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

Program Number: 20414RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/29/2014 - 4/14/2014;
Duration: 16 nights
Location: Mexico/Guatemala/Costa Rica/Nicaragua/Panama/Colombia/Bahamas
Price starting at: $4,295.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Cruises; Independent City Discoveries
Meals: 45; 16 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 16 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.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

Arrival San Diego, Calif., 1 night; embark ms Statendam, 15 nights; disembark Fort Lauderdale, Fla., departure.



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 Quetzal, Guatamala:

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



Days 9-10:
Corinto, Nicaragua / Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

Visit the Leon Cathedral, built on the site of 2nd century Roman Baths, and converted to a palace 800 years later. Explore the lush, natural beauty and biodiversity of Costa Rica’s pacific coast.



Day 11-12:
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 13-17:
Cartagena (Colombia) / Half Moon Cay / At Sea / Fort Lauderdale, Fla. / disembark / departure:

Gain insights into the vibrant architechture of Cartagena with a stroll through the old walled city, passing through enchanting streets lined with Spanish Colonial Houses.



ms Veendam

Designed to carry fewer guests than other ships in its class the ms Veendam is 720 feet long with a beam of 101 feet. The ship can carry 1200 passengers of whom approximately 48 are Road Scholar participants. All cabins have air-conditioning and private bathrooms with shower.


Meals and Lodgings
   Courtyard San Diego Mission Valley/Hotel Circle
  San Diego, California, USA 1 night
   MS Veendam
  MS Veendam, USA 15 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 Veendam
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: Grandly proportioned and recently enhanced, the ms Veendam offers an onboard experience defined by spacious comfort and the latest Signature of Excellence features and amenities. Guests aboard the ms Veendam will not only enjoy elegant dining rooms, a $2 million art and antique collection, wide teak decks and spacious staterooms - many with private verandahs – but also new and exciting venues, stateroom options along with a complete update to all stateroom furnishings. Lanai staterooms: our latest innovation, offering sliding glass doors leading onto the walk-around Lower Promenade deck. Spa staterooms: located close to the luxurious Greenhouse Spa and Salon and offering special spa amenities. The Retreat: a private resort-style pool experience offering sophisticated poolside amenities and service. Mix: an innovative meeting place featuring three specialty venues: Champagne, for mid-day mimosas or anytime celebrations Martinis, for Grey Goose cocktails and martini flights Spirits & Ales for microbrews, single malts and sports updates The Showroom at Sea: glamorous nightclub venue for world class entertainment. Digital Workshop, powered by Windows®: offering fun, free learning about digital photography, videos, scrapbooking, blogging and social networking. Click on our Video Gallery for virtual tours of staterooms and public areas.
  Ship Information: Passenger capacity: 1,350 Crew members: 580 Gross Tonnage: 57,092 grt. Length: 719 feet Beam: 101 feet Maximum speed: 22 knots
  Contact info: N/A
Seattle, WA 98119 USA
phone: NA -0/0-
  Facility amenities: Rotterdam Dining Room: features impeccable service and an extensive wine list. Five-course menus include continental cuisine, vegetarian and low-carb options Pinnacle Grill: This intimate reservations-only venue offers an elegant, sophisticated dining experience. Featuring premium Sterling Silver beef, inspired seafood dishes and many select wines rated "Excellent" by Wine Spectator - as well as distinctive Bvlgari® china, Riedel® stemware and Frette® linens Lido Restaurant: offers a relaxed ambiance for all three meals and features a variety of fresh, cooked-to-order specialties Canaletto: an evening venue for Italian fare adjacent to the Lido Restaurant and offering waiter service. The Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine Magazine: our state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen offering interactive gourmet cooking lessons taught by our own Master Chefs or culinary guests The Retreat: a private resort-style pool experience offering sophisticated poolside amenities and service. Explorations Café, powered by The New York Times: a comfortable, coffee house environment where you can browse through an extensive library, surf the Internet and check email or simply read the morning paper. Greenhouse Spa & Salon: features heavenly beauty and wellness rituals. Enjoy a facial, hot stone massage, steam in a thermal suite and have your hair and nails done for a special evening. The Showroom at Sea: glamorous nightclub venue for world class entertainment Crow's Nest: offers sweeping 270° views during the day, and a hip, fashionable nightclub each evening Club HAL®: our dedicated youth facilities and activities for kids ages 3 - 12; activities are supervised and age appropriate Lanai staterooms: offering a private entrance onto our classic teak Promenade Deck. Spa staterooms: located close to the luxurious Greenhouse Spa and Salon and offering special spa amenities.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
This program starts on March 29, 2014 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 April 14, 2014 after breakfast on board the ship. Please note that the ship will be sailing to Fort Lauderdale the night prior. You will be staying at MS Veendam 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
(Saturday, March 29)
   
 Arrive To: Independent transfers to the San Diego Hotel.
 Afternoon: Join other participants for program orientation led by your group leader. We will gather in our private meeting room where the Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Courtyard San Diego Mission Valley/Hotel Circle
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: San Diego/Transfer to board ship
(Sunday, March 30)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Free morning on your own to explore San Diego.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Transfer to board the ms Statendam.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: At Sea / Presentation
(Monday, March 31)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in a presentation by your on board lecturer.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the ship's amenities.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: At Sea/ Presentations
(Tuesday, April 1)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in a presentation by your on board lecturer.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the ship's amenities while cruising the Pacific Ocean.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
(Wednesday, April 2)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in an exclusive Road Scholar Excursion. Enjoy a traditional market presentation within the grounds and 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. Savor a traditional Mexican meal while listening to traditional Mariachi music.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Free time to explore Puerto Vallarta's historic malecon.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: At Sea / Presentation
(Thursday, April 3)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in a presentation by your on board lecturer.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the ship's amenities
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Huatulco, Mexico / Village visits
(Friday, April 4)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in an exclusive Road Scholar Excursion. Transfer to Telares to see how traditional weaving has been done since the colonial age. Continue your discovery today with a visit 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.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant
 Afternoon: Afternoon to explore Huatulco on your own.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Puerto Quetzal, Guatamala / Antigua
(Saturday, April 5)

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 Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Coronito, Nicaragua
(Sunday, April 6)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Participate in an exclusive Road Scholar Excursion. Disembark the ship and transfer to Leon. The first city of Leon was built in 1524 but Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba and then abandoned 60 years later after the eruption of Momotombo Volcano. The ruins of this city are known today as "Leon Viejo" and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. Arriving at the city you will discover the local charms, churches and monuments, and learn the rich history of the city - including its most famous former resident Ruben Dario, the father of Nicaraguan poetry.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch on board the ship today.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica
(Monday, April 7)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in an exclusive Road Scholar Excursion. The distinctive scarlet macaw embodies the lure of the vibrant, exotic tropics. Pay a visit to these impressive birds on a field trip that includes a boat ride through mangroves and a drive through sugar cane fields. A short drive from the port you will embark a small boat and cruise across the flowing waters of the lush tropical rainforest. Keep an eye out for the local inhabitants flying overhead, swimming through aerating roots, and scurrying along the undergrowth. Long, willowy branches drape to the surface of the water and breaks in the shadowy canopy allow the sun to pass through in dappled splendor. After your boat ride, continue aboard an air conditioned motor coach through fields of sugar cane, a significant agricultural product of the country. Arrive at the sanctuary where the Scarlet Macaws are sure to announce your entrance. As you stroll the grounds, the macaws and their neighbors fly about freely, affording plenty of opportunities to enjoy these breathtaking beauties.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Continue on your exclusive road scholar excursion
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: At Sea
(Tuesday, April 8)

Note: Tender required to get to shore.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in a presentation by your on board lecturer.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Fuerte Amador, Panama / Enter Panama Canal Balboa / Cruising Panama Canal / Exit Panama Canal Cristobal
(Wednesday, April 9)
   
 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 Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Cartagena, Colombia / Introduction to Cartagena
(Thursday, April 10)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Drive from the pier to the San Felipe de Barajas Fortress passing the old residential area of Manga to admire this Moorish/Republican neighborhood. Photostop at the fortress, the largest military construction to be built in Latin America by the Spaniards. Then we head towards the Dungeons or Las Bovedas used as handicrafts shops. Walk along the colonial streets with an expert architect to study the different types of construction utilized by the Spaniards. You will have some free time to enjoy this alive city, with its students, vendors, and all the people that live here.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Afternoon on your own to explore the city.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: At Sea / Presentation
(Friday, April 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in a presentation by your on board lecturer.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the ship's amenities.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: At Sea / Presentation
(Saturday, April 12)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Participate in a presentation by your on board lecturer.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the ship's amenities.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
(Sunday, April 13)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Half Moon Cay offers everything you need for a day of play on your Caribbean cruise. Park yourself in an air-conditioned cabana along a two-mile crescent of blinding white beach. Visit Stingray Cove to feed and learn more about the gentle creatures. Ride your horse to a deserted beach and into the surf. Part of the Bahamas, Half Moon Cay lies about 100 miles southeast of Nassau and is visited on nearly every Caribbean itinerary.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Continue to enjoy your afternoon on Half Moon Cay.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Veendam
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17: Fort Lauderdale, Departure
(Monday, April 14)

Note: We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Transfer from the cruise port to the Airport for departure flights.
   
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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