Panama Canal Cruise
Enjoy the wonderful experience of cruising to multiple destinations onboard the luxurious Norwegian Cruise ship, with ample time to relax and enjoy those warm days at sea. Embark in Los Angeles and cruise to Miami with a full transit of the Panama Canal. The 48-mile long Canal, one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, took ten years to build and was one of the most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken. Four years ago was the inauguration of the new expansion project, allowing the new larger Neopanamax ships to traverse the canal. This year we will be transiting these new locks! Get more out of your vacation with our included shore excursions – visit farms growing melons, macadamia nuts, aloe vera, and coffee, as well as city tours and more! This is the relaxing getaway you deserve!
- January 21 - February 7, 2021
Day 1: Flight to Los Angeles
Welcome to Los Angeles! We have arranged a shuttle to provide you a comfortable ride from the airport to your hotel. Here you will check-in to your hotel room and meet your Rupiper Tour Manager. Overnight in Los Angeles.
Day 2: Los Angeles Sail at 3:00PM
This morning we board the NCL Bliss, arriving in time for lunch. Get acquainted with all the luxurious amenities of your new home for the next two weeks! Every evening you may enjoy a professional show, be it a Broadway production, musical talent, comedian, trapeze or juggling act. With NCL entertainment, you’ll think you’re in Vegas! Visit several ports and have unique opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture and view many incredible sights. (B, L, D)
Day 3: At Sea
After traveling and getting yourself settled, you can sleep in and treat yourself to a day of relaxation. Forget the cold of winter – sit by the pool, read a book from the ship’s library, take in a lecture, catch a movie onboard in the ship’s theater or make new friends over your favorite card game. (B, L, D)
Day 4: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 10:00AM – 8:00PM
You will love how close and convenient everything is to Cabo San Lucas’ Pier. Due to the small size, you will access land via tender boats. Easily walk to shops, the market, and several bars and restaurants. Cabo’s signature landmark is El Arco (The Arch), a rock formation at the tip of “Land’s End.” Glass bottom boat rides to see The Arch are available just at the end of the pier. Cabo is the jewel of the Baja Peninsula and is famous for its world-class sportfishing, as well as its high-end resorts and exclusive gated communities that line an area simply called “the Corridor.” Enjoy the day relaxing in the beautiful sunshine. This is a great opportunity to go whale watching, ride a pedi-cab, or take a water taxi to Playa del Amor “Lovers’ Beach.” There is always a variety of things to do in Cabo! (B, L, D)
Day 5: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 12:00PM – 10:00PM
Puerto Vallarta has retained a good deal of its small village charm along with 26 miles of spectacular beaches along the Banderas Bay. Look for a row of Romanesque arches along the waterfront across from the main plaza. Known as Los Arcos, the arches are a symbol of the city. We begin with a short visit to an Organic Coffee Factory before making our way to the internationally acclaimed Vallarta Botanical Garden. Lush tropical forests surround cultivated gardens and conservatories featuring orchids, rhododendrons, bromeliads, magnolias, and many more botanical delights. Mexican plants of worldwide culinary importance such as vanilla and chocolate are grown and interpreted in unforgettably beautiful fashion. Finish the day off visiting a Tequila Distillery and Agave Farm, where you can sample some of their spirits, after learning the process from farm to distillation. (B, L, D)
Day 6: At Sea
Today you may choose to relax by the pool or get involved in one of the many activities offered. It’s all about doing what makes you feel special and expanding your horizons. There are so many things to do on board, like wine tasting, karaoke, ballroom dance lessons, or attend an interesting talk given by one of the guest speakers. It encourages you to go beyond the usual and create an experience that’s uniquely your own. (B, L, D)
Day 7: At Sea
By now you’re feeling a little sorry for your friends back home. Maybe next time they’ll listen to you when you invite them to join you on a trip to paradise! Today you might take in a feature film, sharpen your trivia skills or attend a fitness class. Of course you may choose to do nothing but lay out and enjoy the sun...which is sometimes the best choice of all! Go ahead - live it up! You deserve it! (B, L, D)
Day 8: Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala 8:00AM – 5:00PM
Guatemala is one of central America’s premier coffee growing countries. Visit a coffee farm with an attached museum, allowing you to see the full process. After tasting a sample, you are sure to want to bring back one of their delicious roasts. We also travel to a Macadamia nut farm. See trees producing in the orchard and learn about the harvest, drying process, and the oil extraction that creates a trendy new product used in cosmetics and hair care items. We also make a stop at a local elementary school where young students are eager to smile and welcome you. (B, L, D)
Day 9: At Sea
Enjoy sleeping in and catch a late breakfast. Later you can try a dance class or explore your culinary side with a tour of the main galley. It’s never too late to learn something new or visit with the new friends you have made along the way. (B, L, D)
Day 10: Puntarenas, Costa Rica 8:00AM – 5:00PM
Puntarenas is a lovely seaport town with multi-colored cottages and local markets. Costa Rica is home to Carara Tropical Rainforest, where you will find exotic flora and fauna unique to Central America. Enjoy a drive through the rainforest, stopping at a lofty lookout point. Visit a plantation that grows produce, typically including melons, and find out what farming is like in Costa Rica. Relax on a meandering boat ride, searching for the almighty crocodiles that inhabit the waters. Practice your “Call of the Wild” as we invite local monkeys for a photo-op! (B, L, D)
Day 11: At Sea
As the tour winds down, you realize you only have a few days left to savor the relaxing and fun atmosphere of your luxurious cruise ship. What haven’t you experienced yet? Maybe try your luck in the Casino or sing along in the piano bar. Have you tried the specialty restaurants yet? There is always something to do - day or night. (B, L, D)
Day 12: Panama Canal (Full Transit) 5:00AM - 7:00PM
This is what you have been waiting for... THE PANAMA CANAL! Although built long ago (1904 - 1914), it offers up-to-date movement through the six monstrous locks as you cross the Continental Divide. This year we transit the new locks, courtesy of the $5 billion expansion project finished in 2016. The canal can now handle the much larger neopanamax ships that have become commonplace in the shipping industry. You will want to be on deck for this unforgettable experience! (B, L, D)
Day 13: Cartagena, Colombia 9:00AM – 5:00PM In the beautiful city of Cartagena, we explore the historic Fortress of San Felipe. This near impenetrable fortress was strategically built in 1536 to dominate approaches from every direction and has been boasted as the largest Spanish colonial military fortification on the mainland. While the fortress did fall a handful of times to foreign invaders, San Felipe played no small part in protecting Cartagena against pirates and foreigners attracted to the riches and fame attached to the city. After years of disuse and nature overthrowing the fortress, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1984 and has restored it back to its formidable glory. Just a few minutes away is the Old Walled City, where we head for a stroll through the quaint and narrow streets, gazing upon the fortress walls and balconied houses that are all vivid reminders of the former colonialists. The city’s numerous monasteries, plazas and noble mansions are significant links to this region’s grand past. Snap a photo of the flamingos, monkeys, and parrots at the animal sanctuary before returning to the ship. (B, L, D)
Day 14: Santa Marta, Colombia 8:00AM - 4:00PM
This morning we are welcomed to Santa Marta, the oldest surviving city in Colombia having been founded in the colonial era. Blessed with beautiful terrain and an equally rich history, Santa Marta is most known for being the death place of Spanish Liberator Simón Bolívar, who had dreams of an independent and united South America. Spend the day enjoying the diverse landscape this area has to offer - from the sandy beaches to the snowy Sierra Nevada mountain range. (B, L, D)
Day 15: Oranjestad, Aruba 9:00AM – 8:00PM
Aruba is widely known for its optimistic attitude and great beaches. This small island has limited arable land, with most products being imported. Visit the agriculture base on the island, where they work closely with farmers and ranchers alike to grow and produce crops. Tour an aloe vera farm and factory to see how they filet their aloe leaves and extract this precious material. Have a refreshment at an ostrich farm, where you can get up close and personable with these funny looking creatures, and see the ruins of the once-thriving Bushiribana Gold Mill. Aruba is the place to be! (B, L, D)
Day 16: At Sea
Your friends and neighbors are home surviving the cold! You’re basking under the warm sunny skies of the tropics enjoying five course meals each night, and best of all, no cooking or dishes! Too bad all good things must come to an end. (B, L, D)
Day 17: At Sea (B, L, D)
Day 18: Miami, Florida Arrive 7:00 AM
Today you disembark the NCL Bliss with fond memories and a world of new experiences. Transfer to the Miami airport for your flight home, or stay an extra day in Florida if you’re so inclined…we’ll help with the arrangements. (B)
Round-trip Airfare from Omaha, NE or Sioux Falls, SD
Ask about Airfare from other airports - slight price adjustment possible
Los Angeles Pre-Cruise Hotel and Transfers
Norwegian Cruise Fare including Port Charges and Taxes
All Meals on board Ship (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner)
Full Transit of the Panama Canal
Gratuities for Local Tour Guides and Motorcoach Drivers
Mandatory Gratuities to Ship Staff ($248 per person included)
Special Events and Sights
Included Shore Excursions
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Botanical Gardens with Native Fruits & Vegetables • Tequila Distillery
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala
Coffee Plantation • Macadamia Nut Farm • Elementary School Visit
Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Crocodile Safari Boat Ride • Wild Monkeys • Rainforest • Melon Farm
San Felipe • “Old Walled City” • Exotic Bird & Monkey Sanctuary
Aloe Vera Factory • Ostrich Farm • Department of Agriculture
Testimonials from 2019 Panama Canal Cruise Tour Participants
“Wonderful trip! I think it was planned perfectly, and it met and exceeded our expectations!! Thank you!
- Kathy & Patrick N. (South Dakota)
"The tour manager was very pleasant and went out of her way to make our trip flow smoothly and be interesting. She made the trip more relaxing because all the details were taken care of for us. We enjoyed it all and would go again! We thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We made new friends and had a great time with them. It was a great experience. Looking forward to our trip to Alaska with you in August!”
– Ron & Marlene E. (South Dakota)
“Excellent guides – good English! Great tour and good sized group. A+ really enjoyed the school.”
“The service was great – they always tried to answer questions, if they didn’t know they would find out. It was nice to meet new people and make new friends in the tour group. I liked seeing how other countries lived. The farms were the best visits!”
- Ellen W. (South Dakota)
“Rupiper Tours is Top Notch!! We were very pleased with the quality of our trip. We enjoyed the people on our tour and made many new friends. All the guides had a good sense of humor and were highly motivated to please us. We will travel with Rupiper again!!”
– Bob & Barb H. (Iowa)
“The tour guides were all excellent! Their English was good, they were very knowledgeable, organized, and they answered questions! The drivers were great also, they were careful and kept us safe. We enjoyed all our stops and the Panama Canal! Timing was great for us!”
– Mark & Pat R. (Michigan)
“We enjoyed the entire trip and don’t think we would change anything.”
– Dave & Jo N. (South Dakota)
“All was great!! We couldn’t have been treated any better. The Panama Canal was very interesting, and visiting the schools and villages mad it more personal. This was our first cruise. We had a great experience and would definitely go again.”
– Colleen S. (North Dakota)
“I will highly recommend this tour! I only wish I would have taken part in more of the ship’s activities, because there was so much going on. It was nice to have things to do, even if I was happy relaxing.”
– Larry & Cheryl B. (Illinois)
“Truly enjoyed the whole trip. Cindy was very accommodating to assist.”
– Charles R. (North Dakota)
“The whole trip was excellent. No complaints.”
– Deborah F. (Iowa)
"The guide was very knowledgeable and always available. The tour guides all seemed very knowledgeable and showed us the true flavor of the area. I loved Columbia and going through the Canal."
“Everything was done very professionally. The tours went smoothly. There was not a minute wasted – very efficient. Excellent!!”
- Jim & Marlene E. (Illinois)
Testimonials from 2018 Panama Canal Cruise Tour Participants
"The tour manager did an excellent job on everything. The local tour guides were great! I especially liked the coffee farm - so much more information than we have ever received on other coffee farm visits. Also really enjoyed the bakery in Mexico."
Cliff & Joyce B. (Ohio)
“We feel that activities were well planned and directed. Loved having the reserved evening meal, so we could meet others in our group and get information and schedules for the following day. Brent was an excellent guide for us – We’d probably still be stuck in LAX if it weren’t for his knowledge, patience, and loving guiding. It took a log of these qualities to get us non-fliers to get to where we needed to be. He is a saint! We have highly recommended Rupiper Tours to several of our friends and know they will be as happy as we are if they choose your company. Thanks for the memories!”
- Dennis & Nelann G. (South Dakota)
“From the get-go Brent told us not to worry about anything. If we had questions to be sure and ask, and we did. He had everything under control. Tour guides were knowledgeable and spoke good English. This was our first cruise but felt your company did a very good job with everything. Brent is a very nice young man and very helpful. Better keep him!!! We would travel with your company again. Thank you.”
- Jerry & Susan W. (South Dakota)
“The longer we are on this trip the more we are understanding all you and the Rupiper Company have done to make this trip trouble free. We are very glad to have discovered your organization. We have enjoyed you, our fellow members of this group and the outings we have done. The tours have been enjoyable, entertaining, and enlightening. Thank you so much for your knowledge and concern for each of us. We are very glad we have been with you the last two weeks. We appreciate and thank you.”
“Very happy with the places we went. The tours were excellent! Ship was very good. Would recommend Rupiper to anyone, and if we go on another tour, you would be my first choice.”
- Jim & Maryann S. (Wisconsin)
“I wanted to tell you a HUGE THANK YOU for the trip and all the hard work, taking such good care of us and all the things we did not see you do to make this a great trip for us. We will travel with you again someday. Brent, I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated and admired your gentleness with us and some of the others who need some extra help. This aspect did not go unnoticed by me, it is a rare thing in this day and age to see someone younger be so kind and patient with older people… Kudos to you.”
- Allen & Cheryl B. (South Dakota)
“The tour manager was always there, friendly, and helpful. We really enjoyed visiting the school, and of course the canal. Thanks for the video.”
- Harold & Bonnie D. (Illinois)
"We thoroughly enjoyed Brent! He was very informative and respectful to us, as well as to the people we visited. He listened to peoples' questions and concerns and addressed them quickly and appropriately. Tour guides were great, and they were easy to understand. We enjoyed the ag slant - and definitely would go on another tour with you."
- Ed & Barb T. (New York)
"The tour manager went above and beyond!! Even though the group was scattered on the ship and were not together every day, Cindy had things organized and kept us informed. Our local guides were very accommodating and informative. They made sure to answer the group's questions. All spoke and understood English very well. The narration the day of the canal was VERY Good!!"
- Roy & Trish R. (Nebraska)
"Brent is always very pleasant and available. Enjoyed the whole trip. Any time I called or had a question, everything was handled great."
- John & Nancy E. (Illinois)
"It was a great trip, no problems. We'll enjoy the video and re-live our trip. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour manager, Cindy, she took good care of all of us."
- Linda W. (Oklahoma)
"A great tour all the way! The tour manager is a professional and in any situation she was there to help. This made our tour a success!"
- Dick G. (Minnesota)
"Brent was Spot On!! Very thorough and patient. Knowledgeable and accessible. Everything we need in a guide. Great move to meet daily for dinner. It was so nice to have reservations and not having to wait to be seated. Best thing on the ship was the evening entertainment - thoroughly enjoyed everything in the theater."
- Mike & Linda D. (South Dakota)
"Tour manager was engaging, fun, and took good care of us. All the guides were easy to understand. Really enjoyed your planned excursions and the canal crossing (it's what we signed up for)."
- Ken & Jeannie S. (Minnesota)
"The tour guides were easy to understand and able to answer all our questions. Interesting to hear about their lives also. The tour manager was very personable and knowledgeable. Kept track of everybody. Made the trip memorable. Really enjoyed the coffee farm visit."
- Roger & Gloria H. (Illinois)
"Very good experience. Loved that you helped us fly out of our home airport. Brent did an excellent job. He knew his stuff and was very kind, patient, and pleasant to us and everyone on the trip - especially in areas where some of us needed extra help. Very happy and pleased with all."
- Allen & Cheryl B. (South Dakota)
"The Panama Canal cruise was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We learned so much about the workings of the canal and about life in Central America. Seeing the way people live and work in this part of the world really made us appreciate our own country. The wonderful people we met in the Rupiper group were icing on the cake. The tour manager made it a point to connect with everyone regularly. She kept popping up all over! She was very pleasant and informative."
- Gary & Joyce R. (South Dakota)
Testimonials from 2017 Panama Canal Cruise Tour Participants
"Couldn't have been better! We really enjoyed Columbia. Thanks again for another great trip!"
- Daniel & Zada C. (Texas)
"Guides and motorcoach drivers were all excellent. Brent was always willing to help with any needs and did an excellent job sharing information. Our favorite visits were the farms, schools, and the bakery. The food was beyond excellent!"
- David & Brenda O. (South Dakota)
"The tour manager was wonderful - very attentive to everyone and very helpful. We enjoyed all our tour guides. Everyone was always friendly and helpful. Enjoyed the trip - no suggestions for improvement!"
- Dewayne & Carolyn W. (North Carolina)
"Enjoyed the tour - met a lot of nice people! Enjoyed the coconut farm and plantain farm the most. Good Job!"
- Glenn & Fannie K. (Pennsylvania)
"Tour manager was fun - easy going - helpful - no pressure! All the guides spoke good English and answered questions. The staff was always good - available and helpful."
- Don & Sally A. (Ohio)
"Super job Brent! Thanks for everything!"
- Duane & Jan S. (South Dakota)
"Everything was great! Thanks for the DVD!"
- Ron G. (Pennsylvania)
Testimonials from Previous Panama Canal Cruise Tour Participants
"We want to thank you for all you did to make the cruise so enjoyable. It was a great trip and we really appreciated all you did. We really enjoyed seeing the DVD. We could relive our favorite port, Cabo San Lucas."
- Larry & Maggie C. (Illinois)
"I really liked our stop in Acapulco. All the local guides showed the group interesting locations - we saw the lows of an area and the highs - friendly & considerate. I will continue to travel with Rupipers."
- Don & Jeannette D. (Nebraska)
"Suzanne was very knowledgeable and always available. The tour guides all seemed very knowledgeable and showed us the true flavor of the area. I loved Columbia and going through the Canal."
"Everything was done very professionally. The tours went smoothly. There was not a minute wasted - very efficient. Excellent!!"
- Jim & Marlene E. (Illinois)
“Loved it, ready to go again!! Caught the sailing bug – will be looking into cruising with you again!! Suzanne was SUPER! Will tour with her again for sure! Was always there when needed and with answers. Very organized – made sure everyone knew when and where they had to be.”
- Kevin & Ellen S. (Wisconsin)
“The cruise was total RELAXATION! We completely lost track of time – thankfully Suzanne kept track for us. She was very knowledgeable and sought out answers for our questions. Suzanne was very friendly and welcomed everyone to her cruise ship family.”
- Robert & Phyllis B. (Iowa)
"Received the nice DVD slide show. Enjoyed the Panama Canal Cruise and your tours."
“The ship was very nice, good food, great entertainment. Crew was very friendly, helpful and always making sure we were very comfortable and well fed! Tour group was much fun – great group of individuals! Suzanne was excellent in every aspect, accessible at all hours, informative, fun and organized.”
“One of the better cruise lines. Larry, you and your people do a great job! Suzanne was excellent for the entire tour.”
- Kermit & Carol A. (Iowa)