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Private Journeys

Expedition cruise: Panama, the Canal and Costa Rica

16 days from £7,654pp

Panama / Costa Rica

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Essentials

Transport

13 day expedition/adventure cruise. One land transfer.

Accommodation

This holiday incorporates an adventurous cruise on board a comfortable mid-range expeditionary cruise ship, Safari Voyager, accommodating 62 guests and 29-31 staff and crew. The facilities include exercise equipment and yoga mats; DVD and book library. Equipment is available for the following activities: snorkelling, paddle boarding and kayaking.

Your hotel in Panama City is a good quality mid-range property with plenty of Panamanian character.

Meals

Breakfast daily; full board on the cruise ship days 3-14.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 30 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return. Your guides on the Safari Voyager cruise are specialists in adventure activities, wildlife and history.

Summary Of Nights

15 days, 14 nights: Panama City 2; cruise 13. 

Currency

The unit of currency in Panama is the US dollar, in Costa Rica it is the Colon.

How To Take It

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Major credit cards are accepted on board the ship.

Daily Spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$40 (for the days when you are not on the cruise, will cover food, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants in Panama City and you may pay more.. 

Tipping

The cruise staff and local guides onshore will welcome a gratuity: they often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. Most service industry workers will hope for a tip so it is useful to have spare change for waiters, hotel porters, taxi drivers etc. It is common to leave 10 – 12% in restaurants

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page. 

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Airport Taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey Grade

This holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit visitors. If you have doubts about your fitness for the cruise, we will send you a medical questionnaire. 

Families are welcome but there is no special entertainment programme on board for children. Children and and teenagers who are interested in the wildlife and nature as well as water sports should enjoy the cruise. 

Climate

Those travelling between May and October journeys should encounter high temperatures (around 35°C) and high humidity. The ‘official’ rainy (green) season is May to November.

December to April visitors will still encounter high temperatures in lowland areas, but cool evenings around San José with temperatures falling to around 5°C. Rainfall and humidity will be much lower at this time.

Clothing And Special Equipment

Bring practical, comfortable clothing and a light-weight jumper. If you plan to eat in smart restaurants in Panama City, although clothing is not formal (no need for jacket and tie), something quite smart would be appropriate. 

For kayaking light and protective clothing, a sun hat and practical sandals (they will get wet) are advised. For both the evenings and nights, bring warm and comfortable clothing; a light fleece jacket. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well. 

Strong, comfortable shoes or trainers are advisable and you should bring insect repellant, sun block, sun glasses, goggles and swim wear. 

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following; typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website. 

Country info

When's the best time to visit Panama?

Situated well within the tropics, Panama has a typical tropical climate with high temperatures (30°C) all year round at low altitudes. Temperatures are significantly modified by altitude – higher up it can be very cool at night. Apr-Nov is rainy season, with the Caribbean side receiving more rainfall than the Pacific. There’s a small risk of tropical storms on the Caribbean coast but the country lies outside the main hurricane belt.  

What's the official language of Panama?

Spanish

What's the official currency of Panama?

Balboa. The national currency is at parity with the US dollar, and only US banknotes are used. (There are some local coins equivalent to US cents). There are ATMs in most towns where you can use a UK credit or debit card. You may have to ask your bank to authorise withdrawals before you leave the UK, and amounts may be limited, and vary from bank to bank. Notes can be obtained from exchange houses and also from banks which will supply advances on a debit or credit card.

What is the time difference between Panama and the UK?

GMT -5 hrs.  

What countries does Panama combine well with?

A visit to neighbouring Central America countries, such as  wildlife-rich, slickly organised Costa Rica; and Colombia, with the northern coast of which Panama shares a swashbuckling history.

What are the festivals, cultural and sporting events in Panama?

Carnival, Feb-Mar. Celebrated with much gusto in Panama City, costumed revelry, music and dancing culminate in a big Shrove Tuesday parade.
Semana Santa, Easter. Celebrated throughout Panama with religious processions. 
Kuna festivals, San Blas islands. There are several festivals throughout the year, all of which feature dancing, traditional sports and feasts.

Country info

When's the best time to visit Costa Rica?

Despite its small size, Costa Rica has a number of distinct microclimates. The Caribbean coast is humid all year round with the driest months being Sep-Oct; wildlife lovers, however, might prefer to visit this region from Jul-Aug to watch nesting turtles. The rest of the country experiences a dry season from Dec-Apr, when there is plenty of sun and temperatures are high, and a rainy season from May-Nov. However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule for all regions: for example, the rainy season starts a month earlier in the south Pacific, while the northern areas, including the Guanacaste coast, are not as affected by the seasons and are generally much drier. The highlands and cloud forests have warm temperatures during the day but the high altitude means evenings are much cooler.

For more detailed information visit our When To Go section.

What's the official language of Costa Rica?

Spanish.

What's the national currency of Costa Rica?

Colón. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. There’s at least one in most main towns. You may have to authorise your bank first, and withdrawals may be limited to amounts lower than in the UK. US dollars cash can be exchanged in banks too. US dollars themselves are widely accepted.

What's the time difference between Costa Rica and UK?

GMT -5 hours.  

What places combine well with Costa Rica?

A visit to neighbouring Nicaragua or Panama. There are land crossings to both, as well as international flights.

How do I get to Costa Rica?

There is a direct flight from London Gatwick to San José (11 hrs) as well as non-direct flights via US and European hubs.

What are the cultural and sport events in Costa Rica?

International Arts Festival: San José, March. Music, dance, film art exhibitions.
Monteverde Music Festival: Monteverde, Jan - Feb.

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land transport within Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Half day shared guided tour of historical Panama City
  • A choice of activities from the ship - all are included in the price

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • International flights to Latin America
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land transport within Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Half day shared guided tour of historical Panama City
  • A choice of activities from the ship - all are included in the price

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • International flights to Latin America
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

View Extraordinary Inspiration

Real Latin America Experts

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Expert

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

Meet the team