Passage through the Panama Canal

Cruise with the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) from February 3 - 11, 2018 on a voyage featuring the historic Panama Canal and the unspoiled rainforests of Panama & Costa Rica.

Panama CanalOn this comprehensive itinerary visit Panama's Casa Antiguo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, along with Panama’s ancient San Blas Islands, where the Guna Indians live much as they did centuries ago. Tour Panama City’s Biodiversity Museum, one of acclaimed architect Frank Gehry’s newest designs. Experience Panama and Costa Rica’s world-renowned and protected national parks—rainforests, islands, and archipelagos that foster one of the most pristine ecosystems on our planet.

Few experiences can match one of the world’s most dramatic voyages, a cruise from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic through one of the greatest man-made wonders of the world, the ingenious Panama Canal. Having celebrated its centennial anniversary just two years ago, this marvel of engineering and 50-mile passage through the narrow Isthmus of Panama continues to astonish even today’s most veteran traveler. During a specially arranged daylight transit, experience firsthand the mighty locks that raise and lower ocean-going vessels 85 feet using no other power than the force of gravity, accomplishing in mere hours what would have taken a three-week circumnavigation of South America in years gone by.

This spectacular offering features the privately chartered, all-Suite, Five-Star M.V. STAR BREEZE. This sophisticated small ship features only 106 Suites, six with a private furnished veranda and 36 with private French-style balcony—ideal for your own private viewing of a daylight passage through the Panama Canal. Dock in small ports of call inaccessible to larger vessels and enjoy the advantages of Five-Star small-ship cruising—casually elegant ocean‑view accommodations and a carefully crafted itinerary with daily excursions led by experienced onboard naturalists.

Travel in the company of alumni, friends and participants from cosponsoring associations on this fascinating voyage. Please contact the Alumni Travel Study Porgram office for more details and to reserve your place today.

Dates and Prices:

Trip Dates: February 3 -11, 2018
Prices: from $4,995 to $10,795 per person based upon double occupancy (taxes are an additional $335 per person subject to change)

Itinerary:

Day 1: Depart US / Panama City, Panama / Colon / Embark Star Breeze

Depart for Panama City, Panama. Upon arrival, transfer to Colon and Embark the Star Breeze. After a welcome briefing and safety drill, join fellow travelers for dinner aboard the ship.

Day 2: San Blas Islands, Panama

Today we cruise to the sun-drenched San Blas Islands, located on the Caribbean side of Panama and an extraordinary testament to Panama’s commitment to the indigenous Guna Indians, also known as the Kuna Indians, and their centuries-old way of life—language, customs, and culture. Villagers live in typical thatched‑roof huts, barter or trade in fish and agricultural products, and paddle dugout canoes for their main mode of transportation. Guna women continue to hand-stitch traditional colorful molas, reverse appliqué panels, and to wear winis, long strings of tiny beads wrapped around their forearms and legs in striking geometric patterns. This evening we will meet for Captain’s Welcome Reception on board

Day 3: Colon / Panama Canal Transit

We will cruise from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean through the locks of the Panama Canal and attend a specially arranged lecture on the history of the canal. Please note: the transit times of each ship through the canal are controlled by the Panama Canal Authority.

Day 4: Panama City

Explore Central America’s attractive capital city, founded in 1519 by Spanish explorers and rebuilt in the late 17th century. We will see the designated UNESCO World Heritage site—Casco Antiguo, with its cobblestone streets and its blend of architectural styles. Our visit will also take us to the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center adjacent to the Panama Canal, to observe the intricate operation of the locks. Nearby, the new Biodiversity Museum, designed by architect Frank Gehry showcases the ecological significance of Panama’s exotic flora and fauna.

Day 5: Isla Cebaco

A winding coastline of pristine sandy beaches and towering palm trees front the dense rainforests that dominate the rarely visited gems of Isla Cebaco in the sparkling Gulf of Montijo. Snorkel in its emerald waters, where schools of vinramtly colored fish, giant manta rays, and four different species of turtles swim amidst spectacular coral reefs.

Day 6: Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park has an unparalleled diversity of wildlife and a combination of rainforest, beaches, and coral reefs. In this “Living Eden,” expert naturalists will help us spot colorful toucans, howler monkeys, camouflaged iguanas, squirrel monkeys, and rare and endangered species, including the scarlet macaw and quetzal, protected by law in this natural haven.

Day 7: Curú National Wildlife Refuge / Isla Tortuga

At  Curú Wildlife Refuge we will witness a blend of sustainable agriculture, forest management, and wildlife protection, encompassing five distinctly different untouched habitats. During a guided walk we will look for pumas, anteaters, ocelots, otters, and some of the more than 230 species of birds.

Nestled in a private reserve off the southwestern ti of the stunning Nicoya Peninsula, idyllic Isla Tortuga is named for its tortoise-like volcanic formations. Against a backdrop of conconut palm trees and white sand beaches, enjoy oportunities to swim and snorkel in the protected island's clear, sheltered waters, home to fascinating marine life such as angel fish, spotted eagle rays and sea horses.

Join fellow travelers for the Captain's Farewell reception this evening

Day 8: Puerto Caldera / Disembark / San Jose, Costa Rica

After breakfast this morning we disembark our ship, and transfer to San Jose. Enjoya a city tour of San José, which provides a good introduction to Costa
Rica’s history and culture through visits to the National Museum and National Theater. After lunch, check-in to the Costa Rica Marriot Hotel for an evening at leisure.

Day 9: San Jose/U.S.
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the San Jose Airport for your return flight to the U.S.

Included Features:


On board the Small Ship  STAR BREEZE

  • Seven-night cruise from Colon Panama to Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, including Panama Canal Transit, and featuring port calls at the San BIas Islands, Panama City and Isla Cebaco, Panama; and ; Quepos for Manuel Antonio National Park, Curu National Wildlife Refuge, and Isla Tortuga, Panama.
  • Spacious, Five-Star ocean-view, all-Suite accommodations, each with a private bathroom and individual climate control.
  • Captain's Welcome and Farewell Receptions.
  • All gourmet meals-breakfast, lunch and dinner-served at single, unassigned seatings.
  • Complimentary house wine is served with dinner.
  • Expert onboard naturalist guides to lead small group excursions.
  • Excursion to the remote, ancestral San Blas Islands, Scenic transfer from Panama City to Colon.
  • Specially arranged passage through the Panama Canal during daylight hours, accompanied by a narraration on the history of the canal. Transit times through the canal are controlled by the Panama Canal Authority and subject to traffic conditions.
  • Tour of Panama City, highlighted by a visit to its UNESCO World Heritage site , Casco Antiguo, the new Frank Gehry-designed Biodiversity Museum and the informative Panama Canal Miraflores Locks Museum.
  • Visit to Isla Cebaco with oportunities for swimming and snorkeling
  • Excursion in stunning and biodiverse Manuel Antonio National Park.
  • Guided tour through Curu National Wildlife Refuge to see a wide array of wildlife in a natural habitat, such as the rare scarlet macaw and the spider monkey.
  • Visit to unspoiled Isla Tortuga, with snorkeling opportunities

In San Jose, Costa Rica-

  • One night in the Costa Rica MARRIOTT HOTEL SAN JOSE.
  • American breakfast.
  • Tour of San Jose, including the National Theater and National Museum.
  • Scenic transfer from Puerto Caldera to San Jose.

Enhanced Travel Services

  • Transfers and luggage handling abroad for participants whose artival(s)ldeparture(s) coincide with the scheduled group transfer{s).
  • All excursions and visits , as outlined above, with experienced local guides and naturalists.
  • Gratuities to local guides, drivers and naturalists on included excursions and transfers.
  • The services of experienced Travel Directors throughout the program.
  • Hospitality desk aboard ship and in the hotel.
  • Travel document wallet, name badge and pre-departure information.


Not included:
Taxes; passport fees; visas and fees for obtaining visas; personal expenses such as laundry and telephone calls; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; gratuities to ship and hotel personnel; optional sightseeing excursions; excess baggage charges on aircraft; local departure air taxes; airfare and associated local taxes*, airport facility taxes and federal inspection fees not listed int he "included features" section of the program brochure; transfers and baggage handling to/from airport/hotel if you are arriving earlier or later and/or departing earlier or later that scheduled group transfer(s); meals and and alcoholic beverages not listed in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure; and all other services not specifically mentioned in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure.


Please call us toll-free at (866) 325-8664 or email us at travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details.