I haven’t posted on this blog for a while because I’ve been on the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Panama Canal aboard the Discovery. This luxurious ship, run by Panama Marine Adventures, offers a truly unique experience.
The ship itself holds a maximum of 24 passengers in 12 cabins, which means plenty of room to stretch out. The photo here is the main deck for lounging, eating, and drinking. You can do plenty of all three since the the rates are all-inclusive. There’s a wall of glass providing panoramic views and decks in several spots for taking it in with fresh air.
Cabins are compact, of course, but well-designed and comfortable, with individual climate controls and a shower with more pressure than my one at home. Cabins are cleaned each day, with turndown service at night.
The itinerary is what really makes this trip special, however. By zodiac launch and kayak we explored the Pearl Islands of the Pacific, went upriver into the Darién Gap to visit the Chocoe Emberá native Americans. After a snorkeling and beach stop in the Pearl Islands again, it was time to transit the Panama Canal. Unlike the hulking cruise ships that go through here though, the Discovery gets to spend the night on Lake Gatun in the middle, anchoring near a Smithsonian research station and then touring the Barra Colorado nature reserve with their guides.
After transiting the other side of the canal, we stayed on the Chagres River (the Caribbean side), spotting lots of herons and a sloth from the motorboats. A few of us paddled along on kayaks and got a closer look, hearing and seeing nothing but nature.
The trip ends up in the bay of Portobelo, a historic town that was once the transit point for most of the gold crossing through the new world and on to Europe.
I’ll post a few more tidbits and photos this week before the full story goes up in our tour feature section. For more info, see the Panama Marine Adventures site.