Caribbean Sea – Caribbean Exploration of Keys, Coves and Reefs - Northbound
Ship: MS Fram
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- Explore 7 different countries and two UNESCO Sites in one expedition
- See Mayan ruins and learn more about Mayan history
- Discover tropical paradise islands and atolls, and dive on pristine coral reefs
- Experience intriguing cities like Puerto Limon, Belize, Key West and Miami
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- Day 1 Puerto Limón, Costa Rica
- Day 2 At Sea
- Day 3 Guna Yala
- Day 4 Fort San Lorenzo And Panama Canal Expansion Center
- Day 5 Bocal Del Toro
- Day 6 Corn Islands
- Day 7 Isla De Providencia
- Day 8 At Sea
- Day 9 Cayos Cochinos
- Day 10 Belize City
- Day 11 Lighthouse Reef, Belize
- Day 12 Cozumel
- Day 13 At Sea
- Day 14 Key West
- Day 15 Miami, USA
Puerto Limon was established in 1502 when Christopher Columbus landed here during his exploration of the New World. Today it is a bustling city on the Caribbean coast. If you want to explore the city before the expedition, there are several things to see and do. A significant landmark of Limon is Parque Vargas, a waterfront park bordered by the sea wall. The park is landscaped with palms, tropical foliage and flowering plants, and affords views of scenic coastal rock formations. The port city has one museum of note, the Museo Etnohistoric de Limon, where you can see cultural and historical exhibits relating to the local area. To bargain for souvenirs and local crafts, visit the central market before embarking on MS Fram.
The tropical temperatures invite you to stay on deck. Enjoy the sun or search for wildlife, especially birds. The expedition team starts its series of introductory lectures about wildlife, biology, life in the ocean, and the ecosystems of coral reefs, also known as the rainforests of the sea.
The province of Guna Yala (formally the San Blas Islands) is an archipelago of 278 picture-perfect islands stretching along the north coast of Panama, reaching all the way to Colombia. Home to the Kuna people, who run the islands as an autonomous province with minimal interference from the national government, it’s one of the best-preserved native cultures in the Americas. The Kuna are renowned for creating brightly colored paneled textiles called molas, which traditionally adorn the women’s blouses. While here, you can enjoy kayaking on crystal-clear water or get an up-close view of the diversity of coral below while snorkeling or diving.
Fort San Lorenzo is one of the oldest Spanish fortresses in America, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the 1500s to overlook the mouth of the Chagres River, Panama’s largest and most valuable river, the fort provided an excellent view of approaching pirates and buccaneers. Get an up-close view of the river by small boat or kayak and look for numerous birds in this migration hot spot, as well as other wildlife. Later, you can visit the impressive Observation Center of the Panama Canal Expansion project. This new center offers an exclusive panoramic view of the Panama Canal expansion. Covered decks view Lago Gatún and the locks; there is also a theater with videos in English, exhibits, a cafe and gift shop. Nearby, there is a short rainforest trail, where you may see sloths and monkeys.
Bocas del Toro, meaning 'mouth of the bull,' is a pristine region and home to Panama’s first national marine park, Bastimentos, and Parque Internacional La Amistad, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. Consisting of nine islands and hundreds of smaller islets, you can visit Bocas town with its colorful Caribbean vibe and atmosphere before venturing into the expanse of Bastemintos National Park. Snorkel, dive, or kayak among mangroves and coral reefs, or hike through the rainforest in search of wildlife.
Located 43 miles off the coast of Nicaragua, these beautiful islands have more in common with most Caribbean islands than mainland Nicaragua. The Creole people on Great Corn Island live in colorful wooden houses, and their main income comes from lobster fishing. Experience the bounty firsthand with a beach barbecue.
Little Corn is a tiny island with no cars and a jungle interior to explore on foot. Venture below the water to be rewarded with views of some of the best marine life in in the region.
Providencia is an unspoiled and traditional tropical island. Since it’s almost unreachable for most tourists (no direct connection to the Colombian mainland), it’s traditions and customs remain intact and you will hear English Creole spoken. Enjoy breathtaking scenery, lovely sand beaches, friendly locals, and amazingly clear water that is superb for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. You'll find small cottages, hotels, and cabanas strung along the road, and a delightful handful of restaurants. Visit a local school and tour the island, and enjoy the view of the many hidden bays around the island. Bird lovers will have the opportunity to explore inland, hikers can venture to the highest point, kayakers can explore the coastline, and divers and snorkelers can enjoy the superb underwater life.
Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, housing tens of thousands of marine species. About one-third of all fish species live part of their lives on coral reefs. In addition to their incredible value as wildlife habitats, coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and provide billions of dollars of food and jobs for people around the world. Hear more about what the coral reefs mean to life in the ocean, and other fascinating subjects from our expedition team as we continue sailing north.
An archipelago in the Bay Islands, Cayos Cochinos is a Marine Biological Reserve off the mountainous, northern coast of Honduras and is one of the least disturbed reefs in Honduras Bay. National Geographic writes, "The waters around this collection of coral cays are a marine biologist's dream: protected by the government, off-limits to commercial divers and fishermen, and busy with creatures that may not yet have names." Explore the islands by Zodiacs, then come ashore for nature walks and visit a small village. Kayak along pristine shores, or snorkel and dive among the rocky reefs.
When we arrive in Belize City, there are several options for you to choose from. In Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize, you'll find beautiful beaches, azure waters, the Maya Mountains, and the Pine Ridge. Enjoy a day in this tropical paradise’s laid back atmosphere, discovering spectacular caves, winding waterfalls, virgin tropical rainforest, and hundreds of limestone caves perfect for long walks, bike rides, or snorkeling. You can also choose to travel to Orange Walk and Lamanai on a riverboat. This is a great way to see crocodiles, fruit bats, spider monkeys, and hundreds of different bird species. Known as a street-food paradise, Orange Walk Town has a fine location near the New River, which meanders lazily along the east side of town, and is easily explored on foot. The market area between Corozal Road and Main Street gets going early in the morning, and there are many small shops and restaurants to discover.
Lamanai is one of the biggest and best excavated Mayan sites in northern Belize. The ruins are known both for their impressive architecture and marvelous setting, surrounded by dense rainforest. See the Mask Temple, the High Temple, the Ball Court, the residential area, and the Jaguar Temple. Climb up the High Temple via the original stairway built by the Mayas, and get a spectacular panoramic view of the New River Lagoon and surrounding jungle.
Sailing further north, we reach Lighthouse Reef, an atoll about 50 miles from Belize City. This is the most remote of the atolls in Belize and remains wild and unspoiled. Here, you will find more than 20 world-famous snorkeling and diving sites including the Blue Hole, Half Moon Wall, and the Aquarium. The coral reefs contained within the atoll's lagoon shelter a remarkable 200 species of fish in a magical setting of changing reef types, including shallow reefs, ledges, shelves, and drop-offs. We also offer land-based adventures to Half Moon Cave Natural Monument, a bird sanctuary and the only nesting site in the region for red-footed boobies.
Visit San Miguel de Cozumel, and spend the day or evening ashore in this lively island town, enjoying the restaurants, cafes, and nearby beaches, such as Palancar or Paradise beach. Or take in the island's natural beauty, featuring mangrove trees and cenotes, and swim with stingrays at Stingray Beach.
The Caribbean Sea is more than paradise islands and coral reefs, it is also the site of intriguing history. After Christopher Columbus stumbled across the Caribbean in 1493, Spain claimed the area and searched for treasure. With the Spanish discovery of the Pacific Ocean in 1513, the Caribbean became the main expedition and convoy route. Pirates and warships of rival powers preyed on Spanish ships in the area. Although Spain controlled most of the Caribbean, Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Denmark established colonies on the islands along the eastern fringe. The 1800s brought U.S. ships into these waters, especially when many gold-seekers crossed the sea to reach California via Panama. Completed in 1914, the Panama Canal is a historic feat of engineering that saved thousands of miles of transit around Cape Horn for ships trying to reach the Pacific.
On the unique tropical island city of Key West, the number of experiences you can have in one day are almost unbelievable: visit the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S., take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, go snorkeling on the coral reefs and wrecks, visit Ernest Hemingway's House Museum, or have lunch at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, where Hemingway was known to enjoy a daiquiri or two. Eat fresh, off-the-boat seafood, take a relaxing stroll down Duval Street, listen to a local band, pick up some souvenirs, and witness a world-renowned sunset.
Miami is known for its legendary beaches, Little Havana, Art Deco buildings, and glamour. Take some time to explore the city after disembarking; the fabled nightlife has been one continuous party more or less since the 1960s, making Miami a playground for the stars. Even more intriguing are the vibes from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Europe, influencing the culture, food, and music. Walk along Ocean Drive and gaze at the Art Deco houses, discover urban graffiti in Wynwood, or just enjoy a slice of key lime pie before flying home.
Included in Your Expedition
- Hurtigruten expedition in cabin grade of your choice on a full-board basis
- Wind- and water-resistant jacket
- Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
- Professional English-speaking expedition team that gives lectures and accompanies landings and activities
- Complimentary tea and coffee
Not Included In Your Expedition
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Luggage handling
- Optional Excursions and Gratuities
|Year of refurbishment||2020|
|Length||114 m / 374 ft|
|Beam||20.2 m / 66 ft|
The original Fram was the most famous explorer ship of its time, and the achievements of her expeditions are unparalleled. MS Fram honors the heritage of the original Fram, using the most advanced technology and making her exceptionally well suited for expedition voyages in polar regions.