As the entire world closed a chapter on another year in history, the guests, staff, and crew of National Geographic Quest enjoyed a day of snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, and sunbathing on the island of Coiba off the Pacific Coast of Panama. Coiba Island is part of a protected national park and marine sanctuary, which is a distinction that provides the opportunity for guests to experience a thriving coral reef and secluded islands patrolled by park rangers.

Snorkeling amongst the sea life at Cocos Island was a wonderful activity today. Once we stepped into the water, we were greeted with a surprising amount of warmth from the ocean. Guests boasted all day long that they could stay in this pristine, bathwater-temperature ocean until the next year, and that is precisely what we intended to do. The coral reef city that was revealed once snorkelers geared up and got into the water was astounding. Fish were seen going about their day in their homes, protecting their nests, and feeding on plankton and other creatures in the area. It was an underwater metropolis that was nothing short of spectacular. Many guests were treated to sightings of whitetip reef sharks, Hawksbill and green sea turtles, green moray eels, Cortez angelfish, and a few even saw a huge spotted eagle ray!

When snorkeling was done, we enjoyed an energizing and much needed lunch break aboard National Geographic Quest. Guests had an afternoon full of activities to choose from. For those who didn’t go to the Ranger Station in the morning, it was their turn to experience the serene and peaceful homebase that comes with being a Coiba National Park ranger. At the Ranger Station, our guests paddled out on kayaks or standup paddleboards and were very surprised to find themselves in hearing and viewing distance of a group of a dozen white-faced capuchin monkeys. The capuchins actively chased each other and swung from tree to tree right where the forest met the coastline. These monkeys demonstrated an exciting exhibition of natural behaviors, and guests were lucky to experience it. Some guests were recovered enough from a morning of snorkeling for a three-quarter mile, 400-ft elevation gain hike up to the viewing platform for near panoramic views of the island and its saltwater surroundings.

Even after a day jam-packed with fun in the sun, the crew of National Geographic Quest was determined to make this a New Year’s Eve to remember! Guests enjoyed a cocktail hour filled with hors d’oeuvres and dancing, and a New Year’s Eve celebration was held in the lounge after dinner with a toast from the ship’s captain! Our guests are unlikely to forget this transition from one year to the next, which we spent singing and cheers-ing with friends and family, new and old, in paradise!