Cruise from the Pacific to the Atlantic through one of the greatest man‑made wonders of the world: the ingenious Panamá Canal, an experience nearly unmatchable in its drama and engineering prowess.


  • In Costa Rica, explore lush rainforests, stroll the white sands of coral-fringed beaches, and encounter a vivid array of wildlife, including howler monkeys and 600 species of non-migratory birds.
  • Wander through the Curú National Wildlife Refuge—a unique blend of sustainable agriculture, forest management, and wildlife protection—which is home to the scarlet macaw and the spider monkey, both reintroduced into the wild here.
  • Enjoy opportunities to swim and snorkel in the clear, sheltered waters of Isla Tortuga, teeming with fascinating marine life including angelfish, spotted eagle rays, and sea horses.
  • Stroll through the Historic District of Panamá City—Casco Antiguo—a colonial outpost during the 16th and 17th centuries and a UNESCO World Heritage Site also known as Casco Viejo.
  • Visit the sun-drenched San Blas Islands—a living testament to Panamá’s indigenous Guna people, also known as the Kuna, and their centuries-old language, customs, and culture.

Itinerary at a Glance

February 19Depart gateway city | Arrive in San José
February 20San José | Puerto Caldera | Embark Le Dumont-d’Urville
February 21Curú National Wildlife Refuge | Isla Tortuga
February 22Quepos | Manuel Antonio National Park
February 23Isla Cébaco, Panamá
February 24Panamá City
February 25Panamá Canal Transit | Colón
February 26San Blas Islands
February 27Colón | Disembark ship | Agua Clara Visitor Center (time permitting) | Panamá City | Return to the U.S.

Optional Extension(s)

Pre-tour: Landscapes of Costa Rica
Post-tour: Panamá’s Renaissance

Trip Scholar

Mark Westneat

Mark Westneat is a professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, a member of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology, and the director of graduate studies for the integrative biology program at the University of Chicago. He is also a research associate in zoology at the Field Museum of Natural History. Westneat’s research program focuses on marine and freshwater fishes; the assessment and conservation of coral reef fishes; the biomechanics of feeding, locomotion, and respiration in animals ranging from insects to fishes to birds; and the synthesis of evolutionary trees with biomechanical traits to better understand evolution. His research interests range from biomechanics and functional morphology to phylogenetic systematics and evolutionary patterns in the tree of life. This will be his third trip with the Alumni Travel Program.