Road Scholar : Home
The Southern Caribbean and Panama Canal: A Journey Through History and Nature

Program Number: 15591RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/8/2013 - 4/19/2013; 1/23/2015 - 2/2/2015; 2/2/2015 - 2/13/2015; 2/23/2015 - 3/6/2015; 11/30/2015 - 12/11/2015; 1/25/2016 - 2/5/2016; 2/5/2016 - 2/15/2016; 2/26/2016 - 3/7/2016; 3/7/2016 - 3/18/2016;
Duration: 11 nights
Location: Bahamas/Aruba/Panama/Costa Rica/Colombia
Price starting at: $3,399.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Cruises
Meals: 33; 11 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt    

Discover the natural and human interplay in the Caribbean, delving into the story of the Panama Canal and efforts to conserve the natural wonders of Costa Rica.




Activity Particulars

Walking unassisted up to one hour at a time. Wheelchairs prohibited due to docking methods.



Please note that the Oct 2014, Jan & March 2015 itineraries are 10 nights in length.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

Aboard MS Zuiderdam, 11 nights — Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Oranjestad (Aruba), (Willemstad (Curaçao), Caribbean Coast (Panama), Limon (Costa Rica), Fort Lauderdale.



Days 1–2:
Arrival Fort Lauderdale, Fla. / embark MS Zuiderdam / Half Moon Cay (Bahamas):

Snorkel off the coast of Half Moon Caye to view colorful fish and coral.



Day 3:
At Sea:

Lectures cover the European and especially Dutch influence on the Caribbean, as well as the political history of Aruba.



Day 4:
Oranjestad (Aruba):

Disembark for an exploration of Aruba’s capital, Oranjestad.



Day 5:
Willemstad (Curaçao):

Disembark for a walking orientation of Willemstad and explore the Hato Caves.



Day 6:
At Sea:

Lectures at sea address the Panama Canal from dream to reality to contemporary impact.



Day 7:
Cartagena (Colombia):

Study the colonial history and architectural beauty of Cartagena during visits to the Convento de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, and other local treasures. Visit a local emerald museum to learn about Colombia’s famous gems and admire the beautiful pieces on display.



Day 8:
Caribbean Coast (Panama):

Visit the Gatun Locks and the Old City or "Casco Viejo;" explore the French Plaza and the Joseph Cathedral and its famous golden altar. View ships going through the Panama Canal's Miraflores Locks and learn about the history of the canal during a visit to the interpretive center.



Day 9:
Puerto Limon (Costa Rica):

Visit a banana plantation for expert-led discoveries and insight into local agriculture.



Days 10-11:
At Sea:

Informative lectures provide a political and economic overview of Central America and information on conservation projects underway in the area.



Day 12:
Fort Lauderdale / disembark / departure


ms Zuiderdam

This 936-foot ocean liner combines high-tech features with classic elegance. Intriguing artistic touches include art deco elevators, paintings by the likes of Andy Warhol and, suspended in the three-story atrium at the ship’s heart, a Waterford Crystal Seahorse. Propelled by a diesel-electric power plant for optimal energy efficiency. It can carry over 1900 passengers, up to 40 of whom may be Road Scholar participants.



Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Marylin Lisowski

Marylin Lisowski has shared her love for the environment, mathematics and science with students of all ages. Among her many roles, she has served as a professor of science and environmental education at Eastern Illinois University, has taught science at the elementary, middle school and high school levels in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida and was the director of a research and education field station in the Bahamas. Marylin is the author of several series of textbooks for middle school and high school levels, and was the project director for numerous federally and state funded environmental science grant programs. She has been conducting field excursions and ecological expeditions for both students and teachers since the early 1970s, and has developed and led programs around the world. Marylin’s has been the recipient of numerous awards, including Ohio's Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year, as well as Eastern Illinois University's Distinguished Professor of the Year.
 
Laura Vick

Dr. Laura Vick has been leading educational excursions to the Yucatan for more than 20 years. Laura holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is fluent in Spanish. Laura is professor emeritus at William Peace University, where she has received several honors and teaching awards for her work as a professor of anthropology and her dedication to international studies. She is a biological anthropologist and has extensively studied spider monkey behavior in Mexico. In addition to primatology, Laura is an expert in human evolution and Mesoamerican prehistory, with a special interest in contemporary and ancient Maya culture.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   M/S Zuiderdam
  Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Day at Sea
Oranjestad, West Indies
Willemstad, Curacao, West Indies
Day at Sea
Cartagena, Colombia
Gatun Locks Panama, Panama
Limon, Costa Rica
Day at Sea
11 nights
 M/S Zuiderdam
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: At the heart of the ms Zuiderdam, suspended in a three-story atrium, a Waterford Crystal Seahorse sets the mood for exquisite pieces of art to be seen throughout this elegant ship. On board the ms Zuiderdam, marvelous nooks and crannies contain priceless works of art. Guests will find a recurring Venetian theme throughout the ship; the most dazzling features figures in the time of Carnival in Venice, created by Daniel Ogier. Guests can also expect signature Holland America touches, such as a gracious and unobtrusive staff, gourmet meals, spacious accommodations and the very best in entertainment and activities. The ms Zuiderdam completed all Signature of Excellence enhancements to her public rooms and staterooms in Fall 2005.
  Ship Information: Ship's Registry: The Netherlands, Passenger: capacity 1,848, Crew members: 800 Gross tonnage 82,000 grt. . Length 951 feet Beam 105.8 feet Maximum speed 24 knots
  Contact info: Holland America
300 Elliott Ave. West
Seattle, WA 98119 USA
phone: 206-281-3535
web: www.hollandamerica.com/fleet/stateroomHome.do?ship=vo
  Facility amenities: Vista Dinning Room, Pinnacle Grill, Lido Restaurant, the Culinary Arts Center, The Greenhouse Spa and Salon, The Crow’s Nest
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Embarkation at Port Everglades, Florida starts at 11:30 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m. Late arrivals will be denied boarding. You will be staying at M/S Zuiderdam that night.
  End of Program:
Disembarkation at Port Everglades, Florida starts at 9 a.m. If flying from Ft. Lauderdale, book flights that leave after 12 p.m. You will be staying at M/S Zuiderdam the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking: $15.00 per day (rate subject to change by the Port Authority). Phone: 954-462-7287 * Midport Parking Garage: 6 floors; 2,000 spaces * Security-patrolled and illuminated * No advance reservations required * Parking for RVs (add. cost)
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Check for current bus schedules with www.greyhound.com or call Greyhound at 1-800-231-2222.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  Nearest city or town:  Ft. Lauderdale
  Nearest highway: I-595 goes directly into Port Everglades
  Nearest airport:  Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  Transportation to site: Taxi services are available at the Ft. Lauderdale airport and area hotels.
  From End of Program
  Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  Transportation from site: Taxi services are available for the transfer from Port Everglades to the Ft. Lauderdale airport.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
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: Embark on Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
(Monday, April 8)
   
 Morning: Embark ship. You may board as early at 11:30 am, but no later than 90 minutes prior to sail time.
Ship departs at 4 pm.

Check-in at Front Desk.
 Lunch: Embarkation Buffet Lunch at Lido Deck opens at 12:00 pm.
 Afternoon: Cabins should be ready to use by 1:00 pm.

Participate in the ship's Safety Drill.

**Note: Participants will receive a full itinerary once onboard. The Road Scholar group leader will deliver an itinerary to each participant's stateroom and try to meet all members of the group prior to dinner and the program orientation.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
 Evening: Welcome Orientation.
   
Accommodations: M/S Zuiderdam
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 2: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.
(Tuesday, April 9)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Ship scheduled to arrive to Half Moon Cay at 8:00 AM

Disembark at Half Moon Cay.

Board a glass bottom boat to view marine life and listen to a lecture about the Marine life of the Islands and the Caribbean.

Time at leisure to enjoy water activities.
 Lunch: Lunch on the island.
 Afternoon: Return to the ship and cruise for Aruba.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
   
Accommodations: M/S Zuiderdam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Day at Sea.
(Wednesday, April 10)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Time at leisure to enjoy shipboard activities.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: Lecture: The European Influence in the Caribbean. A light-hearted look at some lingering traditions inherited from bygone days.

Opportunity for discussion with group leader and other participants.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
   
Accommodations: M/S Zuiderdam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Oranjestad, Aruba.
(Thursday, April 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Time at leisure to enjoy shipboard activities.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: Disembark.

Enjoy a city orientation of Orangestad, Aruba's capital city.

Walking excursion includes the Archaeological Museum and the Fort Zoutman Historical Museum. Site lectures during the walk will highlight the history of the island.

Time at leisure to explore the city on your own.

Return to the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
   
Accommodations: M/S Zuiderdam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Willemstad, Curaçao.
(Friday, April 12)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Arrive to Curaçao.

Disembark for a walking orientation of Willemstad, including the historic downtown, the Governor's Palace and a floating fresh fruit market.

If open, visit the Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Visit the Hato Caves, used by the Amerindian Arawaks 1,500 years ago and in later years used as a refuge for escaped slaves.

Return to the ship and cruise to Panama.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
   
Accommodations: M/S Zuiderdam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Day at Sea.
(Saturday, April 13)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Time at leisure to enjoy shipboard activities.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: Lecture: The Concept of a Canal from Dreams to Reality.

Opportunity for discussion with group leader and other participants.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
   
Accommodations: M/S Zuiderdam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Cartagena, Colombia.
(Sunday, April 14)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Disembark and enjoy a field trip to Cartagena.

Travel to the hill at La Popa, the highest point in the city, to visit the Convento de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, founded in 1607 by the order of St. Augustine. Continue your area explorations with a stop at nearby Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. Learn about the fort's impressive history while walking through its fortified tunnels, galleries, and lookouts. Before heading into Old Town to uncover more of Cartagena's colonial treasures, stop at a local museum devoted to educating visitors about the history and characteristics of Colombia's famous emeralds.

In the early 16th century, Pedro de Heredia established the Spanish town of Cartagena on the site of a coastal, Indian settlement. The town quickly grew into an important port and a strategic gateway for Spanish interests in northern South America. The incredible riches obtained through Spain's colonial conquests in the southern continent were stored in Cartagena prior to being shipped to Spain. Unfortunately, this news attracted the unwanted attention of pirates working in the Caribbean. After suffering various sieges, including one by Sir Francis Drake in 1586, the city began constructing forts and protective walls to safeguard it from further attacks. Present day Cartagena is Colombia's largest port and a vital industrial hub; a place where visitors can enjoy both the rich history and architectural beauty of the city's colonial center (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the modern lifestyle found in the surrounding suburbs.

Return to the ship.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: Time at leisure to enjoy shipboard activities.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
   
Accommodations: M/S Zuiderdam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Panama -
Colonial Panama and Miraflores Locks.

(Monday, April 15)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Partial transit through the Panama Canal - Gatun Locks.

Ship scheduled to arrive to Locks at 5:00 AM.

Disembark at Lake Gatun Locks Pier, tender ashore and then drive to Casco Viejo or Old City to discover Panama's rich history and culture on foot and by bus. Casco Viejo was established in 1673 by the Spanish Conquistadors; it was the second city settled in Panama.

Explore the French Plaza on foot and visit the famous golden altar in the St. Joseph Cathedral. Continue exploring the city by bus.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, experience a field trip to Miraflores Locks to view ships passing through the first series of locks in the Canal. Also visit the on-site interpretive museum where you'll explore the exhibits as well as watch a movie about the history of the canal.

Transfer back to the Colon Pier and board the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
   
Accommodations: M/S Zuiderdam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.
(Tuesday, April 16)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Disembark and enjoy a lecture while riding from the coast to the rich agricultural farm lands to examine the operations of a typical pineapple plantation.

Travel on to a local Heliconia and tropical plant farm for a site lecture on some of the most beautiful tropical plants of Costa Rica.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Return to the pier, board the ship and begin your journey back to Ft. Lauderdale.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
   
Accommodations: M/S Zuiderdam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Day at Sea.
(Wednesday, April 17)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Time at leisure to enjoy shipboard activities.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: Lecture: A Political and Economic Overview of Central America.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
   
Accommodations: M/S Zuiderdam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Day at Sea.
(Thursday, April 18)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Time at leisure to enjoy shipboard activities.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: Lecture: Conservation and Wildlife Projects in Central America.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner onboard.
   
Accommodations: M/S Zuiderdam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Completion of Program.
Disembark in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

(Friday, April 19)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Disembark at the completion of the program.
   
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


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


Author: David McCullough


Description: The national best-selling chronicle of the conception and building of the Panama Canal. Applying his remarkable gift for lucid, lively writing, McCullough tells the story of one of humankind's greatest accomplishments. Winner of countless book awards, this is probably the most acclaimed history of the Canal ever written.



Tropical Nature


Author: Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata


Description: A lively, lucid portrait of the tropics as seen by two uncommonly observant and thoughtful field biologists. Its 17 marvelous essays introduce the habitats, ecology, plants and animals of the Central and South American rainforest



A Traveller's History of the Caribbean


Author: James Ferguson


Description: A concise history of the Caribbean Islands, beginning with a description of the islands' formation and geologic attributes and carrying through the first civilizations in the region all the way up to the modern tourism boom.



Central America Map


Author: ITMB


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



Tropical Plants of Costa Rica


Author: Willow Zuchowski


Description: Organized by habitat, this photo guide to 400 species has chapters on popular destinations, including Monteverde and Tortuguero.



Lesser Antilles Map


Author: Nelles


Description: A map of the Lesser Antilles, with detailed insets of every important island.



Under the Black Flag, The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates


Author: David Cordingly


Description: Meet Blackbeard and Captain Kidd along with lesser-known rogues and brigands in this rip-roaring portrait of pirates of the Caribbean.



Fishwatcher's Field Guide Caribbean


Author: Idaz Greenberg


Description: A convenient double-sided plastic card showing 75 reef fish of the Caribbean.



Fishwatcher's Field Guide Baja California, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco


Author: Idaz Greenberg


Description: A double-sided, full-color waterproof card.



Reefcomber's Guide, Caribbean


Author: Idaz Greenberg


Description: This double-sided laminated card depicts fish, corals and other invertebrates of the Caribbean.



How Wall Street Created a Nation, J.P. Morgan, Teddy Roosevelt, and the Panama Canal.


Author: Ovidio Diaz Espino


Description: This book offers a view of the Panama Canal and the formation of Panama from a Latin American perspective. Mr. Espino details all nature of scandals, corruption, and conspiracies behind Panama's fight for independence and the construction of the Panama Canal. Although the accuracy of certain historical accounts has been called into question, this book is likely to force readers to ask themselves interesting questions and maybe prompt further research.



Culture Smart! Panama


Author: Heloise Crowther


Description: This practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture is concise and well-illustrated.



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.





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