Blue Water Holidays
Blue Water Holidays - ABTA - ATOL - CLIA
Experts in River and Small Ship Cruising Holidays since 2002
01756 706500 +44 1756 706500
Blue Water Holidays - ABTA - ATOL - CLIA
01756 706500
+44 1756 706500
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Costa Rica and the Panama Canal

Discover the verdant jungle and tropical rainforest of Costa Rica, and the pristine coral reefs of Panama on this incredible expedition voyage, with a transit of the famous Panama Canal

Cruise Only
14 nights from £7036pp

Expedition Holiday
  • San Jose mountains
  • Panama Canal
  • Panama City
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Cartagena

Call us now on 01756 706500 to secure your cabin!


Immerse yourself in the remarkable coastlines of Costa Rica and Panama, plus enjoy a transit of the famous Panama Canal on this exciting expedition voyage.

Enjoy an overnight hotel stay in San Jose then embark your ship for an exploration of Costa Rica. This is one of the most biodiverse regions on earth, with its verdant jungle, tropical rainforest and calm turquoise waters, not forgetting a truly outstanding variety of wildlife, brilliant birds and flamboyant flora. In Panama discover pristine coral reefs and perhaps snorkel in turquoise waters off UNESCO-protected Coiba National Park. Meet the Emberá Mogue indigenous community in the remote Darien National Park and cross the historic Panama Canal. Enjoy an overnight hotel stay in Cartagena, home to some of the best-preserved colonial architecture in South America.

AE111 Operated by Aurora Expeditions


Costa Rica and the Panama Canal Itinerary - CRP002G

Day 1 - San José (Costa Rica)

Upon your arrival at San José international airport, use the complimentary airport transfer service provided by Double Tree Cariari by Hilton and transfer to the hotel. The hotel offers a free airport shuttle service departing every hour starting at 4.30am until 10.30pm. As you exit the international terminal, the pick-up point for the transfer is located in front of El Malinche restaurant. Upon check-in, please remind reception staff to provide you with your Aurora Expeditions cabin tags. Please fill out the luggage tags clearly, showing your name and cabin number so that we can deliver your luggage to your cabin ahead of your arrival. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Day 2 - San José - Puerto Caldera

After breakfast transfer to Puerto Caldera (2 hours) where your vessel awaits. After boarding, you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before participating in important safety briefings. Enjoy lunch on board as you sail to nearby Isla Tortuga (Turtle Island), where can snorkel, swim, paddle or relax. The water is teeming with a dizzying array of tropical fish, big pufferfish, turtles, sting rays, white tip reef sharks and occasionally dolphins. In Isla Tortuga we will do our kayak orientation and have our first introductory paddle. This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners, expedition team and crew at a welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure.

Day 3 - Curu National Wildlife Refuge

Curú National Wildlife Refuge is a privately owned and managed nature preserve offering visitors some of the best eco-tourism experiences in Costa Rica. The refuge is an example of a successful sustainable development program, offering over 3700 acres of tropical forests, mangrove swamps, and grassy fields sitting right along the coastline. 17 hiking trails wind through the varied terrain and you may see white-tail deer or catch a glimpse of armadillos or iguanas. Monkeys are prolific including the native capuchin, spider and howler monkeys. Located on the southern Nicoya Peninsula of northwestern Costa Rica, the area is teeming with wildlife and hosts one of the most beautiful beaches and protected bays on the Nicoya Peninsula, where we hope to go for a paddle and swim.

Day 4 - Manuel Antonio National Park

Boasting over 100 species of mammals, 184 species of birds and a plethora of diverse flora, Manuel Antonio National Park is a paradise for wildlife lovers. Costa Rica’s star attractions - two and three toed sloths, white-faced monkeys and toucans can all be found on hikes that weave through the park. Hiking trails snake their way through the parkland offering access to its rainforest, waterfalls and remote white sand beaches whilst from the water we can snorkel, kayak and paddleboard to view the exquisite coral. We anchor off the shores of Espadilla Beach and Zodiac to shore for a wet landing. Walk along this sandy beach or follow a trail through the rainforest parallel to the beach to get to Playa Manuel Antonio, which is the most popular beach inside the park. It’s a short, deep crescent of white sand backed by lush rainforest. There are numerous clearly-marked hiking trails to choose from including a circular loop trail (1.4 km/0.9 mi) around a high promontory bluff, which includes a visit to the highest point on this hike – Punta Catedral - which offers spectacular views. The hiking trails in Manuel Antonio National Park offer excellent opportunities to spot monkeys, sometimes sloths, agoutis, armadillos and coatis.

Day 5-6 - Osa Peninsula - Gulfo Dulce

Explore the untamed Osa Peninsula, considered by National Geographic to be ‘one of the most biologically intense places on earth’. Corcovado National park is the country's largest and one of the most remote parks in Costa Rica. It is home to the largest and only tropical primary lowland rainforest in the world, provides habitat for a plethora of endangered plant and animal species including the scarlet macaw, various frogs and the tapir. In order to conserve the integrity of the national park, restrictions are placed on the capacity of daily visitors permitted in the park. We therefore hike through a private conservation reserve adjoining the national park looking not only for wildlife, but also to experience the incredible wet tropical rainforest filled with lianas, epiphytes, palms, gingers and orchids. The following day, we will round the peninsula’s most southern point to enter Gulfo Dulce, or Sweet Gulf. The large bay hugs pristine beaches, rivers and tall evergreen forest, a protected area known as the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve. We visit a private reserve called Casa Orquideas (Orchid House), akin to a botanical garden adjoining Piedras Blancas National Park. A hike in Casa Orquideas allows you to appreciate colourful orchids, heliconias, palms and all the tropical wildlife such as toucans, macaws, tanagers and honey creepers that feed from the flowers. The warm tropical waters in the gulf are a popular playground for dolphins - perfect for snorkelling, paddle-boarding, kayaking and Zodiac cruising.

Day 7 - Coiba National Park (Panama)

Sail through the Panamanian islands of Coiba National Park which protects Coiba Island, 38 smaller islands and the surrounding marine areas within the Gulf of Chiriqui. Coiba’s Pacific tropical moist forest maintains exceptionally high levels of endemism of mammals, birds and plants due to the ongoing evolution of new species. It is also the last refuge for a number of threatened animals such as the crested eagle. On Coiba Island, we plan to spend the morning at Granito de Oro islet, a unique place which offers the casual snorkeller a diversity and volume of marine life that many avid scuba divers spend their lives trying to see. The waters surrounding are considered one of the best diving destinations in the world. Enjoy the morning snorkelling among abundant marine life, kayaking around rocky outcroppings, and basking on the warm sand. At Granito de Oro you can also enjoy hiking the “Monkey Trail”. The forest here is home to rare indigenous flora, and provides sanctuary for wildlife such as mantled howler monkeys and crested eagles, as well as threatened bird species such as the crested eagle.

Day 8 - Coiba National Park

From 1919 to 2004, the penal colony on Coiba Islands was home to Panama’s most dangerous criminals and political prisoners. We spend the morning on the hiking trails that lead to a number of waterfalls and hot springs. Remains of the prison can still be found at Damas Bay on the eastern side of the island.

Day 9 - Pearl Islands

The Pearl Islands of Panama is an archipelago located in the North Pacific Ocean in the Gulf of Panama, covering around 250 small islands. The Pearl Islands were originally named by the Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa due to the bountiful pearls that were harvested off the islands’ shores. The Pearl Islands are most famous for their spectacular and tranquil white sand beaches, untouched forests, and colourful coral reefs offshore – ideal for diving, snorkelling and kayaking. In addition to Isla Contadora, we plan to visit a few nearby islands including Bartolome to enjoy some aquatic activities before exploring Pachequilla, and Pacheca island, also known as Isla de Los Párajos (Bird Island) because it hosts several colonies of seabirds.

Day 10 - Emberá Mogue Village

There are few places on Earth like the Darién - a region of great interest to biologists and anthropologists. It is a place of immense natural beauty, where life in the rainforest has remained relatively unchanged for the indigenous communities that live there. The Darién contains Panama’s largest national park and most the country’s most extensive lowland tropical forest. However, with only 40,000 inhabitants, the Darién is also the most sparsely populated part of Panama. Rarely visited, the region is characterized by unspoiled sandy beaches, jagged rocky coasts, mangrove swamps, and tropical forests bursting with endemic and rare species of plants and birds such as the scarlet macaw, toucan and harpy eagle. Mammals include ocelot, jaguar, Baird’s tapir, anteater, sloth, coatis and kinkajou. You will visit Mogue, an Emberá community in the Darién, a remote destination where you will be rewarded with a unique look at a traditional Emberá village. The village is accessible after a 30-minute Zodiac ride (during high tide) up the scenic and swampy Mogue River surrounded by rainforest. You may see birds such as willets, whimbrels and laughing falcons. Nearing the village, we will be warmly welcomed by the community leaders who will meet our Zodiacs and personally transfer us to their village using their traditional boats. On arrival, the village is a 15-minute walk from the shore of the river. Mogue was established by the indigenous Emberá in the 1960s and tourism plays a substantial role in sustaining its existence. Upon arriving at the village, the Emberá women will perform a traditional blessing dances to welcome us followed by a more formal welcome by the main ‘Nocoe’ (chief). It is customary for the Emberá to share food and fruits of the season with visitors. Local artisans are proud to show you their handicraft skills such as woodcarving, mask-making, weaving and jewelry-making – all available for purchase, and a wonderful way to directly support the community. On guided hikes, you might be able to spot a harpy eagle or crested eagle—the nests of both birds have been spotted here in the past.

Day 11 - Panama City

Panama is of course world famous for its 77km long canal that connects the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean. Panama’s history has been formed by a rich pre-Columbian era for more than 12,000 years. Choose from two shore excursions today; explore Miraflores Visitor Centre to learn about the Panama Canal then discover Panama City’s Casco Viejo (Old Quarter), or join the trip to Gatun Lake followed by a walking tour of Casco Viejo.

Day 12 - Panama Canal Crossing

Crossing the Panama Canal will surely be a highlight for many travellers. Starting in the Pacific Ocean, you will be able to admire the Bay of Panama and Panama City’s skyline before passing under the Bridge of the Americas. The vessel will then transit through the first set of locks, the Miraflores Locks, where it will be lifted 16 metres in two distinct steps. Next, your ship will enter Miraflores Lake, which is a small artificial body of fresh water that separates Pedro Miguel Locks from Miraflores Locks. The vessel will transit through Pedro Miguel Locks where the vessel is lifted 9 metres in one step. Travel through the Gaillard Cut which is one of the main points of interest for visitors because it was carved through the Continental Divide and this section of the canal is full of history and geological value. Sail through Gatun Lake where you will pass the Smithsonian Research Station at Barro Colorado. At Gatun Locks, the vessel will be lowered a total of 26 metres in three distinct chambers. The complete crossing from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean takes approximately 10 hours, a journey that once took almost two weeks to complete, where vessels were forced to sail around Cape Horn at the bottom of South America to reach the Pacific coast.

Day 13 - At sea

Sail to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. While at sea, enjoy a few final presentations from our team of experts. Edit photos, finish the book you’ve been enjoying, or simply relax on your private balcony or in one of the many public spaces on board the ship.

Day 14 - Cartagena (Colombia)

Disembark in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, inscribed by UNESCO as a site of Outstanding Universal Heritage. The city’s rich history, diverse culture and energy captivates visitors with its vibrancy, Afro-Caribbean character, indigenous influences and some of the best-preserved colonial architecture in all of South America. Today’s introductory tour will take you through Cartagena’s old town with an expert local guide who will tell stories of the myths, legends and stories of Cartagena from ancient times right up to the present. During the walk you will visit the Inquisition Palace, built in the 17th century, and considered one of the most elegant and characteristic colonial constructions of its time. A short walk away and your final stop is a visit to San Pedro Claver Cloister, monastery and museum built in homage to San Pedro - the protector of slaves. Here, visitors will find examples of pre-Colombian ceramics and a museum filled with religious art. The tour ends with a transfer to our group hotel. After check-in, enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Day 15 - Cartagena

After breakfast, farewell your fellow travellers and check-out of your room before making your own way to the airport for your onward journey.

In true expedition style we encourage exploration and adventure, offering flexibility in challenging environments in a way that puts you among the action to see and do as much as possible. Due to strict regulations enforced by local environmental authorities to conserve and protect the pristine places visited on this voyage, permits can be cancelled by authorities at any time with very little notice. Under such circumstances, Aurora Expeditions reserves the right to change our itineraries with little or no prior notice.

Price Includes

  • 12-night full board cruise
  • 1-night pre-cruise hotel stay in San Jose with city tour
  • 1-night post-cruise hotel stay in Cartagena with city tour
  • Overseas transfers as mentioned in itinerary
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
  • Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner on board
  • Unlimited tea and coffee on board
  • All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
  • Educational lectures from Expedition Team
  • Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage
  • Port surcharges, permits and landing fees

Price Does Not Include

  • Alcoholic and soft drinks (outside of dinner service)
  • Optional excursions not included in the itinerary
  • Optional activity surcharges
  • Wi-Fi
  • Laundry services
  • Gratuities - $15 per person per day gratuity is automatically added to your onboard account. The amount can be increased or decreased when settling your bill
  • Passport, visa, reciprocity and vaccination charges
  • Airport arrival or departure taxes

Cruise Extensions

  • Taste of San Jose Enjoy a 2-night hotel stay in San José with sightseeing. Call us for more details
  • Taste of Cartagena Enjoy a 2-night hotel stay in Cartagena with sightseeing. Call us for more details
  • Taste of Santiago Enjoy a 3-night hotel stay in Santiago with sightseeing. Call us for more details
  • Taste of Buenos Aires Enjoy a 3-night hotel stay in Buenos Aires with sightseeing. Call us for more details
  • Colombia Discovery Discover Cartagena, Medellin, Pereira, the Cocora Valley and Bogota on this 8-night tour of Colombia. Call us for more details.
  • Tortuguero & Braulio Carrillo National Park Explore the tropical rainforest of Tortuguero National Park and Braulio Carrillo National Park on this 4-night tour. Call us for more details
  • Tortuguero Discovery Venture deep into the remote Tortuguero National Park and search for monkeys, toucans, green macaws and caimans on this 3-night tour. Call us for more details
  • Tortuguero National Park & South Carribean Coast Relax on the golden sands of the South Caribbean Coast and explore the heart of the Tortuguero rainforest on this 5-night tour. Call us for more details
  • Tortuguero National Park, Arenal & Monteverde Discover the tropical wildlife of Tortuguero National Park, see the Arenal Volcano and cross Arenal Lake to explore Monteverde Cloud Forest on this 7-night tour. Call us for more details
  • Santiago and Valparaiso Explorer Explore Santiago, the wine country of the Casablanca Valley and the city of Valparaiso on this 5-night tour. Call us for more details
  • Falkland Islands Hopper Tour Enjoy island-hopping through the Falkland Islands, including Sea Lion Island, Pebble Island, Saunders Island and Stanley, on this 7-night tour. Call us for more details
  • Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls Explorer Experience the wonders of Iguazu Falls and the lively city of Buenos Aires on this 5-night tour. Call us for more details
  • Andean Lakes Crossing Tour Witness some of South America’s best lake and mountain scenery and be surrounded by colourful flora, glittering emerald lakes and snow-capped peaks on this 4-night tour. Call us for more details
  • Ecocamp Wildlife Safari This 4-night stay at the Cascada EcoCamp in Patagonia, is comfortable, environmentally friendly and a truly amazing experience and includes tours of the Torres del Paine National Park. Call us for more details
  • The Singular Patagonia Discover the highlights of Patagonia on this 3-night tour. Call us for more details
  • Torres Del Paine Circuit Tour Camp in the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park surrounded by spectacular scenery on this 8-night tour. Call us for more details
  • Peru Uncovered Explore Lima, stunning Machu Picchu and the ancient remains of Cusco and the Sacred Valley on this 7-night tour of Peru. Call us for more details
  • Rapa Nui Island Discovery Admire the ancient Moai statues on Easter Island and discover the amazing volcanic landscape on this 3-night tour. Call us for more details
  • Atacama Desert Adventure Enjoy an adventure in the Atacama Desert with visits to the Atacama Salt Flat and the spectacular Tatio Geysers on this 3-night tour. Call us for more details
  • Mashpi Lodge Experience the diverse wildlife of the Mashpi Reserve in Ecuador with treks through the cloud forest on this 3-night tour. Call us for more details

2022 Departures £ price per person based on 2 people sharing

  • April
    • Apr 16th - San Jose to Cartagena - Sailing on: Greg Mortimer From: £7036
      Aurora Stateroom Triple Aurora Stateroom Twin Balcony Stateroom - C Balcony Stateroom - B Balcony Stateroom - A Balcony Stateroom Superior Junior Suite Captains Suite
      Brochure Price from: £7895 Brochure Price from: £8095 Brochure Price from: £8795 Brochure Price from: £9195 Brochure Price from: £9995 Brochure Price from: £10895 Brochure Price from: £13595 Brochure Price from: £16095
      Blue Water Price from: £7105 Blue Water Price from: £7285 Blue Water Price from: £7036 Blue Water Price from: £7356 Blue Water Price from: £7996 Blue Water Price from: £8716 Blue Water Price from: £10876 Blue Water Price from: £13680

Price Information

  • Please note pricing shown is a guide price - contact us for the best price
Map for Costa Rica and the Panama Canal