2018 Panama Enchantment

Oceania


EAST MEETS WEST
On this impressive voyage from the West Coast to the East Coast, you will enjoy the perfect blend of exciting days in fascinating ports of call and warm, relaxing days at sea.
• Now a national park, explore Islas del Rosario, an archipelago of 27 coral islands near the Bay of Cartagena home to 197 mollusk, 170 crustacean and 215 fish species
• From the decks of Regatta, admire the Panama Canal, an astonishing engineering feat first imagined 500 years ago
• Marvel at the skill and precision of the world-famous Acapulco cliff divers
• Off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, admire the beauty of the dramatic rock formations of Land’s End


Day 1, Fri, June 15, LAXative / Embark
Day 2, Sat, June 16, San Diego
Day 3, Sun, June 17, Cruising the Pacific
Day 4, Mon, June 18, Cabo San Lucas (Tender)
Day 5, Tue, June 19, Cruising the Pacific
Day 6, Wed, June 20, Acapulco
Day 7, Thu, June 21, Cruising the Pacific
Day 8, Fri, June 22, Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)
Day 9, Sat, June 23, Corinto, Nicaragua
Day 10, Sun, June 24, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Day 11, Mon, June 25, Cruising the Pacific
Day 12, Tue, June 26, Panama Canal Daylight Transit
Day 13, Wed, June 27, Cartagena, Columbia
Day 14, Thu, June 28, Cruising the Caribbean
Day 15, Fri, June 29, Georgetown, Caymans (Tender)
Day 15, Sat, June 30, Cruising the Caribbean
Day 16, Sun, July 1, Miami, Florida


Day 1, Fri, June 15 – LAXative / Embark (1PM – 9PM)
A flight at 7:35AM means a Shuttle pickup about 5AM.

United UA 1169Houston – LAXative7:35A – 9:20A3:45

Arrive, look for the Oceania rep, and transfer (included) to embark on the INSIGNIA – sister ship to the REGATTA. I had to settle for a C2 "deluxe" ocean view cabin - their least expensive, least convenient, kennel with an outside view of sorts: (4018, port, bow) rather than a veranda.

Day 2, Sat, June 16 – San Diego, CA (8AM – 4PM)
Yes, this cruise includes time to see something of San Diego. Hooray!

San Diego is living proof that a big city can still feel like a small town. Its Spanish heritage is evident at popular sights like the Junípero Serra Museum, where the first mission was founded, and at Point Loma, which is dominated by a statue of explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. The breathtaking point is also a great spot to watch for migrating Pacific gray whales. Other noteworthy attractions include the thought-provoking San Diego Museum of Man, the peaceful Botanical Building and Lily Pond, and the signature San Diego Zoo, where rare species such as giant pandas and lowland gorillas are exhibited. Ship buffs will enjoy the maritime museum, where you can board and tour the vessels.

SAN-004 San Diego Highlights and Harbor Cruise 3 hours
Explore San Diego by land and sea on this excursion that features the city's landmark sights and points of interest. Board your coach at the pier and set-off on a narrated panoramic tour that takes you past the Embarcadero with its harbor views, the Gaslamp Quarter, La Jolla Cove and Village, La Jolla Shores, Seal Rock, Old Town State Park, Mission Bay Park, Heritage Park, Mormon Battalion Memorial and Balboa Park.

The 1,174 acre Balboa Park is San Diego's crown jewel and is the largest urban cultural park in the nation. The Park was established in 1868 in the heart of the city, bordered by downtown to the southwest and fringed by the early communities of Hillcrest and Golden Hill to the north and east. Originally called City Park, the name was eventually changed to commemorate the Spanish Explorer Balboa.

After your coach tour, you'll head to the harbor where you will board a sightseeing vessel that will have you viewing numerous city sights from the water. Your sightseeing cruise also includes the South bay where you will see the old sailing ship "Star of India", the US Navy Surface Fleet, Coronado Bat Bridge, beaches, and busy shipyards. Following your voyage, you'll meet your coach and make the short transfer back to the ship. Please note: This tour includes limited walking.

Day 3, Sun, June 17 – Cruising the Pacific #1 of 6


Day 4, Mon, June 18 - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (12PM - 8PM) anchor port
Revel in a scenic tour of this exotic desert landscape and enjoy fabulous views of the rugged coastline and an incredible cactus garden. Snorkel in a quiet cove or go in search of migrating gray whales. Or visit the neighboring port of San Jose del Cabo for a taste of old Mexico.

CAB-007 Land’s End Boat and Cabo View 4 ½ hours
This diverse tour offers you the best of Cabo San Lucas by both sea and land. As you disembark the ship, your comfortable tour boat will be waiting for you, ready to transport you on a brief sail to Land's End, which lies at the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula. Relax and enjoy a complimentary beverage as your vessel journeys across the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean while an experienced guide provides an informative narration about the history, ecology and major points of interest in the area. This beautiful, yet desolate stretch of rugged coastline offers up some truly spectacular views of towering granite cliffs, unusual rock formations and vast expanses of pristine beaches that are tucked away amongst rocky coves.

Looking landward, you quickly become aware that this popular resort area lays claim to many miles of unspoiled beaches and impressive hotels. Reaching the sight of the famed "El Arco", the dramatic natural rock arch that rises starkly from the sea, you'll have time to take some photos and watch a sea lion colony at play before heading back to the pier for the second phase of your tour.

Phase two begins by boarding your deluxe motor coach and heading into the heart of Cabo San Lucas to a local glass blowing factory. Here, you can observe the talents of native craftsmen as they use their artistry to design wonderful works of art. Afterwards, get a different perspective of the cape region, striking in appearance, from its arid desert setting and white sand coves, to its swaying palm trees and the deep blue sea.

Your drive will next take you north to view the contrasting coastal scenery before arriving at San Jose del Cabo, a charming and picturesque town. Visit the local mission church and its shady tree-lined plaza. Explore with your guide the Zocalo area before continuing on for a break at a local restaurant where a refreshing cold beer or soda will be served. From this cliff top location, take in the sweeping panoramic view of the Bay of Cabo San Lucas with its majestic rock formations rising from the turquoise blue sea. Heading back, your coach will pass through the small downtown sector of Cabo San Lucas before returning you to the pier. Please note: This tour includes limited walking over mostly flat surfaces; however, there are some steps to negotiate.

Day 5, Tue, June 19 – Cruising the Pacific #2 of 6


Day 6, Wed, June 20 – Acapulco (12PM – 10PM)
Savor the breathtaking views of Acapulco Bay from Fort San Diego or the Chapel of Peace. Swim or stroll along miles of magnificent beach. Don't miss the cliff divers of La Quebrada or the old colonial quarter of town. Or visit Taxco, renowned for its silver.

ACA-003 Historical, Picturesque, and Cliff Divers 4 hours
Starting off from the pier, it's a scenic drive to "La Quebrada", the site where Acapulco's world famous cliff divers perform their heart-stopping dives off the high cliffs. From your prime vantage point, watch the divers as they gracefully leap from a height of approximately 140 feet into the shallow and dangerous waters below.

Proceeding on, you'll travel into the renowned Caleta area of Acapulco. It was here that the stars of yesteryear, such as Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Errol Flynn and John Wayne would spend their holidays and many owned homes here. This conglomeration of Hollywood's elite earned Caleta the title of "refuge of the Hollywood gang." Although those days are long past, you can still see the homes and hotels that remain a stylish reminder of the Caleta's heyday. Stopping at Los Flamingos Hotel, you'll be able to relax and savor the ambience of this unique 1930's built hotel that was once owned by Johnny Weissmuller, while enjoying a complimentary refreshment of either coffee, tea, beer or a soft drink. Perfectly situated on one of the highest cliffs in Acapulco, the hotel not only provides spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and La Roqueta Island, it also benefits from a continuous gentle sea-breeze. The hotel today has retained its original charm and continues to be a popular tourist choice.

Leaving the hotel, a brief shopping stop will be made so that you can browse for souvenirs, gold, silver and semi-precious stones before arriving at the The Chapel of Peace. This lovely interdenominational chapel is perched 1250 ft. above sea level in an idyllic setting that overlooks the harbor and La Roqueta Island. An impressive feature of the chapel is the towering 128 ft. Trouyet Cross which stands in the atrium. Both the chapel and the cross were erected as a tribute to the sons of Mr. and Mrs. Trouyet who died in an air accident while returning from Mexico City in 1967. Today, it is estimated to have been seen by almost every person coming to Acapulco and the panoramic views from this location are nothing short of amazing.

From here, it's on to the historical Fort of San Diego. Constructed over 200 years ago to protect Acapulco from pirates, it now serves as the home of Acapulco's History Museum. The Fort is one of the most significant historical sites in Acapulco and the museum houses a wide array of exhibits and displays which highlight the area's culture and history. After having the opportunity to immerse yourself in Acapulco's fascinating and colorful past, you'll return to the pier, passing many other noteworthy sites along the way. Please note: This tour includes a moderate amount of walking - at times on uneven ground, as well as steps and inclines at the Chapel of Peace.

Day 7, Thu, June 21 – Cruising the Pacific #3 of 6


Day 8, Fri, June 22 – Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala (Antigua) (8AM – 5PM)
Drive into the mountains to beautiful old Antigua, once the country's colonial capital, and discover its lovely bougainvillea-draped buildings and breathtaking views of emerald volcanoes. Travel to famed Lake Atitlan and step back in time as you encounter the indigenous people in all of their finery still living along the lakeshore. Or better yet, fly to Flores and experience the magnificent and enigmatic Mayan temples and palaces of the Tikal complex, surrounded by jungle.

QUZ-010 Colonial Antigua at a Glance 5 hours
Enjoy this opportunity to discover La Antigua, the jewel of the Guatemalan colonial urban development and architecture. This marvelous city served as the capital to all of Central America from 1543 to 1773 until it was destroyed by an earthquake and the capital was moved to its present location of Guatemala City. Amazingly, this historical city has preserved its original features as though time has stood still. Boarding your coach it's a 90-minute drive to this UNESCO World Heritage site, so named in 1979 because of its immense historical and cultural value. Draped in bright bougainvillea and having breathtaking views of emerald volcanoes in the background, the ruins provide inspiration for artists and tourists alike.

Upon arrival, you'll make your way directly to the Jade Museum and Factory, where you'll learn about the intricate relationship between the Maya and this precious stone. Touring the factory, you'll be able to observe native artisans as they cut and polish this green stone, following the carving traditions of their ancestors. Afterwards, you'll have time to peruse the exquisite jade pieces that are available for purchase.

Next, make the short transfer to the beautifully landscaped Plaza Mayor. Numerous landmarks surround the plaza, including the Fountain of the Sirens, the majestic Cathedral, the Palace of the Captains and the Palacio del Noble Ayuntamiento which houses municipal offices and two museums. After a thirty minute stop in which you are free to stroll about and take in the sights, you'll re-board your coach for a panoramic drive through the city takes you along cobblestone streets and past vibrant colonial architecture and beautifully restored 17th-century churches and mansions. Following this, you'll retrace your route back to the pier in Puerto Quetzal. Please note: This tour includes just over 1-hour of moderate walking that includes some uneven surfaces and cobblestone streets.


Day 9, Sat, June 23 – Corinto, Nicaragua (8AM – 5PM)
Nicaragua’s largest port, Corinto sits on an island connected to the mainland by bridges. Nicaragua is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and the area offers long stretches of white sand and clear blue waters. Visit the nearby city of León to see the wonderful cathedral, monuments and colonial buildings as well as the ruins of León Viejo, one of the oldest Spanish settlements in the Americas.

CIO-011 Live the Traditions of Nicaragua 4 hours
Delve into the delightful culture and traditions of Nicaragua in the colonial town of Chinandega and at a nearby hacienda, where you may watch the local artisans. After departing from the pier, you will drive inland to Chinandega, which lies in the shadow of San Cristobal volcano. Being Nicaragua’s highest and most active volcano, it provides a spectacular backdrop for the city. Past eruptions have produced highly fertile soil over time, fueling the region’s agricultural economy, based largely on sugar, bananas and peanuts.

Architectural highlights await you in Chinandega, including the 17th-century Santa Ana church. Constructed in the Romanesque style, the colonial church has been lovingly restored to its original form, complete with limestone walls and plenty of gilt throughout the interior. The church is one of the focal points overlooking the city’s central park, which you will also see. A popular gathering place any time of the day, the park provides a wonderfully authentic snapshot of life in a typical Nicaraguan city.

You will delve even deeper into the country’s culture and traditions at a ranch nearby. While wandering about the grounds, you can expect to watch folkloric performers, artisans creating ceramics, and hammocks being woven. You may also sample fresh tortillas topped with refried beans and cheese. If locally grown fruit is offered, you might try it in a smoothie or simply cut into juicy, bite-size pieces. Afterwards, you will return to the pier. Please note: This tour includes just over 2 hours of moderate walking/standing that includes a few steps to negotiate.


Day 10, Sun, June 24 – Puntarenas, Costa Rica (11AM – 9PM)
NEW Be awed by the spectacular rainforest canopy, whether you walk through it or ride an aerial tram. Discover breathtaking waterfalls, butterfly gardens and a cloud forest. Watch for curious monkeys and brilliantly colored birds. Ride horseback through a rare virgin tropical dry forest. Or enjoy a scenic drive to San Jose and see this charming city and its sights.

PNT-009 Eco Mangrove and River Cruise 5 hours
Experience the natural beauty of the Guacalillo estuary and Tarcoles River on this leisurely river cruise that focuses on the wonderful ecology of this region. Your adventure takes place on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast, along the Guacalillo estuary and the Tarcoles River, located near Carara National Park. The Guacalillo estuary is noted for its mangrove forests. In fact, four different species of mangrove are found in this area: Tea, black, red and white mangrove. The mangroves are a group of unrelated woody plants that grow in protected tropical coasts and provide a great habitat for many endemic birds like the Cuckoo, Hummingbirds, Vireo, Panama Flycatcher and many herons and egrets.

The mangrove forest you will visit is one of the most important in the mid-Pacific Coast for the conservation of the Scarlet Macaw. While this endangered bird species spends most of the day in the forest, they roost in the mangroves. The area is also home to 250 species of birds, crocodiles, mammals and insects. In fact, the Tarcoles River mouth is considered by birdwatchers to be one of the richest sites for sea birds and shorebirds, specifically during the migration from October through April. Ospreys, Gulls, Cormorants, Pelicans and Frigate birds are some of the most common species found in the delta.

The shores of the Tarcoles River house one of the largest colonies of crocodiles and there is little doubt you will spot some during your tour! Some of these reptiles are easily three meters long. Iguanas, Jesus Christ lizards as well as herons, egrets, ducks, spoon bills and storks are easily seen looking for food along the shore. As your tour returns to the pier, you will come away having gained a great understanding of the life of the mangrove and its species. More importantly, you will learn about their existence and why we must preserve the mangrove forests as a way of conservation to save all living species on Earth. Refreshments will be served before returning to the ship. Please note: This tour includes limited walking; however there will be some steps to negotiate. The road can be quite bumpy at times. The boat ride is approximately 2 hours in length and while the seats are under cover, the boat is open on the sides.

Day 11, Mon, June 25 – Cruising the Pacific #4 of 6

Day 12, Tue, June 26 - Panama Canal DAYLIGHT Transit


Day 13, Wed, June 27 – Cartagena, Columbia (11AM – 5PM)
Take a scenic drive through the residential area of Manga and admire the beautiful mansions. Explore the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, a fort that was once the most important military structure built in Latin America. Enjoy a boat ride to the Islas del Rosario and continue to the island of San Martín de Pajarales to visit the aquarium. Board a beautiful Spanish galleon, a replica of a 17th century sailing ship, for a cruise of the inner bay of Cartagena.

CAR-004 Rosario Islands Tour 5 ¼ hours, Lunch
Begin with a scenic cruise past the island of Tierra Bomba and the fishing villages of Punta Arenas, Caño del Oro and Bocachica. Then, slowly cruise past the forts of San Fernando and San José de Bocachica as your guide explains their history.

From there, the boat continues to the Islas del Rosario which consist of 26 coral islands located off the coast of Isla Barú. At your first stop, enjoy a variety of tropical fruits. Continuing on, you'll cruise towards the island of San Martín de Pajarales, where you will visit the aquarium. Enjoy a spectacular dolphin and shark show, as well as other marine attractions. Finally, enjoy a beachside lunch of local delicacies and a dip in the ocean, before returning to the ship.

Please note: This tour includes approximately 1 hour of easy walking at the aquarium plus any additional walking during the time at the beach. Guests must be able to enter and exit the boat with limited assistance.

Day 14, Thu, June 28 – Cruising the Caribbean Sea #5 of 6


Day 15, Fri, June 29 – Georgetown, Cayman Islands (8AM – 3PM) (anchor port)
Gads! Back here again. Relax in more boredom. Excursion choices here in 2016 were poor/bad and there is nothing else except watersports, and tendering is required, so just stay onboard.

Day 16, Sat, June 30 – Cruising the Florida Straits #6 of 6

Day 17, Sun, July 1 – Miami (8AM)
Escape and fly home – short flight – at a decent time. The original flight time was about an hour later but
United UA 1090Miami – Houston11:45A – 1:40P2:55

I should be home about 3:30.

INSIGNIA


The ship is the INSIGNIA – sister ship to the Regatta as on the first Oceania Cruise. I had to settle for a C2 "deluxe" *except for the locations) ocean view cabin (4018, port, bow) rather than a veranda. The “room” itself is the same as on the Regatta – just no veranda – which I seldom even stepped out on and with 6 AT SEA days plus the first and last minimal cruising – why pay over a $1000 or more for the 9 days near land.

Excursions (7)
Day 1, LAXative
Day 2, San Diego - SAN-004 San Diego Highlights and Harbor Cruise 3 hours
Day 4, Cabo San Lucas - CAB-007 Land’s End Boat and Cabo View 4 ½ hours
Day 6, Acapulco - ACA-003 Historical, Picturesque, and Cliff Divers 4 hours
Day 8, Puerto Quetzal - QUZ-010 Colonial Antigua at a Glance 5 hours
Day 9, Corinto - CIO-011 Live the Traditions of Nicaragua 4 hours
Day 10, Puntarenas - PNT-009 Eco Mangrove and River Cruise 5 hours
Day 12, Panama Canal
Day 13, Cartagena - CAR-004 Rosario Islands Tour 5 ¼ hours, Lunch
Day 17, MIAMI

OCEANIA (and others?) CRUISES:
Cruise 1 – 2016 Western Caribbean – Caribbean Charisma --- REGATTA, 684 cattle
Cruise 2 – 2016 Eastern Caribbean – Heart of the Caribbean --- RIVIERA, 1250 cattle

Cruise 3 - 2018 APR Seaside Sojourn --- MARINA, 1250 cattle
Cruise 4 – 2018 JUN LAX - Miami – East Meets West --- INSIGNIA, 684 cattle
Cruise 5 - 2018 OCT Cuba (8 days) --- SIRENA, 684 cattle
Cruise 6 - 2018 NOV Amazon (26 days) --- SIRENA, 684 cattle

Cruise 7 - 2019 JAN Reefs and Ruins (11 days) --- RIVIERA, 1250 cattle
Cruise 8 - 2020 to be determined
Cruise 9 - 2021 to be determined
alternate:
Cruise X – 2020/21 Rode Skalur / HAL --- Zuiderdam, 2000+ cattle