Trip Type : Small Ship Cruise
Costa Rica & the Panama Canal tour

Costa Rica & the Panama Canal

AdventureSmith
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Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
8 days
From: $ 6,190 $ 774 / day
Checking price

Overview

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.

Short Description

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.

Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Trip Type Small Ship Cruise
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Premium - 4 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Panama
End City San Jose

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.

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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.

Availability

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Price From $ 6,190
Price Per Day: $ 774 per day
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  • Deposit Price: $ 550

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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.

All Deck & Cabin Plans Trip Photos

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

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Standard Group

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

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.

Meals Included:

7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches and 7 Dinners

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