East & West of Panama

East & West of Panama

From GBP £9,295


Let us take you to some of the loveliest, untouched and fascinating places in Peru, Ecuador, Panama and Colombia as we sail from the Pacific coast of Peru to the Caribbean coast of Colombia including a transit through the Panama Canal, top of many a traveller’s wish list.

Beginning in Lima, we will sail north along the coast of Peru visiting Chan Chan, a pre-Columbian site of the Chimu culture and the largest adobe city in the world. Also land on Lobos de Tierra, a tiny island off the Peruvian coast, famous for its abundant marine and birdlife. After a day at sea we continue our exploration of this wildlife rich region visiting Ecuador’s Machalilla National Park, a protected coastal haven for a huge diversity of birdlife and wildlife. Further north, visit Colombia’s Utria National Park with its dense rainforest, mangroves and home to many bird species, reptiles and monkeys. After our transit of the Panama Canal, a 50 mile passage which still continues to astonish the most veteran traveller, we spend time in Panama’s stunning San Blas Archipelago where the Kuna Indians proudly preserve their heritage. Our voyage ends surrounded by the colonial architecture of Cartagena, a fitting end to our diverse and fascinating exploration of South America.

Much of our itinerary is far from the ‘big ship’ routes and a voyage such as this would be difficult to comprehend or undertake by any other means than a cruise. The MS Hebridean Sky is the perfect vessel for such a journey and our Zodiacs will be put to good use in the more remote places allowing us to land and explore otherwise unreachable places. Our experienced expedition team will add much to your enjoyment and knowledge through their lectures and briefings regarding all we will see and experience.

Trip Name
East & West of Panama
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.


Day 1 - Day 1 - London to Lima, Peru.
Fly by scheduled flight. Arrive this evening into Lima and transfer to the Westin Lima Hotel (or similar) for a two night stay. Enjoy the remainder of the evening at leisure.
Day 2 - Day 2 - Lima.
After breakfast in the hotel we will have a free morning to relax or explore independently. In the early afternoon we enjoy a tour of Lima city, which was founded by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, and then named the ‘City of Kings’ by the Spaniards who took the city in name of the Spanish Crown. See the most important buildings in the Plaza Mayor, such as the Government Palace, the beautiful cathedral and the various small palaces and colonial balconies that adorn the capital of the Peruvian Republic, all of which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO thanks to its wellpreserved architecture. Before we return to the hotel there will be some time devoted to the Larco Herrera Museum where we will be able to admire wonderful displays of Peru’s pre-Columbian ceramic and textile art. This evening meet for dinner in the hotel.
Day 3 - Day 3 - Lima.
Today we will head out of the city to the famous Pachacamac Temple, a religious compound which dates from the 3rd century and made entirely of clay. Visit the impressive Temples of the Sun and Moon as we learn about the Inca and Pre-Inca people that lived here. After lunch in a local restaurant we transfer to the MS Hebridean Sky, berthed in the port of Callao. This evening enjoy a Welcome Dinner and Drinks as we sail north.
Day 4 - Day 4 - At sea.
Spend a relaxing day on board the MS Hebridean Sky. Maybe join a lecture or find a spot on deck.
Day 5 - Day 5 - Salaverry.
Arrive this morning at Salaverry, our base for a full day of touring. From the port we will drive to the ruins of Chan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the imperial capital of the Chimu, where we explore the ruins of the largest adobe city in the world, marvelling at their skillful irrigation and engineering projects. We also visit the intriguing desert city of Trujillo. This oasis city was founded by Pizarro in 1536 and still exudes much Spanish colonial charm. Visit the Casa Urquiaga, a mansion containing pre-Columbian ceramics and the Plaza de Armas with its imposing 17th century cathedral. Return to the ship for lunch and this afternoon we will visit Huaca de la Luna to see the Huaca del Sol pyramids from the Moche culture, a remarkable pre-Inca civilisation also spend time in the fascinating on-site museum.
Day 6 - Day 6 - Lobos de Tierra.
Today, weather permitting, will be the first opportunity to use our Zodiacs as we visit the offshore island of Lobos de Tierra. In the 19th century this was the site of a large guano mining centre however today it is an important seabird sanctuary and home to Peruvian pelicans, blue footed boobies and cormorants. We will explore the coastline in the Zodiacs and take walks ashore watching for the birdlife and South American sea lions in the waters.
Day 7 - Day 7 - At Sea.
Maybe join one of the lectures in the lounge, read a book in the library or watch for wildlife from the deck as we have a day at sea sailing to Ecuador.
Day 8 - Day 8 - Puerto Lopez, Ecuador.
Today we start our exploration of coastal Ecuador and anchor at Puerto Lopez for an excursion to the Machalilla National Park, an area of great diversity on the juncture of the cold Humboldt current flowing north and the warm El Nino current flowing south. It contains one of the world’s largest tropical dry forests, at 55,000 hectares, and is an example of the vegetation that once covered 25% of Ecuador’s land mass. We travel inland to a small village with an interesting archaeological site. Here we will split into groups for our walks to see the varied flora and fauna, including several types of cacti, kapok and palo santo trees that have adapted to the arid conditions, and the many varieties of birds including coastal parrots. We will take lunch in the park before returning to the pleasant fishing village of Puerto Lopez.
Day 9 - Day 9 - Isla de la Plata.
Around forty kilometres off the Ecuadorian coast is the small island of Isla de la Plata (Silver Island) where it is claimed Sir Francis Drake buried some of his treasure. The island is part of the Machalilla National Park and a sanctuary for sea birds such as the red footed, blue footed and Nazca boobies who share the steep cliffs with frigate birds, albatrosses and the red-billed tropic birds. Today our naturalists will lead nature walks searching for wildlife before sailing in the late afternoon.
Day 10 - Day 10 - At Sea.
Spend a relaxing day at sea as we sail towards Colombia.
Day 11 - Day 11 - Isla Gorgona, Colombia.
Once a high security prison island located 50 miles off the Colombian mainland, Gorgona Island has reinvented itself as a natural paradise with golden sandy beaches, fresh water streams, waterfalls and tropical forests. In the mid-1980s the island became a National Park, the prison converted to a research centre and one of the houses to a museum. We will spend the day on the island and offer a choice of activities including nature walks looking for some of the many species of birds, snakes, sloths and monkeys as well as the blue anole – the world’s only blue lizard. Alternatively enjoy a swim or snorkel from the beaches or learn more about the history of the island from the local guides.
Day 12 - Days 12 & 13 - Utria National Park & Bahia Solano.
Today we land on the Pacific coast of Colombia and have a day and a half to explore this beautiful area which is well off the traditional cruise routes. Here we find the Utria National Park, a tropical forest which reaches down to the sandy beaches. Using our Zodiacs to get ashore we will enjoy hikes and nature trails and observe the flora and fauna with our local guides. In Bahia Solano we will visit the small town whilst the more active amongst us may wish to join a walk to a private rainforest reserve which runs alongside the Rio Mecana and is part of a 170 hectare nature reserve. Made up of mangroves, tropical forest, native plants and trees of the Choco region, our local guides will point out the indigenous plants and birdlife and highlight the ongoing reforestation programmes. We also hope to offer a chance to swim from the beaches.
Day 13 - Day 14 - Panama City, Panama.
Panama City is a combination of the historic old town, declared a UNESCO Historical Monument, and the ultra-modern new town. We will offer a choice of activities today. Join an excursion to the Panama Canal Observation Centre and learn about the expansion of the canal before visiting the Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre where we see the history of the canal and watch the ships as they pass through. Alternatively, 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.
Day 14 - Day 15 - Panama Canal Transit.
An undisputed destination on the travel bucket list must 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 15 - Day 16 - San Blas.
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 join a nature walk or maybe enjoy a swim from the beach. Return to the ship for lunch and a relaxing afternoon at sea.
Day 16 - Day 17 - Cartagena, Colombia to London.
Cartagena is one of the most fascinating cities in South America and after disembarking 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. After lunch in a local restaurant we will transfer to the airport for our scheduled indirect flight to London.
Day 17 - Day 18 - London.
Arrive this morning.
Day 18 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
26-03-202012-04-2020GBP £9,295Amundsen Standard Suite
26-03-202012-04-2020GBP £9,495Byrd Superior Suite
26-03-202012-04-2020GBP £11,995Shackleton Owner's Balcony Suite
26-03-202012-04-2020GBP £12,495Byrd Superior Sole
26-03-202012-04-2020GBP £13,395Shackleton Hebridean Suite
26-03-202012-04-2020GBP £9,995Mawson Premuim Suite
26-03-202012-04-2020GBP £10,495Mawson Corner Suite
26-03-202012-04-2020GBP £11,495Amundsen Standard Sole
26-03-202012-04-2020GBP £11,495Scott Deluxe Balcony Suite


    • Discover the famous Pachacamac Temple, a religious compound which dates from the 3rd century and made entirely of clay.
    • Visit the offshore island of Lobos de Tierra. In the 19th century this was the site of a large guano mining centre however today it is an important seabird sanctuary and home to Peruvian pelicans, blue footed boobies and cormorants.
    • Anchor at Puerto Lopez for an excursion to the Machalilla National Park, an area of great diversity on the juncture of the cold Humboldt current flowing north and the warm El Nino current flowing south.
    • Enjoy the Utria National Park, a tropical forest which reaches down to the sandy beaches. Using our Zodiacs to get ashore we will enjoy hikes and nature trails and observe the flora and fauna with our local guides.