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Expeditions

Caribbean and Central America

From verdant volcanic peaks to coral-filled waters, Mayan temples, and exotic wildlife – Central America and the Caribbean have it all

See all expedition cruises

Caribbean and Central America

From verdant volcanic peaks to coral-filled waters, Mayan temples, and exotic wildlife – Central America and the Caribbean have it all

See all expedition cruises
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Cruising the Caribbean and Central America with Hurtigruten

It’s no coincidence why most people’s idea of paradise is based on the tropical land and seascapes of Central America and the Caribbean. Closed canopy rainforests, towering volcanoes, azure skies, and turquoise blue waters teeming with colourful marine life form an exotic feast for the senses.

Through a wide range of land or sea activities, you’ll get closer and spend more time exploring the natural beauty that awaits you. Our ships are much smaller than the big ships usually seen in these parts, allowing you to visit remote coastal communities and hidden island gems.

Immerse yourself in village charm, ancient cultures, and diverse ecosystems of countries like Belize, Costa Rica, Columbia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, and Panama. Indulge your senses with the region's culinary delights, the wide sandy beaches and the endless sunshine.

Caribbean and Central America Travel Guide
  • Beach in Key West, Florida USA
  • Rainforest in Panama
  • Tropical fish exploring a colourful reef in the Caribbean
  • Marine life in Inagua Islands, Bahamas
  • Mayan Temple, Mexico

Photo: Dan Avila and Shutterstock

Reasons to Cruise the Caribbean and Central America

It’s no coincidence why most people’s idea of paradise is based on the tropical land and seascapes of Central America and the Caribbean. Closed canopy forests, towering volcanoes, azure skies, and turquoise blue waters teeming with colourful marine life are just some of the stunning sights that await you.

You'll visit Central American coastal communities — from vibrant, cosmopolitan cities to isolated villages nestled in a gorgeous pocket of rainforest. You’ll visit sleepy fishing towns with soft sandy beaches, ancient Mayan ruins and national parks home to some of the most exotic wildlife on the planet.

Reasons to Cruise the Caribbean and Central America

It’s no coincidence why most people’s idea of paradise is based on the tropical land and seascapes of Central America and the Caribbean. Closed canopy forests, towering volcanoes, azure skies, and turquoise blue waters teeming with colourful marine life are just some of the stunning sights that await you.

You'll visit Central American coastal communities — from vibrant, cosmopolitan cities to isolated villages nestled in a gorgeous pocket of rainforest. You’ll visit sleepy fishing towns with soft sandy beaches, ancient Mayan ruins and national parks home to some of the most exotic wildlife on the planet.

Spectacular Scenery

You might be familiar with the dramatic sights and sounds of the Caribbean and Central America’s jungles from films and wildlife documentaries, but nothing can prepare you for experiencing this in person. And that’s without even mentioning the pristine beaches, lagoons, atolls, reefs, and palm-tree islands this region is so famous for.

Exotic Wildlife

The dense trees and vegetation of Costa Rica's forests alone are home to approximately 5% of the world’s biodiversity. The Caribbean and Central America are a haven for exotic wildlife including iguanas, dolphins, whales, sloths, monkeys, turtles, manta rays, and toucans. Whether you're hiking up a volcano, trekking through a forest, or simply strolling through a botanical garden, you’ll see why this special part of the world is a dream for animal lovers, birdwatchers, and photographers alike.

Active Adventures

Enjoy a range of optional excursions as well as pre or post-cruise adventures to make the most of your expedition here. Take a romantic catamaran tour to the many bays of Huatulco, Mexico. See spectacular coral and colourful fish while snorkelling in Belize’s famed barrier reef. Scan for Basilisk lizards and crocodiles from a riverboat in Puntarenas, Costa Rica before your cruise.

Culinary Delights

As you would expect, the food in this region is as delicious as it is diverse. Sample a pupusa, the national dish of El Salvador – a corn tortilla filled with either cheese, pork or beans. Join an optional excursion to a communal kitchen in Piedra de Moros, Mexico to see how authentic tortillas and tamales are made. We also have to highlight two of Central America’s greatest exports – coffee and chocolate.

Mayan History

Your expedition to Central America will take you into Mayan territory. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about their history in informative lectures from our Expedition Team and on optional excursions to ancient ruins. Whether you’re taking in stunning views atop a carefully restored Mayan temple in Belize or exploring a village preserved in volcanic ash in El Salvador, you will leave with a deeper knowledge of this fascinating civilisation.

Local Communities

The region includes a mix of native customs, immigrant traditions, and Spanish and English colonial influences. Our commitment to sustainable travel also includes forming meaningful relationships with local communities. One of our included activities in Granada, Nicaragua, is a local school visit where we drop off donated school supplies.

Cruises

Caribbean and Central America Activities

With our focus on meaningful exploration, you won't merely trace the Caribbean coastline – you'll be able to go ashore to hike to ancient ruins, snorkel in coral reefs and scan for wildlife in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.

The Caribbean and Central America region is an outdoor adventure playground ripe for exploration. This part of the world caters to nature enthusiasts, thrill-seekers, and beach lovers alike. Choose from various included and optional activities to help immerse you in this tropical paradise.

Caribbean and Central America Activities

With our focus on meaningful exploration, you won't merely trace the Caribbean coastline – you'll be able to go ashore to hike to ancient ruins, snorkel in coral reefs and scan for wildlife in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.

The Caribbean and Central America region is an outdoor adventure playground ripe for exploration. This part of the world caters to nature enthusiasts, thrill-seekers, and beach lovers alike. Choose from various included and optional activities to help immerse you in this tropical paradise.

Shore excursions

Tour volcanos by coach or scenic bays by catamaran. Sample the local culture through cultural performances or cooking classes. Visit ruins and learn about Mayan history. Whatever you choose to do, it’ll add special memories to your expedition.

* Please note that these are optional activities, an additional cost applies.

Kayaking

Calm bays, lagoons, beaches and rugged coastlines are some of the picture-perfect settings for kayaking. It's also a great way to discover remote places that can't otherwise be reached. You also never know what sea life you’ll see — or sometimes even surface right next to you!

* Please note that these are optional activities, an additional cost applies.

Snorkelling

The Caribbean and Central America offer great possibilities for snorkelling. Beneath the surface of the azure water lies a colourful world full of marine life, spectacular coral reef landscapes, and even the occasional submerged shipwreck.

* Please note that these are optional activities, an additional cost applies.

Stand-up paddleboarding

The warm, clear waters of the Caribbean Sea are perfect for stand-up paddleboarding. This activity gives you a unique view of what's under the water and out on the horizon. With only a little instruction, you'll be able to stand on the board while looking at the colourful exotic fish darting in and out of coral reefs beneath you.

* Please note that these are optional activities, an additional cost applies

Landings

Embark on small boats to make landings at sites set in the gorgeous scenery, which are hard to reach and off the beaten track, adding to your sense of discovery when you do. Look forward to exploring smaller, more remote islands of the Caribbean and meeting the local communities that call them home.

Hiking

Picture yourself standing on a hill overlooking the town of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. It's taken you an hour to walk to the colossal statue of Jesus on top, but you're rewarded with panoramic views over the town and beach. Or imagine exploring a vast rainforest in Costa Rica hearing the chirping of exotic birdlife, with a towering volcano dominating the skyline.

* Please note that these are optional activities, an additional cost applies.

Birdwatching

This region is a birdwatcher's mecca. From mountain ranges and rainforests to coastal areas, you can spot hundreds of bird species in pristine, natural surroundings. Scan for frigate birds and boobies from deck, pelicans along the coast, and beautiful parrots and hummingbirds in the jungle.

Lectures

Your expert Expedition Team will be delivering lectures on a range of fascinating topics, such as geology, marine biology, history, photography, ornithology, and many others. This will primarily be in the ship's onboard Science Center, but more informal discussions may occur on deck or even ashore during a landing.

Yoga and Meditation

Our ships offer you the opportunity to participate in yoga and meditation classes, refreshing you in body, mind, and soul. They may be held out on deck, to take advantage of the Caribbean sunshine and balmy sea breeze.

Caribbean and Central America Wildlife

The calls of howler monkeys and the hum of insects create a captivating score that reverberates through the jungle. Flashes of colour from the plumage of toucans and macaws decorate the lush emerald canopy. The strikingly azure waters are teeming with vibrant coral reefs, shimmering fish, sea turtles, and manta rays.

You’ll find the wildlife to be as characterful and fascinating as you can imagine, whether up among the leaves of palm tree jungles or the corals of its warm turquoise waters.

Caribbean and Central America Wildlife

The calls of howler monkeys and the hum of insects create a captivating score that reverberates through the jungle. Flashes of colour from the plumage of toucans and macaws decorate the lush emerald canopy. The strikingly azure waters are teeming with vibrant coral reefs, shimmering fish, sea turtles, and manta rays.

You’ll find the wildlife to be as characterful and fascinating as you can imagine, whether up among the leaves of palm tree jungles or the corals of its warm turquoise waters.

Monkeys

The verdant jungles of Central America make a perfect habitat for monkeys. At least seven species are native to the region. The shrieks of howler and spider monkeys dominate the soundscape of the rainforests in Costa Rica, Belize and Panama. Any time of day, one of these mischievous and intelligent creatures is bound to be hiding in a tree, peering down at you.

Sloths

Unlike their noisy, never-sit-still, treetop neighbours (monkeys), sloths are silent and extremely slow-paced. You’ll see them avoiding anything strenuous, hanging upside down in large-leaved trees, feeding or more likely, sleeping.

Birds

The Caribbean is home to over 700 species of birds, including 171 species that are endemic to the region and found nowhere else in the world. Central America has more than 1,200 bird species. You can look forward to seeing an abundance of birdlife, ranging from beautiful parrots and hummingbirds in the jungle to pelicans and giant condors along the coast.

Dolphins

Several species of dolphins, such as bottlenose, spinner, and the fittingly named common dolphin, can be spotted in the Caribbean Sea. Bottlenose dolphins are frequent companions to our ships and can often be seen from deck. They love to bow ride in the wake of ships and are capable of impressive acrobatics, leaping high out of the water and somersaulting.

Turtles

Six of the seven known species of sea turtle are found in this region. Snorkelling opportunities, perhaps within Belize’s famed barrier reef, will give you a chance to scan for loggerhead, hawksbill and green turtles. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the iconic leatherback turtle in the UNESCO marine sites in Bocas del Toro, a gorgeous archipelago off the Panamanian coast.

Whales

Seeing a pod of whales feeding or sometimes breaching the waters with acrobatic flips is a highlight of every expedition. From July to mid-November, humpback whales migrate from the Antarctic peninsula to breed in the warm waters of Costa Rica. The rock formation at Cabo San Lucas’s tip, where the sea of Cortez meets the Pacific, is a picturesque location to spot humpback whales in an optional excursion.

Tropical Fish

In the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean and Central America, coral reefs teem with a remarkable variety of aquatic life. Over 700 fish species live here, from graceful angelfish to large manta rays. Picture yourself snorkelling in Isla de Providencia’s shallow waters off the coast of Columbia, spotting turtles, octopuses, and starfish constellations amongst the coral.

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