Most everyone, especially those who love the sea, has some familiarity with the story of the Panama Canal. David McCullough's marvelous book, The Path Between the Seas, is required reading for anyone making this trip. But no amount of reading or watching videos or documentaries prepares you adequately for the real thing. That's why we chose this trip.
We began in Miami's Mandarin Oriental hotel, a splendid accommodation. As usual, the transfer arrangements were well-organized and efficient. We were able to occupy our suite at noon and it was ideal for the transit of the canal with a forward- and side-facing balcony.
The stop at Georgetown was pleasant but unmemorable. Cartagena, with its Fort San Felipe, was excellent. Then came the Canal. Our transit began in the early morning, shortly after sunrise and continued until we finally exited into the Pacific at dusk. The narrator - making her 700th transit! - provided rich detail about many aspects of the canal itself, as well as the flora and fauna, along with anecdotes about both the French effort and the subsequent American success. We had room-service breakfast so as not to miss a moment. This one day made the entire trip entirely successful all by itself.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica, was the next stop with a very enjoyable river cruise - numerous tropical birds and crocodiles.
Other stops - Corinto, Puerto Queztal, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas - provide some interesting sites. All required boarding buses. What we missed on this cruise was the small group option we enjoyed on the two cruised we had on the Explorer.
As with other Regent cruises, the cuisine was excellent in Sette Mare, Compass Rose and La Veranda. We weren't quite as impressed with Prime Seven.
We found the enrichment lectures short on regional relevance.
Many cruisers have commented on Navigator's vibration, particularly notable toward the stern of the ship. It is sometimes noticeable toward the bow, but we did not find it disturbing.
Our cabin, a Grand Suite, was excellent. It was spacious and well-appointed. One note of caution for North American travelers: although there are 110 volt outlets, there are only two of them. We found it helpful to bring along converter plugs that allowed us to plug in electronics to the 220v outlets, which are numerous.
As I mentioned above, the view from the balcony facing forward is a real treat, particularly if you are interested in watching the deck crew manage the bow and spring lines or deploy and weigh the anchor. One modification that would make the balcony really spectacular is to install a baffle between the forward and side areas. The wind across the deck makes sitting on the side area nearly impossible when the ship is underway.
The ship itself is relatively small by today's cruise ship standards: only 490 passengers. But it is perfectly spacious and never feels crowded. The staff are all excellent and cheerful, particularly the stateroom butler and stewards.
All-in-all, a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime trip!
Spacious, comfortable and quiet. Well-supplied and very well tended by the butler and the cabin stewards. The bathrooms (1½) are more than adequate, with the regular bathroom having both a shower and a tub. Abundant, high-quality bath amenities.
The lighting is excellent. North American travelers may want to bring along extra converters or adapters, since there are more 220v outlets than 110.
Bus ride around various parts of Cartagena, including Fort San Felipe.View All 367 City Tour Reviews
Bus to a pre-screened souvenir shop - crammed with zillions of trinkets, some made locally, some imported from China. Went on to a riverboat to cruise down a mangrove-lined canal/river. Both the driver of the boat and the guide had excellent abilities to spot a wide variety of tropical birds and a few crocodiles.View All 35 Mangrove River Tour Reviews
Fairly long bus trip to Leon and its baroque cathedral. A walk through the plaza where hawkers swarmed.
Long bus ride to Ixmiche, a late post-classical period Maya ruin that is slowly being excavated. A remarkable site covering at least 20 acres. The guide was very knowledgeable and informative. The ride both to and fro afforded views of the 3 active volcanos in the western highlands and the utter devastation caused by an eruption in 2018.
Waste of timeView All 71 City Tour Reviews
Didn't take a tour, but went ashore by tender and walked along the waterfront.