2020 Holiday Sojourn
CARIBBEAN GEMS: From captivating Mayan ruins in Guatemala to carefree Key West, there couldn’t be a more memorable way to spend your holiday than exploring the diverse cultures and stunning landscapes of an incredible array of Caribbean destinations during this special voyage.
* From Santo Tomas, journey to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Quiriguá National Park, an ancient Mayan archaeological site filled with 8th-century monuments and impressive stelae
* While in Roatan, escape to the lush private island of Big French Key and enjoy a refreshing dip in the crystal clear waters or a stroll down the tranquil shoreline
* Keep an eye out for monkeys, sloths, crocodiles and toucans on a jungle cruise through the Tortuguero Canals near Puerto Limon
* Visit the Belize Spice Farm and Botanical Gardens for an inside look at the local cultivation and harvest of exotic spices while in Harvest Caye
Day 1, Sun, Dec 17 – Miami (1PM, 5PM)
Arrive and embark the larger ship, MARINA.
Day 2, Mon, Dec 18 – Cruising the Straits of Florida #1 of 4
Day 3, Tue, Dec 19 – Santo Tomas, Guatemala (11AM – 8PM)
Visit fascinating Quiriguá and its stunning Mayan stele. Take a boat ride along the Rio Dulce to Lake Izabal past riverside Mayan villages, lush tropical vegetation and Fort San Felipe. Or take a short flight to Flores for an unforgettable visit to incredible, mysterious Tikal, its soaring ancient temples rising from the jungle floor.
(STC-005) Quirigua Archaeological National Park - 5 hours
Guatemala's stunning natural beauty is yours to discover during this scenic half-day journey to Quiriguá National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Depart the pier for the 1.5-hour drive to Quiriguá National Park, located on the plains of the Motagua River. The longest river in the country, the Motagua was used by the Maya and served as one of their most important waterways. En route, a brief stop will be made to learn about Guatemala's banana industry, and take in scenic views and photographs of your surroundings.
Quiriguá was established in a fertile valley at the edge of the Motagua River between 250 and 550 AD. Once a magnificent Mayan city, Quiriguá is now an impressive archaeological site of the early Classic Period, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stela E, the tallest stelae in the Mayan world, is found at this site.
Upon arrival at the Quiriguá National Park, you will take a 1.5-mile guided walking tour through the park. Along the way, you will take in spectacular views of the picturesque flora and fauna. Following your visit, you will re-board your coach for the return drive to the pier.
Please note: The drive between the pier and Quirigua is approximately 1.5 hours in each direction. This tour involves a 1.5-mile walk over bumpy and uneven ground. Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and comfortable walking shoes, and bring sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat and sunglasses from the ship.
Day 4, Wed, Dec 20 – Costa Maya, Mexico (9AM – 6PM)
The cruise port of Costa Maya in Mexico's developing Costa Maya region is surrounded by dense jungle and turquoise waters and blessed with radiant sunshine. No wonder the ancient Maya lived nearby, building ceremonial centers like Chacchoben, where you can climb among the ruins, many of which are still being excavated. Look for raucous toucans in the trees.
(CMA-007) Chacchoben Mayan Ruins - 4 hours
Explore the ruins of Chacchoben, "The Place of Red Corn", on this half-day tour that brings you to this fascinating ancient Mayan pilgrimage location.
Starting off from the pier, it's a pleasant 50-minute drive to the site, during which your local guide will share with you the interesting history and unique culture of the Mayans. Upon arrival, you will find yourself surrounded by the lush green jungle that still hides much of the complex and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including howler monkeys and many species of exotic birds. Here, in this lush tropical setting, the excavated sacred temples and other structures will fill you with a sense of wonder as you picture how it must have looked centuries ago when it was a thriving cultural center for the Mayans.
During your escorted tour you will have a chance to see the original red paint on the stucco walls of one of the pyramids and the temple where a mural was found showing the astronomical positions of the planet Venus. You will also have time to climb the Gran Basamento which takes you above tree level and is where archaeologists found ceremonial offerings dating to around 1000 B.C.
During your visit, your guide will also explain about the wildlife found in this region of Mexico and the medicinal plants that are still used by the modern-day descendents of the ancient Mayan people. Before re-boarding your coach for the return transfer to the pier, you will have a brief break to enjoy a complimentary beverage and perhaps purchase a souvenir.
Please note: This tour includes a considerable amount of walking over uneven and rough surfaces. Care should be taken as the surfaces can be slippery. Flat, comfortable, closed-toe walking shoes; sun caps; sunglasses; sunscreen (biodegradable only) and insect repellant are suggested. Flash photos are not allowed inside the ruins due to the delicate nature of the displays.
Day 5, Thu, Dec 21 – Roatan, Honduras (8AM – 5PM)
Luxuriate on the magnificent beaches, snorkel or dive and explore the superb shallow reefs, or discover the island's other natural wonders on a horseback ride on the beach and through a tropical forest past spectacular volcanic rocks.
(ROA-009) Glass-Bottom Semi-Sub & Shopping - 3 ½ hours
Marvel at the colorful marine life just offshore from the comfort of a semi-submersible viewing vessel, then shop for handicrafts and tour the only cameo factory in the Americas.
It's a 30-minute scenic drive from the pier to the extraordinarily beautiful southwestern tip of Roatan. At the end of the boardwalk dock at West Bay Beach, you'll board a semi-submersible vessel that offers the visibility of a glass-bottom boat but with more comforts. Unlike riding in a traditional glass-bottom boat, you won't have to crane your neck to look down at the marine life. The seats in the semi-submersible's enclosed air-conditioned hull have windows about six feet below the water's surface, allowing you to look straight out into the underwater world. The sights are spectacular, as you'll be cruising over one of the world's largest coral reefs, where the water is typically crystal-clear and teeming with tropical fish.
After disembarking, enjoy nearly an hour of free time at West End Village, where you can shop and savor a complimentary cup of fresh-brewed Honduran coffee, lemonade or iced tea. While the village is known for its handicrafts, your next stop at Stone Castle Cameo offers some of the most unique merchandise on the island. It's the only cameo factory in the Americas, and its skilled artisans hand-carve each piece from double-layered conch shells or coral, using a steel burin to cut the designs. It's a highly detailed, fascinating craft, and the elegant cameos produced are truly one of a kind. After watching a demonstration of cameo making, you'll have time to shop for one of these treasures before it's time to re-board your coach and travel back to the pier.
Please note: Walking on this tour is mainly at the guests' discretion during free time. Light-weight, casual clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
Day 6, Fri, Dec 22 – Cruising the Caribbean Sea #2 of 4
Day 7, Sat, Dec 23 – Puerto Limon, Costa Rica (8AM – 6PM)
Ride the aerial tram through the rainforest canopy at Braulio Carillo National Park. Take a boat ride through the Tortuguero Canals or the Estero Negro estuary, the rich jungle tapestry all around, while watching for colorful birds, monkeys, iguanas, sloths, crocodiles and the legendary, iridescent Blue Morpho butterfly.
(PEL-004) Caribbean Train, Eco Cruise & Countryside - 3 ½ hours
Ride on board historic but recently restored narrow gauge-train that will give you an open-air feeling and allow you to enjoy Costa Rica’s Caribbean region to the fullest, then take a relaxing cruise through a network of canals.
During the 20th Century, Railroads gave birth to Costa Rica’s banana industry and their routes passed through incredible landscapes as you will discover. In addition to the lush scenery, sloths, monkeys and other colorful creatures inhabit the area along the tracks and catching sight of them will provide an even more interesting ride through this region of Costa Rica.
Following your train ride, you'll board a boat and cruise through Tortuguero’s impressive network of canals that are sometimes referred to as 'the Amazon of Costa Rica'. Your leisurely navigation of the canals will likely have you spotting various waterfowl, white-faced and spider monkeys, and many other animal species along the banks. After your cruise, you will be treated to some fresh fruit, ice-cold water and soft drinks.
Please note: This tour is primarily seated. Weather appropriate clothing to include a rain poncho in case of rain; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; insect repellant; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Neither the train nor boat are air-conditioned. While both are covered, they are open on the sides. Guests are cautioned not to touch the plants or feed the animals. Restrooms are available at the boat dock. The tour sequence may vary. While likely, wildlife sightings are not guaranteed.
Day 8, Sun, Dec 24 – Colon, Panama (7AM – 4PM)
See how the Panama Canal operates with a visit to the locks. Or ride a train across the isthmus. Discover Panama's lush rainforest and its resident wildlife as you walk a forest trail or take a boat ride down a quiet river.
(COL-009) Eco Cruise & Gatun Locks - 4 hours
Discover the culture, history and ecology that are a vital part of Panama and the Panama Canal while in the company of a local, specialized guide. These guides are considered experts in their fields and have been specifically chosen for this tour to enhance your experience.
Your excursion begins with a transfer to the Gatun Locks. Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal, the vast jungle area that is now the Gatun Lake was teeming with an overwhelming abundance of wildlife. As the region was flooded to create the lake, animals took refuge in the mountain peaks, which are now the many islands that dot the renowned lake.
Boarding a touring vessel, you and your interpretive guide will slowly cruise the back channels, islands and bays that make up this unique ecosystem. Glide past lush rainforests to a secluded region of the lake and witness first-hand the splendor and excitement of the jungle. Exotic birds, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and crocodiles are just a few of the animals that you can view in their native surroundings. Cameras are a must as this is considered the world's premier location for viewing monkeys and other animals in the wild.
Either before or after your cruise on Gatun Lake, you will have the opportunity to visit the Gatun Locks, the largest and most important of the 3 sets of locks at the Panama Canal. Rejoining your coach, you will transfer back to the pier where your tour concludes.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 1-hour of moderate walking/standing over mostly even surfaces. Due to the difficulty level of boarding the lake boat, the tour is not available to wheelchair guests or those with mobility concerns. Comfortable flat shoes; light clothing; sun hat; sun glasses; sun screen; and insect repellant are strongly recommended. The order of the sites viewed or visited may vary. Wildlife sightings are not guaranteed.
Day 9, Mon, Dec 25 – Cruising the Caribbean Sea #3 of 4
Day10, Tue, Dec 26 – Harvest Caye, Belize (12PM – 5PM)
Featuring an enchanting range of environments such as tropical rainforests, marshes and coral reefs, Harvest Caye offers both relaxation and adventure amid lush landscapes. This 75-acre paradise invites you to explore it’s incredibly biodiverse surroundings, witnessing exotic wildlife or perhaps discovering the world’s second largest coral reef. Gain insight into the region’s Mayan and Garifuna roots, discover traditional arts and traditions at the local artisans’ village or simply soak up the abundant Belizean sunshine and relax.
No excursions currently listed.
Day 11, Wed, Dec 27 – Cruising the Straits of Florida #4 of 4
Day 12, Thu, Dec 28 – Key West, Florida (8AM – 6PM)
Visit the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, which houses an impressive collection of flowering plants, cascading waterfalls and 50 different species of butterflies from around the world. Continue to the aquarium, Key West's oldest attraction, dating back to 1935 and home to hundreds of different species of local sea life. Don't miss the historic home of author Ernest Hemingway. Probably another “do it myself” visit rather than take any excursions.
Day 13, Fri, Dec 29 – Miami (8AM)
Arrive, transfer to the airport, and fly home.