colombian temple, this museum offers a varied collection of 3,000 years of ceramic, textile, and precious metal artifacts. You'll enjoy a guided visit of this irreplaceable collection, followed by a special dinner in the museum, the perfect finale to your adventure.

Please note: This tour is only available for passengers not taking the optional post-extension to Machu Picchu & Cusco.

Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.

Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary. That hotel ratings are based on the hotel and a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.

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Cruising Coastal South America: Costa Rica to Peru - 2019

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