National Parks and Panama Canal

8 days / 7 nights
    National Parks and Panama Canal

    Cruise Latin America

    from 17 February 2019 to 24 February 2019
    8 days / 7 nights

    Departure Port : Puerto Caldera
    Arrival Port : Colón


    • Ref : C170219

    PONANT takes you to discover Costa Rica and Panama with an 8-day expedition cruise. A truly beautiful journey aboard Le Champlain, between nature reserves, encounters with local communities and sailing through the Panama Canal.  

    Your journey in Central America will start with a visit to two superb Costa Rican national parks: the Curù Wildlife Refuge and the Manuel Antonio National Park. Deep inside the tropical rainforest or under the rainforest canopy, you may be lucky enough to see multicoloured birds, monkeys and iguana.  

    Le Champlain will then sail on to 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.

    After sailing through the world-famous Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic to the Pacific, you will be able to enjoy the golden sand and translucent water of Holandes Cayes, one of the coral islets of the San Blas islands.

    • Naturalists Naturalists
    See the map


    • Outings and shore visits in Zodiac® inflatables with a team of experienced naturalist guides.
    • UNESCO site: the Darien National Park from Playa Muerto, and its magnificent jungle.
    • National parks of Costa Rica, sanctuaries of unspoiled nature: the Curù Wildlife Refuge, the Manuel Antonio National Park.
    • Discover the magnificent islets of the San Blas Islands.
    • Sailing through the Panama Canal, truly a masterpiece of civil engineering.
    • Encounter with the indigenous Emberas tribe in the Darien National Park.

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    Staterooms & Suites


      There are no staterooms available for booking. Please contact our cruise advisors.




      Featuring innovative and environmentally-friendly equipment, elegantly designed staterooms, spacious suites with large windows, and lounge areas that open onto the outside, this new limited-capacity yacht boasting just 92 staterooms and suites will offer you a truly unique cruising experience.

      As the second ship in a new series that remains true to the Ponant spirit, Le Champlain will embody the unique atmosphere that is the cruise line’s hallmark: a subtle blend of refinement, intimacy and comfort.

      Aboard this ship that flies the French flag, you will experience the incomparable pleasure of an intimate cruise, with the possibility of exploring an ever-increasing range of destinations in an ethnic-chic ambiance with luxury service.

      Experience a luxurious setting where the accent is on authenticity and passion for travel.

      Port of call & excursions

      17 February 2019 – Curù Wildlife Refuge

      Puerto Caldera

      Embarkation 17/02/2019 from 17H00 to 18H00 . Departure 17/02/2019 at 22H00 .

      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.

      18 February 2019 – Curù Wildlife Refuge

      18 February 2019 – Curù Wildlife Refuge

      Arrival 18/02/2019. Departure 18/02/2019.

      On the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula, the small Curù 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.

      19 February 2019 – Manuel Antonio National Park

      19 February 2019 – Manuel Antonio National Park

      Arrival 19/02/2019. Departure 19/02/2019.

      You will land in a Zodiac® on the beaches of the Manuel Antonio National Park, one of the jewels of Costa Rica. Protected since the 1970s, this small park, only 16 km² and bordered by the idyllic beaches of the Pacific Ocean, is home to rich biodiversity. Along peaceful paths or during a break on the beach, you will be welcomed by a tropical forest full of life: from the discreet sloth to the noisy howler monkey and the mischievous white-faced capuchin. On the fine sandy beaches rising to lush hills and coconut trees, you will be amused by the dance of the racoons that race down from the trees to tease visitors.

      20 February 2019 – At sea

      20 February 2019 – At sea

      Arrival 20/02/2019. Departure 20/02/2019.

      During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

      21 February 2019 – Playa Muerto, Darien National Park

      21 February 2019 – Playa Muerto, Darien National Park

      Arrival 21/02/2019. Departure 21/02/2019.

      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.

      22 February 2019 – Crossing the Panama Canal

      22 February 2019 – Crossing the Panama Canal

      Arrival 22/02/2019. Departure 22/02/2019.

      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.

      23 February 2019 – Holandes Cayes

      23 February 2019 – Holandes Cayes

      Arrival 23/02/2019. Departure 23/02/2019.

      Holandes Cayes is among the islands of the San Blas archipelago, a string of coral islands that graces the heart of the Caribbean Sea. Some 378 islands and cays covering an area of 260 square kilometres offer travellers a multitude of natural and cultural treasures. Holandes Cayes, which is nicknamed "the swimming pool", is popular with the cruise-yachting community for its white sand beaches and diving and snorkelling opportunities.

      24 February 2019▸23 February 2019 – Colón


      Disembarkation 24/02/2019 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.


      • 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.

      • 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.


      Tropical Expedition

      Tropical Expedition

      Discover the unique concept of PONANT tropical expedition cruises: explore the world’s extreme regions while enjoying luxurious comfort and service.

      A luxury expedition voyage

      Choosing a PONANT expedition cruise means choosing a state of mind: the alliance of elegance and authenticity, of exploration and comfort, of adventure and refinement… The comfort of your ship and your stateroom, personalised and attentive service, refined gastronomy: a very special atmosphere that we take great care to maintain. In the heart of the archipelagos of Oceania or the atolls of the Indian Ocean, along the wild coastlines of Central America or Australia, our luxurious services will ensure that your expedition cruise is an unforgettable experience.

      PONANT, expedition cruise specialists

      With almost 20 years of experience in the extreme regions, PONANT, the world’s number 1 polar cruise company, is also a real specialist in the planet’s most remote tropical regions. Our latest-generation fleet has the most modern technology to guarantee both your safety and respect for the regions visited. The size of our ships means we can get as close as possible to areas that are difficult to reach, offering a privileged access to preserved sites. Our flexibility enables us to adapt to the surprises inherent to these expedition itineraries.

      Professional expedition teams, varied activities

      After scouting missions in the field, our Expedition Leaders and their teams of naturalist guides design exceptional itineraries in the tropical regions. During the cruise, they organise daily outings and shore visits in Zodiac® dinghies so as to get as close to nature as possible. They can reserve local means of transport (dugout canoes, bush taxis, local buses, etc.) in order to reach essential sites for hiking (volcanoes, nature reserves, etc.) or for visiting isolated villages. Indeed, the close relationships that our teams have been able to build with the local communities will enable you to share the life and ancestral customs of these peoples for a few hours. On the cruises that permit this activity, the naturalist guides also supervise snorkelling tours to discover the submarine fauna. On board, the naturalist guides will share their knowledge during various conferences on fauna, the history of the great explorations, geology and climatology…

      Guest(s) Lecturer(s)

      François de Closets

      François de Closets

      François de Closets graduated in law from the Institute of Political Studies, while pursuing a career as a journalist and writer.

      As a journalist in the print media, he had successful collaborations with the France-Presse agency, Sciences et Avenir, L’Express and Nouvel Observateur.  On television he started out as a news reporter then for 30 years produced programmes for TF1 and France 2 on the economy, society, medicine and science. They included, L’Enjeu, Médiations, Savoir Plus Santé and Les Énigmes de la science.

      As a writer, François de Closets published 25 essays, most of which were best-sellers. Embracing a wide variety of topics, he strove to highlight obstacles our country erected against a changing modern world. His book Toujours Plus! published in 1982 sold over 1.5 million copies, yet he also produced works focusing on the end of life, spelling and the history of freedom, as well as a biography of Albert Einstein. In 1988, he chaired the Efficacité de l’Etat commission under the umbrella of the Planning Commission (Commissariat Général au Plan). His final report Le Pari de la responsabilité was the inspiration behind the government’s policy to overhaul public services.

      Language spoken: French


      Photo credit: Catherine Gugelmann

      Possibility of withdrawal in case of force majeure.

      Important information

      Expeditions programs include activities such as Zodiac® outings (sometimes with "wet landing"), moderate walks to more active hikes. All this accompanied by your expedition team of naturalist guides. Certain Zodiac® outings will not allow for landings just cruising. Landings will depend on weather conditions, position of ice and winds and the state of the sea. These can force a change of plans at any time.

      Travelling to polar/isolated regions is an exhilarating experience. The raw beauty and untouched wilderness offer an unusual chance to experience a place where there is little evidence of human presence. Inevitably, there are some consequences that come with such remoteness: please remember that you are far from modern hospitals with full medical facilities, thus evacuation is highly expensive. Without the necessary medical coverage, all expenses will have to be immediately paid from with your personal funds. We urge you to subscribe a full coverage insurance, choose your insurance company very carefully and be extremely vigilant and ensure your insurance is fully comprehensive.

      Taking into consideration the unusual and exceptional character of expedition itineraries, the calls shown are an indication only. The final route will be confirmed by the Captain and Expedition Leader, who will take into account the touristic quality of the sites and above all, the safety of the passengers. Their decision will be subject to that of local authorities and/or the expert pilots present on board during the navigation in polar and /or isolated zones.

      Dressing tips :

      • Cotton comfrortable and light weight shorts/bermudas
      • Light weight long trousers
      • Long-sleeved breathable UPF50+ shirts
      • Cotton short sleeves T-shirt
      • Aquatic UV long-sleeve T-shirt for sun protection during snorkeling or swimming (except for the Amazon cruises where bathing is not allowed)
      • Aquatic non-slip sandals (except for the Amazon cruises where bathing is not allowed)
      • Windproof, waterproof and breathable outer layer
      • Broad brimmed anti-UV hat with strap
      • Comfortable walking shoes
      • Waterproof backpack for camera
      • Sunscreen and after-sun high index & insect repellent
      • Binoculars
      • Note: 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.

      Feel free to visit the PONANT online shop which offers a selection of equipment and accessories adapted to our destinations at the following address:

      Benefits of the PONANT shop:

      • expert advice to gear up
      • a selection of technical equipment and accessories approved by our naturalists
      • Duty Free prices
      • delivery directly on board

      Pre/Post & Overlands

      1. After your cruise

        24/02/2019 – Colonial Panama and Miraflores Locks

        255.00 AU$ **

        More information

      2. Before your cruise

        16/02/2019 – A glimpse of Costa Rica (1 night)

        590.00 AU$ **

        More information

        14/02/2019 – Natural wonders of Costa Rica (3 nights)

        2190.00 AU$ **

        More information

      Attention: the prices listed at the time of your reservation can be different from those listed in the brochure. These prices can evolve based on availability and the real time rates of the airline companies selected.
      Travellers are advised to check all the information with the authorities concerned prior to the departure date. Ponant advises Travellers to consult the country factsheets relating to the chosen destinations. Ponant specifically draws Travellers' attention to the fact that the information provided may change up until the departure date, and they are advised to consult that information up until the time of departure. CDP invites Travellers to adjust their behavior to the visited country, to exercise vigilance and to avoid carrying valuable objects during their travel.
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