2018 Panama Enchantment


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.

* From the decks of "Insignia", admire the Panama Canal, an astonishing engineering feat first imagined 500 years ago
* 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
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, Cruzzzing the Caribbean
Day 15, Fri, June 29, Georgetown, Caymans (Tender)
Day 16, Sat, June 30, Cruzzzing the Caribbean
Day 17, Sun, July 1, Miami, Florida

Day 1, Fri, June 15 – LAXative / Embark (1PM – 9PM)
A Flight at 7:35 means a shuttle pickup about 5AM. That went well but there was an excessive wasting of time waiting for a no-show at the next pick-up. It took well over an hour to get to the airport so that I came close to missing my flight. At least there was no problem with rain from that tropical disturbance and the flight itself went well.

United UA 1169Houston – LAXative7:45A – 9:23A3:38

Arrive, look for the Oceania rep, and after a long wait for a coach transfer (included) to embark on the INSIGNIA – sister ship to the REGATTA. There were only 3 of us on that particular bus ride. Unlike Miami where there were usually 5 or 6 other cruise ships in port, I didn’t see another one here. Arriving early had another advantage – no big back-up of guests waiting to register, so we got to go right onboard and, at 11, and help open the feeding trough. I was to have been in a basic C2 "deluxe" ocean view cabin - their least expensive, least convenient, kennel with an outside view of sorts: (4018, port, bow) rather than a veranda but on June 12, they offered a not-too-awfully-expensive upgrade to a Veranda cabin (#6085 on deck 6). And now I’m in a veranda cabin, but on the starboard side so about all I will get to see as we head south during a cruise day (6 of them) is the water going by.

It was still a very long wait for my cabin to be ready but while waiting, there was an excellent string quartet playing classical music, not Moo-Sick. When I finally got into the cabin, it is very, very small and cramped. I had expected something like the Riviera and Marina veranda cabins, but this seems to be less that half the size meaning much less usable space and facilities. NOT GOOD.

After the usual safety rigmarole, we still have to wait around for about 4 more hours before we depart for San Diego about 9:15.

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.

(PBK) SAN-004 San Diego Highlights and Harbor Cruise 3 hours @9:30-12:30
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 Bay 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.

(PBK) CAB-007 Land’s End Boat and Cabo View 4 ½ hours @12:30-5
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. 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.

Oops – trip over a crate of glass that was just around the corner of a high bit of architecture and it causes a major gash injury. Paramedics were called and I was taken to a (nice) local hospital and then into the operating room where some fairly complex repair surgery was done. This means the end of the trip. I’ve left the basic information in the file but deleted excursion descriptions.

I definitely had to stay that night and was cleared to leave but the travel insurance company couldn’t get their act together so I had to spend two more nights before allowing to escape. At least the company arranged local and air transportation with a wheel-chair at the airports. They even put me into Business Class where I had one of the best airline dinners I can remember. Home (Super Shuttle) at 10PM.


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

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.BUT I’VE BEEN TO ANTIGUA 3 TIMES BEFORE, and both Oceania Antigua tours force us to go through the Jade Factory. NOT AGAIN. Not a 4th time.

QUZ-001 Auto Safari Chapin 4½ hours @9:30-2

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-004 Old Leon and Colonial Leon 8 hours Lunch @8:30-4:30

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.

QUZ-001 Auto Safari Chapin 4½ hours (@9:30-2)

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

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

We just make the daylight transit. There are no stops to go ashore for sightseeing.

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.

Highlights of Cartagena (CAR-001) 4 hours (@1:15 – 5:15?)

Day 14, Thu, June 28 – Cruzzzing 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. BORING! NO EXCURSION taken here. It's NOT worth it.

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

Day 17, Sun, July 1 – Miami (8AM)

The ship is the INSIGNIA – sister ship to the Regatta as on the first Oceania Cruise. The ship is the INSIGNIA – sister ship to the Regatta as on the first Oceania Cruise. I had to settle for a C2 deluxe ocean view cabin. The 4 smaller ships do not offer a larger (C class) no-veranda cabin. The “room” itself is about the same as on the Regatta – just no veranda.

Late update: Instead of a small "cabin" on the lowest deck, far bow, and furtherest from the feeding trough, on June 12, I had a chance of a Cabin upgrade to B2 Veranda, #6085 on deck 6, 216 sq ft. The upgrade was for less than half the difference it would have cost me if I had booked it originally. And I'll have a nice view rather than that "large porthole" (as I'll have on the Cuba cruise). Now very far astern, starboard side – much nearer the feeding trough. Each stateroom includes a refrigerated mini-bar, spacious closet and a bathroom with a shower. Wi-Fi????

Excursions (7)
Day 1, LAXative
Day 2, San Diego - (PBK) SAN-004 San Diego Highlights and Harbor Cruise 3 hours
Day 4, Cabo San Lucas - (PBK) CAB-007 Land’s End Boat and Cabo View 4 ½ hours
Day 6, Acapulco - (ONBD) ACA-003 Historical, Picturesque, and Cliff Divers 4 hours
Day 8, Puerto Quetzal - (PBK) QUZ-001 Auto Safari Chapin 4½ hours
Day 9, Corinto - (PBK) CIO-004 Old Leon and Colonial Leon 8 hours Lunch
Day 10, Puntarenas - (PBK) PNT-011 Jaguar & Macaws Sanctuary & Puntarenas Highlights 4 1/2 hours
Day 12, Panama Canal
Day 13, Cartagena - (PBK) CAR-001 Highlights of Cartagena 4 hours
Day 15, Cayman Islands - wasted stop; stay onboard
Day 17, MIAMI

Selected pictures
Click to enlarge

San Diego
San Diego

1 Nov 16, 2016 - Caribbean Charisma, Regatta, 13 days
2 Dec 16, 2016 - Heart of the Caribbean, Riviera, 11 days
3 Jan 13, 2018 - Seaswept Breeze, Riviera, 11 days
4 Apr 22, 2018 - Seaside Sojourn, Marina, 17 days
5 Jun 15, 2018 - Panama Enchantment, Insignia, 17 days
6 Feb 5, 2019 - Allure of the Islands, Rivieria, 13 days