In collaboration with National Geographic Expeditions.
PONANT takes you to discover Costa Rica and Panama with an 11-day expedition cruise. A circuit of great beauty around the isthmus of Panama, a link between two continents, which concentrates a biodiversity that is unique in the world, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean between dream islands, natural reserves and encounters with the fascinating local communities.
Your journey in Central America will begin with a visit to the Curú Wildlife Refuge. Deep inside the tropical rainforest you may be lucky enough to see multicoloured birds, monkeys, iguanas and sloths.
In Casa Orquideas, in the heart of a region that is home to Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches, you will have the chance to visit a botanical garden with a sublime collection of tropical flowers.
Your ship will then head for the magnificent Darien National Park in Panama. This little corner of paradise is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to remarkable plants and wildlife. Sandy beaches, rocky coastlines, mangroves, swamps and tropical rainforests vie with each other for beauty and offer a feast for photographers. This will also be the occasion for meeting the astonishing semi-nomadic Emberas community.
Your ship will stop in the Pearl Islands, which nestle in the Gulf of Panama, before sailing through the world-famous Panama Canal.
You will then discover the golden sand and crystal-clear waters of the coral islets of the San Blas Islands. The Kuna live among the palm trees and pirogues; this people perpetuates, among other things, the traditional craft of molas, weaved textiles in sparkling colours.
You will finally be able to enjoy a visit with an all-new port of call in the magnificent Portobelo Bay, between mangroves, tropical forest and discovery of the Congo culture. The fortifications of this former gateway to the New World are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The encounters with the wildlife described above illustrate possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed.
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*Price is per person, double occupancy, is based on availability, and subject to change at any time. The category of cabin to which this price applies may no longer be available.
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20% Ponant Bonus
Prestige stateroom Deck 4
20% Ponant Bonus
Prestige stateroom Deck 5
20% Ponant Bonus
Prestige Deck 6
20% Ponant Bonus
Deluxe Suite Deck 3
20% Ponant Bonus
Deluxe Suite Deck 4
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Deluxe Suite Deck 5
20% Ponant Bonus
Deluxe Suite Deck 6
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Important trip details
Passport valid for at least six (6) months beyond the completion of your trip. Passport must contain at least two completely clear, blank, unused visa pages for each visa required, not including any amendment pages. Visa pages with stains or ink from other pages in the passport are not usable. Guests who deviate from the scheduled embarkation or disembarkation port should research the foreign entry requirements for the port country. Due to government regulations, regrettably, Ponant will have to deny boarding to any guest who fails to obtain the appropriate travel documentation for this trip.
The information below is current but subject to change at any time without advance notice from government authorities. Please consult your respective government agencies for visa and health information.
Costa Rica: When leaving Costa Rica from the International airport, an exit tax of 27 US$ p/p must be paid (either by credit card, US$ or Colones).
Warning about the use of drones: the use of drones aboard PONANT ships, whether they are sailing at sea, at a port of call or anchored, is strictly forbidden. The use of drones on land in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is also strictly forbidden by international polar regulations. In other regions, it may be possible to use drones on land if permission has been obtained from the relevant authorities of each country and each region travelled through, as well as a pilot’s licence that should be obtained from your home country. Passengers are responsible for obtaining these permits; they should be able to present them at all times. Passengers who do not obtain these authorisations expose themselves to the risk of legal proceedings.
Panama: the yellow fever vaccination is recommended for the eastern areas of the Panama Canal (Darien and Kuna communities).
The evolving COVID-19 health formalities are available in real time by clicking here.
Given the particularly changing international sanitary context, this itinerary as well as the land programmes and shore excursions may have to evolve according to port authorisations and governmental regulations in force at the time of your trip.
Therefore, for even greater peace of mind, we strongly recommend that you book your land programmes before and after your cruise with PONANT.
Health formalities related to COVID-19 will be confirmed to you before your departure.
In this exceptional context, your safety remains our first priority. The effectiveness of our procedures, our cutting-edge medical equipment and the smaller scale of our ships means we can offer maximum safety so that you can relax and enjoy your cruise. The revised passenger circuit and our enhanced hygiene measures can be found on this page: https://au.ponant.com/sail-with-confidence.
Expedition programmes include activities such as Zodiac® outings and landings (sometimes with "wet landings"), moderate walks to more active hikes, all accompanied by your expedition team of naturalist guides.
Ports of call, visited sites, outings and landings will depend on weather conditions, winds and the state of the sea. These can force a change of plans at any time. The Captain and the Expedition Leader may at any time cancel or stop any activity, or even modify the itinerary. The final itinerary will be confirmed by the Captain, who will take into account the touristic quality of the sites and above all, the safety of the passengers. His decision will be based on advice from experts and authorities.
Travelling to isolated regions is an exhilarating experience. In remote areas, please remember that you are far from modern hospitals with full medical facilities, thus evacuation is extremely expensive. Without adequate medical coverage, all expenses will have to be immediately paid with your personal funds. We urge you to subscribe to full coverage insurance, choose your insurance company very carefully, be extremely vigilant and ensure your insurance is fully comprehensive, especially if you are insured by your credit card. PONANT offers an insurance contract with extensive guarantees, please contact us for more information.
During your visits to some local communities, all guests will be required to dress respectfully. Ladies must have their shoulders and thighs covered. Gentlemen should have their shoulders covered also.
Do not hesitate to visit the online PONANT store which offers a selection of equipment and accessories adapted to our destinations, at the following address: https://boutique.ponant.com
Benefits of the PONANT store:
Ideal clothes for life on board:
During the days spent on board, you are advised to wear comfortable clothes or casual outfits. The entire ship is air-conditioned, so a light sweater, a light jacket or a shawl may be necessary. When moving about in the public areas of the ship and the decks, light but comfortable shoes are recommended.
In the evening, you are advised to wear smart-casual attire, especially when dining in our restaurants where wearing shorts and tee-shirts is not allowed.
Depending on the itinerary and the program of your cruise, an Officer’s Evening with a white dress code may be organized. Therefore, we encourage you to bring a stylish white outfit for the occasion (otherwise black and white).
During the cruise, two gala evenings will be organised on board. Thus, we recommend that you bring one or two formal outfits.
A small shop is available on board offering a wide range of outfits, jewellery, leather goods and many accessories.
A laundry service (washing/ironing) is available on board, but unfortunately there are no dry cleaning services. For safety reasons, your cabin is not equipped with an iron.
OUTFITS ON BOARD:
In your hand luggage, remember to bring any medicines that you need, and possibly a small spare bag of toiletries (in case of delay in the delivery of your baggage by the airline). Remember to always have your travel documents with you in case you need them: hotel vouchers, cruise vouchers, return flight tickets... Never leave them in your hold luggage.
All our cabins have a safe. We recommend not to go ashore with valuable jewellery.
14 January 2022 Puerto Caldera
Embarkation 14/1/2022 from 16h00 to 17h00
Departure 14/1/2022 at 23h30
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.
15 January 2022 Curú Wildlife Refuge
On the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula, the small Curú Wildlife Refuge is the oldest protected park in Costa Rica. This refuge is an exemplary site in terms of ecotourism as well as a research centre for scientists from all over the world. It has been at the heart of an original conservation and sustainable development project since the 1930s. After a short Zodiac® trip, you will discover, via the paths that criss-cross the tropical forest and lead to magnificent beaches, the most emblematic species of Costa Rica: monkeys, iguanas and over 200 bird species. Since their recent reintroduction, the scarlet macaw and the spider monkey have thrived in this preserved environment.
16 January 2022 Casa Orquideas
Your ship will sail across the gulf of Dulce in direction of the splendid botanical garden of Casa Orquideas that you will reach by Zodiac®. Golfo Dulce is one of the most intense rainforest landscapes in the world, unfolding and exposing what has been described by National Geographic as “the most biologically intense place on earth”. More than 400 species of tropical birds, over 500 species of vascular plants, 140 species of tropical mammals, hundreds of butterfly species and many more tropical organisms call this place home.
17 January 2022 Cébaco Island
Off the Pacific coast of Panama, at the entrance to the Gulf of Montijo, Cebaco Island conjures visions of paradise lost. Covered in tropical rainforest, edged by white sandy beaches, home to exceptionally rich plant and wildlife, the island offers a number of hiking routes along which to discover its pristine natural environment. Its magnificent coral reefs, located in the outlying regions of the Coiba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, are the refuge for many marine species and offer stunning underwater landscapes.
18 January 2022 Playa Muerto, Darien National Park
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.
19 January 2022 Viveros, Pearl Islands
The Pearl Islands archipelago, formed by over 220 islands and islets, is named in memory of the pearl oysters present in the Gulf of Panama. In colonial times, the pearls were extracted and used as ornaments or currency. “La Peregrina” was discovered in this archipelago: this pearl is famous for its perfection and for belonging to several royals and, more recently, Elizabeth Taylor. While the pearls have now disappeared from the azure waters of this paradise with its history of adventures and piracy, you can still swim from the sandy white beaches and observe shoals of multi-coloured fish performing their gracious ballet.
19 January 2022 Sailing around Pacheca island
Pacheca is a small uninhabited island in the far north of the Pearl Islands, home to numerous birds that our naturalist guides will help you to observe and recognise from the ship’s deck. The Pearl Islands archipelago, formed by over 220 islands and islets, is named in memory of the pearl oysters present in the Gulf of Panama. In colonial times, the pearls were extracted and used as ornaments or currency. “La Peregrina” was discovered in this archipelago: this pearl is famous for its perfection and for belonging to several royals and, more recently, Elizabeth Taylor.
20 January 2022 Crossing the Panama Canal
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 in 1887 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.
21 January 2022 22 January 2022 San Blas Islands
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.
23 January 2022 Portobelo
In the province of Colón, along the magnificent Caribbean coast of Panama, Portobelo is located not far from the famous canal. Given its name of “beautiful port” by Christopher Columbus, who discovered it in 1502, this charming and peaceful bay was one of the most important ports for the shipping of precious metals from the New World to Spain. Don’t miss a visit to its fortifications, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town has preserved the strong religious and cultural traditions of its colonial past, such as the veneration of the Black Christ and a strongly-rooted Afro-Caribbean culture. The Congo ceremonies retrace the story of Spanish domination over black slaves through traditional dances and music.
24 January 2022 Colón
Arrival 24/1/2022 early morning
Disembarkation 24/1/2022 at 07h00
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.
Explore the planet’s most remote tropical regions during a PONANT expedition cruise. In the heart of Oceania’s archipelagos or the Indian Ocean atolls, along the wild coastlines of Central America or Australia, our luxury amenities and services will make your expedition cruise an unforgettable experience. Our expedition leaders and their teams of naturalist guides devise exceptional itineraries and organise daily outings, shore visits in Zodiac® dinghies, or snorkelling when the cruises are conducive to it, to take you as close as possible to nature. Aboard the ship, they share their knowledge during lectures on a variety of topics such as the fauna and flora, the history of the great explorations, geology and climatology. On land, using the local transport options or during hikes, discover the must-see natural sites and, for a few hours, partake in the life and ancestral customs of the local populations.
Enhance your cruise and extend your trip with a carefully designed programme.
Take advantage of one day to visit the cultural heritage of San José, capital city of Costa Rica. This programme will be a pleasant prelude to your embarkation.
Day 1 - San José
Meet at the airport in the Arrival hall. Look for PONANT sign. You will be greeted by our local English-speaking representative off the flight selected by PONANT or any other flight (provided that you have previously communicated your flight schedule to your travel agent).
You will then be transferred by coach to the hotel Costa Rica Marriott.
Dinner and rest of the day at leisure.
Day 2 - San José/Puerto Caldera
Discover this morning the heritage and the history of San José, Costa Rica’s capital city. First, pass by some of its historic residential areas, such Barrio Amón and the local parks surrounding it, as well as the metropolitan cathedral and the local market. You will visit the National Theatre which is an icon of the San José of the late 19th century, and also the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. It is one of the few Pre-Columbian gold museums that exists worldwide. The exhibition consists of 1000 original pieces that date from 300 to 1500 A.C. including an extraordinary collection of golden objects that reflect these precious metal working techniques of the Pre-Columbian people of Costa Rica. The exhibition shows the use, function, and technology of the pieces as well as their connection to nature and people daily life.
Lunch will be served in a local restaurant.
You will then depart for Puerto Caldera (approximately a 1h30 drive), to embark on board your ship.
Nestled within a 30-acre (12 ha) coffee plantation, the Costa Rica Marriott hotel combines colonial splendour with its architecture inspired by the old haciendas and modern comfort. Its sophisticated rooms offer pillow top bedding and cable television as well as internet access.
Your programme includes:
Your programme does not include:
Costa Rica Marriott
P.O. Box 502-4005, San Antonio de Belén, Heredia
San José, Costa Rica
Telephone: (+506) 2298 000
Duration and order of the visits may vary. To know your PONANT flight schedule, please contact your travel agent; it is also indicated on your electronic ticket included in your travel documents.
Total : AU$740
Travel with peace of mind as PONANT organises your daytime between your port of disembarkation and the airport.
After disembarkation procedures are completed, you will be greeted at the port by our local representative. You will depart by coach for a sightseeing tour of Panama City.
You will be taken first to Miraflores locks where you will experience the so-called ‘Eighth Wonder of the world. Panama Canal is one of the most celebrated human achievements on the planet. Upon arrival at Miraflores Visitors Centre, you will visit the exhibition halls and learn about the Panama Canal’s history, its impact on international trade, how it works, its close relationship with nature and the Canal Expansion. From one of Miraflores observation terraces, you will be able to watch the lock gates open and close as vessels begin or end their transit and you may observe transiting vessels from a distance of only a few meters while you learn about the various operations of the Panama Canal (cannot be guaranteed depending on Panama Canal timetable).
You will then visit the Old Panama Ruins, first European city built in the Pacific coast of the Americas.
Then, discover the turbulent past of Panama City, in the peninsula of Casco Antiguo (or Casco Viejo) which is the historic part and the cultural gem of this vibrant metropolis. After the destruction of the first Panama City by pirate Henry Morgan, the “Casco Antiguo” became the second Panama City. It was established around 1673 by the French colonialists, the Catholic Church, and other settlers. This is where much of the impressive colonial and Baroque architecture remains today. The modern, cosmopolitan areas of Panama City add a third layer to this historically rich city. You will get the chance to explore on your own the neighbourhood of Casco Antiguo with its colonial style government buildings, old churches and grand plazas. Casco Antiguo has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.
You will be transferred to the airport in time for check-in for the PONANT selected flight.
Your programme includes:
Your programme does not include:
Duration of the visits are given as a guide only. The order of the visits may be reversed. For the times of your PONANT flight, please contact your travel agent; they are also shown on your electronic ticket included in your travel documents.
Total : AU$330