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PANAMA AND COSTA RICA – SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

from $5,530

DATES: 2023 – FEB 11-18

DURATION: 8 DAYS 7 NIGHTS

EMBARK: COLON, PANAMA

DISEMBARK: PUERTO CALDERA, COSTA RICA

SHIP: LE BELLOT

FROM: $5,530* – All Inclusive – Port Charges, Open Bar, Gratuities to ship crew, Shore Excursions

*SAVE 10% – BOOK NOW!

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All about the PANAMA AND COSTA RICA – SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS.
Shore excursion or activity in each port of call + transfers included

In alliance with Smithsonian Journeys.

This cruise is part of a collection of PONANT voyages that are specially-tailored for English-speaking travelers who want to engage with the world. In addition to the usual elements of the PONANT experience, the listed price for these voyages includes transfers to and from the ship, talks and discussions aboard ship by world class experts, and a shore excursion or activity in each port of call that encourages guests to embrace the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of the local environment and culture.

Discover Panama and Costa Rica with PONANT on this splendid 8-day cruise aboard Le Bellot, which explores the region’s abundant natural splendors, local indigenous communities, and the modern marvel of the Panama Canal.

Your journey in Central America will start along the white sands and translucent waters of Holandes Cayes, one of the coral islets of Panama’s San Blas Islands. Spend a day in this tropical paradise and enjoy the opportunity to swim and snorkel. Members of the Kuna community call these islands home, and you may encounter them along the beach.

After a daytime sailing from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean through the world-famous Panama CanalLe Bellot calls at Fuerte Amador for an exploration of Panama City’s Old Quarter and of the region’s fantastic biodiversity at the superb Frank Gehry-designed Biomeseo.

Here, you will also visit the Punta Culebra Nature Center at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), a fascinating, open-air museum dedicated to marine science and conservation. On a specially arranged tour guided by Smithsonian staff, hear about the latest studies, observe marine species up close, and explore the unique flora and fauna of the tropical dry forest.

You sail next to the remote and magnificent Darién National Park. This little corner of paradise is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to a remarkably diverse range of plants and wildlife. Rocky coastlines, mangroves, swamps, and tropical rainforests abound and offer a feast for photographers. Here, meet members of the local Emberá community.

Your final call will be in Quepos, Costa Rica, gateway to the spectacular Manuel Antonio National Park, where you will encounter myriad tropical flora and fantastic fauna, including sloths, the noisy howler monkey, the white-faced capuchin, and the tiny squirrel monkey. The combination of forest and ocean also provides a special opportunity to observe both terrestrial and sea birds—toucans, pelicans, hummingbirds, terns, and more.

Expedition Highlights

  • A voyage specially-tailored for English-speaking travellers including discussions with experts, transfers before and after your cruise, and an included excursion or activity in each port of call.
  • Engaging discussions onboard with two Smithsonian Journeys Experts.
  • A specially arranged visit to the Punta Culebra Nature Center at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), guided by Smithsonian staff.
  • Opportunity to swim and snorkel on beautiful Holandes Cayes, one of the magnificent islets of the San Blas Islands.
  • A daytime crossing of the Panama Canal, a true masterpiece of civil engineering.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Darién National Park and its magnificent rainforest.
  • An exploration of the region’s rich and myriad tropical flora and fauna in Manuel Antonio National Park.
  • Encounters with the local indigenous Kuna and Emberá communities.

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NOTE: There are other dates and similar itineraries without Smithsonian Journeys. Just ask.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

Included features:

  •  All accommodations, meals, and excursion described above
  • Gratuities to crew, guides and drivers on included excursions
  • Comprehensive 8-night cruise aboard the deluxe LE BELLOT, with all the amenities for which Ponant ships are famous.
  • All meals while on board the ship (from dinner on the day of embarkation to breakfast on the day of disembarkation)
  • Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner
  • “Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands… list available upon request)
  • Evening entertainment and events
  • Room service 24h (special selection)
  • Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite
  • Park entry fees into protected areas

Whats not included in this tour.Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
  • Airfare
  • Optional excursions
  • Personal expenses (such as laundry, telephone, Internet, etc.)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Pre- and Post-cruise programs

  1. Day 1 COLÓN, PANAMA

    Embarkation from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
    Departure at 8:00 PM

    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.

    Arrive a day or more early to see more of Panama City, the Panama Canal, and avoid complications associated with air travel.

  2. Day 2 SAN BLAS ISLANDS, PANAMA

    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 kilometers offering travelers 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.

  3. Day 3 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 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.

    Later this afternoon, visit FUERTE AMADOR and FLAMENCO ISLAND – staying until the following day.

  4. Day 4 FUERTE AMADOR, FLAMENCO ISLAND

    An artificial peninsula situated at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, Fuerte Amador is the gateway to several noteworthy sites. Right near there, the impressive Miraflores Locks are a shining example of the engineering feats deployed during the construction of the Panama Canal. Further north, in villages nestling amid dense vegetation, lives the Embera tribe, guardian of the forest and of the Chagres River. This proud people have successfully preserved their traditions and their ancestral way of life, which predate the colonization of the region by the Spanish.

  5. Day 5 PLAYA MUERTO, DARIEN NATIONAL PARK

    The most remote and least developed region of Panama, the province of Darien is an unspoiled 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.

     

  6. Day 6 DAY AT SEA

     

     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.

     

  7. Day 7 QUEPOS, COST RICA

    Quepos makes for a charming stop-off on the Pacific coast, just next-door to the famous Manuel Antonio National Park, an untouched tropical natural reserve lined with white sandy beaches. The town’s seafront is an opportunity to stroll through market stalls touting pineapples and bananas in the shade of the manchineel trees. In this coastal town crisscrossed with tree-lined streets in bloom, admire the houses and their incredible sculpted balconies. Enjoy a spot of shopping in the many traditional boutiques: pick up some handmade cotton clothing, ceramics embellished with Costa Rican designs and home décor pieces in hand-painted wood.

  8. DAY 8 PUERTO CALDERA, COSTA RICA

    Arrival 2/18/2023 early morning
    Disembarkation 2/18/2023 at 8:00 AM

    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.

LE BELLOT

LE BELLOT

Like the other ships in the PONANT EXPLORERS series, this beautiful ship has been designed to provide absolute comfort for its passengers, even at the heart of the world’s most remote and isolated regions.

Racy lines, state-of-the-art equipment, a refined design, a softly muted and at the same time convivial ambiance together with a deliberately restricted number of cabins all contribute to the modernity of this unique ship in the world of cruising.

You will encounter unique itineraries, calls inaccessible to large ships, chic and elegant yacht-like ambiance, refined and personalized service as well as gastronomic cuisine.

 

Fast Facts:

  • Length: 430 ft
  • Beam: 59 ft
  • Draft: 15 ft
  • Cruising speed: 12.5 knots
  • Guest decks:  5
  • Guest capacity (double occupancy): Up to 184 PAX
  • Normal crew size: 118
  • Gross tonnage: 9976 UMS

 

RESTAURANTS

Loyal to the great French tradition, the haute cuisine on board is worthy of the finest restaurants, where discreet, attentive service is the hallmark.

The Le Nautilus gastronomic restaurant
Towards the rear of deck 4 you’ll find a panoramic restaurant large enough to accommodate all our passengers at one sitting. Offering a different concept than on our other ships, this space is open to the exterior and serves buffets of salads, desserts and cheeses. Our discreet and attentive staff provide a table service for hot meals.

Grill Restaurant

An exterior grill restaurant on deck 3 offering a relaxed ambiance and atmosphere:

PUBLIC AREAS

Main Lounge

Able to accommodate all our passengers at once for moments of shared conviviality, and as a venue for both daytime and evening shows and entertainment.

Panoramic Lounge

Library, internet desk, cocktail bar, live entertainment on selected evenings. Direct access to the panoramic terrace.

Wellness Area

Spa treatments, L’Oreal Paris hair salon, free access sauna and open gym

Pool deck

A swimming pool offering panoramic views and equipped with a counter-current system.  A pleasant, attractive sun deck.  An exterior bar and lounge equipped with armchairs and sofas

The Theater 
188-seat capacity, cutting edge audio and lighting technology and LED stage background wall enabling the projection of ultra-high resolution media

ACCOMMODATIONS 

A contemporary and warmly welcoming design
All the 92 staterooms and suites are equipped with private balconies or terraces. Like the rest of the ship’s spaces, they have been designed to be exceptionally open to the exterior. Brightness and radiance, discreet luxury, ethnic touches, contemporary design and unparalleled levels of comfort add the finishing touches to the all-round voyage experience.

  • Individually-controlled air-conditioning
  • Cabin layout: king-size bed, or twin beds, adjoining cabins available (children welcome)
  • Minibar
  • Flat screen satellite TV
  • Video on demand
  • Bose™ Bluetooth speaker
  • Desk with stationery
  • Electronic safe
  • Hermès® bath products
  • Dressing table and hairdryer
  • Bath robes
  • Direct line telephone
  • 110/220 volt outlets
  • 24hr room service
  • Inclusive Internet access Wifi

DELUXE STATEROOM

  • Area : 19 m²
  • Capacity :up to 2 passengers per cabin

DELUXE SUITE DECKS 3-6

  • Area : 27 m²
  • Capacity :up to 2 passengers per cabin (Deck 4 & 6; 3 passengers per cabin)

GRAND DELUXE SUITE DECK 6

  • Area : 45 m²
  • Capacity: up to 4 passengers per cabin

PRESTIGE DECKS 4-5

  • Area : 19 m²
  • Capacity: up to 2 passengers per cabin

PRESTIGE DECK 6

  • Area : 19 m²
  • Capacity: up to 4 passengers per cabin

PRESTIGE DECKS 5-6 SUITE

  • Area : 38 m²
  • Capacity: up to 4 passengers per cabin

PRIVILEGE SUITE DECKS 5-6

  • Area : 32 m²
  • Capacity: up to 3 passengers per cabin

OWNER’S SUITE

  • Area : 45 m²
  • Capacity: up to 4 passengers per cabin