Costa Rica/Panama Canal January 2023

Looks like the three cruises this January are nearly sold out...haven't seen any postings from fellow travelers. We'll be on the Jan. 12th trip. Anyone else? Getting excited...


  • My husband and I are on this trip. Arriving in Panama City on Jan 10th, coming from Washington State.

  • We were in Panama in January 2020 (not with Tauck) and came across the Tauck tour a couple of times, both on the water (the Ponant ship) and on the land (the Tauck buses). We were on an excursion from the resort where we were staying and we actually went through the first lock with the Tauck ship. As you can see some of the Ponant/Tauck guests chose to view the canal from the swimming pool (makes me think of British), while lots were on the top deck of the ship.

  • We did this trip a couple years ago. Some bumps, but we enjoyed it. I think British has done it also, but it seems she has gone ‘mute’ for some reason. We miss you British. I can see that she is ‘watching’ but not ‘posting’.

  • Yes, I have read the reviews from British and others from 2019; they are very extensive and helpful. I realize that there were some hiccups in the past - hoping to have a great experience. Trying to view the world with a glass half full...preferably with a good vintage!🍷

  • I'm terribly late to the party, but my husband and I will be on the Jan 12th Costa Rica & Panama trip! We will arrive on the 11th, looking forward to meeting everyone.

  • We will arrive on the 11th as well...looking forward to meeting everyone! Shari and Howard

  • My husband and I will arrive from Pennsylvania on the 10th Looking forward

  • Ronna and Ed Fisher from NJ will arrive late on January 11th. Looking forward to meeting you all on Thursday.

  • I would love to read a report of the tour when you return. We are booked for January 2024.

  • Getting ready for the January 26th departure from Panama, any clothing/“extras” suggestions?
    We’re leaving from Chicago and hoping for some sun!

  • We are on the trip, starting in Costa Rica Feb 15 2023. We are in Florida. Any tips or suggestions? Weather?

  • A number of websites have good weather and climate info for most places around the world. I use WeatherSpark, their info is presented in easy-to-understand text and graphs. You will be much closer to the Equator than in Florida, so expect warmer temps and possibly higher humidity.

  • Just back...I will write a more complete synopsis after multiple loads of laundry. Yes, everything was dirty by the end.

    For's hot and humid, but no worse than parts of Florida in the warmer months. If you're hiking in the rainforest, it's pretty sticky. But on the ship and at the beach, it was relatively breezy, with a few afternoon sprinkles.

    My hottest moments were zip lining. Not the zip part - moving air was a relief. It was the climbing up the stairs and walking uphill in the wooded area that were sweaty. Or maybe it was due to my anxiety! Either way, they rewarded us with big plates of gorgeous fruit and plenty of liquids at the end.

    More to follow...

  • We are also on the trip starting on Feb. 16th in Costa Rica. We will be coming in on the 15th. Any information, tips etc. will be greatly appreciated. Will have a day in San Jose to look about. Where is the zip line? I didn't see anything on that.

  • I think SGF may have done the Costa Rica Bridges land tour which has zip lining. There was no zip line offered on our Costa Rica and Panama Canal small boat tour.

  • Nope. It was the small boat tour, but the zip lining wasn't on the original excursion offerings. The whole excursion thing is quite fluid...we first were waitlisted on a boat thing, then they offered the zip lining. Everything is explained at the briefings, then you can sign up or make changes.

    Bring a pen and paper to those briefings! There is no visual, and no forms. Try to remember (or print) what you signed up for 3 months ago, because they don't give you anything when you're onboard, and I had trouble accessing the confirmation email. Of course, the TDs have records.

    Lots of people make changes...this is a pretty active trip except for the canal crossing and day at sea. Some people cancelled their bookings and just relaxed on the ship.



    We arrived in Panama City after a rocky start - FAA had shutdown air traffic just as we were boarding our flight from NY to Miami. Luckily, it was only a 2 hr. delay and our connection to Panama was equally delayed. As we exited the customs area, Tauck representatives awaited us and we were promptly put in vans, depending on hotel. We were at the Hilton, while others were at the Marriott. In total, there were 5 groups...I am not sure how these were decided. We stayed with our group for all the land activities that were by bus.

    We came in a day early (GOT) and spent the first day touring Casco Viejo (the old city) - $2.50 Uber from the hotel. We mostly walked around and shopped and enjoyed sitting in a cafe having a cold drink. Unfortunately, the Canal museum was closed for 2 weeks for renovations, but we went into the cathedral. Came back to the hotel to get cleaned up for the welcome dinner, which was at the hotel and included the 3 groups that were staying there (around 35 people per group). Open bar followed by a plated dinner with local folkloric dancers. Wonderful to share Tauck stories with our fellow travelers.

    The next two days were spent exploring Panama City, enjoying local cuisine and taking a canal boat cruise (capuchin and howler monkeys!) and touring the biodiversity museum and visiting the Canal Zone where we watched big freighters going through the larger locks. We boarded Le Bellot on day 3.

    The ship: Le Bellot is a relatively small ship ( max 175?) - we were on deck 4 with a small veranda. The stateroom wasn't large - adequate space for storage and a quite small bathroom, stall shower and separate toilet. There's room for everything, but you wouldn't want to hang out there all day. We never ate in our stateroom, although room service was an option. Only one tiny couch for one person.

    I brought 6 strong magnetic hooks which I put on the one usable wall...the rest are wooden. Great for hanging up hats, purses, bags, sunglasses on cords. There is a small cabinet with safe, coffee maker, fridge (always stocked with water, juices, sodas). We were given refillable water bottles.

    Room was serviced 2x/day with turndown in the evenings. Cookies left at night turned out to be gluten free which I needed (but didn't expect - or NEED!). Nice touch.

    Our first morning we went off the ship by zodiac - our only day at the beach, so I spent most of it snorkeling by the coral reef while my husband did the "coconut walk" - a guided tour of the San Blas island. Native Gina Indians were displaying and selling their fabric wares. Very beautiful.

  • SGF,

    Thanks for the very informative review. I was on the Bellot last fall on a cruise of the Great Lakes. We had a very different on-board experience. I am so glad your experiences were different. I won't go into detail since my intention is not to detract from your lovely review.

    Even before our trip ended, Tauck acknowledged our tour fell well short of their standards and took immediate corrective action. It is evident you benefited from those measures!

    Thanks again.

  • kfnknfzk,

    Reading your review of your fall trip on the Bellot, it's clear that our experiences were quite different. I think that the places and timing were most significant in these situations; I'm not so sure that the issues with the ship were so different. While I didn't want to necessarily highlight those problems in my review, they did exist. I tried to use the comment form to underscore these issues to Tauck. Most of the problems seemed to be a result of understaffing. The quality of the food (and fresh produce) may have been better on our trip due to our locale.

    Since this was our first Tauck cruise, we didn't know what to expect. It seemed that Tauck was calling the shots most of the time. Luckily, we didn't have weather or sea problems to influence the itinerary. We also had 4 days off the ship where the 5 TDs coordinated the tours with the groups like a well choreographed dance. It was seamless!

    I suspect that I'm a little more forgiving than some; I hope to have many more years of travel. My husband and I are still working and try to squeeze in at least 1-2 international trips annually. We also travel in the US for business and pleasure. We met mostly older, retirees on this trip - I was so jealous of all their Tauck travels! I admire their ability to roll with the punches, and find the humor in the imperfections of travel. Everyone had stories to share...😀

  • SGF,

    Thanks for replying. We love Tauck and have traveled exclusively with them for many years. I truly believe that our experience was very much an anomaly. We met so many fellow travelers who had taken Ponant European cruises and all of them were in agreement that the Great Lakes cruise, particularly the onboard experiences, were less than ideal.

    We look forward to our three river cruises this year. Warm regards to you and happy travels.

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