Central America Cruise
Central America is made up of seven countries - Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Cruises to Central America often include ports of call in Mexico and South America as well.
You'll find a wealth of experiences to enjoy with a cruise to Central America, and a variety of different cruise lines offering exciting itineraries showcasing the best of this diverse region. Here at Cruise118, we have a team of expert Cruise Concierge who can help you with every aspect of planning and booking your exotic cruise holiday. Please don't hesitate to give us a call with your cruise questions.
SummaryIt's not another Cancún yet, but Cozumel's days as a rustic divers' hangout are history. Whether arriving by plane or at the island's gleaming ferry terminal, visitors soon realize there's nothing deserted about this island. That has its advantages. It's rare to find such stunning natural beauty, glass-clear aquamarine seas, and vast marine life combined with top-flight visitor services and accommodations, and as a result Cozumel's devotees are legion. Divers sharing stories of lionfish and sharks sit table-to-table with families tanned from a day at the beach club, while Mexican couples spin and step to salsa music in the central plaza. But the elephant in Cozumel's big and bountiful room are the throngs of cruise-ship passengers who take over the countless crafts and jewelry stores along the seaward boulevard downtown any day there are ships in port—which is to say, just about every day. But take just a few steps off the beaten path and this little island offers big rewards. Deserted, windswept beaches, wild and vibrant natural parks, and 600 miles of coral reef are still yours for the discovering. Just 19 km (12 miles) off the coast, Cozumel is 53 km (33 miles) long and 15 km (9 miles) wide, making it the country's third-largest island. Plaza Central, or just "la plaza," is the heart of San Miguel, directly across from the docks. Residents congregate here in the evening, especially on weekends, when free concerts begin at 8 pm. Heading inland (east) takes you away from the tourist zone and toward residential areas of town. Most of the island's restaurants, hotels, stores, and dive shops are concentrated downtown and along the two hotel zones that fan out along the leeward coast to the north and south of San Miguel. The most concentrated commercial district is between Calle 10 Norte and Calle 11 Sur to beyond Avenida Pedro Joaquin Coldwell. Cozumel's solitude-seeking windward side also has a few restaurants and one hotel. Unless you want to stick around your hotel or downtown San Miguel for your whole stay, you'll do well to rent a car or a scooter. Most worthwhile sites, such as the island's Mayan ruins and pristine windward beaches, are only readily accessible with wheels. Taxi fares are astronomical, and after just a few trips a rental car is clearly a better deal.
Costa Maya is the gateway to the Mayan ruins of Mexico.
The specifically created port of Costa Maya is a destination in itself, with multiple restaurants, bars, swimming pools, watersports, shops and market stalls where visitors can buy local crafts from. There is even the Lost Mayan Kingdom Water Park, just a few minutes' walk from the ship.
To see the real lost Mayan kingdom, take a tour out to see the temples and pyramids of Chacchoben in the jungle, just 45 minutes' drive from the port. The pyramids were lost to the world until they were rediscovered in 1931, so are very well preserved and a fantastic way to learn about the ancient Mayan civilisation.
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is a popular resort town in Baja California Sur in Mexico.
It offers a lot for visitors with great beaches, lots of varied marine life and stunning natural scenery nearby.
Nearby attrations reachable by boat are the romantic Lover's Beach and the arch of Cabo San Lucas.
Many local restaurants with delicious Mexican food are available around the port, which is easily walkable from the tender stop.
Puerto Vallarta is a popular and busy resort city in Mexico that lies nestled between the Sierra Madre mountains and a long beach shore on the Pacific Ocean.
It has modern hotel complexes, a stunning long white sandy beach, bustling malecon (boardwalk) and interesting Old Town, which has intricate old churches, squares and fascinating architecture.
It is perfect for adventure seekers, with many activities around the area, plus watersports, luxury and pampering in the resorts and spas, and delicious Mexican cuisine in the multitude of cosy local tavernas.
Mazatlán is known as the 'pearl of the Pacific', as it offers the attractions of wonderful weather, reasonable costs in port, in a gorgeous location.
This rare colonial Mexican town on the coast, has miles of white powder sand beaches, fascintating cultural events year-round and wonderful seafood. Shrimp and lobster are a speciality and recommended to sample ashore for shellfish fans.
Huatulco (Santa María Huatulco)
SummaryAcapulco is a major seaport on the scenic Pacific coast of Mexico, located on a deep semi-circular bay with sandy beaches and blue waters. It was a popular destination for many movie stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood, including Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor.
Santo Tomás de Castilla
SummaryGuatemala's short Caribbean shoreline doesn't generate the buzz of those of neighboring Belize and Mexico. The coast weighs in at a scant 74 mi (123 km), and this mostly highland country wears its indigenous culture on its sleeve and has historically looked inland rather than to the sea. You'll be drawn inland, too, with a variety of shore excursions. This is the land of the Maya, after all. But there's plenty to keep you occupied here in the lowlands. Tourist brochures tout the Caribbean coast as "The Other Guatemala". The predominantly indigenous and Spanish cultures of the highlands give way to an Afro-Caribbean tradition that listens more closely to the rhythms of far-off Jamaica rather than taking its cue from Guatemala City. Think of it as mixing a little reggae with your salsa.
SummaryLocated in eastern Guatemala, Lívingston is a melting pot of surrounding cultures and therefore a rich town to explore. There are seven freshwater pools and waterfalls leading into the Caribbean, these are locally known as Los Siete Altares.
SummaryExperience true Caribbean island bliss, during your time on the immaculate paradise of Roatan, which is the largest of the Bay Islands. This slim island is framed by glorious powdery white beaches, and rich ocean beds carpeted with diverse coral reefs - alive with fish and marine life. Curious dolphins roll through the waves just offshore, while beach dwellers soak up the sun, and enjoy coconut cocktails, beside leaning palm trees. The beaches here are nothing short of dreamy - with wooden piers teetering out over the water, and thatched roofs providing welcome shade, as you dangle your legs towards the water.
SummaryThe town of Trujillo is located in the western Caribbean on Honduras’ gorgeous and dramatic North Coast. Christopher Columbus landed in present-day Trujillo in 1502, during his fourth and final voyage to the New World. The Santa Bárbara Fort was constructed beginning around 1575 and provided protection for the town with its large cannons overlooking the Bay. A town plaza and park are near the fort, as is the San Juan Bautista Church. Experience the culture, the warmth, the hospitality and the seaside charm of this coastal location.
Water Caye, Isla Utila
SummaryThe divine tropical landscapes of Útila are recognised as some of the best in the world with diving a key attraction. The small island is centred around Útila Town with much of the rest of the island being made up of dense wilderness. The rich waters make it perfect for diving with over 80 diving sites located around the island, boasting exotic marine wildlife including the elusive whale shark.
San Juan del Sur
SummaryChristopher Columbus became Costa Rica's first tourist when he landed on this stretch of coast in 1502 during his fourth and final voyage to the New World. Expecting to find vast mineral wealth, he named the region Costa Rica ("rich coast"). Imagine the Spaniards' surprise eventually to find there was none. Save for a brief skirmish some six decades ago, the country did prove itself rich in a long tradition of peace and democracy. No other country in Latin America can make that claim. Costa Rica is also abundantly rich in natural beauty, managing to pack beaches, volcanoes, rain forests, and diverse animal life into an area the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. It has successfully parlayed those qualities into its role as one the world's great ecotourism destinations. A day visit is short, but time enough for a quick sample.
SummaryThis town is not on the Nicoya Peninsula, but rather on Costa Rica's mainland. It is best known as a cruise-ship port and launching pad for ferries heading southeast to the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula and for cruises sailing out on the Gulf of Nicoya. Puntarenas is also a major fishing port with a lively fish market. The town’s reputation suffers from the unimpressive parts you see from your car as you roll through town on the way to the ferry dock. But the town has a lot of character off the main drag, thanks to its illustrious past as an affluent port town and principal vacation spot for San José's wealthy, who arrived by train in the last century. Once the port was moved and roads opened to other beaches, Puntarenas's economy crashed, but it's making a comeback. Sitting on a narrow spit of sand—punta de arenas literally means "point of sand"—that protrudes into the Gulf of Nicoya, the town boasts a beautifully groomed, wide Blue Flag beach with views of the Nicoya Peninsula and spectacular sunsets, along with a public swimming pool, the San Lucas Beach Club, and a marine-life museum. Ticos arrive by bus and car to enjoy the beach and stroll the Paseo de los Turistas, a beachfront promenade lined with tree-shaded concrete benches and seafood restaurants. Crowds of locals, called porteños, cruise by on bicycles, the town’s most popular form of transport.
Quepos (Puerto Quepos)
SummaryQuepos allows tourists to experience a once in a lifetime nature experience in Manuel Antonio National Park without leaving any of the familiar amenities behind. The close proximity of the park, located just 4.3 miles (7 km) to the south, and a wide array of services makes Quepos the perfect place to visit for those who wish to explore this enchanting area. The amenities available include everything from banks, restaurants, hotels, gift shops, bakeries, bars, a hospital, supermarket and even a post office. The area was once dependent on banana plantations which used to line the surrounding area. After disease infiltrated the harvest, interest transferred to African Palms as the prominent crop. Now, tourism has deemed itself the major economic factor, contributing to just about everything in the area. Quepos lures in many tourists for its fantastic sport fishing. In fact, some have come solely to participate in this world class experience and have never left, but besides sport fishing, many other activities are available. Exploring this maze of wetlands by boat is amazing but not the only way to see crocodiles, monkeys, herons, raccoons and more. This small paradise has the perfect balance between nature and the comfort and facilities someone might need.
Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica
SummaryGolfito, is situated along a small inlet of Golfo Dulce. This small port city is a narrow strip along Golfito Bay backed against steep green hills covered with pristine rainforest, with the Golfo Dulce seaward outside Golfito Bay. Surrounded by tropical rainforest, Golfito provides an ideal location to escape from your hectic schedule and enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica with a stunning backdrop of verdant hills and lush rainforest. Follow a trail through the densely forested Golfito National Wildlife Refuge to observe rare flora and fauna, and emerge at a scenic outlook with views of the ocean, also the city has a variety of hotels and restaurants, many of which now provide free wireless Internet service for customers. Golfito was the main port on the South Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in the days when there was little except for the huge banana plantations. To help remedy the resulting economy decrease of the region, the government established a duty-free zone, support and impulse the touristic development.
Curú Wildlife Refuge
SummaryLocated on the southeast tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, the Curu Wildlife Refuge is known for its pristine, white-sand beaches and impressive variety of species ranging from monkeys to sand crabs. In total the refuge covers 3,707 total acres and 656 feet of coastline. Travelers to the Curu Wildlife Refuge will quickly notice that they are in the minority at the site, with only a few people in the area among the abundance of animals and sea creatures. All of your senses will be captivated by this overwhelming amount of wildlife at the reserve, which offers some of the best eco-tourism in Costa Rica. Curu officially received support from the Costa Rican government to protect its wildlife in 1981 and the area officially became known as the Curu Wildlife Refuge in 1983. Today, the refuge is privately owned, extremely-well cared for and even more exclusive than many of the national parks in the country. If you're looking to participate in some of the vast eco-tourism opportunities in Costa Rica, the refuge should be a top priority because of its exclusivity and the ability of visitors to personally interact with the diverse animal population. The refuge also features 17 peaceful trails, where travellers can check out this abundant wildlife in a number of different ecosystems, including mangrove swamps and both dry and wet tropical forests.
SummaryNamed after its turtle-shaped volcanic rock formations, Isla Tortuga is a small island set just off the tip of Nicoya Peninsula’s southern coast. The island offers a unique combination of white pristine beaches, palm trees, red volcanic rocks, verdant jungles and sparkling crystals that line the shores. Sunlight reaches right through the crystal clear waters at Isla Tortuga, making it a sought-after destination for snorkelers and scuba divers. Just east of the island is the Curu Wildlife Refuge offers some of the region’s best wildlife watching, including sightings of capuchin and howler monkeys, river otters, and deer on the ground, and a diverse ecology of underwater wildlife that can be accessed via snorkeling. Most commonly seen species are mantarays, reef sharks, octupus, stingrays, angle fish and spinner dolphins.
SummaryThe provincial capital of Colón, beside the canal's Atlantic entrance, is named for the Spanish-language surname of Christopher Columbus, though the Americans called it Aspinwall in the 19th century.. The city was founded in 1850 by Americans working on the Panama railroad and named Aspinwall for one of the railway engineers. Following completion in 1855, Colon gained in importance, which was furthered by the plans for an isthmian canal. During the time of the French canal attempt, a fire in 1885 burned the city nearly to the ground and left thousands of people homeless. Colon was rebuilt in the architectural style then popular in France. Buildings from that era plus the ones constructed by Americans between 1904 and 1914 are still in use today, although the majority is on the verge of collapse. In addition to its importance as a port, Colon boasts the world’s second largest duty-free zone, known as Zona Libre, which is contained in a huge fortress like, walled-off area with giant international stores. However, most of the merchandise is sold in bulk to commercial businesses throughout the country.
Fuerte Amador is a growing port in the Pacific side of the Panama Canal. It is situated near to Panama City, which is a fascinating mix of old in the Old Town of the city, with charming winding cobbled streets and Spanish Colonial buildings, with balconies and bourgainvillea draping down - and new, with shiny skyscrapers, fantastic shopping and sleek buildings in the new part of the city.
It is located near the Miraflores Locks, where ships can be viewed passing through the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal.
Panama City is the capital of Panama. It is a fascinating mix of old in the Old Town of the city, with charming winding cobbled streets and Spanish Colonial buildings, with balconies and bourgainvillea draping down - and new, with shiny skyscrapers, fantastic shopping and sleek buildings in the new part of the city.
It is located near the Miraflores Locks, where ships can be viewed passing through the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal.
Gatun Lake is a man made freshwater lake to the south of Colón, Panama. It carries ships 33km of the way along the Canal. It was created by building the Gatun Dam across the Chagres River from 1907-1913. It is also the name of the most famous of the canal's locks - the Gatun Locks, which are located at the entrance into the canal from the lake.
Cruise ships sail into the lake on half and full Panama Canal transits. It isn't a port itself, but some ships stop here, where shore excursion tender boats take guests out to explore the lake and area more from a moored point in the lake, before continuing the canal transit.
Local wildlife often be seen from the ship while in the lake.
Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro - mouth of the bull - is a town and province in Panama, located on the southern tip of Isla Colón, in the Caribbean Sea.
It is a fantastic place to visit for nature lovers. To the north, Bird Island hosts the rare red-billed tropic bird. It is home to stunning beaches, including the sheltered Starfish Beach to the northwest and popular surfing spot Bluff Beach, to the east.
Local artisans sell their hand made wares in Simón Bolívar Park in the town centre.
Isla Parida is a beautiful uninhabited island, and the largest island in Panama’s Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park, located on the Pacific Ocean side of Panama.
It was given UNESCO protective status in 1994, UNESCO along with the group of islands in the archipelago that it belongs to, that spans 57 miles.
The island's soft sandy beaches attrack wildlife including seabirds and turtles. The island has interesting ecosystems, with mangrove swamps, marine meadows. tropical forests and 19 coral reefs.
Cruise ships are required to obtain a special permit before visiting the national park and then must anchor in the sea while the passengers are transported by inflatable boats to the wondrous nature.
Cristobal is the port for Colon, on the western edges of Manzanillo Island. It is named after the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, who landed there in 1502.
It is located in Limon Bay, at the southeastern part of Colon city, at the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal.
15,000 cruise ships dock here annually and is is an important seaport for routes across the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean. It is surrouned by high-rise towns and rainforest, home to many species of birds and nine ancient indigenous tribes.
San Blas Islands
SummaryThe San Blas archipelago is located off the Caribbean coast, east of Colon, and is made up of 365 islands that range in size from tiny ones with a few coconut palms to islands on which hundreds of Kuna Indians live. Only about fifty are inhabited. The Kuna rule the San Blas Territory with internal autonomy, and have tightly preserved their language and cultural traditions over the centuries despite influences from European colonies. In addition to their own language, Spanish is widely spoken and many men work on the mainland, but live on the islands. Women wear costumes with unique designs based on local themes, geometric patterns, and stylised fauna and flora. The island of El Porvenir is one of the main seats of government for the Kuna Indians. Many Kunas from the other islands came to settle on El Porvenir, bringing with them their traditional arts and crafts, including the famous molas. These intricately hand-sewn designs are made by the women of the tribes as part of their blouses and dresses. With the increased tourism, molas are now a favoured souvenir and craft item for visitors.
Darién National Park
Darien National Park forms a bridge between North and South America. The park has varied habitats, with rocky coasts, sandy beaches, mangroves, swamps and tropical rainforests with a plethora of wildlife.
Two ancient traditional tribes live in the rainforest.
Portobelo earns its name, which means beautiful. This historic port, founded in 1597 is in Colon province in Panama, near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal.
Colonial Spanish forts and lush vegetation surround the quaint port with small fishing boats in this pretty town that was once the largest colonial Spanish port in Central America, and is why is it now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Pearl Islands in Panama were once only a destination for the rich and famous, but have recently become accessible to others, to experience their natural beauty.
The archipelago off the Pacific coast in the Gulf of Panama has more than 200, mostly uninhabited islands.
The largest island is Isla Del Rey. Favourite islands with tourists are Contadora Island, which has 13 beaches, and Isla Saboga.
The Pearl Islands offer beautiful white sand beaches, scuba diving and whale watching and is popular with nature lovers to see the wildlife.
Balboa (Panama City)