Visit a Remote National Park, Learn Tribal Traditions in the Rainforest, and Swim Under a Waterfall on This Central America Cruise – Travel + Leisure

 In Coverage

On an eye-opening stop in Panama, Smithsonian Journeys changed my mind about cruising.

We come ashore with a slosh, the frayed edges of a wave splashing over our dinghy as it pulls into a small cove at the edge of lime-colored hillside. 

Six men wearing beads around their necks beat out a rhythm on drums as I swing my legs over the side of the boat and lurch onto the beach.

My stop here in Panama’s remote Darien National Park is part of a week-long Smithsonian Journeys cruise through Central America aboard Le Bellot, a small ship in the French-based Ponant line. Unlike the cruise I took last year, aboard a megaship with its own carousel, surf machine, and ice-skating rink, this one caters to passengers who would rather absorb lectures about maritime history and biodiversity than participate in a sexy legs contest.

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