Home > All Cruises > Central America Cruises > Explore The Nature And Culture Of Central America’s Pacific Coast

Explore The Nature And Culture Of Central America’s Pacific Coast

  No Ship Reviews No Booking FeesDedicated Consultant
* Port charges, taxes and fees included
 Cruise Length
14 Days
 Cruise Starts
San Diego
 Cruise Finishes
14 Day Explore The Nature And Culture Of Central America’s Pacific Coast Itinerary (Hurtigruten)
Countries Explored: USA Mexico Nicaragua El Salvador Costa Rica
Cruise Line:
No Reviews
Cruise Code


Join us on a fascinating expedition cruise along Central America’s Pacific Coast. Explore off-the-beaten track destinations and beautiful beaches in Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, ending in Puntarenas. Along the way, you’ll look out for incredible wildlife, visit vibrant cities and discover the region’s rich and diverse culture.


Welcome to San Diego, ‘America’s Finest City’. With its heady mix of diverse urban sophistication, laidback surfer vibe, and year-round sunshine, San Diego has it all.

Take your time to have some fun and soak up the sun at one of the many beaches. Or you can take a trolley car tour and explore Downtown, from the historic Gaslamp Quarter to the waterfront of San Diego Bay.

Culture buffs should head straight to Balboa Park, the “Smithsonian of the West”, with 17 museums, art galleries and other performing arts venues. There is exciting foodie culture here, serving up a melting pot of cuisines, local wines and more craft beer flavours than anywhere else in the US.

Your cruise comes with an overnight stay in a centrally located hotel. Feel free to relax and use its amenities before taking in the city’s famed restaurants, bars and nightlife. San Diego has been called ‘the birthplace of California’, and in celebration of new beginnings, it’s a perfect match for the first day and night of your expedition cruise.

After your hotel breakfast, you’ll enjoy some of San Diego’s standout attractions on a guided city tour. You’ll take in the Gaslamp District, the beating heart of downtown San Diego where Victorian-era buildings and modern skyscrapers stand side by side. Visit Old Town, San Diego’s first settlement and the place for food, folklore, and fun. Wander through lush gardens or check out some of the numerous shopping options.

The characteristic curve and soaring sweep of the award-winning San Diego-Coronado Bridge are instantly recognisable. You’ll have excellent views of San Diego’s skyline as you drive over this iconic landmark - have your camera ready. Your hybrid-powered ship MS Fridtjof Nansen will be waiting for you at the Cruise Ship Terminal after your tour.

After you’ve boarded and checked in, you’ll pick up your complimentary expedition jacket and have time to unpack in your cabin. There’s a mandatory safety briefing to attend, but otherwise, you can explore the ship and settle in. After we set sail, the Captain will give a welcome toast, and you’ll enjoy the first of many sumptuous meals as you get to know your Expedition Team.

We wave goodbye to the USA as we sail south along the Baja California coast to Cabo San Lucas. Now’s the time to get to know your fellow explorers better. You can meet with them in the Explorer Bar over a social drink or in the Fredheim bistro over snacks. The crew and Expedition Team will also be on hand and at your disposal, always up for a chat and some friendly banter.

Part of being on an expedition is knowing how to enjoy living in the moment; taking time out to reconnect with nature and the world around you. So settle into a spot in the panoramic Explorer Lounge or out on deck and bask in the sights and sounds that surround you. The waves might be broken by signs of whales known to swim in the area. Or tune in to the hum of the sea breeze punctuated by the cries of a wide variety of seabirds.

Our onboard lecture programme offers up a wide range of exciting subjects for you to learn about. We also support a number of Citizen Science projects that you can join. If the weather allows, you can join our yoga and meditation programme or relax in the Wellness Centre at your leisure.

Situated at the southern tip of Baja California where the Sea of Cortés meets the Pacific Ocean, Los Cabos peninsula is a mixture of desert and coastal landscapes. With its stunning beaches and azure waters, Cabo San Lucas has long been the resort of choice among Hollywood stars and wealthy holidaymakers. It has a reputation as a party town, where you can frolic in the sea all day and enjoy the lively bar scene.

Land’s End, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific, is Cabo’s most recognisable landmark – spectacular jagged granite rocks in the shape of arches, stacks and needles that form the photogenic El Arco. The waters here teem with sea life. Aside from fish, you might see sea lions, rays, and even whales.

Join an optional excursion to El Arco and also visit Baja’s most famous beach, the beautiful Playa del Amor, set in a sheltered bay with pristine waters and perfect white sands. Or go to the cynically named Playa del Divorcio on the other side of Land’s End.

You can also head to downtown Cabo San Lucas to the Museo de Historia Natural to learn about the geology, botany and anthropology of the region as well as the local conservation efforts for dolphins, whales and sea turtles.

Make sure you sample the local Baja Californian specialities too, like almejas chocolatas (chocolate clams), and freshly caught fish and shellfish deep-fried and encased in delicious freshly made tortillas.

Situated along Bahía de Banderas, Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico's premier coastal destinations. The town is vibrant and full of personality, while the beaches and marine life offer plenty of nature and watersport options.

Downtown in El Malecón, the seafront boardwalk buzzes with activity. Stop to admire street performers as you peruse the many stands selling souvenirs and cold refreshments like jalisco tejuino (a regional drink made of fermented corn) and agua frescas.

Look skywards to catch the death-defying dance of the papantla flyers, swinging upside down like a human maypole. Enjoy the music and dancing of friendly locals in the plazas, and maybe join in if the mood takes you.

Puerto Vallarta is a great place to pick up local Mexican handicrafts like colourful bags, silver jewellery, wooden toys and leather goods, but expect to enjoy a friendly haggle.

Check out Isla Cuale, a large open-air market close to downtown landmark the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe or visit Mercado Municipal Rio Cuale, which has 160 stalls and a large food hall serving tamales, tacos, mole, and other traditional Mexican dishes.

It’s now time for a couple of reinvigorating days at sea with no fixed programme. You can relax and admire the scenery from the observation decks or from inside the lounge, go for a refreshing swim, or soothe your muscles in the spa.

If you’re feeling creative, join an art workshop where you can make your own art pieces inspired by your travels so far. Or maybe you’ll spend some time learning the basics of expedition photography from our onboard photographer, who’ll make sure your digital memories will be as vivid as the ones in your head.

Our lecture programme led by the Expedition Team continues in the ship’s Science Center. Stop by for in-depth geological and biological insights.

You can keep active by taking advantage of our Yoga and Wellness Programme. Enjoy early morning mile-long walks on deck taking in the fresh sea air, and join in tension-releasing stretching sessions to strengthen your joints.

Take part in wellness workshops on achieving physical and mental balance by unblocking barriers to your internal energy or let our massage therapists work their magic to soften any aches and strains.

We spend the day in Huatulco, home to nine scenic bays, 36 pristine beaches, sheltered coves, and a range of eco-lodges and beach resorts.

The National Park covers three of the nine bays and several ecosystems including deciduous forest, mangroves, savanna, wetlands and coral reefs. The park is home to over 700 plant species, 130 mammals, 300 bird species, and more than 80 types of reptile and amphibians, making it a dream for nature lovers, birdwatchers and photographers alike.

Optional excursions to explore and experience Huatulco might include visiting Chahué, Tangolunda, Organo, and Maguey bays via romantic catamaran. Or perhaps a coach tour to Conejos Bay, Copalita River, and the arts and crafts museum in the town of La Cruceita.

Another possible optional excursion dives into Mexican culture by visiting three small communities. Step into a communal kitchen in Piedra de Moros to see how authentic tortillas and tamales are made. Tour a prickly pear cactus plantation in Pueblo Viejo and examine traditional edible and medicinal plants in Las Pozas.

We arrive at Puerto Chiapas in Mexico. This is the main port connected to the bustling commercial centre of Tapachula about 30 minutes’ drive inland. The fertile soil of the Soconusco province is famed for producing coffee, bananas, cacao and sugar cane.

Thanks to the region’s reputation for premium coffee and cocoa plantations, immigrant German, Chinese, and French workers flocked here and their influence is visible, especially in the city. Chinese cuisine has merged with regional Mayan, Mestizo, and Spanish cultures and you might find a few fusion dishes have made their way to Puerto Chiapas’ restaurants from Tapachula’s little Chinatown.

Some fascinating optional excursions might be possible from Puerto Chiapas, including a tour of culturally diverse Tapachula itself. The ancient ruins of Izapa are thought to be as ancient as 1,500 BCE and could even be where the sacred Mayan Calendar originated. A guided tour may delve into a series of stone carvings here that depict the fabled Tree of Life.

Another potential optional excursion is the aptly named Chocolate City which offers a glimpse into how locally grown cocoa beans are transformed into the treat we all know, love, and crave!

For an opportunity to spot the likes of pelicans, herons, hummingbirds, storks and turtles, perhaps it’s the optional boat excursion to the nearby mangrove streams and lagoons, accompanied by a professional captain and guide.

We dock at Acajutla, El Salvador’s main seaport to export coffee, sugar and balsam of Peru. Originally a Mayan village, there are hints of its history at ruins near the port. Aside from that, you can enjoy the comfortable atmosphere here, treasure hunting in the shops and strolling the dark sand beaches.

Harbour restaurants will be happy to serve you great seafood and introduce you to typical Salvadoran dishes. Order a pupusa, the national dish of El Salvador; it’s a corn tortilla filled with either cheese, pork or beans and topped with sour cabbage salad and tomato sauce. Don’t forget to try some of the local coffee too. The region is famous for it.

You may also have a number of optional excursions to choose from here. Take in the cities of Sonsonate or Nahuizalco and Ataco found inland from Acajulta. Another possible excursion brings you to Cerro Verde National Park which is 500 hectares of beautiful nature and home to the towering Izalco and Ilamatepec Volcanos. This excursion may also include a visit to UNESCO-protected Joya de Cerén, a pre-Columbian 600 A.D. Maya village preserved in volcanic ash, also known as the archaeological ‘Pompeii of America’.

An hour’s shuttle bus ride from Puerto Corinto is the former capital of Nicaragua, León. With its large student population, León is a cosmopolitan and vibrant city and considered the intellectual and liberal centre of the country. Walk through the streets and immerse yourself in the animated chatter emanating from local coffee houses and bars.

León showcases some of the most elegant examples of colonial architecture in Nicaragua, especially its many churches and squares. Basílica de la Asunción, the largest cathedral in Central America, while the art museum houses one of the best art collections in Latin America.

Léon’s streets tell their own story of the city’s revolutionary history through political street art daubed on walls and the sides of buildings. Colourful Sandinista murals depict scenes of protest, civil war, and portraits of revolutionary heroes like Carlos Fonseca.

For a proper introduction to this nation’s history, a visit to the Museo Histórico de la Revolución is a must. Former revolutionaries act as tour guides providing authentic first-hand commentary of what it was like to live through the different ages. The Museo de Leyendes y Traditiones and the Galería de Héroes y Mártres also offer interesting insights.

Today, you’ll visit the southern Pacific beach town of San Juan del Sur. It’s port is located in a pretty horseshoe bay that has grown in popularity as Nicaragua’s surfing destination hub. This once-sleepy fishing village is known for its dark sand beaches, rolling green hills, colourful Victorian-era clapboard houses, fresh seafood restaurants, and lively surfer lifestyle.

Lie back and relax on the beach soaking up the sun and people watching. A short walk from the town will lead you to a spectacular 1,500-year-old petroglyph, with a carved depiction of a hunting scene on a large rock. Enjoy an hour-long hike up to Cristo de la Misericordia, a towering 25-metre-tall statue of Jesus where you’ll be rewarded with picturesque views over the town and beach.

Your included activity for this day is a bus tour of the city of Granada. Located on the shores of Lake Nicaragua and with views of Mombacho Volcano, Granada is home to some of the finest 16th century colonial architecture in the country. You’ll visit the main square by Central Park and admire the ornate cathedral as well as the Convent of San Francisco. Topping off your tour is a visit to a local school where we plan to drop off donated school supplies.

Alternatively, you could join an optional excursion to Masaya Volcano. The tour bus will take you near to the active volcano’s crater where you’ll likely see steam rising from the fumaroles. There’ll be a stop at Catarina for panoramic views of Apoyo Lagoon and Lake Nicaragua, as well as a handicrafts market.

Your expedition cruise ends in Puntarenas, a city on a needle-like strip of land on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. At one time, Puntarenas was the largest and most prosperous cargo seaport in Costa Rica. Now, the city is more of a transit hub for people travelling to places like the white-sand beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula or the waterfall-rich Tortuga Island.

For Ticos, the nickname for San José’s residents, Puntarenas offers a welcome weekend coastal escape. If you have time, the palm-tree lined oceanfront promenade makes for a pleasant stroll. There are vendors for any last-minute souvenir shopping, and restaurants and food stalls serving some of the freshest and tastiest seafood in Costa Rica.

Why not try the lobster or ceviche? If you have a sweet tooth, then we’d recommend trying a Churchill – the official snack of Puntarenas - a shaved ice dessert with fruit, syrup and ice cream. If you’re wondering about the name, it comes from the fact that the local inventor of the sweet concoction was thought to be the spitting image of the famous British Prime Minister.

Before returning home, why not make the most of your trip and add a Post-Programme to the magnificent Arenal Volcano Area where you’ll join activities to see more of Costa Rica’s beautiful flora and fauna. Or join a jungle boat tour with lunch followed by a night in the capital city of San José. Whatever you decide, we look forward to seeing you again soon.

Life Onboard MS Fridtjof Nansen

MS Fridtjof Nansen
MS Fridtjof Nansen

Step aboard this hybrid-powered expedition ship to explore remote corners of the globe in complete comfort. Read more

Expert Expedition Team
Expert Expedition Team

Your dedicated team deliver an educational onboard program and exciting shore excursions to enrich your expedition. Read more

The Science Centre
The Science Centre

Step into the Expedition Team's headquarters and enjoy specialist lectures and interactive workshops. Read more

A World of Flavours
A World of Flavours

Dine on international dishes and menus inspired by Hurtigruten's Norwegian heritage in the three onboard restaurants. Read more

Embrace 'Hygge'
Embrace 'Hygge'

Feel right at home with a sense of comfort and contentment as Hurtigruten share with you the sentiment of 'hygge'. Read more

Supreme Viewing Spaces
Supreme Viewing Spaces

MS Fridtjof Nansen takes the scenic route, and is equipped with viewing spaces to enjoy the views in any weather. Read more

Play Youtube Video

Availability Click on the cabin prices below to view upgrades and cabin details

Friday 29 Sep 2023
Thursday 12 Oct 2023
Ship MS Fridtjof Nansen
$5,986View Cabins
$7,002View Cabins
$8,180View Cabins
Friday 29 Sep 2023
Thursday 12 Oct 2023
Ship MS Fridtjof Nansen
$7,562View Cabins
$8,833View Cabins
$15,963View Cabins
Tour & cruises prices are per person. Prices shown have savings applied, are subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Prices and trip information are correct at the time at this point in time, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking and are subject to change by Hurtigruten.

Similar Cruises

15 Day Inca History, Colonial Highlights & The Panama Canal (Hurtigruten)

15 Days Colon Valparaiso

Operated By: Hurtigruten

From 7,485
15 Day Northern Lights Expedition Cruise From Dover (Hurtigruten)

15 Days Dover Dover

Operated By: Hurtigruten

From 6,720
15 Day Follow The Midnight Sun (Southbound) (Hurtigruten)

15 Days Stockholm Bergen

Operated By: Hurtigruten

From 7,995