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Costa Rica and the Panama Canal - Quest


Travel via expedition ship with National Geographic-level guiding to the lush, dense, surprising jungles of Costa Rica and through the famous engineering feat that is the Panama Canal.

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Central America: Drink It In

Welcome Aboard the


National Geographic Quest

Exploring Costa Rica and Panama is a singular experience that combines biodiverse jungle wildlife with an in-depth crossing of the Panama Canal, a marvel of engineering. Hike deep into the rainforest; kayak and paddleboard along the shore; take a cool swim in a waterfall pool; snorkel over a coral reef. Aboard, you can always savor panoramic views from the 100-guest National Geographic Quest. Plus, you’ll get an exclusive chance to visit the Latin American Sea Turtles (LAST) Association at Playa Blanca on the Osa Peninsula, where you can assist in data collection and the release of rehabilitated, healthy turtles into the sea.
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    • Venture into remote wilderness: hike among monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds, and explore far from any inhabited places.
    • Transit the Panama Canal over two days to see it by day and in the coolness of night—plus an exclusive stop at the Smithsonian Research Institute.
    • Travel with world class experts on an expedition vessel designed for deep exploration.

Travel Curator’s Insights:


Book Now for Free International Air + a Panama City Extension, Up to $1,200 Value!

From $6,820 per person
Policies and protocols provided before you book.

Dec 14-21, 2023
Dec 21-28, 2023
Dec 28, 2023 – Jan 4, 2024
Jan 9-16, 2024
Feb 10-17, 2024
Feb 17-24, 2024
Feb 24-March 2, 2024
March 2-9, 2024
Ask us for later dates.

December - March
Hover here for specific dates


Trip Sustainability Awards 



100% free of single-use plastics!



Sources all food and seafood sustainably and locally



Offsets 100% of operations and is carbon neutral


Day 1:   U.S. / San José, Costa Rica / Puerto Caldera / Embark
Upon arrival in San José, transfer by land to Puerto Caldera and embark our ship  National Geographic Quest. This day includes dinner.

Day 2:   Corcovado National Park
Anchor off the Osa Peninsula to see some of the most pristine lowland rainforest on the Pacific coast. In the environs of Corcovado National Park, swim in waterfall pools, take an optional horseback ride on the coast, or trek through the rainforest for a chance to see three species of monkeys—howler, spider, and capuchin. All meals included on this day.

Day 3:   Golfo Dulce / Osa Peninsula
Go ashore in the pristine waters of Playa Blanca. Head inland to meet and share with inspiring local families living in remote communities and working with cocoa, heart of palm, and sugar cane. Hike mature rain forest or kayak in peaceful waters in Golfo Dulce. In the evening, enjoy a beautiful sunset. All meals included on this day.

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Day 4:   Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
Enter the mangrove-fringed Golfo Dulce along the southwestern edge of Costa Rica as our nimble expedition ship takes us into the remote upper reaches of this placid bay. Exploring by Zodiac, paddleboard and kayak, we encounter Pacific Costa Rica’s dazzling avifauna as we watch for golden-hooded and Cherrie’s tanagers, yellow throated toucans, fiery-billed aracaris and crimson fronted and orange-chinned parakeets, constantly chattering in flight above the jungle treeline. The flora is a kaleidoscope of tropical color with bromeliads, heliconias and orchids set against the verdant green of the tropical forest. Later, jump into the cool, refreshing waters of the bay for an afternoon swim. All meals included on this day.

Day 5:   Coiba National Park, Panama
The first stop in Panama this morning is at the remote Isla Coiba, one of the many islands of Coiba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once a penal colony, the island has long been protected and accessible by special permit only. Among its many endemic species are the Coiba Island agouti and the mantled howler monkey, as well as four varieties of sea turtle. Discover rich marine life while snorkeling, go kayaking or hiking, try stand-up paddleboarding, or simply relax on the beach. All meals included on this day.

Day 6:   Gulf of Panama Islets / Panama Canal Transit Today, explore
the tiny islets of the Gulf of Panama by Zodiac or kayak. Here we might spot frigatebirds, brown pelicans, neotropical cormorants, and brown boobies. Set sail for the Panama Canal this afternoon. Stretching more than 50 miles, the canal was a colossal engineering feat completed in 1914. It is still traversed by some 14,000 ships every year.  As cargo ships tend to pass through the canal during the day, we’ll most likely begin our crossing at night, when the canal is dramatically lit. All meals included on this day.

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Day 7:   Gatún Lake / Panama Canal Transit
By special arrangement,  National Geographic Quest  will anchor in Gatun Lake near the Barro Colorado Nature Monument overnight. Today, choose hikes and Zodiac cruises at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute facility on Barro Colorado Island, or take a boat ride to the mouth of the Chagres River and hike on the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center trails. This evening, continue through the complex lock system of the canal. All meals included on this day.

Day 8:   Colón / Panama City, Panama / Disembark / U.S.

After breakfast, disembark in Colón and transfer to the airport in Panama City for your flight home. Breakfast is included on this day.

Children: We believe sharing an expedition with your kids or grandkids is a life-enhancing experience. So take $500 off for each child under the age of 18.

National Geographic Quest

The National Geographic Quest, like much of the wildlife she follows, is migratory. She follows the seasons from Alaska, along the coast of British Columbia, up the Columbia & Snake Rivers, and along the Baja coast and into the Sea of Cortez and on through the Panama Canal. In each region, her design innovations were informed by 50+ years of expedition expertise to ensure extraordinary discoveries. The Quest has dual boarding platforms, enabling our team to load two Zodiacs at once, which means guests get off ship quickly to take advantage of wildlife sightings and maximize exploring time. Modern, cleaned-lined, with large expanses of glass to keep you connected to the extraordinary views, National Geographic Quest enables you to see, do and experience the best of her geographies.

The NG Quest has a fleet of 8 Zodiacs, 24 kayaks, paddleboards; an ROV, hydrophone, splash-cam, underwater video camera, video microscope; snorkeling gear and wet suits for all guests (where applicable).

• Capacity: 100 guests
• Cabins: 50 outside cabins
• Specialists: Nat Geo photo instructor, undersea specialist and video chronicler


2023 ”Best Cruise Ships in the World" Conde Nast Traveler Gold List
2022 "World's Best Cruise Line" World Cruise Awards
2022 "GOLD: Best Expedition Line" Reader's Choice Awards, Recommend Magazine

"This outstanding ship represents the culmination of over 35 years of expeditionary experience. The cabins are bright and spacious, and the staff is friendly yet informal. It's the world-class Nat Geo-level experts that elevate these trips to award-winning experiences. If you like lots of expert information with your adventure, this is an excellent vessel for you."

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Life On Board

Deck Plan

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#301-306 Cabins feature two lower single beds or queen, a writing desk and two portholes.

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Cat 4 #207-229 Cabins feature two lower single beds or queen, a writing desk, sliding glass door and small, private balcony.

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#307-315 Cabins feature two lower single beds that can convert to a Queen, a writing desk and two portholes.

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#101-108 (Suite) Two lower bed or queen, convertible sofa bed, large view windows, expanded bathroom, writing desk.

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#201-206 Cabins feature two lower single beds or queen, a writing desk and a large view window.

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This operator pioneered this Costa Rica/Panama itinerary. On the Nat Geo Quest, you'll be traveling with some of the top experts in this region plus you'll have a blast kayaking and snorkeling!

Joy Martinello, Founder



What’s Included & Cancellation Policy:

Accommodations aboard ship; meals indicated; non-alcoholic beverages aboard ship; excursions; services of expedition leader, naturalist staff, expert guides and a ship’s doctor; park fees; use of
kayaks and snorkeling equipment; all port charges and service taxes.

Air transportation; horseback riding; personal items such as alcoholic beverages, emails, voyage DVD, etc.; discretionary tips to naturalist staff and crew, travel insurance (recommended)

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