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  • Writer's pictureDEAN NELSON (he/him) CRDE, LLD

Explora Journeys - UNESCO Wonders of Colombia, Panama and the Caribbean

Join us on the Explora I as we set sail from Cartagena, Colombia on an extraordinary journey January 11- 19, 2024.

Ship Information EXPLORA I, the first ship on the Explore Journeys fleet, sets sail in summer 2023. Set to redefine the possibilities of luxury ocean travel, EXPLORA I will elegantly carry guests both on and off the beaten path, offering the perfect blend of celebrated and lesser-known destinations. The ocean and its influence sit at the heart of the onboard guest experience — inspired by the very thing that carries us, the sea — a transformative natural force that helps us deliver the unique Ocean State of Mind for our guests. On board, guests can expect vibrant, cosmopolitan relaxed European luxury at sea. EXPLORA I offers 461 ocean-front suites, penthouses and residences designed to be 'Homes at Sea' for our guests with private terraces and sweeping ocean views; an unparalleled choice of 18 restaurants, bars and lounges, each its own celebration of global talents and cultures; four swimming pools, extensive outdoor decks with private cabanas, and refined onboard entertainment and enrichment. For a true sense of rejuvenation, Ocean Wellness offers the gift of physical and spiritual renewal, from a deeply calming spa inspired by the ocean's natural forces, to a modern fitness space full of cutting-edge equipment.

Ask us about our special Pioneer Journey fares and Solo Journey fares.

Itinerary - UNESCO Wonders of Colombia, Panama and the Caribbean

A tale of two cities, Cartagena is a seaside siren who is both heroic and handsome with a well-preserved 15th century fortress (a UNESCO marvel) that staved off plunderers with massive iron cannons that now, ironically, point toward her shining city of modern buildings.

Magnificent marvels continue in Colòn, home to the impressive Gatun Locks and Gatu Dam of Panama Canal as well as the UNESCO site of Fort St. Lorenzo, that once protected the Spanish Crown. Wonders never cease here at the world's second largest free-trade zone, Zona Libre, where virtually everything is sold.

Curacao calms the pace with its UNESCO site harbour that resembles a tropical Amsterdam. Don't miss the adiacent Pietermaai District which is referred to as the "SoHo of Curacao," the likewise hippest borough of New York City. Cosy cafés, chic shops, and pedestrian streets lined with bright, bygone abodes of wealthy shipping merchants.

For the ultimate utopian experience, Bonaire offers unmatched drama: dazzling coral reefs, blue coastal grottoes, flocks of pink flamingos, and cacti that grow to more than 9 meters tall. But its best curiosity may be its massive pyramids of salt that tower up to 16 meters, as goods exported around the world. It's little wonder that salted fish figures into the local cuisine.

In Martinique, we anchor off the Arrondissement of Saint Pierre before the brooding baroque facade of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Port, where ancient cannons atop stoic city walls under the looming shadow of Mount Pelée. In a few steps you can join hiking trails that scale upwards through the clouds to reach the rim of the crater. Our final UNESCO delight is Bridgetown Garrison, that has guarded the prosperous British outpost of Barbados since 1705.

Explora I Map of the 9-Day UNESCO Treasures Below and Above the Caribbean Sea with embarkation at Bridgetown, and port calls in Roseau, Kralendijk, Willemstad, Saint Pierre, Kingstown, disembarking in Bridgetown

Day 1 - Embark at Cartagena, Colombia

Sparkle in this jewel of the Caribbean; the cultured and very colourful Cartagena. Saunter or ride by Segway through a maze of cobbled streets for historic architecture, bougainvillea-dripping plazas, old churches and chic eateries where you'll discover a blend of Caribbean cool and Colombian sophistication. Learn new cooking techniques with a personal chef, birdwatch at the National Aviary, visit botanical gardens, take a cycle tour or head to Turbaco. Roam offshore to Islas Del Rosario for magnificent beaches and snorkelling through colourful coral reefs. And as the sun sets over the ancient city walls, prepare for an intoxicating nightlife scene - in no time you'll be sipping moreish mojitos, nodding to reggaeton and - once really in the spirit - gyrating to the salsa.

Day 2 - Sea Day

Enjoy this day at sea as you travel to your next port of call. This is an opportunity to swim, catch some sun on deck or take advantage of the many activities that are onboard your ship. Eat heartily, take a nap and get ready for the next port of call ! This is what makes cruising so great.

Day 3 - Colón, Panama

Travel through time to one of the world's finest man-made wonders, The Panama Canal. But Colon doesn't just transport tankers or provide a short cut between two oceans; wander through Colonial and Neoclassical architecture in the old town, meet the native Ember Indians in the Chagres National Park and admire spectacular scenery as you gently sail the man-made Gatun Lake. Pass into forested San Lorenzo National Park for ecological bliss, a likely glimpse of sloths or toucans, and the fort that kept pirates at bay. And as you learn of the latest locks for maritime trade, wonder how many more million vessels will surge through these waterways.

Day 4 - Sea Day

Enjoy this day at sea as you travel to your next port of call. This is an opportunity to swim, catch some sun on deck or take advantage of the many activities that are onboard your ship. Eat heartily, take a nap and get ready for the next port of call ! This is what makes cruising so great.

Day 5 - Willemstad, Curaçao

Embrace a slice of Europe immersed in Caribbean heat. Wander through Scharlooweg's pastel colonial architecture, delightful museums and a thriving art scene. Roam glorious beaches with hidden caves, snorkel with turtles and dive through spectacular reefs. Learn how to cook Creole cuisine, walk the town's sun-kissed waterways, explore the prickly Hat Plains and then re-hydrate in ripe aloe plantations. As the heat of the day subsides, drop into trendy eclectic lounges, where friendly locals welcome and the legendary blue curacao cocktail awaits.

Day 6 - Kralendijk, Bonaire

Unwind in the beautiful island of Bonaire, rooted in Dutch heritage. Immerse in a dazzling underwater wonderland where warm cobalt waters make way for blissful swimming, sailing and snorkelling. Inland is just as enticing with pink-hued sands and island cars that bear paradise badges of honour.

Journey off-road through Arawak history, kayak through mangroves and visit saltwater lagoons at the aptly named Goto Lake - where flocks of pink flamingos pose. You'll find a hint of pink tint at every turn - no need for rose-tinted glasses in this paradisiacal place.

Day 7 - Sea Day

Enjoy this day at sea as you travel to your next port of call. This is an opportunity to swim, catch some sun on deck or take advantage of the many activities that are onboard your ship. Eat heartily, take a nap and get ready for the next port of call ! This is what makes cruising so great.

Day 8 - Saint-Pierre, Martinique

Embrace Martinique's natural joie de vivre. Volcanic in origin, Gallic in heritage and Creole at heart; explore old sugar plantations, premium rum distilleries, cocoa farms and St. Pierre ruins at the foothills of the still smouldering Mount Pelée. Chase the Saut Du Gendarme waterfall, explore the 10-million year old Caravelle peninsula, roam northern beach dusky sands and visit Le Carbet made famous by the artist Gauguin. And as you slow down to contemplate the sweet concoction of the national punch, you will understand why the Creole and French blend makes Martinique so magical.

Day 9 - Bridgetown, Barbados

A former English colonial stronghold, Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, will entice you with its unique Bajan flair and centuries-old English style architecture. This Caribbean haven, a favorite for Caribbean cruise-goers, offers plenty of adventurous and tropical excursions that will surely entertain you! Beachside attractions are a must – hop on a catamaran to go snorkleing offshore, plunge the ocean depths in a local submarine, or unwind on the sands of Carlisle Bay. Explore the historical remnants of Bridgetown’s English occupation, including St. Michael’s Cathedral, the Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill, Arlington House Museum, and Chamberlain Bridge. Better yet, sample the island’s best rums made from local sugarcane at St. Nicholas Abbey or Mount Gay Rum. Delight in Barbados’s natural wonders at Harrison’s Cave, the cavernous limestone grotto concealing striking calcite deposits and warm waters. Stroll the verdant walkways replete with hundreds of blooming flowers at Hunte’s Gardens or the Andromeda Botanic Gardens.

Travel to Bridgetown and immerse yourself in this Bajan paradise!

Day 10 - Disembark at Bridgetown, Barbados

Are you ready to experience Explora Journey on an incredible journey of UNESCO Wonders of Colombia, Panama and the Caribbean?

Travel medical and trip cancellation/interruption insurance is recommended.

Are you ready to go beyond? Book your Explora Journey Cruise today. Click here to set up a consultation or to book today.

departuresXdean - an independent agent with Personal Travel Mgmt BC Tour registration #2806, TICO #50025786 proud members of the IGLTA and the Ensemble Travel Group.

Where do you want to go? Click here to contact me.


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