Central American Odyssey

Central American Odyssey

From GBP £8,395


Our voyage from Guatemala’s charming, UNESCO World Heritage City of Antigua to the captivating city of Cartagena in Colombia 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. Our unique voyage is the perfect opportunity to escape the British winter to destinations with teeming rainforests, cool cloud forests, beautiful beaches, remarkably varied landscapes, magnificently diverse wildlife and intriguing ancient ruins and cultures. Such an itinerary and diversity would be difficult to comprehend or undertake by any other means than a cruise aboard a perfectly suited small ship such as the MS Serenissima. Skip the arduous, lengthy land travel which such a trip would usually entail and relax on board as we deliver you to a new and exciting destination each day.

A 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, 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 transit through the Panama Canal. With under 100 fellow passengers on board, we can explore in small groups ashore and enjoy a convivial atmosphere on board.

Trip Name
Central American Odyssey
Vessel Type: Small Ship Length: 87 metres Passenger Capacity: 107 (from Dec 2018 - 95) Built / refurbished: 1960 / 2013 / 2018 We are delighted to have had the MS Serenissima on long term charter since 2013. There are so few ships of her generation still cruising and the fact that she is is a great testament to her owners who invest considerable sums to keep her in top form. In December 2018, the vessel will once again undergo a significant refurbishment after which she will accommodate a maximum of just 95 guests. 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.  PLEASE NOTE: Deck plan varies for 2019 cruises, no inside cabins.


Day 1 - Day 1 - London to Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Fly by scheduled indirect flight. Arrive this evening and transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 2 - Day 2 - Antigua & Puerto Quetzal.
After breakfast in the hotel we drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Antigua. 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 Puerto Quetzal and embark the MS Serenissima. Enjoy Welcome Drinks and Dinner as we sail this evening.
Day 3 - Day 3 - Acajutla, El Salvador.
This morning we arrive in El Salvador and 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. Leaving the port 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. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure.
Day 4 - Day 4 - Acajutla.
Today’s full day excursion discovers the The Itinerary 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 cathedral and National Palace before our tour ends at the ruins of Tazumal, the largest pyramid in El Salvador dating from 1500 BC and an important Mayan settlement. Return to the ship for dinner and sail this evening.
Day 5 - Day 5 - La Union.
For our last day in El Salvador we will offer a choice 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 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 there will also be a tour to Alegria, the birthplace of the writer Alberto Masferrer where we visit the museum before continuing to the lagoon known as the ‘Emerald of America’ located in the Tecapa Volcano.
Day 6 - Day 6 - Corinto for Leon, Nicaragua.
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. We will enjoy a little free time for those who wish to visit the bustling market.
Day 7 - 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 8 - Day 8 - Playa del Cocos, Costa Rica.
Our first stop in Costa Rica is the beach town of Playa 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 enjoy lunch at the 19th century Hacienda House with views of the savannahs and sugar cane fields.
Day 9 - 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. Over dinner we will reposition to our overnight anchorage at Quepos.
Day 10 - 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 11 - Day 11 - Corcovado National Park.
Resting on the northern side of the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay (Bahía Drake) is our gateway to the Corcovado National Park. We will use the Zodiacs to land on one of the beaches before enjoying a walk through the primary and secondary forest with our naturalist guides. The rich biological diversity of the biological corridor of the Corcovado National Park is astounding and bird lovers will be enchanted by a wide variety of birds, including tanagers, flycatchers, kingfishers, manakins, trogons, crested guans, and spectacular scarlet macaws and toucans. We return to the ship for lunch and this afternoon hope to find a local beach.
Day 12 - Day 12 - Golfo Dulce.
Our last day in Costa Rica will be 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 including toucans. This afternoon we clear immigration formalities at Golfito as we sail to Panama.
Day 13 - Day 13 - 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. Over lunch we will sail and have an afternoon at sea to either join a lecture or find a spot on deck.
Day 14 - Day 14 - Panama City.
Panama City is a combination of the historic old town, declared a UNESCO Historical Monument, and the ultramodern new town. We will offer a choice of activities today. Join an excursion to the Panama Canal Observation Centre where you can learn about the expansion of the canal before visiting the Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre where you can see the history of the canal and watch the ships as they pass through. For those interested in meeting the Embera Indians, a tour to the Chagres National Park has been arranged where we can take a dug out canoe to the village in the jungle, meet the local tribe and learn about their history. We return to the ship in the mid afternoon and sail.
Day 15 - Day 15 - 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 16 - Day 16 - San Blas Islands.
Spend the morning at the stunning San Blas Archipelago. The archipelago is made up of over 400 islands which line the north coast of Panama with white sandy beaches set in a turquoise sea. The islands are home to the indigenous Kuna Indians who gained self-rule from the government of Panama in the 1920s and maintain their traditional way of life including the production of colourful fabric art known as ‘molas’. Choose to explore the market, local museum or maybe enjoy a swim from the beach. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at sea.
Day 17 - Day 17 - Santa Marta, Colombia.
After a morning at sea we arrive in Colombia this afternoon at the port of Santa Marta. The Santa Marta area is renowned for the ecodiversity and dramatic beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the highest coastal mountain range in the world, that sweep down to the sea. This afternoon, from our berth we hope to travel slightly inland to the Tayrona National Park where, on a walk through this semi-tropical jungle, we will be joined by a local guide who will offer insights into the park’s vegetation, animals and eco-system. Covered in large part by virgin tropical forest, the park is home to over 100 species of mammals, 200 species of birds and 50 species of reptiles.
Day 18 - Day 18 - Cartagena.
Cartagena is one of the most fascinating cities in South America and this morning we enjoy a walking tour of the colonial walled-city which is virtually surrounded by water and steeped in history, with a wealth of 16th and 17th century buildings and churches. Our guides will bring the history of the city to life as we walk its streets and ramparts. Our time includes the 16th century Fort of San Felipe, Monastery of San Pedro Claver, the Plaza de la Aduana and Iglesia de Santo Domingo. Return to the ship for lunch and spend the afternoon at leisure to explore further independently.
Day 19 - Day 19 - Cartagena to London.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled indirect flight to London.
Day 20 - Day 20 - London.
Arrive today.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
29-01-201917-02-2019GBP £0Standard Stateroom
29-01-201917-02-2019GBP £0Classic Stateroom
29-01-201917-02-2019GBP £0Standard Single
29-01-201917-02-2019GBP £0Superior Stateroom
29-01-201917-02-2019GBP £0Deluxe Stateroom
29-01-201917-02-2019GBP £0Junior Suite
29-01-201917-02-2019GBP £0Owners Suite
29-01-201917-02-2019GBP £0Serenissima Suite


    • Travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Antigua
    • Arrive in El Salvador and 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
    • See Joya de Ceren, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Pompeii of America
    • Enjoy a full day tour to Granada and Lake Nicaragua
    • Explore the Curu National Wildlife refuge which boasts a rich and diverse wildlife in five different habitats
    • Travel to Manuel Antonio National Park which is one of the most stunning and bio-diverse areas of the world
    • Transit the Panama Canal