Board the elegant, 5-star Ocean Explorer for an incredible small ship expedition cruise of Panama and Costa Rica. Sail from Panama City to Puntarenas, visiting some of the world’s most beautiful and biodiverse regions along the Pacific coast of Central America.
Throughout your small ship expedition journey, you’ll board Zodiac boats and head ashore to explore unspoiled islands teeming with indigenous wildlife, hike through lush jungles, and discover shallow lagoons and mangrove swamps. Your knowledgeable and experienced Expedition Team — comprised of experts in the fields of geology, marine biology, ornithology, and more — will be with you, guiding your discoveries every step of the way. You'll also have the opportunity to cross the full-length of the Panama Canal, one of the seven wonders of the modern world and a true feat of engineering. In all, you’ll enjoy 11 included features, including six days of expedition activities in Panama and Costa Rica.
Along with days exploring ashore, you’ll enjoy sailing aboard the 5-star Ocean Explorer, a luxury vessel built for expedition travel with ULSTEIN X-BOW® technology. This elegant small ship ensures you’ll feel pampered throughout the entirety of your journey with sumptuous accommodations, gourmet dining, and first-class personalized service. Treat yourself to a soothing massage at the onboard spa, soak in the top-level hot tubs as you take in the passing scenery, or head to the fitness center for a workout. You’ll find everything you need on board to ensure this small ship expedition crosses every item off your travel wishlist.
Please note that the nature of these journeys requires a certain level of physical fitness, and guests should be able to walk three miles unassisted over potentially-uneven terrain, be prepared to anchor offshore, and possess the physical agility to embark and disembark small Zodiac crafts in unpredictable waters.
Fly to Panama City
Today, you’ll board a flight to Panama City, Panama. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a representative will meet you at the airport to assist with transfers to your hotel. Check in and relax as you prepare for the adventure that awaits on your small ship expedition cruise. Dinner tonight is on your own.
Explore Panama City at your leisure
Panama City is Central America’s most cosmopolitan capital, and you’ll have a full day at leisure to explore it for yourself. Head to Casco Viejo, the historic side of Panama City and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and take a step back in time. Bask in sweeping vistas of the city's skyscrapers, explore ancient churches, and savor fresh seafood at El Mercado de Mariscos.
Tour Panama City and embark the Ocean Explorer today
Following breakfast at your hotel, you’ll head to Colón to begin the cruise portion of your journey, with a tour of Panama City along the way.
Upon arrival at the pier, you’ll board your elegant small ship to begin the cruise portion of your journey. There will be time to settle in and perhaps have a drink on deck as you set off on your adventure. Tonight, enjoy a special Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers.
Discover the pristine beauty of San Blas Island
Today you’ll visit San Blas Island, part of a group of islands located in the archipelago northwest of Panama. Many of the 378 islands found here are uninhabited, and today you’ll head ashore to explore the pristine beauty found here. The powder-white sand and crystal-clear waters surrounding San Blas make this a picture-perfect destination on which to spend your day.
Cross the Panama Canal
Crossing the Panama Canal is a maritime experience unlike any other. Completed in 1914, the Panama Canal is considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world and a marvel of engineering. Today you’ll traverse the entire length of the canal, crossing its massive locks. Head to the top-level sundeck, or to the panoramic Observation Lounge, and view the full scope of this engineering wonder.
Discover the Gulf of Panama with your Expedition Team
Located off the southern Pacific coast of Panama, the Gulf of Panama’s numerous islets — with their stretches of coastline dotted with numerous coastal settlements, quaint fishing villages, and picturesque harbors — are a draw for visitors the world over. You’ll enjoy two days in this picturesque region, led by your Expedition Team. Birdwatchers may have opportunities to spot frigate birds, brown pelicans, neo-tropic cormorants, and brown boobies.
Uncover the marine wonders of Coiba Island
Situated 30 miles off the Pacific Coast of Panama, in the Gulf of Chiriquí, you’ll find UNESCO-listed Coiba Island. Once used as a Panamanian penal colony, today the island serves as a protected marine reserve. Its use as a penal colony meant that access to the island was extremely restricted. As a result, minimal human interaction has allowed the island’s natural resources to thrive. Today, you’ll board a Zodiac craft and head ashore with your Expedition Team for a guided excursion.
Join your Expedition Team for two days of exploration in Golfo Dulce
At over 600-feet-deep at its center, and featuring a lush tropical rainforest and miles of secluded beaches, Golfo Dulce is home to numerous species of marine and wildlife, including humpback whales. There is no other place in Costa Rica with such diverse flora and fauna. Golfo Dulce is easily one of the wettest and most humid sections of the country, with more than 200 inches of rainfall per year, assuring that the surrounding area will be thriving with vegetation and wildlife. You’ll spend two days exploring the mangroves, jungles, and wetlands with your knowledgeable Expedition Team.
Explore the biodiversity of Corcovado National Park
Join your Expedition Team on an exploration of Corcovado National Park, one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Located on the Osa Peninsula, its more than 100,000 acres contain shallow lagoons, marshlands, mangrove swamps, rainforest, and almost 30 miles of sandy beach. Within this massive, protected territory you’ll find hundreds of species of trees, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and marine life.
Say hello to San Jose today
The cruise portion of your journey comes to an end today in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. You’ll enjoy breakfast on board, then wave goodbye to the Ocean Explorer as you head out to your centrally-located hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica. Along the way, enjoy a highlights tour of Puntarenas and San Jose. Upon arrival at the hotel, you’ll have the afternoon at leisure with dinner on your own tonight.
Enjoy San Jose at your leisure
The modern, cosmopolitan city of San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and one of its most popular destinations for visitors. You’ll have a day at leisure to explore this lively city at your own pace today. Explore the many museums and cultural spots in the metropolitan area; pop into one of the lively bars for a refreshing cocktail, or tempt your tastebuds at one of the numerous restaurants the city has to offer. The bustling Mercado Central (Central Market), dating back to the late 19th century, is one of the oldest landmarks in Costa Rica and a fascinating place to visit during your time here.
Return home today
Today, you’ll transfer to the airport for your flight back to the U.S.
Please Note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew. Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.