Will you be operating voyages for the 2021-22 Costa Rica, Panama & Colombia Season?
We will be operating the following expeditions in Central America for the 2021-22 season, beginning in December:
- Our 8-day Costa Rica and the Panama Canal Adventure program aboard National Geographic Quest
Please note: We are still assessing our 6-day Wild Costa Rica Escape: Guanacaste's Coral Reefs and Volcanic Peaks program. We will communicate shortly about these spring programs.
Do I need to complete entry forms to travel to Costa Rica or Panama?
Both Costa Rica and Panama require a COVID-19 entry form to be completed prior to arrival. Details on this form will be provided to you with your final documents, approximately 2 weeks prior to travel.
Do I need to be vaccinated to travel to Costa Rica or Panama?
Lindblad Expeditions requires all travellers to be vaccinated to travel to Level 3 international destinations as listed on the CDC COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination webpage. For all voyages departing February 1, 2022, or later, all guests regardless of age must be fully vaccinated.
No other vaccinations are currently required for travel to Central America if you travel there directly from the United States. If you are not traveling directly from the United States, please contact the CDC for specific information regarding travel from other countries. The CDC recommends that the normal routine vaccines should be up to date: measles, mumps, rubella (MMR vaccine); diptheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP vaccine); and polio vaccine.
Can I travel to Costa Rica or Panama prior to my expedition?
With the global increase in the Delta variant and breakthrough cases, it is strongly recommended you avoid arriving to the embarkation port early. This is in line with the requirement that all guests take reasonable measures to reduce the risk of exposure and to follow all CDC guidelines five days prior to the voyage. Until further notice, opportunities to explore on your own during an expedition have also been put on hold—all guests will need to remain with Lindblad Expeditions-organized outings that take place ashore.
We will have a limited number of pre-voyage hotels available if guests must arrive early due to flight schedules. We will have post-voyage hotels and extensions available for most voyages.
When do I need to take my PCR test to travel to Costa Rica and Panama?
In accordance with Lindblad Expeditions' protocol, you must have a PCR test administered no more than 120 hours and no less than 72 hours (3-5 days) prior to embarkation. You must submit your test results to Lindblad Expeditions.
Planning Your Trip
What ship travels to Costa Rica, Panama & Colombia?
Travel aboard the National Geographic Quest, which accommodates 100 guests in 50 cabins. There are five cabin categories to choose from.
When do you offer Costa Rica, Panama & Colombia expeditions?
Expeditions are January-March and October-December. Departure dates vary depending on the itinerary.
Can I bring my children or grandchildren?
Children of any age are welcome on our Costa Rica, Panama & Colombia expeditions. We believe sharing an expedition with your kids or grandkids is a life-enhancing experience. Take $500 off the double occupancy rate for each person under 18.
Please note: Lindblad Expeditions requires all travelers to be vaccinated to travel to Level 3 international destinations as listed on the CDC Covid-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination webpage. For all voyages departing February 1, 2022 or later, all guests, regardless of age must be fully-vaccinated.
What are the requirements of children under age 18 traveling with one parent/or legal guardian?
A minor consent form must be signed by the parents or parent not traveling with the child. It is also suggested that the legal guardian of the child sign and have notarized a letter of consent to travel with their knowledge.
Is a medical form necessary?
No medical form is necessary.
Do I need a valid passport?
Yes, you will need a passport that is valid for at least six months after the end of your expedition.
Is a visa necessary?
No visa is necessary for U.S. and Canadian citizens. You will also need a passport that is valid for at least six months after the end of your expedition.
What is the outside temperature?
The weather is generally warm, with daytime temperatures in the 60-70s°F (15-25°C). Springtime temperatures can reach the high 80s°F (29-31°C). In winter, winds and cold fronts can cause temperatures to drop into the 50s°F (10-14°C). At night, temperatures can drop into the 50s°F (10-14°C), so sweaters and jackets will be necessary.
What is included in my expedition cost?
We include just about everything you have the opportunity to do as part of your expedition aboard the ship and ashore. The only items not included are those of a personal nature such as alcohol, internet usage, tips to the crew, wellness treatments, and specialized arrangements.
- All ship accommodations
- All meals and nonalcoholic beverages aboard the ship
- Tips, taxes, port charges, and service charges (gratuities to ship’s crew at your own discretion)
- All shore excursions and sightseeing, entrance fees, and special access permits
- Transfers to and from group flights
- Use of kayaks, snorkeling gear, stand up paddleboards and Zodiac excursions
- Morning stretch classes with our wellness specialist
- The expertise of our expedition team, including talks and presentations Hors d’oeuvres and snacks during nightly Recap in the lounge
- 24-hour coffee, tea, and soda on demand
- Complete pre-journey information, including what to bring and a reading list
We don’t want you to miss out on anything. With Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, all activities and sightseeing are included—from guided walks to museum entrance fees to water activities like kayaking and snorkeling—and you won’t be locked in to a pre-booked excursion. You’ll always have the freedom to pick and choose activities as your day unfolds. After all, these are not scheduled tours, these are expeditions. Everyone is different; every day is different.
What is the time difference on this voyage?
Costa Rica is on Central Standard Time (CST). Panama and Colombia are on Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Are airport transfers included?
Yes, if you arrive and depart on the group flight.
Will I be charged any departure tax at the airport?
No, you will not be charged any departure tax at the airport.
Is it possible to arrange hotel reservations for extra nights through you?
Starting in January 2022, we'll be glad to assist you with arrangements in the cities of embarkation and disembarkation only.
Are extension programs offered?
Select itineraries in Costa Rica, Panama & Colombia offer a pre- or post-trip extension in Panama City and San Lorenzo. Please speak to your Expedition Specialist for details.
Packing And Preparation
Will I need Dramamine or seasickness patches?
The water may be rough at times. If you are susceptible to motion discomfort, you may want to bring preventative medication. Please check with your personal physician for recommendations.
Will I need any local currency?
In foreign ports, a small amount of local currency will be available for exchange aboard ship.
How much cash per person should we bring?
That’s a personal choice. You will be able to use credit cards and personal checks aboard. Unfortunately, we are unable to cash personal checks or traveler’s checks for cash on board. We will also have small, limited amounts of local currency available on board.
What kind of clothes do I need?
Our style is always informal. The relaxed atmosphere of every journey, a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic hallmark, is something our travelers tell us they particularly enjoy. There is never a need for fancy clothing, so our recommendations on your travel wardrobe are all about comfort, practicality, and the conditions in the region you’re exploring. Ship to Shore is our online store, which specializes in the kind of clothing, footwear, and accessory items suited to expedition travel. Some items on our suggested Costa Rica, Panama & Colombia packing list include:
- Short and long-sleeved T-shirts
- Lightweight jacket or fleece
- Pants—jeans, etc.
- Hiking boots or sneakers, plus waterproof shoes for wet Zodiac landings
- Sun hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses
What footwear is a necessity in Costa Rica, Panama & Colombia?
You will need hiking boots or sneakers, as well as waterproof shoes for wet landings. Sturdy, Teva-like sandals might double as both. We recommend closed-toe shoes on board as it can get chilly at night, especially when we’re underway.
What are the National Geographic Quest’s amenities?
A choice of public areas is available for all guests. Our ship features a library; global market, lounge with full-service bar and facilities for films, slideshows, and presentations; observation deck; partially covered sundeck with chairs and tables; and spa. Even the Bridge is open to guests, giving you the opportunity to meet the captain and officers and to learn about navigation.
Heating and air-conditioning
The ship is fully climate controlled, either heated or air-conditioned, depending on the outside temperature.
There are grand view windows in the dining room and lounge connecting you to the outdoors.
National Geographic Quest features an onboard library with a selection of books pertaining to the regions we visit.
For those interested in downloading digital photos aboard any of our ships, there is a digital photo kiosk where you can download your photos to various types of digital media.
Email and internet access are available on board. Your personal email and internet may be accessed from your own device in your cabin or in one of Wi-Fi areas aboard. Charges apply. Please note that when the vessel is in remote areas, satellite email access may not be possible.
Laundry services are available on National Geographic Quest for an additional charge.
Telephone & fax
Satellite telephone calls and fax transmissions are available at an additional charge.
National Geographic Quest has an elevator.
For the comfort of all our guests, smoking is permitted only in designated outdoor areas.
What are the cabin amenities?
Each cabin has its own thermostat, allowing you to control the temperature (heating or air- conditioning) in your cabin.
All cabins face outside with balconies, windows, or portholes. Some portholes may be covered periodically during rough seas.
We supply botanically inspired conditioning shampoo, body wash, and body lotion. If you choose to bring your own shampoo and/or conditioner, we recommend that you bring biodegradable products.
Hairdryers are available in each cabin.
Each cabin is equipped with at least one 110v (American) electrical outlet, which can be used for electric razors, laptops, and other small devices.
The ship is not equipped with safety deposit boxes. Guests are asked to see the purser if they have something that must be kept in the ship's safe, although we recommend leaving valuables at home. All passports are kept throughout the duration of the voyage by the purser.
What is the food like aboard National Geographic Quest?
A great deal of thought goes into what we serve, bringing the regional flavors to your table with local fruits, vegetables, and spices. Meals are served in one open seating in the dining room. Some meals may be served on deck or even ashore on a remote beach. Tables in the dining room are always unassigned to encourage mingling and to ensure you dine with a variety of fellow guests and expedition team members.
Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style, with an array of healthy options including fruits, vegetables, freshly squeezed juices, and homemade breads—choices range from simple to indulgent to satisfy any yearnings. Dinner is served with varied meat, fish, or vegetarian options at every meal. Our sustainable seafood program aims to serve locally caught or harvested fresh seafood. And our baker presents fresh breads and desserts daily to surprise and delight.
If you have special dietary requirements, please let us know in advance and we will gladly accommodate you. Unfortunately, we cannot provide kosher meals but we can provide vegan meals. Meal hours will be posted in your Daily Program.
Do I need to dress up for dinner?
Throughout your expedition, there is no need for formal clothing unless you’re inspired to wear it. The onboard atmosphere is casual and comfortable, and so is the dress code.
Are snacks available during the day and in between meals?
Coffee, tea, soft drinks, and hot chocolate are available throughout the day, as are light snacks.
Is alcohol available on the ship?
Yes, alcohol, considered a personal item, is available for purchase on the ship. You may also be able to have a drink at a local bar during the voyage.
What is Recap?
This is a Lindblad Expeditions tradition, as much a part of the expedition as riding in the Zodiacs. Recaps are generally held each evening in the lounge prior to dinner and include informal presentations by the staff and a lively review of the day’s events involving both staff and guests. At the conclusion of Recap, your expedition leader will review the activity options for the next day.
Is there a gym or fitness center on board?
Conveniently located on the lounge deck, the fitness center on the National Geographic Quest is outfitted with treadmills, exercise bikes, elliptical machines, resistance bands, weights, yoga mats, blocks, and foam rollers. In addition, and as part of our wellness program, our wellness specialist leads light exercise or stretching classes each morning on the sundeck before breakfast. Off-board fitness options include hiking, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, and stand-up paddleboarding. Massage therapy is available aboard for an additional fee.
Is there a spa on board and what treatments are offered?
The vessel is staffed with a wellness specialist and features services that will help you fully recharge. Choose from relaxing full-body, deep-tissue, and focused therapeutic massages; each session is tailored for your needs and preferences. Spa services are available for an additional fee, and you will have the opportunity to sign up once on board.
Can my family and friends contact me in case of emergency at home?
Prior to your departure date, we will provide you with a list of port contacts and phone numbers, indicating how you can be reached in case of emergency. The ship is equipped with satellite communications for internet access, telephone, and fax.
Will I be able to access the internet while on board?
Yes, our ships are equipped with satellite communications for email and internet access, and telephone and fax, for which charges apply. You may access Wi-Fi on your laptop, tablet, or phone to check email, social media, or surf the web, but you may find that the internet connection is not strong or stable enough to support Skype or video chat. If you choose not to travel with a computer, there are internet kiosks available.
Is there a doctor on board?
Yes, there is a doctor on board all National Geographic Quest voyages, and his/her services are free of charge. The doctor is available at any time in case of emergency. Please inquire about the doctor for your individual expedition.
How will I pay my bill for personal items on board?
The shipboard currency is the U.S. dollar. All services and products purchased on board the ship may be paid for by cash, check, or credit card (American Express, VISA, MasterCard, and Discover Card).
Are gratuities included?
All gratuities ashore are included in your expedition cost. Gratuities to crew aboard ship are at your own discretion.
What is the cost of the voyage video created by the video chronicler?
The cost of your video varies according to the length of your voyage.
Can I visit the ship’s Bridge?
Yes, guests are welcome to visit the Bridge to meet our officers and captain and learn about navigation and the extensive equipment located on the Bridge.
When does the ship travel from location to location?
The ship travels at various times depending on the day’s activities. Generally we travel from location to location at night.
Does the ship have a pool?
No, National Geographic Quest does not have a pool.
How will I explore Costa Rica, Panama & Colombia?
Key to our operation is our fleet of Zodiacs, the amphibious landing craft we use to land on remote islands and shorelines that would otherwise be inaccessible. These sturdy inflatable rubber boats are the same craft that Jacques Cousteau used in his expeditions for over 30 years. They are widely recognized as the safest and most versatile small boats afloat. The Zodiacs we use are 19 feet long, powered by outboard engines, and are capable of carrying 12 to 14 people with ease.
Kayaking provides one of the best means for personal exploration. National Geographic Quest is outfitted with a fleet of kayaks for everyone who wants to participate. They are very stable and easy to master for novices and experts alike. Lessons and assistance will be offered for newcomers to the sport, so all interested parties may join in this activity. There is something special about being alone, or with a partner in our double kayak, paddling along a remote coastline.
Undersea tools for exploring
Our ships are equipped with panoply of underwater exploration equipment, including an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) that can dive 1,000 feet below the surface and bring up images to view on LCD screens in the comfort of the lounge. Splash-Cams or hydrophones bring to life the sights and sounds beneath the sea, and our undersea specialists may also dive for a look at marine life. These tools allow us to go further and get closer to nature’s wonders. For more information, see our Tools for Exploration.
Our goal is to ease packing restrictions and provide added comfort in the water, and we provide snorkels, masks, fins, shorty wetsuits, and beach towels on board. To ensure a perfect fit, you may want to bring your own mask and snorkel. In you require a prescription mask, please bring that along. The shorty wetsuits are available in a range of adult sizes: XS, S, M, ML, L, XL, and XXL. Unfortunately, due to storage constraints, we are unable to provide children’s wetsuits, as they often require special fitting and to provide a sufficient range of sizes is beyond our capacity. We advocate the buddy system for everyone at all times. It is highly recommended that children 14 years of age and under be accompanied by an adult and wear an inflatable snorkel vest while snorkeling.
You often refer to the value of flexible schedules. What does this mean to me?
Often the most memorable events are those that are unplanned. That’s why every Lindblad Expeditions- National Geographic itinerary has flexibility built into the schedule. When we’re out visiting towns, time is left open for exploring. So if we happen to encounter a musical group, for example, we’ll have the time to stop and watch rather than having to rush off somewhere else. To get a sense of what these adventurous, open-ended days are like, spend some time reading our Daily Expedition Reports, looking at the destination and time of year that most interests you.
Is this expedition physically challenging? Will I be able to walk unassisted, or is the terrain difficult?
The coastal terrain is generally sandy or rocky. There will be several activity options available on every excursion, including hikes of different difficulty levels based on length and terrain. Our naturalists will describe each hike ahead of time so you can choose the right one for you.
Are there short and long hikes?
Yes, your expedition team always offers walks of varied lengths for different fitness levels and interests. Our wellness specialist may lead a faster-paced walk for those who want more of a workout. Naturalist-guided walking and hiking options will be offered regularly throughout your expedition, as conditions allow. Shorter walks will always be offered.
Would hiking sticks be helpful or just get in the way? Are they even permitted?
Hiking sticks are permitted and may prove to be helpful. There are some provided on board; however, you are welcome bring along your own.
How often will snorkeling will be offered?
We will have one or two snorkeling opportunities.
What is a wet landing?
When you board a Zodiac to make a landing, at times there is shallow water to walk through after you disembark and walk ashore.
Will there be kayaking opportunities?
Yes, our ship is equipped with an onboard fleet of 36 double kayaks—to give our guests the opportunity for personal, eye-level views.
What kinds of photography assistance and learning opportunities do you offer?
National Geographic Quest has a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor aboard every voyage. After all, travel and photography go hand in hand. And with the partnership between Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, it’s natural that photography has become a vital component of our expeditions.
While all of our expeditions offer a full contingent of specialists to give you plenty of options and an in- depth experience—ornithologists, marine biologists, historians, oceanographers, and other experts—our photo team is there to help you take the best travel photographs of your life, whether you’re an interested beginner or a seasoned pro. The photo team can enhance everyone’s voyage with useful tips for improving your images, strategies for being in the right place at the right time, and assistance with using your camera to take the best possible photos.
What is a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor?
Every expedition offers an exclusive service—a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor. This naturalist is specially trained to help with camera settings, the basics of composition, and to help you become a better, more confident photographer, and you'll go home with the best shots ever.
What activities are included/or can be done on our own while on the voyage?
All activities are included: kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, and hiking. You can enjoy personal discoveries on a kayak excursion or while snorkeling.
How do we get to shore from the ship?
By using the gangway when docked at port, or by Zodiac when we land at empty beaches.
What can you tell me about the expedition staff on board?
The 100-guest National Geographic Quest hosts nine naturalists plus an expedition leader—one expert per 10 guests. One of the most important aspects of every expedition is the knowledge of our terrific staff of naturalists, biologists, undersea specialists, photo instructors, and other specialists who provide talks, guidance ashore and daily camaraderie. The staff will greatly enhance your experience, sharing special insights into areas of the world they know intimately.
Will there be talks or presentations on board?
Your expedition team is key to your experience. They not only accompany all your explorations off the ship, they also give engaging talks and informal presentations on board. The state-of-the art lounge is equipped with facilities for films, slideshows, and presentations. Naturalists will share their knowledge and add insight to all you see and do. Our undersea specialist shoots undersea footage and then shows images on flat screens in the comfort of the ship’s lounge, giving you a rare view of the undersea world. Our staff with National Geographic photography certification share their images and offer one-to-one critiques for those who are interested in participating.
What is the role of the video chronicler?
A video chronicler accompanies every expedition. With cameras at the ready 24 hours a day and seven days a week, these talented professionals have just one goal: to capture the essence of your expedition for you. A documentary of your trip will be professionally edited and made available for purchase at the end of your expedition—proof of your intrepid spirit!
Is English spoken on board?
Yes, everyone on our expedition team speaks English. Some are multilingual as well.