Passage through the Panama Canal and Costa Rica

February 17–25, 2017
Trip Description

Few experiences can match one of the world’s most dramatic voyages, a cruise from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic through one of the greatest man-made wonders of the world, the ingenious Panama Canal. We invite you to join CWRU alumni, family, and friends for this voyage of a lifetime featuring a narrated daytime passage through the historic Panama Canal and to the unspoiled rainforests of Costa Rica and Panama during the best time of year. We will visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites along with Panama’s ancient San Blas Islands where the Guna Indians live much as they did centuries ago. Experience one of our planet’s most pristine ecosystems in the rainforests, islands, and archipelagos of Panama’s and Costa Rica’s protected national parks. Enjoy a specially arranged, exclusive visit to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Punta Culebra Nature Center with a Smithsonian guide for an up-close look at the terrestrial and marine conditions that sustain the stunning diversity of life here.

Our journey features the privately chartered, Five Star M.V. Star Pride, renovated and relaunched in 2014 and just refurbished in 2016. The small ship features 106 suites, allowing the boat to dock in small ports.

For more information or to register, please contact Michelle Miller at or 216.368.8745.


Optional Costa Rica Pre-Program Option

Day 1:              Depart the US/Arrive San José, Costa Rica

Day 2:              San José/Puerto Caldera/Embark M.V. Star Pride

Day 3:              Quepos for Manuel Antonio National Park

Day 4:              Curú National Wildlife Refuge

Day 5:              Isla Coiba, Panama

Day 6:              Panama City

Day 7:              Panama City/Panama Canal Transit/Colón

Day 8:              San Blas Islands

Day 9:              Colón/Disembark Ship/Agua Clara Visitor Center/Panama City/Return to the US

Optional Panama Post-Program Option

San José, Costa Rica

In the heart of the fertile Valle Central, San José, Costa Rica’s vibrant capital city, possesses an eclectic mix of museums, landscaped parks, lively cafes and art galleries in an interesting fusion of architectural styles including Spanish Colonial, Moorish and Modernist.

Its National Theater is a regal Baroque edifice modeled on Milan’s La Scala, with marble staircases, gilded statues and red velvet carpeting, while the National Museum exhibits impressive pre-Columbian Central American artifacts, stonework, gold jewelry and statuettes.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Experience an unparalleled diversity of wildlife in this lush tropical paradise, a captivating combination of rainforests, beaches and coral reefs, home to more than 100 species of mammals, almost 200 species of birds and various reptiles and amphibians. During a guided morning walk through this “Living Eden”, expert naturalists will help you spot colorful toucans, screeching howler monkeys, camouflaged iguanas, squirrel monkeys and rare and endangered species such as the scarlet macaw and quetzal, all of which are protected by law in this natural haven.

Curú National Wildlife Refuge

Unlike traditional nature reserves, Curú Wildlife Refuge is a unique blend of sustainable agriculture, forest management and wildlife protection, encompassing five distinctive untouched habitats – including mangrove swamps and both dry and moist forests – making it the ideal place to see the intricacies of co-dependent ecosystems. Enjoy a guided walk in the morning, the best time of the day to observe an abundance of wildlife including spider, howler and capuchin monkeys, whit-tail deer, iguanas and more than 230 species of birds, including the scarlet macaw.

Coiba National Park, Panama

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection has emerges as a rich laboratory for studying coral, mammals and plants.  In addition to 69 species of fish, humpback, sperm and Cuvier’s beaked whales and orca are know to migrate through the marine park’s perimeter.

Isla Cobia, the largest island in Central America, is a host of terrestrial wonders – untouched rainforest, rugged headlands, pristine white-sand beaches and mangrove thickets – the perfect environment for the evolution of new and endemic subspecies and for the preservation and protection of endangered species. Enjoy opportunities to snorkel and swim in the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Chiriquí or enjoy a guided nature walk through this tranquil and pristine, lesser-traveled paradise.

Panama City

Central America’s most attractive capital city was founded in 1519 by Spanish explorers and rebuilt in the late 17th century.  In the UNESCO World Heritage designated “old quarter” of Casco Antiguo, discover a charming neighborhood with cobblestone streets, a stunning 16th century cathedral and many historic architectural edifices that remain intact.

At the end of the scenic Amador Causeway, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s fascinating Punta Culebra Nature Center is an open-air museum focused on marine science and conservation.  Here, accompanied by Director Matthew Larsen, enjoy a specially arranged, Smithsonian staff-guided visit and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean side of the Panama Canal.

The new Biodiversity Museum designed by architect Frank Gehry of Guggenheim fame, showcases the ecological significance of Panama’s exotic flora and fauna.

San Blas Islands

Located on the Caribbean side of Panama, the sun-drenched San Blas Islands are an extraordinary testament to Panama’s commitment to the indigenous Guna Indians, also known as the Kuna, and their centuries-old language, customs and culture. Villagers life in typical thatched roof huts, barter or trade in fish and agricultural products and paddle dugout canoes, their main mode of transportation.  Guna women continue to hand stitch traditional colorful molas (reverse applique panels) and wear winis long strings of tiny beads wrapped around their forearms and legs in striking geometric patterns.  The clear turquoise waters of pristine Golfo de San Blas, populated with vibrant, untouched coral reefs and rich marine life, offer splendid opportunities for swimming and snorkeling.

Panama Canal Expansion Agua Clara Visitor Center

A multibillion dollar feat to boost the Panama Canal’s capacity broke ground in 2007.  At the hilltop Agua Clara Visitor Center outside Colón, enjoy panoramic views of the new, longer and wider locks and the impressive Gatún Lake, the 166-square-mile artificial body of water created a century ago to feed the canal.

Pre-Program Option: Costa Rica’s Cloud Forests and Volcanoes

Experience a medley of Costa Rica’s diverse biospheres, where a 9000-foot-tall volcano cradles a steamy, emerald green lagoon deep within a mile wide crater and misty cloud forests shelter a dazzling array of flora and fauna.  Explore the distinctive layers of the lush Arenal rainforest along a series of suspended and fixed bridges.  Enjoy a soothing soak in secluded geothermal hot springs.  Tour historic San José, an organic chocolate workshop and an award-winning coffee estate.  Accommodations are for two nights in the ideally located Hotel Royal Corin and one night in the hacienda style Costa Rica Marriott Hotel in San José.

Post-Program Option: Dynamic Panama – The Renaissance of a City

The perfect complement to Panama’s man-made wonder and the “crossroads of the Americas” is an exploration of old and new Panama.  Visit the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Panama Viejo to see the ruins of the oldest European settlement on the Pacific coast of the American continents and enjoy an architectural tour featuring modern Panama City.

Cruise on the Gatún River through the rainforest to encounter Panama’s indigenous Embera people.  Sample cerviche, a delicious traditional Latin American fresh seafood dish.  Accommodations for two nights are in the centrally located deluxe Bristol Panama Hotel.

Included Features

San José, Costa Rica

  • One night in the hacienda-style Costa Rica Marriott Hotel, San José
  • American Breakfast
  • Tour of San José, including the National theater and National Museum with lunch
  • Scenic transfer from San José to Puerto Caldera

On board the exclusively chartered, all-suite small ship M.V. Star Pride

  • Seven-night cruise from Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica to Colón, Panama, featuring a daytime Panama Canal transit and ports of call at Quepos for Manuel Antonio National Park and Curú Wildlife Refuge , Costa Rica; and Isla Coiba, Panama and the San Blas Islands, Panama.
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell receptions.
  • All meals- breakfast, lunch and dinner – featuring international cuisine, served at single, unassigned seatings.
  • Complimentary house wine is served with dinner; all nonalcoholic beverages are included throughout the cruise
  • Expert onboard naturalist guides to lead small group excursions
  • Gratuities to local guides, drivers and naturalists on included excursions and transfers and to hotel and ship personal are included

Cruise Pricing: per person, based on double occupancy

Suite Category

Suite Description

Early Booking Price

Regular Price


One picture window, Deck 4, forward, (limited availability)




One picture window, Deck 4, forward, (limited availability)




One picture window, Deck 4, midship




One picture window, Deck 5 forward, (limited availability), and midship




One picture window, Deck 6 forward, (limited availability), and midship




French-style private balcony (floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door and wooden railing) Deck 5 midship




French-style private balcony (floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door and wooden railing) Deck 6 midship



Classic Suite II

Large suite with French-style glass doors and private furnished veranda, two obstructed-view picture windows and living/dining room. Deck 6 midship, limited availability



Classic Suite I

Larger suite with French-style glass doors and private furnished veranda, full wall of front-view picture windows and living/dining room. Deck 5 forward, limited availability



Owner’s Suite

Larger suite with French-style glass doors and private furnished veranda, full wall of front-view picture windows additional powder room and a larger living/dining room. Deck 5 forward, limited availability



Single Category 5

One picture window, Deck 4, midship



Single Category 4

One picture window, Deck 5 forward, (limited availability), and midship



Single Category 2


French-style private balcony (floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door and wooden railing) Deck 5 midship