MS Roald Amundsen, MS Fridtjof Nansen
13 days

Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Galápagos Islands

Price from
7338 €
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
MS Roald Amundsen, MS Fridtjof Nansen
13 days

Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Galápagos Islands

Price from
7338 €
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Your journey begins in Colón by sailing through the famous Panama Canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Once past Panama City, we’ll head south to charming cities in Ecuador and Peru, visiting beautiful beaches, archaeological mysteries and UNESCO sites. You’ll then continue to the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands where you’ll island-hop and explore the archipelago.

Transiting the Panama Canal

You’ll marvel at the engineering brilliance of the Panama Canal as you pass through its complex locks aboard the ship. Exiting on the Pacific coast, we continue south to Manta and nearby town of Montecristi, home of the handwoven Panama hat. From there, we visit the ‘Banana Capital of the World’ in Puerto Bolivar before setting course for Salaverry. If sea conditions enable us to land here, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the area’s ancient architecture on an optional excursion.

Quito and the Galápagos Islands

After flying to Ecuador’s capital Quito and enjoying wandering around its UNESCO-listed historic centre, we continue to Santa Cruz Island in the Galápagos. Over the next two days, you’ll board boats and tour a new island in the archipelago each day, uncovering the supreme biological diversity these islands are known for. Keep your eyes peeled to spot the finches that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and maybe see native giant land tortoises in their natural habitat.

Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Galápagos Islands
  • Day 1
    Colón, Panama

    Gateway to the Panama Canal

    The city of Colón lies by the entrance to the Panama Canal on the Atlantic coast. There are high-quality hotels, a casino, hot springs, a thriving handicraft scene and great restaurants with local delicacies. If you want to really explore the city or join a Pre-Programme to a beautiful jungle lodge next to the Chagres River, you should clear your calendar and arrange to arrive a couple of days earlier.

    Once on board the ship, you’ll be busy picking up your complimentary expedition jacket, settling into your cabin, exploring the ship and attending a mandatory safety drill. After dinner and a welcome toast by the Captain, you’ll meet your Expedition Team who run through important health and safety aspects with you.

    Day 1
    Colón, Panama

    Gateway to the Panama Canal

  • Day 2
    Panama Canal

    Connecting two oceans

    We depart Colón early in the morning to start the process of entering the Panama Canal. The complex canal network is over a hundred years in the making, stretching 80 km through natural and man-made waterways. We’ll wait with anticipation for our allocated slot to enter the first of a series of huge locks. In a feat of modern engineering, these ingenious locks effectively lift the ship more than 26 metres above sea level. If weather allows, the Expedition Team will be out on deck to point out sites of interest around the canal and to talk about the history of this ambitious project.

    Roughly half way through the 12-hour transit of the canal, the ship will enter the Gatun Lake section. Created by damning the nearby Chagres River, it is one of the largest artificial lakes in the world. By contrast, the surrounding rainforest is virtually untouched by any development and various flora and fauna native to Central America flourish here undisturbed. Along the shores, you might be lucky enough to spot crocodiles and alligators. Scan the trees for glimpses of monkeys and maybe sloths too.

    After a few more locks and lakes, the ship will pass under the Bridge of the Americas and emerge into the Pacific. Passing from one great ocean to another in a day, you’ve just experienced the culmination of centuries of planning, hard work and resourcefulness. It’s sure to be a moment you won’t soon forget.

    Day 2
    Panama Canal

    Connecting two oceans

  • Day 3
    At Sea

    Welcome to the Pacific

    Spend some of your day taking a relaxing walk out on deck, enjoying the seascapes and keeping an eye out for marine wildlife like whales, sea lions and sea birds. If you want to feel closer to the water, go for a dip in the infinity pool or the two outdoor hot tubs, and still be able to admire the scenery.

    This is also a great opportunity to head to the Science Center for lectures with the Expedition Team and to learn more about what you will experience in the following days. Pick your preferred Citizen Science programme to get involved in too, knowing that you will be helping research currently happening around the world. When darkness falls and it’s a starry night, you might also join the Expedition Team out on deck to do some stargazing.

    When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to one of the three restaurants for varied and delicious meals, or find a comfortable seat in the Explorer Lounge & Bar to raise a glass or two with new-found friends.

    Day 3
    At Sea

    Welcome to the Pacific

  • Day 4
    Manta, Ecuador

    Made in Montecristi

    We cross the Equator early in the morning. You can join a traditional ceremony on board where we seek King Neptune’s blessing. If we are lucky, he may even make an appearance before we reach our first call in Ecuador.

    Our main tour of the day will be to the handicraft town of Montecristi located 8km inland from the tuna-fishing port city of Manta. It was established in the 16th century by manteños fleeing the frequent pirate raids on the coast. Montecristi, Ecuador is the actual birthplace of traditional Panama hats, despite the name. The misnomer originates from when President Roosevelt wore one of these hats on a visit to the Panama Canal in 1904, sparking their popularity worldwide. You’ll see many shops throughout the town selling the genuine article in all sizes and shades, expertly handwoven from the leaves of the jipijapa tree by local artisans.

    Aside from hat-hunting, you can spend time browsing the stalls at the pretty plaza, admiring the architecture of the church, or looking at the varied street art. One prominent mural at the plaza depicts General Eloy Alfaro, two-time Ecuadorian President and Montecristi native. You might also have time to head to the top of the main hill where there is a museum and grandiose mausoleum in honour of Alfaro who was also known as the Viejo Luchador or "Old Warrior".

    Day 4
    Manta, Ecuador

    Made in Montecristi

  • Day 5
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    ‘Banana Capital of the World’

    Machala’s main claim to fame is Puerto Bolivar, an important Ecuadorian port for the export of coffee, cocoa, shrimp, and bountiful bananas which the locals call oro verde – ‘green gold’. As part of a choice of optional excursions, you may visit a local banana plantation or try and spot hummingbirds, parakeets and howler monkeys in Buenaventura Nature Reserve to the south. Puyango Petrified Forest is nearby with one of the largest collections of fossilised trees in the world, thought to be about 100 million years old, as old as the Andes Mountains themselves.

    At Puerto Bolivar, you can feast on fresh seafood at one of the many harbour restaurants and enjoy views of the natural mangrove swamps of Isla Jambeli opposite. Machala itself has all the charm you’d expect from a small coastal city, including friendly locals, cute plazas and unusual monuments dedicated to sort-fish and bananeros. The restaurants are evolving and beginning to dabble in the hip modern cuisine which Ecuador and Peru are increasingly known for.

    Day 5
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    ‘Banana Capital of the World’

  • Day 6
    At Sea

    Better Photos

    Enjoy the serenity of this day at sea, relaxing and admiring the scenery from the observation deck or over in the lounge.

    Throughout your journey, the Expedition Team will be running lectures in the Science Center to share their extensive knowledge of the region with you. Topics could include periods of pre-Columbian history, the geology of the surrounding mountains and islands, folklore of local communities, and so on. But not all lectures are confined to indoors. If the ship attracts seabirds who come to fly alongside us, the Expedition Team might also help you spot and identify these feathered followers out on deck. There is also a designated photographer on board who, in addition to taking pictures from our journey together, will be available to help you with the basics of expedition photography.

    Day 6
    At Sea

    Better Photos

  • Day 7
    Salaverry, Peru

    Ancient kingdoms

    Buffeted by the wind and waves of the Pacific, Salaverry can be a hard port to access. If all goes to plan though, it will be a good transit point to explore Trujillo, Peru’s third largest city, as well as an array of archaeological sites scattered throughout the surrounding region.

    Trujillo sits in a fertile valley oasis irrigated by the Moche River. It boasts a colourful baroque 17th century cathedral, 10 colonial churches, and many neoclassical mansions, not to mention one of the longest mosaic murals in the world at the local university. However, it is more than likely that your focus will be elsewhere and on things not so modern.

    The city of Chan Chan was raised by the Chimu Empire which appeared in the region around 900 AD. The vast ruins of the 20-square kilometre complex include the Tschudi temple-citadel and Huaca Esmeralda. On the other side of Trujillo are the Mochican pyramids of the Sun and the Moon which pre-date Chan Chan by a few hundred years. Huaca del Sol in particular is the largest adobe structure on the continent while Huaca del Luna is more detailed with many of its pastel frescos still visible.

    Day 7
    Salaverry, Peru

    Ancient kingdoms

  • Day 8
    Callao/Lima to Quito

    On a high

    We dock in Callao and travel a short distance to Lima airport for your flight to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. After you arrive and the transfer brings you to your hotel, you’ll have the rest of the day to explore at your leisure, with dinner served at the hotel.

    Originally settled by the Quitu tribe in the first millennium, Quito was eventually integrated into the Inca Empire before being refounded in 1534 by Spanish conqueror Sebastian de Benalcásar. Take a walk in the city’s historic centre to see splendidly restored period buildings and colonial-era churches lining the narrow, cobbled streets. You’ll understand why Quito’s historic centre is described as the largest, least-altered, and best-preserved historic areas in the Americas. For those reasons, it was among the first places to ever be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.

    Don’t be surprised if you should feel a little short of breath when exploring the city though. At 2,850 metres above sea level, Quito is the second highest capital in the world after La Paz in Bolivia which is about 650 metres higher.

    Day 8
    Callao/Lima to Quito

    On a high

  • Day 9
    Quito, Ecuador

    Views from the Middle of the World

    Once you have enjoyed your breakfast, we’ll take you to Inti Ñan Museum in the aptly named City in the Middle of the World which claims to be built right on the equator. Here, you’ll see a range of totem poles and observe gravitational effects that can only occur at the equator. You’ll also learn about the traditions of rural life, including the customs and rituals of indigenous Quechua-speaking tribes of the Amazon.

    We then ascend the Teleférico, one of Quito’s most popular attractions that connects the city centre to Cruz Loma hill on the east side of the Pichincha volcano. The ride lasts only 10 minutes, but you’ll shoot up to an altitude of 4,050 metres for an incredible view of Quito, the surrounding valleys and the snow-covered volcanoes. It can get chilly up there so remember to bring something warm to wear!

    When we return to Quito, we’ll have lunch in the charming colonial quarter before enjoying a sightseeing tour of the area. Dinner will be served at the hotel and the evening is spent at your leisure.

    Day 9
    Quito, Ecuador

    Views from the Middle of the World

  • Day 10
    Quito to Galápagos (Baltra/Santa Cruz)

    Arriving at Santa Cruz Island

    You’ll start your day with breakfast at the hotel before we drive to Quito Airport for the flight to the Galápagos Islands (via Guayaquil). When we arrive at Baltra’s airport, our local representative will transfer you to Itabaca Channel where a small ferry brings you to the island of Santa Cruz.

    We’ll travel through a rural agricultural area surrounded by wild landscapes and many different species of flora and fauna. If you are lucky, you might spot a few of the famous finches which inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution. The highlands are one of the best places on the island to observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Easy to spot, they lumber around eating grass and leaves and wallow in the small, muddy rain-formed pools. Younger ones tend to be smaller with shinier carapaces while the larger, older ones wear weathered and worn shells like the distinguished armour of a long life – over 100 years in the wild.

    Once you’ve settled into your hotel in the town of Puerto Ayora, we’ll walk to the nearby Charles Darwin Research Station. The station hosts educational museums on both the history and development of the Galápagos Islands and the range of protections given to this natural heritage. Native giant land tortoises can also be observed here, and the station is the only place in the Galápagos where most of the different species reside at one site.

    The afternoon is at your leisure to explore the small, picturesque Puerto Ayora and its many local arts and crafts shops. See the colourful murals at the churches around town or take a short walk to Tortuga Bay to look for marine iguanas, crabs, and white tip reef sharks among the mangroves. Dinner will be served at the hotel´s restaurant.

    Day 10
    Quito to Galápagos (Baltra/Santa Cruz)

    Arriving at Santa Cruz Island

  • Day 11-12
    Santa Cruz Island

    Galápagos Island Hopping

    After breakfast, we'll begin to explore the islands that have become synonymous with the theory of evolution and hailed as a natural laboratory for natural selection. The range of wildlife on display in the islands is mind-boggling, full of endemic species and subspecies from the wonderful to the weird and everything in between. Over two days, you’ll visit two islands out of a possible six, going to one island each day by boat. Which ones you’ll see will be on the say-so of the park authorities who regulate and assign visitors a month beforehand.

    Will it be Bartolomé Island, famous for the dramatic Pinnacle Rock and the rare colony of Galápagos penguins at its base? Or perhaps, it’ll be North Seymour Island, site of large populations of the hilarious blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and magnificent frigatebirds? Santa Fe Island is known to have some of the most beautiful coves in the archipelago with beaches covered in lounging sea lions.

    Or maybe you’ll go to South Plaza Island where a growing colony of land iguanas roam among the prickly pear cactus trees. Perhaps it’ll be southernmost Floreana Island for the flamingo lagoon and, with some luck, signs of the bright green and red marine iguanas usually found here. Or will it be the largest of all the islands, Isabela, home to a variety of mangroves and more wild tortoises than anywhere in the archipelago?

    It’s clear that whichever two islands you get to set foot on and explore, you’re in for a real treat! You’ll go on walks ashore and learn about the island’s geology, human history, and the exceptionally diverse wildlife all around you. After two days, you’ll understand just why Darwin was so impressed by the islands and why they inspired his world-changing theory.  

    Day 11-12
    Santa Cruz Island

    Galápagos Island Hopping

  • Day 13
    Galápagos Island to Guayaquil

    Return to mainland Ecuador

    After breakfast at the hotel, it’ll be time to make our way to Baltra airport to fly to Guayaquil and from there on to your connecting flight home. But, on the way to Baltra airport, we’ll have just enough time to squeeze in one last stop to see 'Los Gemelos' – a pair of sinkholes often mistaken for volcanic craters in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Keep an eye out for the striking vermilion flycatcher and the endemic short-ear owl of the Galápagos which are often seen in this area.

    With that, your expedition is over. You’ll have journeyed from the marvel of human engineering at the Panama Canal and its complex lock system through to the Galápagos Islands, birthplace of Darwin’s radical biological theory of natural selection and a sanctuary for unique wildlife found nowhere else in the world.

    Day 13
    Galápagos Island to Guayaquil

    Return to mainland Ecuador

Departures

  • 2022
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
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  • Oct
    8 Oct
    9 Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
8 October 2022
9 October 2022

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Possibilities

What's included

Included in your voyage

Land-Programme Galápagos Island after the cruise

  • Economy flight Lima to Quito and Quito to Baltra
  • Two nights in Quito, including breakfast and dinner
  • Three nights at hotel in Santa Cruz Island /Galápagos, including full board
  • Economy flight Baltra to Guayaquil
  • All transfers, excursions and meals as described, including English-speaking guide
  • Galápagos National Park entrance fee

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurants Aune and Fredheim
  • À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm included for suite guests
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

Onboard Activities

  • Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • Citizen Science programme allows guests to assist with live scientific research
  • Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs, infinity pool, panoramic sauna, outdoor and indoor gyms, and outdoor running track
  • Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and preparation for the day to come

Landing Activities

  • Loan of trekking poles and all equipment for activities
  • Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings before landings

Not included in your voyage

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
  • Optional treatments in the onboard wellness and spa area

Notes

  • All planned activities are subject to weather conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please make sure you meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities expected

Ships

MS Roald Amundsen

MS Roald Amundsen

Year built 2019
Shipyard Kleven Yards
Passenger capacity 530 (500 in Antarctica)
Gross tonnage 20 889 T
Length 140 m
Beam 23,6 m
Speed 15 knots

In 2019, Hurtigruten added a brand new ship to its fleet: the MS Roald Amundsen. The state of the art vessel features new and environmentally sustainable hybrid technology that will reduce fuel consumption and show the world that hybrid propulsion on large ships is possible.

Read more about MS Roald Amundsen

MS Fridtjof Nansen

Year built 2020
Shipyard Kleven Yards, Norway
Passenger capacity 530 (500 in Antarctica)
Gross tonnage 20 889 T
Length 140 m
Beam 23,6 m
Speed 15 knots

MS Fridtjof Nansen is the latest addition to Hurtigruten’s fleet of custom built ships – and the next generation expedition ship. She will explore some of the most spectacular corners of the globe.

Read more about MS Fridtjof Nansen

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