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Highlights
  • Drive to Colon to board National Geographic Sea Lion and set sail for the first part of your Panama Canal transit
  • Explore the turquoise waters via zodiac or kayak, where dolphins and whales have been spotted.
  • Isla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks, where you may hike the tropical forest trails.
  • The national park includes thousands upon thousands of acres, 80% of it ocean, making the area perfect for swimming and snorkeling amid tropical fish
  • The bird watching is wonderful, so look for birds with names as colorful as their feathers: black-crowned tityra, fiery-billed aracari, chestnut-mandibled toucans and scarlet macaws.

There are few places in the world where nature is as exuberant, colorful or diverse as in the tropics of Costa Rica. This Costa Rica & the Panama Canal journey takes you here and beyond, to the inspiring land of Panama. To many, Panama is synonymous with the Canal, stretching more than 50 miles and traversed by some 14,000 ships each year, one of the most celebrated human achievements on the planet. What many people don't know, is that the country of Panama offers a level of natural beauty and biological diversity that's equal to Costa Rica's.

On this Costa Rica and Panama small ship cruise, explore famous national parks and wildlife reserves, including a privately owned tropical garden. Walk rainforest trails, home to capuchin and howler monkeys, three-toed sloths, green iguanas and colorful hummingbirds. Relax and enjoy all the comforts and intimacy of small ship cruising. Swim and snorkel Panama's famed Isla Coiba. Kayak along wildlife-rich, remote coastlines. Go horseback riding on the beach. Transit the legendary Panama Canal, and visit Barro Colorado with scientist escorts from the Smithsonian Research Station. The 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Lion is ideal for those seeking small ship adventure, supreme naturalist guides and activities for all levels.

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5.0 Activities
5.0 Lodging
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5.0 Meals
5.0
Costa Rica & the Panama Canal

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M

Recommends

A fun trip! August 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
The folks at Adventuresmith make planning a trip almost as much fun as the trip itself. They enthusiastically and efficiently helped us create two different adventures that I felt they would be thrilled to go on themselves. It is always very satisfying to find people who love what they do and are eager to provide the best possible service for their customers.
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LG

Recommends

Incredible trip to the Costa Rican jungle! August 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
My family and I just returned from an incredible trip to the Costa Rican jungle with AdventureSmith. Our trip was well planned, flawless and felt very personalized. We stayed first at the Tortugero Lodge in Tortuguero and had a great experience seeing the jungle there. Our guides were very knowledgable and welcoming. The lodge was beautifully laid out, had amazing food and was situated nestled in the jungle so we could enjoy the sounds of the jungle while we slept in luxurious open air bungalows. We took boat tours of the jungle and got to kayak up small waterways so we had the crocodile eye view! Next we transferred to the Oso peninsula via a thrilling Cessna ride through clouds to stay at Lapa Ríos, another jungle lodge surrounded by monkeys. The guides here were also fun, knowledgable and great with the kids. Best hike was the waterfall hike. So much adventure on this vacation, we all slept great each night! This was our second trip with AdventureSmith and I can't wait to book our next. They really know how to set you up for exactly what you want, even if you don't know exactly what you want. Can't recommend them enough!
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D

Recommends

Very happy with AdvetureSmith. August 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We've booked two trips through AdventureSmith and wouldn't consider any other company for our trips. The service we've received and the ease of the process have been great. I can't recommend the company highly enough.
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SF

Recommends

HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND! August 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
I just got back from one of the easiest hassle-free vacations I’ve ever taken and it all started with a single call to Adventuresmith. They exceeded all of my expectations and a would use them again in a heartbeat. I had only a few weeks to plan a trip to the Galapagos that I’d promised my wife. I was pretty certain I’d procrastinated to the point that a trip – especially during Spring Break/Easter week wouldn’t even be possible without settling on quality or paying through the nose. I searched on line for “Galapagos tours” and came up with three companies that seemed to be able to do what I needed. It was after business hours but I needed to get things going so I called anyway, planning to leave a voicemail messages to start the process. One company never did call me back. Another called me back the next day and said “I don’t know if we can find anything for you but we’ll see what’s available and get back to you in a few days.” The third was Adventuresmith. About 10 minutes later, again, after business hours, I got a call from Andrew, one of Adventuresmith’s travel specialists. He asked me for the dates I could travel, the type of boat (luxury, moderate or economy) I was looking for and my budget. The next morning, which was a Saturday, I got an e-mail with a detailed list of available cruises. I used the Adventuresmith website to research the details of each ship – including deck plans and detailed photographs, itineraries and reviews. I didn’t find any other website that was as comprehensive or as easy to use. The following Monday, Andrew and I spoke by phone and he answered all of my questions about the different boats, the different itineraries, the anticipated weather and sea conditions, and much more. We narrowed the list to a couple of cruises and he went to work – callin g each company directly to check on availability rather than relying on e-mail or web-based reservation systems due to the last-minute nature of the trip. On Tuesday morning, he’d found an available cabin that met all of our expectations – the last available cabin – so he booked it for me and negotiated a 24-hour hold to be sure the price was okay with me and that I could get air reservations. He told me exactly how to arrange the travel days and times so I would have virtually no risk of problems from delayed or cancelled flights. On Wednesday, I e-mailed him that I’d found suitable air reservations and he had my trip confirmed within an hour or so. He reassured me that I’d chosen one of the few boats he could enthusiastically recommend which I found very comforting, given the expense of the trip. He told me he’d be the one coordinating all of my trip details from that point forward and that he would be available to me for any questions or problems, by phone or e-mail throughout the entire trip, right up to my return. He e-mailed me a bunch of articles about the Galapagos and how to get the most out of a trip there, and he sent very clearly and well-organized information about what to pack, what to expect, how to tip, and much more. He offered a very well priced land package that included hotel rooms for all over-night stop overs, transfers to and from hotels and airports with a private Spanish-speaking guide who would help us navigate immigration services, the airport, and hotel check-in, a guided tour of our stop-over city, buffet breakfasts, and round-trip airfare to and from the Galapagos islands from mainland Ecuador. He explained in detail the relative advantages and disadvantages of using Guayaquil vs. Quito as our stopover city in Ecuador. I could not possibly have matched the price of that package by arranging everything myself and I expended exactly zero effort to make it all happen. The trip ran like clockwork. We were perfectly prepared based on Adventuresmith’s expert write-ups for pre-trip planning, and had an extraordinary trip. It was, by far, the easiest trip I’ve ever arranged – basically two phone calls and an e-mail or two to Adventuresmith and the rest was done. We didn’t have a single issue or problem but it was very nice to know Adventuresmith provided 24/7 support if we did. I’ve never had a travel company offer that before.
After that very first contact I had with Adventuresmith, I started researching them online to be sure they were “real.” It all sounded a little too good to be true and I’d never heard of them before. It was surprising to find only a handful of reviews on line but all of them were positive. I assumed they were a pretty new venture but after asking Andrew about it, he told me about their many, many years in the specialty travel business and explained that their marketing presence is still limited on line but that they have always had a significant presence in travel magazines and travel publications. So let me tell you here and now that they are quite real, incredibly knowledgeable and professional, courteous and service-oriented. I will absolutely look to them again to help with travel in the future.
Bottom line: No need to look anywhere else. Just use these guys. I was thrilled to find them and you will be too!
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Itinerary

Day 1: Panama City, Colon & Embark Ship

Meals: Dinner

Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion

Depart U.S. late morning via American Airlines on a nonstop flight to Panama City, with a flying time of about three hours. On arrival, drive to Colon to board National Geographic Sea Lion and set sail for the first part of your Panama Canal transit, anchoring in Gatun Lake for the night.

Day 2: Barro Colorado & Panama Canal Transit

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion

Board  zodiacs for Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatun Lake. Barro Colorado Island has been the primary Smithsonian center for tropical rain forest study since 1923, and this itinerary has special permission to visit the facilities at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. This is also the site of a National Geographic-supported project that tracks tagged animals using automated radio signals and wireless technology. Meet some of the scientists and walk with them through the forest to learn about their work researching the islands's 120 mammal and diverse tree species before reboarding to continue crossing the complex lock system of the Panama Canal. Often, you'll have the opportunity to cross part of the Canal during the day, and another when it is dramatically lit at night.

Day 3: Gulf of Panama Islets

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion

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 zodiac or kayak, where dolphins and whales have been spotted. Some of the birds you may observe are roosting and nesting magnificent frigate birds, brown pelicans, neotropical cormorants, brown boobies and blue-footed boobies on an otherwise empty stretch of white sand.

Day 4: Coiba National Park, Panama

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion

Isla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks, where you may hike the tropical forest trails. The national park includes thousands upon thousands of acres, 80% of it ocean, making the area perfect for swimming and snorkeling amid tropical fish. The eastern Pacific has very few living coral reefs because the water is too cool, but the exception lies here. These waters are full of life with over 69 species of fish living among the healthy coral. Parrot fish decorate the algae, and if you're lucky, you may see the rare bifin or bifin spazus which can weigh up to 300 pounds. The National Geographic Sea Lion staff will assist both novice and expert snorkelers alike. For those preferring a drier clime, onboard Naturalists take underwater footage, which animates the evening gathering in the lounge.

Day 5: Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion

Today make your first landfall in Costa Rica with a beautiful destination, Casa Orquideas, a privately owned tropical garden accessible only by boat and special invitation. Ron and Trudy MacAllister put this garden together over 20 years of collecting local rainforest plants and trading them with other botanical gardens. To see these varied and colorful plants in such a lush, natural setting is almost dreamlike. Here roam among a profusion of orchids, spotting tanagers, parrots and gaudy toucans. Later, take some time to explore the forested bays of Golfo Dulce, ideal for kayaking and swimming. The mangrove forest that lines the shoreline forms a unique ecosystem to observe up close on kayaks. The bird watching is wonderful, so look for birds with names as colorful as their feathers: black-crowned tityra, fiery-billed aracari, chestnut-mandibled toucans and scarlet macaws.

Day 6: Osa Peninsula

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion

This morning, the National Geographic Sea Lion anchors off the remote Osa Peninsula in the environs of Corcovado National Park, home to some of the most pristine lowland rainforst on the Pacific coast. The exact landing area for the day will depend on sea conditions. You may swim in waterfall pools, horseback ride on the beach, join a zodiac cruise, or trek through the rainforest for a chance to see four species of monkey in one day: howler, spider, capuchin and squirrel!

Day 7: Manuel Antonio National Park

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion

Although this UNESCO World Hertiage site is the smallest national park in Costa Rica, it rivals Poas Volcano Park for the title of most popular. Because the abundant wildlife here is most active in the morning, get an early start, arriving here before breakfast. Lethargic, three-toed sloths remain statue-like in the dense trees. White-throated capuchin monkeys, agoutis, howler monkeys, white-nosed coatis, squirrel monkeys, white-lined sac-winged bats and tamandua anteaters are all well within reach here. Birders will be happy too, with the possibility of seeing the purple crown fairy, bare-throated tiger heron, orange chinned parakeet and so much more. The smallest kingfisher on the continent is the American pygmy kingfisher. It's hard to spot, but the ship naturalists often can find one for those with the patience to wait. In the afternoon, explore Costa Rica's beautiful coastline, finding a great spot for a final hike or swim.

Day 8: Disembark Herradura & Depart San Jose

Meals: Breakfast

Disembark National Geographic Sea Lion this morning in Herradura and drive to the airport for flights home, or on to other adventures. The U.S.-bound group flight departs in late morning, arriving in the late afternoon.

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 6,190

Price Per Day:

$ 774 per person
 
  • Deposit Price: $ 550

Room Configuration

Sole occupancy cabins are available in categories 1 and 2. Shares can be arranged for solo travelers at the double occupancy rate in categories 1 and 2 only. We match you with a cabin mate(s) of the same gender. Even if we are unable to find a cabin mate for you, no single supplement will be charged. Third person rates are available in certain categories at one half the double occupancy rate.

Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Ship Name

National Geographic Sea Lion

Ship Stats
  • 62 guests
  • Year Built: 1982
  • Renovated: 2014
  • Length: 164 feet
  • Beam: 33 feet
  • Draft: 6 feet
  • Cruising Speed: 10 knots
  • Flag: United States
Ship Description

Choose the National Geographic Sea Lion if you are an active and inquisitive traveler seeking immerse yourself in nature and wildlife. The experts and equipment on board provides the finest intellectual and educational experience of any small ship cruise. Don't expect five-star accommodations and amenities; there are other luxury ships if this is your priority. But if your priority is the best expedition experience possible, with the best guides in the industry, and you are willing to pay the premium of such an experience, the National Geographic Sea Lion and her sister ship Sea Bird are the right small ships for you.

The Adventure Smith Explorations crew has personally sailed aboard National Geographic Sea Lion. After you review the ship description below and our National Geographic ship review above, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact our travel experts.

Deck & Cabin Plans

Bridge Deck

National Geographic Sea Bird Sea Lion Bridge Deck Plan

Upper Deck

National Geographic Sea Bird Sea Lion Upper Deck Plan

Category 1

Main Deck #300, 301, 302, 303.  Conveniently positioned between the dining room and lounge, these cabins feature twin lower beds, and a large view window.

Category 2

Upper Deck #200-212, 215; Bridge Deck #100-104, 108.  These well-located cabins include twin lower beds and a large view window that open to the outside.

Category 3

Upper Deck #214, 216-219; Bridge Deck #105, 106.  These large cabins feature a seating arrangement with a table and two view windows. Certain cabins include twin lower beds. Cabins #214, 216, 217, 219 can be configured to accommodate three travelers.

Trip Includes
  • Accommodations aboard Sea Lion
  • Meals as indicated
  • Non alcoholic beverages aboard ship
  • Shore excursions, sightseeing and entrance fees
  • Services of expedition leaders, naturalist and expert guides
  • Transfer from airport/ship if traveling on group flights
  • Use of kayaks and snorkelling gear
  • All port taxes and service charges during the voyage.
Trip Excludes
  • Air transportation
  • Airport departure tax
  • Extensions
  • Horseback riding
  • Passport/visa fees
  • Insurance of any kind
  • Items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, emails, voyage DVD, etc;
  • Gratuity to ship's crew and naturalist staff at your discretion.
Optional Activities

You have an opprtunuty to extend your trips:

  • Quest for Pura Vida from : $2700; 9 days
  • Pacific Costa Rica from: $2895; 9 days
  • Tropical Volcano & Cloud Forest from: $1895; 6 days
Meals Included:

7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches and 7 Dinners

Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Standard Group
Start City
Panama
End City
San Jose
Cancellation Policy:

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $550 is required at the time of booking. A Reservation Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Departures are subject to the following per-person cancellation fees, based on number of days prior to departure:

120 or more days - $350, in form of a Lindblad Travel Certificate

119-90 days - Advance payment cost

89-60 days - 25% of trip cost

59-45 days - 50% of trip cost

44-0 days - No refund

Additional Information:

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 21 days of booking your trip for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Photo Expeditions

Departures flagged as Photo Expeditions are part of the exclusive Expedition Photography program, meaning that they are accompanied by a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Certified Photo Instructor and are designed expressly to move at a photographer's pace so that you can take advantage of some of the most photogenic places on the planet. All other Costa Rica & the Panama Canal sailings feature a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Certified Photo Instructor onboard. This naturalist is specially trained to offer assistance with camera settings, the basics of composition and to help you become a better, more confident photographer.

Room Configuration

Sole occupancy cabins are available in categories 1 and 2. Shares can be arranged for solo travelers at the double occupancy rate in categories 1 and 2 only. We match you with a cabin mate(s) of the same gender. Even if we are unable to find a cabin mate for you, no single supplement will be charged. Third person rates are available in certain categories at one half the double occupancy rate.

Trip Level

Our level one trips are designed for travelers interested in lodge and hotel accommodations combined with mild activities, plenty of flexibility and options for more rigorous activity. Expect two to four hours of activity each day over straightforward terrain. Travelers should be comfortable hiking or walking 3-5 miles per day. Other level one activities include snorkeling or sea kayaking sheltered waters and river rafting class I-II water. Expedition Cruising aboard small ships and yachts is level one and may include fun and easy activities such as hiking, snorkeling and kayaking. Enjoying a relaxed pace with a focus on nature, culture and history is often a priority for those who choose this trip level.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, National Park regulation or at the captain's discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Trip ID#: RicPanAdv

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