Sneak Peek Into Costa Rica & Panama 2022

For the first time since 2019, we are about to dive into Costa Rica & Panama, and we are so excited! Small ship cruises get into places that you just can’t reach otherwise – neither by land nor by big ship. These places are special, and today we are taking a sneak peek into what awaits you there.

Local Crew With Local Expertise

Many of the crew members aboard small ship Safari Voyager are local to Costa Rica & Panama. They are of course bilingual, but it goes much deeper than that. They know the local culture and history; the local wildlife; and the local plants and trees. As expedition leader Erika Hernandez Calvo explains, “Nobody has more knowledge than the Pangueros.” 

 

These local crew members are an important part of our connection and commitment to the local area where we sail. During the early days of the pandemic, UnCruise hosted a fundraiser to support our international crew and the partners that we work with in the region, as there is no unemployment insurance there.

 

Costa Rica – Drake’s Bay

Drake’s Bay is the lush tropical jungle that you had in your mind when you planned this trip. Early in the morning you hear the calls of monkeys and see the colorful flash of macaws in the greenery. And we do mean early. In the tropics, we rise with the sun to get out and adventure before it gets too warm in the hottest part of the day – especially the hiking. You can stay on the white sand and take a meander in the morning or lace up your closed-toe hiking shoes and head down paths covered in roots and rocks. Many of our pangueros – mentioned in the first section – were born and raised in this area and know every nook and cranny of it.

Macaw flying in the jungle

Back on board, enjoy the air conditioning and the 270 degree view from the lounge. Lunch will feature fresh local fish and fruit along with other fare. In the afternoon, the choice is yours. Take a siesta, perhaps. Work on your tan on the sun deck. Or put on your swimsuit and head for the water! Kayak, snorkel, or swim. Go out with a guide on a skiff looking for wildlife. Be sure to bring your camera, though bring a waterproof bag for the faster parts of the trip that may splash!  

Panama – Isla Iguana and Coiba National Park

As our Expedition Guide Patricio explains, Panama is a land of contrasts of old and new, city skyline, jungle, and snorkeling haven. Patricio has been a guide in Panama for 20 years and brings an amazing wealth of knowledge as well as love and stewardship of the region. 

Off the coast of Panama we visit Isla Iguana. Imagine a tiny jewel of an island surrounded by over 100 acres of coral reef for snorkeling. On land, it’s a birder’s paradise with thousands of resident and nesting frigate birds. A short hike through the island and back takes you past iguanas and other creatures – and don’t miss the local hermit crabs!

Coiba National Park, also in Panama, is a UNESCO world heritage site, It’s part of the largest protected marine area in the world. It’s a snorkeler’s delight. Only on a small ship like Safari Voyager can you reach all the little islands that make up this amazing area. In Canal de Afuera, you can head out even closer in a kayak – launching from the easy launch platform from Safari Voyager and paddling among islands, spotting wildlife. Grab your gear and kayak from the boat to the shore, beach the kayak, and snorkel in crystal clear water with coral just a foot from your face!

 

Snorkeler

Panama Canal

OK, this one is not much of a secret, grin. But it is a highlight of the trip for many people and navigating it aboard a small ship is a different experience than guests may have had before. The crossing usually begins in the late afternoon and lasts through the night. Start with happy hour on the sun deck, toasting the canal with a tropical cocktail. The local crew will of course tell you all the engineering details you may want to know – but they also know the local stories.

Guests enjoying the Panama Canal

 

A ship in the Panama Canal

From the deck on a small ship, you are right near the action as the “mules” tie up to the Safari Voyager and bring her through the canal. Close enough to hear the chatter, watch the workers in action, and wave hello. As the sun sets, dinner will be served upstairs in a buffet to keep the party going. The canal is lit brightly all night long, so the crossings are safe – you won’t miss a thing! Depending on the direction of your cruise, this may be the very beginning or the very end of your adventure. Either way it is an experience you will never forget. Photos and video are fun, but they can never replace the experience. Worth the trip alone.  

 

Annular Lunar Eclipse Cruise October 14, 2023

Truly a sneak peek! October 14, 2023, there will be an annular lunar eclipse visible from the Yucatan peninsula. The first Belize cruise of the year will start on October 13, 2023 so that we will see the eclipse from the ocean. It will be an exciting and rare opportunity at the beginning of a week of exciting and rare sights and experiences! More details to come.

Two smiling local Safari Voyager crew members