Ancient & Natural Wonders of Central America

Ancient & Natural Wonders of Central America

From GBP £8,295


Our unique voyage along Central America’s Pacific Coastline from Guatemala’s charming, UNESCO World Heritage City of Antigua to Puerto Limon in Costa Rica by way of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama is certainly an odyssey to 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. We will spend five days in Costa Rica which, although small in size has a particular topography and position between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans which results in it being one of the most biologically diverse places on earth with teeming rain forest, cloud forest, hot volcanoes and a remarkably diverse landscape and culture. Added to this is the famous wildlife of the region: spider, howler and capuchin monkeys, coatimundis and over 300 species of birds including brilliant toucans and scarlet macaws. In Nicaragua, Central America’s largest country and one that remains delightfully undiscovered we will also 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 and plazas of delightful Leon. Our flexible itinerary and knowledgeable onboard team will enable us to make the most of each day, whether we are landing on remote beaches by Zodiac, searching for endemic flowers, mammals and birds with our onboard naturalists, meeting with members of indigenous tribes or learning about the colonial and often turbulent history of the region and of course not forgetting what will be one of the highlights for many, our daylight transit through the iconic Panama Canal.

Trip Name
Ancient & Natural Wonders of Central America
Vessel Type: Small Ship Length: 87 metres Passenger Capacity: 95 Built / refurbished: 1960 / 2013 / 2019 MS Serenissima is a charming vessel and one of her best known and loved features of this vessel is its unique style. During a major refit the then owners commissioned Swedish interior designers to create a Gustavian style interior. This bright Swedish 18th century influenced, country house style works particularly well on a vessel of this vintage, providing intimacy and classic nautical sensibility often lacking in larger vessels. The vessel is equipped with a fleet of Zodiac landing craft allowing us to visit remote places where normal tender arrangements are not possible. The European Captain, Officers, Expedition Staff, and crew offer a first class service and have been selected for their professionalism and caring attitudes. The atmosphere on board is warm and welcoming and dedicated to discovery and relaxation. AIR-CONDITIONING The ship is air conditioned throughout. Please note that only the Serenissima Suites have individually controlled air-conditioning. DAILY PROGRAMME A Daily Programme, detailing the following day’s arrangements as well as any specific information about the day’s activities is produced onboard and delivered to your cabin each evening during the turn down service. DINING, DRINKING AND DIETARY REQUIREMENTS The Venice Restaurant onboard serves international cuisine and accommodates all guests at a single open seating. Tables seat 4 to 10 diners. In addition, there is an outside dining area for when the weather and itinerary permit. Breakfast and lunch are both buffet style, dinner is waiter service only. Complimentary (red and white) house wine, beer and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner. Bar drinks and other beverages with meals are not included; these may be purchased onboard and paid for at the end of your cruise. Complimentary tea and coffee are available between 07:00 hours and 23:00 hours at the tea and coffee station located in the Andrea lounge. Please advise of any special dietary requests in advance. DISABLED FACILITIES The ship can accommodate passengers with mobility restrictions and wheelchair dependent passengers in cabin 407, which has a wider door and no step into/out of the bathroom and shower area. There is a lift serving decks 3 to 6, but there is no stair lift. DOCTOR A medical doctor is available on board 24 hours a day. A fee is charged for any consultations and medication prescribed. Please ensure you carry adequate supplies of any regular medications you may require.  ELECTRICITY The electrical outlets in the cabins and public areas are 220V and take a two-round-pin plug (as in continental Europe). There is a 110/220V, 60Hz outlet for electric shavers in the bathroom. We recommend that you bring an international adaptor. GRATUITIES Gratuities to crew and whilst on excursions are included in the cost of your holiday. INTERNET The onboard library has a computer equipped for email/internet access and Wi-Fi access is available in public areas, although you will require your own laptop, tablet or smartphone, and charges apply – 100mb for €15 Euros, or 500mb for €25 Euros. Please note that connection is dependent on weather conditions and location. LANGUAGE All members of the crew speak English. MONEY The following payment methods are accepted for settlement of shipboard accounts: Cash (Euros or British Pounds), Credit Card (MasterCard, Visa, American Express), Debit Card (MasterCard and Visa). Please note that personal cheques and Travellers’ Cheques are not accepted. PUBLIC AREAS • Andrea Lounge (on Deck 5). The bar is open from 11.00 until 24.00. • Harald Jarl Lounge (on Deck 5). There is a small library here with books and games. There is also a computer for public use (charges apply for internet access) • Lido area (on Deck 5) with a Jacuzzi and fitness room with two running machines • Observation Deck (access from Deck 5 lido area) • Deck 5 and Deck 6 outside seating areas SNORKELLING Snorkelling equipment is kept onboard. Please note that there is no snorkelling from Zodiacs. All snorkelling stops will operate from a beach.  TELEVISION The ship is equipped with a satellite TV system which receives 15 channels. TV reception depends on the satellite dish and on occasion it may not be possible to receive a signal. There is one central video channel on which it is possible to listen to the lectures delivered in the Andrea Lounge. There is also a channel for the ship’s camera located in front of the ship. ZODIACS Some destinations may require the use of Zodiacs to go ashore. These are usually on expedition cruises though may sometimes be used on destination cruises. 


Day 1 - Day 1 London to Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Fly by scheduled indirect flight. Arrive this afternoon and transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day 2 - Day 2 Antigua.
After breakfast in the hotel we will 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 transfer to MS Serenissima in Puerto Quetzal and sail this evening.
Day 3 - Days 3 & 4 Acajutla, El Salvador.
Our first two days in El Salvador will be based in the northern port of Acajutla. From here we 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. Alternatively, a 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 for hundreds of years and 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 Tazumal, the largest pyramid in El Salvador dating from 1500 BC and an important Mayan settlement.
Day 4 - Day 5 La Union.
Today we arrive in the south of El Salvador where there will be a choice of excursions. You may wish to follow the ‘peace route’ which was 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 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. Alternatively a full day tour will 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, walking through the forest on the lookout for spider monkeys before learning about the cultivation of cacao, which creates some of the finest chocolate, on one of the local plantations.
Day 5 - Day 6 Corinto for Leon, Nicaragua.
Spend the morning at sea before arriving at the port of Corinto over lunch. This afternoon we visit 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. We will enjoy a little free time for those who wish to visit the bustling market.
Day 6 - Day 7 San Juan del Sur for Granada.
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 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 7 - Day 8 Playas del Coco, Costa Rica.
Our first stop in Costa Rica is the beach town of Playas del Coco 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 visit 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 8 - Day 9 Curu National Park & Isla Tortuga.
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 have the chance to snorkel over the volcanic reef which is home to angelfish, morays and needlefish. Alternatively spend the afternoon relaxing on the white sand beaches.
Day 9 - Day 10 Manuel Antonio National Park.
Early this morning we will travel to Manuel Antonio National Park which is one of the most stunning and bio-diverse areas of the world. Spread out over 683 hectares it is filled with diverse wildlife, has both primary and secondary forests, boasts a stunning shoreline ideal for bird watching or swimming and is home to a number of endemic species of plants and animals. We will make an early start this morning allowing for the best viewing of monkeys, vividly coloured birds and the lethargic three-toed sloth. This afternoon we will have time at leisure in Quepos before we sail later tonight.
Day 10 - Day 11 Golfo Dulce.
Spend the morning at Casa Orquideas (Orchid House), a five hectare private botanical garden cut out of the rainforest by Ron and Trudy MacAllister who now cultivate over 100 species of orchids which attract many different bird species. Plants of the tropics burst with colour and the air here is heady with the fragrance of flowers and humid soil. Due to the open space, it is often easy to spot a number of tropical birds here including toucans. This afternoon we will clear immigration formalities at Golfito as we sail towards Panama.
Day 11 - Day 12 Isla Coiba, Panama.
This once infamous prison island, now a National Park, has reverted to an island paradise. We will anchor off the ranger station and use our Zodiacs to land on the island. Here our onboard naturalists will lead some guided walks as we explore the main island, which boasts some 147 species of birds, and walk up to the observation tower. Alternatively take the chance to swim from one of the beaches. Return to the ship for lunch and a relaxing afternoon at sea.
Day 12 - Day 13 Panama City.
Arriving at lunchtime at our berth at Flamenco Marina, there will be a choice of activities this afternoon. Join an excursion to the Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre where a number of exhibitions tell us about the history of the canal and its construction and where we can watch the ships as they pass through. Alternatively stroll along the cobblestone streets of the Casco Viejo visiting the colonial mansions and 17th century churches and convents before continuing to Panama Viejo and the original ruins of the city founded in 1517 and burnt to the ground by British pirate Henry Morgan.
Day 13 - Day 14 Panama Canal Transit.
An undisputed destination on the travel bucket list has to be the Panama Canal. The first attempt to build the canal was made by a French company but ended in failure in 1889. The American government eventually bought out the French for 40 million dollars, and their attempt to build the Canal started in 1904. Through the efforts of over 80,000 workers and the loss of more than 30,000 lives, the greatest single construction project ever undertaken was completed. The project ended in triumph, with the Canal opening in 1914, and it is now a vital artery of international trade, with nearly 14,000 ships travelling through it every year. The canal is around 50 miles long and takes between eight to ten hours to cross.
Day 14 - Day 15 Bocas del Toro.
Arrive this morning in the Bocas del Toro archipelago and the island of Isla Colon. After breakfast we will travel the short distance to the Finca Los Monos, a privately run garden managed by David and Lin Gillingham. Over the years Finca Los Monos has evolved from a lush rainforest to a magnificently planned garden with large collections of heliconias, gingers, palms, flowering trees, fruits, spices and ornamentals whilst new plants are constantly being added. With such an abundance of fruit and flowers, a wide variety of birds reside here including parrots, tanagers, woodpeckers, orioles, flycatchers, green Ibis and many more. One may be lucky enough to see the small nests of the hummingbirds or the pendulous nests of the montezuma oropendulas. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure to explore the small town.
Day 15 - Day 16 Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.
This morning we head south to the Cahuita National Park. The area is filled with wildlife that includes howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, raccoons, sloths, otters, coatis, agoutis, armadillos and porcupines. Several avian species also live in the swamp forest, including the green ibis, the green kingfisher, the yellow crowned night-heron, the frigate bird and the boat-billed heron. Our naturalist guides will lead us through the trails of the rainforest, sharing their vast knowledge of this fragile ecosystem. After lunch on board the afternoon is free to relax or join a restored passenger train and travel through beautiful scenery to catch a glimpse of some more of Costa Rica’s amazing wildlife such as sloths and monkeys. The train track is part of the 3’ 6” gauge Atlantic Railway, opened in 1890 to link San José with the country’s east coast but closed to regular services after severe damage by an earthquake in 1991. For the second part of the trip we will board a boat and travel along the scenic Tortuguero canals, where waterfowl, white-faced and spider monkeys can be spotted.
Day 16 - Day 17 Puerto Limon to London.
Disembark this morning and transfer to San Jose to join our scheduled indirect flight to London.
Day 17 - Day 18 London.
Arrive today.
Day 18 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
08-02-202125-02-2021GBP £8,295Standard Single
08-02-202125-02-2021GBP £8,295Standard Stateroom
08-02-202125-02-2021GBP £8,495Classic Stateroom
08-02-202125-02-2021GBP £8,695Superior Stateroom
08-02-202125-02-2021GBP £9,095Deluxe Stateroom
08-02-202125-02-2021GBP £9,595Junior Suite
08-02-202125-02-2021GBP £10,295Owner’s Suite
08-02-202125-02-2021GBP £10,295Serenissima Suite


    • Enjoy Acajutla, El Salvador.
    • Visit La Union.
    • Enjoy Corinto for Leon, Nicaragua.
    • Travel to Playas del Coco, Costa Rica.
    • Discover Curu National Park & Isla Tortuga.
    • Explore Manuel Antonio National Park.