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Panama Canal Adventure: Exploring Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala & Panama

Program Number: 20414RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/28/2013 - 3/15/2013;
Duration: 15 nights
Location: Mexico/Guatemala/Costa Rica/Nicaragua/Panama/Colombia/Bahamas
Price starting at: $4,095.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Cruises; Independent City Discoveries
Meals: 42; 15 Breakfasts, 12 Lunches, 15 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

One of the greatest feats of engineering in the world, the Panama Canal offers not only a passage of convenience for travelers and business, but a scenic and historic route to be relished by visitors. Delight in a journey that leads through this icon and into the countryside and cityscapes of Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala and Panama.




Activity Particulars

Walking up 1.5 miles during shore excursions; cobblestone streets and uneven surfaces; some stairs without handrails.



Please note that the October 20, 2015 date and the Feburary 29, 2016 date operate in the reverse direction form Fort Lauderdale to San Diego.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

Arrival San Diego, Calif., 1 night; aboard ms Statendam, 14 nights.



Day 1-4: Arrival San Diego, Calif. / embark ms Statendam / At Sea

Spend an independent day in San Diego before meandering along the currents of Bahia Magdalena, known for the seasonal migration of the California Gray Whales. Lodging: Comfortable hotel.



Days 5-6: Puerto Vallarta (Mexico) / At Sea:

Walk along the picturesque cobblestone streets of Puerto Vallarta, visit the Church of Guadalupe and spend an afternoon along the Malecon boardwalk.



Day 7: Huatulco:

Experience the colorful daily life in local villages before learning about coffee harvesting at a nearby plantation.



Day 8: Puerto Chiapas:

Consider the sculptures and altars of the archaeological zone of Izapa, a noted Mesoamerican site.



Days 9-10: Puerto Quetzal (Guatemala) / At Sea:

Go behind the scenes of Antigua’s colonial city and take in the Iglesia San Francisco, the cathedral, Central Park, and La Merced Church.



Day 11-12: Fuerte Amador / Panama Canal:

Admire the Spanish architecture of El Casco Viejo and watch vessels pass through the Panama Canal from your vantage point at the Miraflores Locks. Transit the Panama Canal and learn its history as an engineering feat and its impact on modern shipping needs.



Day 13-16: Cartagena (Colombia) / At Sea / Fort Lauderdale, Fla. / disembark / departure:

Gain insights into Cartagena with a stroll through the old walled city, passing through enchanting streets lined with Spanish Colonial Houses. Learn about the Colombian Constitution at the Rafael Nunez house.



ms Statendam

The ms Statendam is the fifth ship to bear the name in Holland America Line's more than 130-year history. At 720-feet, she is designed to carry fewer guests while providing more space for maximum comfort. The ship features a theme of Dutch life and exploration, and displays art and artifacts beautifully throughout the ship.


Meals and Lodgings
   Courtyard San Diego Mission Valley/Hotel Circle
  San Diego, California, USA 1 night
   MS Statendam
  Aboard the ms Statendam, Australia 14 nights
 Courtyard San Diego Mission Valley/Hotel Circle
Type: Hotel
  Description: Complimentary Nintendo Wii • GoBoard™ touch screen with weather, news and restaurant info at your fingertips • The Bistro serving gourmet fare, grab-n-go meals and the only Starbucks espresso bar on the block •
  Contact info: 595 Hotel Circle South
San Diego, CA 92108 USA
phone: 619-291-5720
web: www.courtyardsd.com
  Room amenities: Complimentary WiFi, 32" HDTV with premium channels, refrigerators
  Facility amenities: Theater room with 52" HDTV, a lounge with personal booths wired for Internet and with personal LCD TVs, Full-service bar, Outdoor heated pool and spa, 24/7 fitness center, 24/7 business center, 24/7 market, Valet dry cleaning available, coin-operated laundry available, safe deposit boxes at front desk, free WiFi service
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: N/A Participants may arrange for pre-program nights. Rate to be advised by PD pending contractual agreement.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 MS Statendam
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The ms Statendam is the fifth ship to bear the name in Holland America Line's more than 130-year history. At 720-feet, she is designed to carry fewer guests while providing more space for maximum comfort. The ship features a theme of Dutch life and exploration, with more than $2 million worth of art and artifacts beautifully displayed throughout the ship.
  Ship Information: Gross Tonnage: 55,819 grt.(One registered ton equals 100 cubic feet) Length: 720 feet Beam: 101 feet Maximum speed: 22 knots (maximum) Ship's Registry: The Netherlands ,P>Passenger capacity: 1,258 Crew: 557 Dedicated: January, 1993 by Mrs. Lin Arison
  Contact info: Holland America
300 Elliott Ave. West
Seattle, WA 98119 USA
phone: 120-628-1353 x5
web: www.hollandamerica.com/cruise-vacation-onboard/Statendam
  Facility amenities: Dining room, Pinnacle Grill, Lido Restaurant, the Culinary Arts Center, Explorations Cafe, The Greenhouse Spa and Salon, The Vista Show Lounge, the Crow's Nest, Club HAL, the Loft and the Oasis.
  Smoking allowed: Yes


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
This program starts on Day 1 at the program hotel in San Diego in the early evening at the program orientation. You will be staying at Courtyard San Diego Mission Valley/Hotel Circle that night.
  End of Program:
This program ends Day 16 after breakfast on board the ship. Please note that the ship will be sailing to Fort Lauderdale the night prior. Do not book flights earlier than 12 noon. You will be staying at MS Statendam the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is available at the hotel.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  San Diego, California
  From End of Program
  Location:  Ft. Lauderdale
Travel Details
 

 

From Ferry Landing

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi

   

Transfers from the ship to the the airport are included for all participants if you are departing on the group date through Holland America. Details will be provided in the final mailing sent approximately five weeks prior to departure.

 

San Diego

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$15-$25 Subject to change
Prices are subject to change.

   

A group transfer from the airport to the program hotel will take place on Day 1. Independent travelers may take a taxi to the hotel. Cost is around 15-20USD (subject ot change).

 
Driving Directions
  not recommended Driving is not recommended for this program since the program starts and ends in different locations.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival San Diego / Program Orientation
(Thursday, February 28)
   
 Arrive To: Transfer from the San Diego Airport to the Courtyard San Diego Mission Valley/Hotel Circle
 Afternoon: Join other participants for program orientation.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Courtyard San Diego Mission Valley/Hotel Circle
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Transfer to board ship
(Friday, March 1)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Free time to explore San Diego on your own.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Group Transfer from the Courtyard San Diego Mission Valley/Hotel Circle to the cruise port for embarkation
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: At Sea / Presentation
(Saturday, March 2)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in a presentation by your study leader on a topic TBD.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Road Scholar Exclusive Welcome Cocktail Party.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Cruising Bahia Magdalena / Presentations
(Sunday, March 3)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in a presentation by your study leader on a topic TBD.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the ship's amenities while cruising Bahia Magdalena. This bay is particularly noted for the seasonal migration of the California Gray Whales that come here during winter to mate. The bay is also popular for commercial and sports fishing. Nearby mangrove swamps provide sanctuaries for sea birds.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
(Monday, March 4)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Enjoy an exclusive Road Scholar excursion. Disembark the ship and recieve greetings and a welcome by your local guide.Transfer to food market. Visit to market where guests will take part in the selection of fresh produce and other ingredients to prepare traditional Mexican food, some of which has been declared UNESCO World Heritage. Then transfer to a restaurant in the Malecon where cooking classes will begin.
 Lunch: Participants will be able to savor their creations, while listening to some traditional Mariachi music, which is the emblematic music of the state of Jalisco, and has also been declared World Heritage by UNESCO.
 Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore the Malecon, the boardwalk at Puerto Vallarta.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: At Sea / Presentation
(Tuesday, March 5)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in a presentation by your study leader on a topic TBD.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Take time this afternoon to enjoy the ships amenities
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Huatulco, Mexico / Village visits
(Wednesday, March 6)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Transfer to the Copalita Archaeological Site, where expert guides will explain the history of this unique cultural icon and the fascinating mysteries surrounding the settlement of these people. The site is on the margins of the Copalita River, known for its incredible nature and bird watching opportunities Our next stop will be Santa Maria Huatulco where we will visit its beautiful church that was built on the XVII C., and also the City Hall where you can take a look to the beautiful murals that describe Huatulco´s history since prehispanic times. Then we will move nearby to visit the local blacksmith´s artisanal shop with more than a century –old where we will admire a forge of the XVIII C. and where nowadays working tools are made with recycled materials. Back on the road we will go back to the pier but make a last stop at La Crucesita (Huatulco´s downtown) where we will visit the Main Plaza and church.
 Lunch: Local Restuarant for lunch.
 Afternoon: Afternoon to explore Huatulco on your own.Transfer to Port
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Puerto Chiapas, Mexico
(Thursday, March 7)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Transfer to Argovia Coffee Plantation.Guided tour of the historic “beneficio” and organic coffee processing plant. Finca Argovia is owned by a 4th generation German descendant, who has scientifically designed each element of the plantation to maximize the quality of the organic coffee produced. The symbiotic relationship between nature and the people of the region combined with Argovia´s fine gastronomy make this a unique experience
 Lunch: Lunch at the Coffee Plantation.
 Afternoon: Enjoy some time at the Coffee Plantation before transferring back to the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Puerto Quetzal, Guatamala / Antigua
(Friday, March 8)

Note: Transfer to Antigua is 1.5 hours drive.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: This morning transfer to the town of Antigua and discover the architectural and historical highlights of this colonial city with a behind-the-scenes look at some of the many ruined churches, convents, and cathedrals. Explore the Iglesia San Francisco, the Cathedral, Central Park, and La Merced Church. At the end of the visit your guide will suggest lunch restaurant, shopping area, markets or any other museum or ruin to visit.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore the town on your own before returning to the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10: At Sea / Presentations
(Saturday, March 9)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in a presentation by your study leader on a topic TBD.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Take time this afternoon to enjoy the ships amenities.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Fuerte Amador, Panama
(Sunday, March 10)

Note: Tender required to get to shore.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Spend your morning enjoying the Statendam's ammenities while the ship sails into Fuerte Amador.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
 Evening: View the gargantuan ships that make their way through the Miraflores Locks’ chambers and visit exhibitions, which include historical objects of Canal operations, interactive modules, video presentations, and models of the Panama Canal. Four exhibition halls, organized by themes, constitute the heart of the Miraflores Visitor Center: Hall One portrays the background, technological innovations, and sanitary initiatives that went hand in hand with the construction of the Canal. Hall Two emphasizes the importance of water, conservation of the environment, protection of the Canal watershed, the diversity of fauna and flora and sustainable management. Hall Three depicts in an entertaining manner how the Canal operates and offers a navigation simulator through one of the lock culverts. Hall Four provides information on the importance of the Canal to world trade and identifies the main commodities and types of vessels that transit the waterway. Continuing with your tour, you will stop for photos at the Administration Building in the former Canal Zone area. In December, 1999, administration of the canal was returned to Panama and the PCZ went silent. Today, it is very much intact and is a fascinating sight, not to be missed.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Fuerte Amador, Panama / Enter Panama Canal Balboa / Cruising Panama Canal / Exit Panama Canal Cristobal
(Monday, March 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: As you transit the Panama Canal, there will be an onboard commentary provided by a Panamanian canal pilot. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the canal had an enormous impact on shipping between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, replacing the long and treacherous route via the Drake Passage and Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America. A ship sailing from New York to San Francisco via the canal travels 5,900 mi. well under half the 14,000 mi. route around Cape Horn. The concept of a canal near Panama dates to the early 16th century. The first attempt to construct a canal began in 1880 under French leadership, but was abandoned after 21,900 workers died, largely from disease (particularly malaria and yellow fever) and landslides. The United States launched a second effort, incurring a further 5,600 deaths but succeeding in opening the canal in 1914.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Continue transiting the Panama Canal.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Cartagena, Colombia / Introduction to Cartagena
(Tuesday, March 12)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Visit La Popa Monastery, built at the beginning of the 17th century as a humble wooden chapel and later replaced by a more solid construction. Though it is still inhabited by monks, it has been used several times as a military fortress due to its strategic location. Continue to the Rafael Nuñez House and Museum. Rafael Nuñez is one of the most illustrious Cartageneros of all time: President of Colombia four times, he wrote the words of the National Anthem and created the constitution of 1886. The house where he lived and died is now a museum of his life, with exhibits of furniture, official documents and photographs. Our guide there, a trained lawyer and a specialist in the Colombian Constitution, will also give a presentation on the Colombian Constitution. Then enjoy a stroll in the old walled city, passing along the enchanting streets lined with Spanish Colonial Houses with their flower bedecked balconies as well as Las Bóvedas, consisting of 23 old dungeons constructed between 1792 and 1796 by the Spaniards and later used by the military for storage.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Afternoon on your own to explore the city.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: At Sea / Presentation
(Wednesday, March 13)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in a presentation by your study leader on a topic TBD.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Take time this afternoon to enjoy the ships amenities.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: At Sea / Presentation / Program wrap-up
(Thursday, March 14)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in a presentation by your study leader on a topic TBD.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the ship's amenities. Then join your group leader for a program wrap-up.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Statendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Departure
(Friday, March 15)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Disembark the ship and transfer to the airport for your return flight home.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Brief History of Central America


Author: Hector Perez-Brignoll


Description: A good overview of the region’s economic, political and social history through the 1980s by a professor at the University of Costa Rica. Well-written, informative and concise.



A Neotropical Companion


Author: J.C. Kricher, Mark Plotkin (Introduction)


Description: From plants and animals to birds and bugs, it's all here in this wonderfully written overview of the ecology, habitats, plants and animals of Central and South America.



Central America Map


Author: ITMB


Description: A detailed map of the Central American isthmus at a scale of 1:1,100,000.



Love in the Time of Cholera


Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Edith Grossman (Translator)


Description: A glorious tale of great love consummated after 50 years, nine months and four days, memorably set in a dusty 19th-century town on the Caribbean coast of Columbia.



Mexico in Mind


Author: Maria Finn Dominguez


Description: John Steinbeck, D.H. Lawrence, Graham Greene, Malcolm Lowry and others offer diverse impressions of the many Mexicos.



Panama Canal by Cruise Ship


Author: Anne Vipond


Description: This outstanding guide to the Panama Canal, and popular ports of call in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America features a mile-by-mile guide to the transit, a history of the building of the canal and a detailed pullout map.



Panama Wildlife Guide


Author: Rainforest Publications


Description: This handy 14-panel fold-up card features expert color illustrations of dozens of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.



The Building of the Panama Canal in Historic Photographs


Author: Ulrich Keller


Description: These archival photographs tell the story of the people who built the Panama Canal, the engineers who designed it and the changes wrought on the landscape through its construction.



The Path Between the Seas, The Creation of the Panama Canal: 1870-1914


Author: David McCullough


Description: Admirably told in vivid, page-turning detail. McCullough reveals the full scope of the Panama Canal, its characters, technical difficulties and Byzantine politics.



Travelers' Tales Central America


Author: Larry Habegger (Editor), Natanya Pearlman (Editor)


Description: Organized thematically with contributions set in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, this collection of eyewitness reports includes Joan Didion, P.J. O'Rourke and Paul Theroux.





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