Exploration of the Caribbean’s Caves, Coves and Reefs - Northbound

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - Miami, USA

Explore the Caribbean the “Hurtigruten way”. Discover the history of the mysterious Mayans by exploring fascinating ruins, hiking and snorkelling in crystal clear waters by small islands, atolls and reefs, kayaking along pristine coastlines, hiking into the jungle or cruising rivers to spot amazing wildlife.

  • Explore 7 different countries and two UNESCO Sites in one expedition
  • See Mayan ruins and learn more about Mayan history
  • Discover tropical paradise islands and atolls, and dive on pristine coral reefs
  • Experience intriguing cities like Puerto Limon, Belize, Key West and Miami

Overview

If you think an ordinary cruise in the Caribbean is boring and not active enough, then our Caribbean expedition might be the thing for you! See seven different countries, two UNESCO Heritage Sites, visit mysterious Mayans ruins, venture into the jungle and snorkel in crystal clear waters. Discover topical paradise islands, Puerto Limon, Belize, Key West and Miami - all in one expedition.

“Welcome to the Caribbean, love”

Starting in Puerto Limon in Costa Rica, you can explore this compelling destination for adventurers before embarking on MS Fram. After a day at sea, you find yourself in the Guna Yala provence where you can meet the indigenous people of Panama and Colombia, the Kuna people.

Then we explore the UNESCO site Fort San Lorenzo and the Panama Canal Expansion. In Bocas del Toro and the Bastemintos National Park, you can dive and kayak among mangroves and coral reefs as well as hike through the rainforest in search of wildlife. On Isla de Provedencia and Corn Island, enjoy snorkelling amongst tropical fishes, feasting on barbecued lobster on the beach and experiencing creole traditions and way of life.

Coral reefs and Mayan mysteries

Explore Cayos Cochinos, a part of the world’s second largest coral reef, either by snorkelling or kayaking, or by walking in the stunning nature of the islands. Next we sail to Belize, and you can venture into the jungle to discover the Mayan ruins of Lamanai. These ruins are known both for their impressive architecture and marvellous setting, surrounded by dense rainforest.

Then divers and snorkelers are in for an adventure as we reach Lighthouse reef with more than 20 world-famous dive and snorkelling sites. Close to Playa del Carmen is the ancient Mayan city of Tulum. This walled Mayan city is spectacularly set on a cliff, overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Sunsets and magic in the US

Travelling further north, we stop by Key West to enjoy this tropical island city and its world-renowned sunset before ending this expedition in magical Miami.

Your holiday price includes: 

  • Hurtigruten Expedition in cabin grade of your choice on a full board basis
  • Wind- and water-resistant jacket
  • Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
  • Professional English-speaking Expedition team that gives lectures as well as accompany landings and activities
  • Free tea and coffee

Not included: 

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional Excursions and Gratuities
Itinerary

The itinerary

This is an expedition where the elements rule, and the weather and wind conditions will determine our final schedule. Safety is paramount and the captain will decide the sailing itinerary during the voyage. Therefore, this itinerary is just an indication of what you can experience, and why every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique.

25 March 2018 and 03 April 2019

Departure port Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
Day 1
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A destination for adventurers


Location: Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Puerto Limon was established in 1502 when Christopher Columbus landed here during his exploration of the New World. ToDay it is a bustling city on the Caribbean coast. If you want to explore the city before the expedition, there are several things to see and do. A significant landmark of Limon is Parque Vargas, a waterfront park bordered by the sea wall. The park is landscaped with palms, tropical foliage and flowering plants, and affords views of scenic coastal rock formations. The port city has one museum of note, the Museo Etnohistoric de Limon, where you can see cultural and historical exhibits relating to the local area. To bargain for souvenirs and local crafts, visit the central market before embarking on MS Fram.

Day 2
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Relaxed tropical temperatures and new insights


Location: At sea

The balmy tropical temperatures invite you to stay on deck. Enjoy the sun or spot for wildlife, especially birds. The Expedition team starts its series of introductory lectures about wildlife, biology, life in the ocean and the ecosystems of coral reefs, also known as the rainforests of the sea.

Day 3
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Home of the Kuna people


Location: Guna Yala

The province of Guna Yala (formally the San Blas Islands) is an Archipelago of 278 picture perfect islands stretching along the north coast of Panama, reaching all the way to Colombia. Home to the Kuna people, who run the islands as an autonomous province with minimal interference from the national government, it’s one of the best-preserved native cultures in the Americas. The Kuna are renowned for creating brightly colourful panelled textiles called Molas, which traditionally adorn the women’s blouses. While we are here you can enjoy kayaking on crystal clear water or get an up close view of the diversity of coral below while snorkelling or diving.

Day 4

UNESCO Site, bird watching, Panama Canal…and sloths


Location: Fort San Lorenzo and Panama Canal Expansion Centre

Fort San Lorenzo is one of the oldest Spanish fortresses in America, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the 1500’s to overlook the mouth of the Chagres, Panama’s largest and most valuable river, the fort provided an excellent view of approaching pirates and buccaneers. Get an up close view of the river by small boat or kayak and look for the numerous birds in this migration hot spot, as well as other wildlife. Later, you can visit the impressive Observation Centre of the Panama Canal Expansion project. This new observation center offers an exclusive panoramic view of the Panama Canal expansion. Covered decks view Lago Gatún and the locks; there is also a theater with videos in English, exhibits, a cafe and gift shop. In the short rainforest trail nearby you might even see sloths and monkeys.

Day 5
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UNESCO Site and Biosphere Reserve


Location: Bocal del Toro

Bocas del Toro, meaning “mouth of the bull”, is a pristine region and home to Panama’s first national marine park, Bastimentos, and Parque Internacional La Amistad, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. Consisting of 9 islands and hundreds of smaller islets, you can visit Bocas town with its colourful Caribbean vibe and atmosphere before venturing into the expanse of Bastemintos National Park. Snorkel, dive and kayak among mangroves and coral reefs or hike through the rainforest in search of wildlife.

Day 6
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Lobster and jungle


Location: Corn Islands

Located 70 km off of the coast of Nicaragua, these beautiful islands have more in common with most Caribbean islands than mainland Nicaragua. The Creole people on Great Corn Island live in colourful wooden houses, and their main income comes from lobster fishing. Experience the bounty first hand with a beach barbecue. Little Corn is a tiny island with no cars and a jungle interior to explore on foot. Venture below the water to be rewarded with views of what is considered some of the best the undersea life in in the region.

Day 7

A slice of untouched paradise


Location: Isla de Providencia

Providencia is an unspoiled and traditional tropical island. Since it’s almost unreachable for most tourists (no direct connection to the Colombian mainland), it’s traditions and customs remain intact and you will still hear English Creole spoken. Enjoy breathtaking scenery, lovely sand beaches, friendly locals and amazingly clear water that is superb for swimming, snorkelling and diving. You'll find small cottages, hotels and cabañas strung along the road, and a delightful handful of restaurants. Visit a local school and tour the island, and enjoy the view of the many hidden bays around the island. Bird lovers will have the opportunity to explore inland, hikers can venture to the highest point, kayakers can explore the coastline and divers and snorkelers can enjoy the superb undersea life.

Day 8

Lectures and relaxing


Location: At sea

Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, housing tens of thousands of marine species. About one-third of all marine fish species live part of their lives on coral reefs. In addition to their incredible value as wildlife habitats, coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and provide billions of dollars of food and jobs for humans around the world. Hear more about what the coral reefs mean to life in the ocean, and other fascinating subjects from our Expedition team as we continue sailing north.

Day 9
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Part of the world’s second largest coral reef


Location: Cayos Cochinos

An archipelago in The Bay Islands, Cayos Cochinos is a Marine Biological Reserve off the mountainous, northern coast of Honduras and is one of the least disturbed reefs in Honduras Bay. National Geographic writes, "The waters around this collection of coral cays are a marine biologist's dream: protected by the government, off-limits to commercial divers and fishermen, and busy with creatures that may not yet have names." Explore the islands by Zodiacs and come ashore for nature walks and visit a small village. Kayak along pristine shores, or snorkel and dive among the rocky reefs.

Day 10
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Relaxing on the beach or exploring the jungle


Location: Belize City

When we arrive in Belize City, there are several choices on how you can spend your Day. In Ambergris Caye there are adventures for everyone. This is the largest island in Belize, with beautiful beaches, azure waters, the Maya Mountains and the Pine Ridge. Enjoy a Day in this tropical paradise’s laid back atmosphere, discovering spectacular caves, winding waterfalls, virgin tropical rainforest, and hundreds of limestone caves perfect for long walks, bike rides or snorkelling. You can also choose to travel to Orange Walk and Lamanai on a riverboat. This is a great way to see crocodiles, fruit bats, spider monkeys and hundreds of different bird species, including many species of herons. Known as the street-food paradise, Orange Walk Town has a fine location beside the New River, which meanders lazily along the east side of town. Orange Walk Town is easily explored on foot. The market area between the Corozal road and Main Street gets going early in the morning, and there are many small shops and restaurants to discover. Lamanai is one of the biggest and best excavated Mayan sites in northern Belize. The ruins are known both for their impressive architecture and marvelous setting, surrounded by dense rainforest. See the Mask Temple, the High Temple, the Ball Court, the residential area and the Jaguar Temple. Climb up the High Temple via the original stairway built by the Mayas, and get a spectacular panoramic view of the New River Lagoon and the surrounding jungle.

Day 11
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An underwater paradise


Location: Lighthouse Reef, Belize

Sailing further north, we reach Lighthouse Reef, an atoll about 80 km from Belize City. This is the most remote of the atolls in Belize and it remains wild and unspoiled. Here you find more than 20 world famous dive and snorkelling sites including the Blue Hole, Half Moon Wall and the Aquarium. The coral reefs contained within the atoll's lagoon, shelter a remarkable 200 species of fish in a magical setting of changing reef types; including shallow reefs, ledges, shelves and drop offs. We also offer land based adventures to the Half Moon Cave Natural Monument, a bird sanctuary and the only nesting site in the region for the red-footed boobies. You can also go kayaking, if you would like to see both amazing life in the sea and on land.

Day 12
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Mayan ruins, beaches and turquoise water


Location: Playa del Carmen

Originally a small fishing village, Playa del Carmen has undergone rapid development; luxurious condos, restaurants and boutiques have popped up, helping the town to become the must-see destination that it is toDay. It is one of the top diving destinations in the world, with waters so clear you can spot the sea life from the beaches. The amazing underwater caverns make a dive rewarding for anyone, regardless of experience. Close to Playa del Carmen is the ancient Mayan city of Tulum, spectacularly set on a cliff top high over the Caribbean. This was the only walled city in the Mayan Empire. Tulum flourished between the 13th and the 15th centuries and was a seaport, trading mainly in turquoise and jade. Built of limestone, the 784-metre wall encloses the site on three sides. Most prominent among the remaining structures is the Castillo, or castle, which is perched on the edge of a 12-metre limestone cliff, overlooking the verdant coast. In front of the Castillo is the Temple of the Frescoes. Peer inside this temple to see a beautiful mural painted in three sections: the first depicts the Mayan world of the dead, the middle is that of the living, and the final, highest piece, is of the creator and rain gods. Just north of the Castillo, a pathway leads down to a sandy beach and the multi-hued Caribbean. The setting here is spectacular, perfect for swimming and gazing up at the ruins. You also have the opportunity to visit Cozumel, and spend the Day or evening ashore in this lively town.

Day 13
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Cruising the Caribbean


Location: At sea

The Caribbean Sea is more than paradise islands and coral reefs, it is also the site of intriguing history. After Christopher Columbus stumbled across the Caribbean in 1493, Spain claimed the area, and its ships searched for treasure. With the Spanish discovery of the Pacific Ocean in 1513, the Caribbean became the main expedition and convoy route. Pirates and warships of rival powers preyed on Spanish ships in the area. Although Spain controlled most of the Caribbean, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Denmark established colonies on the islands along the eastern fringe. The 1800s brought U.S. ships into these waters, especially after 1848, when many gold-seekers crossed the sea to reach California via Panama. Completed in 1914, the Panama Canal is a historic feat of engineering that saved thousands of miles of transit around Cape Horn for ships trying to reach the Pacific.

Day 14
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The Keys


Location: Key West

On the unique tropical island city of Key West, the number of experiences you can have in one Day are almost unbelievable: visit the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S., take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, go snorkelling on the coral reefs and wrecks, visit Ernest Hemingway's House Museum or have lunch at Sloppy Joe’s Bar where Mr Hemingway spent most of the 1930s slamming back daiquiris. Eat fresh, off-the-boat seafood, take a relaxing stroll down Duval Street, listen to a local band, pick up some souvenirs and witness a world-renowned sunset.

Day 15
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The Magic City


Location: Miami

Magical Miami is known for its legendary beaches, Little Havana, Art Deco buildings and glamour. Take some time to explore Miami after disembarking. The city’s fabled nightlife has been one continuous party more or less since the 60’s, making Miami a playground for the stars. Even more intriguing are the vibes from Latin America, Caribbean, Asia and Europe, influencing the culture, food and music. Walk along Ocean Drive and gaze at the Art Deco houses, discover urban graffiti in Wynwood, or just enjoy a slice of key lime pie before flying home.

08 April 2018 and 17 April 2019

Location Miami
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Getting you there

Please contact us if you wish to add on return flights and airport transfers to Puerto Limon and Miami.