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Ancient & Natural Wonders of Central America – Cruise from Costa Rica to Guatemala

Ancient & Natural Wonders of Central America – Cruise from Costa Rica to Guatemala

From GBP £9,495

Description

This unique voyage from Puerto Caldera in Costa Rica to Guatemala’s captivating, UNESCO World Heritage city of Antigua by way of Nicaragua and El Salvador is a fascinating journey through some of Central America’s most picturesque and fascinating destinations. The region is imbued with colour and culture with a tremendous mix of natural beauty and historical sites which we will discover accompanied by our knowledgeable expedition team and excellent local guides.
An unusual and appealing aspect of our unique voyage will be our four days of exploration in El Salvador, a small and often overlooked country in the region but one which offers an extraordinary array of wildlife, magnificent birdlife, Mayan ruins and stunning scenery. We will also spend time in Nicaragua, Central America’s largest country and one that remains delightfully undiscovered where we will witness extraordinary volcanic landscapes and take in the splendours of the colonial cities, from the pastel hues of the great buildings that line the streets of Granada to the shady gardens, plazas and colonial architecture of delightful Leon.
Natural wonders abound during our itinerary and some of the highlights will be our visit to Costa Rica’s Curu National Wildlife Refuge and the Palo Verde National Park where we hope to see capuchin monkeys, turtles, armadillos, jaguarondis and coatis. We will also experience two of Central America’s most picturesque lakes. Whilst in Nicaragua we will enjoy a relaxing boat ride on Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America where the serene waters surround a series of volcanic islands, and during our time in Guatemala we will visit Lake Atitlan, described by Aldous Huxley as the most beautiful lake in the world.
Our days will be spent searching for endemic flora and fauna in some splendid national parks with our onboard naturalists, learning about the colonial and often turbulent history of the region, discovering Mayan ruins and visiting some charming towns. If you have been contemplating a visit to Central America, then this fascinating voyage could offer you the perfect opportunity with its mix of natural and ancient wonders.

Trip Name
Ancient & Natural Wonders of Central America - Cruise from Costa Rica to Guatemala
Days
14
Overview
Vessel Type: Expedition Length: 90.6 metres Passenger Capacity: 118 Built / Refurbished: 1992 / 2016 The MS Hebridean Sky is one of our three flag ships and sister vessel to the MS Island Sky and MS Caledonian Sky. All three vessels were built in the same ship yard in Italy at similar times and share the same excellent attributes that make them three of the finest small ships in the world. Formerly known as the Sea Explorer, the vessel underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment in Sweden in Spring 2016 before being re-launched as the MS Hebridean Sky. Your Suite. On board there are 59 exceptionally spacious and well-designed suites. All feature a sitting area and fourteen suites have private balconies. The feeling of luxury is enhanced by the wood panelling and brass which predominates throughout the vessel conveying the atmosphere of a private yacht. The passenger accommodation is arranged over five decks and all suites have outside views with suites on the Scott and Shackleton Decks featuring private balconies. Each suite affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring vanity unit with sink and walk-in rainfall shower, large wardrobes, dressing table with large mirror and stool and excellent storage. There is a minifridge, flat screen television and a telephone in each suite. Refillable water bottles, towelling dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort. Additional facilities include a programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted Molton Brown toiletries and individually controlled air-conditioning and heating. Soft hues and blended tones enhance the traditional maritime style making the passenger accommodation an inviting and relaxing place to be. The beds in each suite can be configured as twins or double with the exception of suite 601 and 602 which feature fixed double beds. The impressive Hebridean Suite, located on the Shackleton Deck consists of a separate bathroom and sitting room with extra large balcony stretching the length of the suite. Additional benefits of booking this marvellous suite include complimentary mini-bar stocked with your preferences and complimentary laundry. Your Space. The spacious and finely decorated public rooms on board the MS Hebridean Sky include a large lounge on the Byrd Deck featuring a selection of seating options from individual armchairs and sofas to side cushioned benches. Daily briefings given by the Cruise Director and talks from Guest Speakers and expedition staff take place in The Lounge which is fitted with the highest standard of presentation equipment including multiple screens. In addition to the Lounge, there is also The Club, located on the Mawson Deck which features the main bar where the onboard pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The Club also offers a 24-hour tea and coffee station. Towards the aft of the ship on the Mawson Deck is The Library which is well stocked with reference books pertaining to the destinations the vessel is visiting and a selection of essential reads. A collection of games and devices to access the internet via the ship’s satellite can also be found in the library. Access to the ship’s satellite Wi-Fi via your own device is complimentary on board (signal strength varies depending on location and demand). The Dining Room which can seat all guests at one sitting is located on the Amundsen Deck and is a bright and charming setting to enjoy the delicious meals on board. Outside there is a rear Lido Deck located on the Scott Deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade. Whilst heaters and blankets make dining al fresco comfortable in cooler climates. Further to this, on the top Shackleton Deck there is an observation area which offers a fantastic platform for spotting wildlife complete with deck furniture, ideal for relaxing with a book or catching up with fellow travellers. You will also find a clinic and Doctor on board and a lift that serves all decks. Additionally there is a small hairdressers with appointments made on request. Your Dining. It is quite a task to create a dining experience as that found on board our Sky vessels when you are cruising in far-flung corners of the globe, indeed it takes a team of highly talented chefs to deliver fresh, varied dishes no matter where you are at sea. Fortunately, our catering teams are well adapted to the world of small ship cruising where no two days are the same and the menus are often scheduled and tailored around the days’ excursions. With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the cuisine on board is of a consistent superior quality that befits such vessels. Where possible and when it meets their high standards, our accomplished chefs will obtain local produce in markets. Such purchases enhance the well-stocked larders and enable the chefs on board to exhibit their culinary skills and bring a local touch to the varied menus, emphasising the international expertise of the chefs on board. Afternoon tea and pre-dinner canapés take place every day in either the comfort of the Lounge or out on the Lido Deck when the weather is favourable. Tea and coffee are also available 24 hours a day. Special diets can be catered for with sufficient notice. In keeping with the informal atmosphere on board, when dining you are able to choose your seating arrangements at your leisure. Whether that be joining a table of four to six other passengers outside on the Lido Deck in the evening’s sunshine or whether you prefer to enjoy meals in the à la carte restaurant. For those travelling alone, our onboard friendly restaurant staff will take care to ensure you are seated with other like-minded travellers. In the main elegant dining room, breakfast is served buffet-style, with certain items cooked to order on request. Lunch and dinner are à la carte with an excellent choice of dishes, with the menu reflecting the daily catch or local delicacies. To enhance your dining experience even further a selection of wines are included with both meals and there is also a comprehensive wine list with a wide selection of new and old world wines from which to choose. The onboard catering and restaurant staff are experienced at sea and enthuse a passion for superb service. Whether it be ensuring you have an outdoor blanket as you enjoy the crisp sea breeze on the Lido Deck or sharing their knowledge of the characteristics of the days’ wine selections, you will experience a service on board like no other. You may also enjoy sumptuous barbeques on deck whilst at times, the chef will make your dish to order at special pasta or stir fry stations. For Your Comfort. The MS Hebridean Sky is equipped with the latest safety, navigation and communications equipment along with roll stabilizers to minimize the ship’s motion. During your voyage we hope to offer the opportunity to visit the Captain and Officers on the Bridge to check the vessels progress by charts and learn more about your journey. There is also a dedicated channel on your television in your suite showing the routing of the vessel along with technical information and estimated times of arrival and departure from port. On board you will also find a clinic and Doctor and a lift that serves all decks. Smoking on board is restricted to a specific area on deck. Life Onboard. If large resort-style vessels accommodating many thousands of passengers are your ideal, then our ships are not for you as you will not find endless entertainment, round the clock buffets and the people management which is so much a part of today’s big ship on board style. However, if like us you prefer a more peaceful life at sea you will find our flagships the perfect vessels. When choosing your next voyage the choice of vessels is astounding. You can select a ship carrying in excess of 4000 passengers with impersonal service or join us aboard the MS Caledonian Sky, MS Island Sky or MS Hebridean Sky where peace, high quality service and attention to detail are the order of the day. We promise there will be no organised entertainment, fancy dress, deck games or any of the usual big ship experiences. Instead, the atmosphere is warm and convivial and more akin to a private yacht or country hotel in which you can learn more about the wonders of nature, culture and ancient civilisations in the company of like-minded people. A little music in the lounge or bar after dinner, Guest Speakers and informative port briefings from our Expedition Leader or Cruise Director and of course good food with wine included at lunch and dinner, all contribute to make any voyage aboard these wonderful vessels a memorable and joyful experience. After a day ashore you will return to the comfort and peace of an exceedingly comfortable ship. The daily programme on board is in the capable hands of our Cruise Director or Expedition Leader and staff who coordinate with the Captain and Officers to make the most of each day. Briefings and talks will be provided throughout the voyage together with a ‘Daily Programme’ that is distributed every evening to your suite outlining the next day’s activities. Dress on board is casual and relaxed and there will be no ‘black tie’ evenings.

Itinerary



Day 1 - Day 1 London to San Jose, Costa Rica.
 Fly by scheduled flight. Arrive and transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 2 - Day 2 San Jose to Puerto Caldera.
 After breakfast in the hotel and some free time, we will transfer to Puerto Caldera, enjoying a local lunch on the way. On arrival, embark the MS Hebridean Sky.
Day 3 - Day 3 Curu National Park & Tortuga Island.
 We spend the morning exploring the Curu National Wildlife Refuge which boasts a rich and diverse wildlife in five different habitats ranging from marine zones, including a wide beach area, mangrove swamps and tropical forests. Here on a range of walks we will find a number of species of birds, howler and capuchin monkeys and turtles. Over lunch we sail the short distance to Tortuga Island where we will spend the afternoon relaxing on the white sand beaches or swimming in the clear waters.
Day 4 - Day 4 Palo Verde National Park.
 Our final stop in Costa Rica is Playa Flamingo in the Papagayo Gulf. Once a small fishing village it has grown into a popular destination for local Costa Rican tourism. We will use our Zodiacs to land before heading inland to the Palo Verde National Park where we will board local boats to travel along the Tempisque River seeing the mangroves and dry forest vegetation which is home to countless birds and multiple mammals. As we will be visiting in the dry season we hope to see peccaries, armadillos, jaguarondis, coatis, agoutis, deer and monkeys which are attracted to the river. We will enjoy lunch at the 19th century Hacienda House with views of the savannahs and sugar cane fields.
Day 5 - Day 5 San Juan del Sur for Granada, Nicaragua.
 After an early breakfast we will leave from the friendly fishing village of San Juan del Sur for a full day tour to Granada and Lake Nicaragua. Founded in 1523, Granada is Nicaragua’s oldest Spanish city and has retained much of its Spanish character with colonial churches, narrow streets and colourful Spanish style homes. We will enjoy a walking tour including the cathedral and convent of San Francisco where we find around 30 pre-Colombian stone statues dating back to 800 AD sculpted by the inhabitants of Zapatera Island on Lake Nicaragua. After a local lunch we will continue to Lake Nicaragua and enjoy a relaxing boat ride amongst the 365 small islands created by the volcanic activity of the Mombacho Volcano around 20,000 years ago. Whilst some islands are inhabited, most remain unspoiled and are home to exotic plants, howler monkeys and orchids.
Day 6 - Day 6 Corinto for Leon.
 The port of Corinto is our base for our visit to Leon, the former capital of Nicaragua. Here we will explore the colonial architecture and the 18th century cathedral which is one of the most prominent buildings in the city with fantastic views from the rooftop. Inside we will see the fresco paintings, statues and the lion that guards the tomb of Ruben Dario, the famous Nicaraguan poet. There will be some free time for those who wish to visit the bustling market.
Day 7 - Days 7 & 8 La Union, El Salvador.
 We have two days to explore the southern region of El Salvador and will offer a number of excursion options. You may wish to follow the ‘peace route’ set up to remember the events of the 1980s when El Salvador experienced a bitter civil war. It is estimated that over 100,000 were killed in the fighting whilst half a million people fled into exile. We will visit Perquin, once a stronghold of the guerrillas and home to the Museum of the Revolution where former members of the rebel army are willing to share their experiences. We continue to the village of El Mozote where in December 1981 one of the worst atrocities occurred and more than 1000 people were killed in a single day. Our local guides will explain about living in the country during this time and we will see the monument erected for the victims and the memorial garden decorated with brightly coloured murals. There will also be a tour to Alegria, the birthplace of the writer Alberto Masferrer and where we visit the lagoon known as the ‘Emerald of America’ located in the Tecapa Volcano. A full day tour will also visit the Jiquilisco Bay Biosphere Reserve which is El Salvador’s most important marine ecosystem with the coastal area being made up of remote islands, mangrove canals and desolate beaches whilst inland we find beautiful forests and cacao plantations. It is an important base for migratory birds as well as a nesting site for four sea turtle species including one of only two sites in the Pacific for the endangered Hawksbill Turtle. We explore the different areas of the reserve spending time with the environmentalists and scientists who will teach us about the conservation of the turtles, and we will walk through the forest on the lookout for spider monkeys. We will also visit a cacao plantation where we learn about the cultivation of cacao which creates some of the finest chocolate.
Day 8 - Days 9 & 10 Acajutla.
 From the port of Acajutla our full day excursion will discover the Mayan route starting at the archaeological site of Joya de Ceren, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Pompeii of America. The site was covered by the Loma Caldera volcano explosion which kept the remains of pre-Hispanic civilisation covered for hundreds of years and the site provides a unique insight into everyday life in a Mesoamerican farming community of the 6th century AD. We continue to the ruins of San Andres, once an important political and religious centre and testimony of the Indigo industry during the colonial period, better known as the ‘Blue Gold’. After lunch in a local restaurant we will continue to Santa Ana and see the beautiful Gothic Cathedral and National Palace before our tour ends at the ruins of Tazumal, the largest pyramid in El Salvador which dates from 1500 BC and is an important Mayan settlement. The following day our morning tour will explore some of the colonial towns and communities on the ‘Flower Route’ named after the abundance of flowers found along the roadsides and in the villages. We will drive through the beautiful mountains to the town of Nahuizalco, home to one of the most longstanding native communities and arts and crafts production sites in the country. We continue to Ataco, the final stop on the Ruta de las Flores. Ataco is a quaint, colonial village that is known for its natural beauty, as well as its brightly painted homes, cobblestone streets, colourful murals and unique arts and crafts. We will return to the MS Hebridean Sky for lunch and a relaxing afternoon at sea.
Day 9 - Day 11 Puerto Quetzal to Antigua, Guatemala.
 We will disembark after breakfast in Puerto Quetzal and drive to Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between three magnificent volcanoes in 1542, it is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in the Americas. Antigua remained an economic and political heart of Central America until a devastating earthquake in 1773 destroyed much of the city. We will explore the city which is a wonder of colonial buildings, beautiful squares, cobblestone streets and Baroque churches. This afternoon we will transfer to our hotel for a two night stay and the remainder of the day will be at leisure for independent exploration before we meet for dinner tonight.
Day 10 - Day 12 Lake Atitlan.
 After breakfast, we embark on full day tour to Lake Atitlan, described by Aldous Huxley as the most beautiful lake in the world. Surrounded by 12 post-Mayan villages, all bearing the names of Catholic saints, and surrounded by three majestic volcanoes, the experience is unique. We visit the main town of Panajachel where there will be some time at leisure to take some photographs and explore the local shops. After lunch in a local restaurant we will head back to our hotel in Antigua and there will be some free time before we meet for dinner this evening.
Day 11 - Day 13 Antigua to London.
 Check out from the hotel after breakfast and transfer to Guatemala City airport for our scheduled indirect flight to London.
Day 12 - Day 14 London.
 Arrive this morning.
Day 13 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
07-02-202617-02-2026GBP £9,495Amundsen Deck Standard Suite
07-02-202617-02-2026GBP £9,695Byrd Deck Superior Suite
07-02-202617-02-2026GBP £9,895Mawson Deck Premium Suite
07-02-202617-02-2026GBP £10,295Mawson Deck Corner Suite
07-02-202617-02-2026GBP £11,495Amundsen Deck Standard Sole
07-02-202617-02-2026GBP £11,495Scott Deck Deluxe Balcony Suite
07-02-202617-02-2026GBP £11,695Byrd Deck Superior Sole
07-02-202617-02-2026GBP £11,795Shackleton Deck Owner's Balcony Suite
07-02-202617-02-2026GBP £12,495Shackleton Deck Hebridean Suite

Inclusions

    • Exploration of Curu National Wildlife Refuge and Tortuga Island
    • Discover the diverse wildlife and pristine beaches of Costa Rica, with opportunities to see birds, monkeys, and turtles in their natural habitats.
    • Visit to the UNESCO-listed Joya de Ceren and Tazumal in El Salvador
    • Explore the archaeological sites that offer a unique glimpse into the everyday lives of the ancient Mayan civilization.
    • Tour of Antigua and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala
    • Experience the historic charm of Antigua and the breathtaking beauty of Lake Atitlan, surrounded by volcanoes and traditional villages.

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