Paradise in Panama & Captivating Costa Rica

Feb 1-9, 2019  Sold Out

BOOK NOW-  if trip full, then WAITLIST

Seeking adventure with relaxation?   Here’s an unparalleled way to visit two tropical countries only unpacking once in the lap of 5-star luxury!  Our stunning yacht whisks us through the mighty Miraflores Locks and Panama Canal.  The Wind Star sparkles and is so striking next to the old cargo boats, crowds gather to watch us slowly glide through 6 famous locks.  Our past groups loved this cruise so much and after nine years, we present it again with even more exotic places.

It’s so much more than traversing through the Panama Canal – 8th Wonder of the World.  This voyage of discovery includes Puerto Jimenez that looks like Jurassic Park, the mangrove rivers of Quepos, colorful colonial towns and more.  You may have visited these countries before, but we go deep inside.  There’s a bucket list of sights and activities to make this trip extraordinary.  Zodiac boats whisk us to secluded white sand beaches. There’s river floats, sea kayaking, aerial trams, white water rafting, horseback riding in the surf, dolphin watching, nature walks to waterfalls, jungle hikes, craft markets, cooking lessons and even a chocolate farm.

Panama is home to countless UNESCO sites and is a shopper’s Duty-Free paradise. Swim the world famous beaches like Isla Parida Nature Preserve of 50 islands!  We transit the canal in daylight for eye-popping photos and visit the fascinating Mira Flores Locks Visitor Center. 

On to Costa Rice which Nat Geo says holds the most intense rainforest ecosystem on the planet.  It’s home to an abundance of macaws, toucans, sloths, monkeys and much more. We anchor for boat tours into biodiverse Corcovado National Park, Manuel Antonio NP, stunning Golfo Dulce and zip lining over Quepos!  Every day is a new adventure at a new location as we explore one tropical paradise after another.

Others may present this but not with The AFS Difference

  • Our group gets $150 Shipboard credit to spend on whatever you like.
  • Enjoy our private AFS “Meet the Monkeys” tour by riding thrilling speedboats through the Panama Canal and to Lake Gutan with shores filled with great wildlife and primates (they prefer donuts over bananas and may jump into your boat!)
  • We have a bottle of high quality fine wine waiting in your suite with fresh fruit and flowers to start your journey.
  • Onboard you’ll learn much from our expert naturalist Eddie Roblero. We will enjoy an AFS exclusive cocktail party, a champagne welcome reception, AFS Happy Hour mix up, access to the Captain’s bridge, evening entertainment, a Windstar Signature Beach Party and Barbeque Under the Stars…. and MORE!
  • Finally transfers.  The air is easy, but the piers are far from Panama City and San Jose. We offer airport transfers at half the cost of others.

Our elegant yacht the Wind Star raises the bar with ocean view suites, trendy and stellar creations of gourmet cuisines, luxury amenities, and the friendliest crew to make you feel special and pampered. No lines with only 148 guests to befriend. 32 will be AFS… including you!  At the stern is the award-winning Windstar Water Platform for all of you AFS Water Babies. Complimentary splashy fun with floats, boats, kayaks and snorkel gear to experience the wonders of a turquoise sea teaming with marine life.  

Each night at sunset, the billowing sails unfurl with a crescendo of classical music. Windstar ’s renowned “Sail Aways” leaving each port, brings goosebumps to all. Some things only come around once. This is one, so Don’t Miss the Boat come dreary February. Let’s romance the wind together!

BOOK NOW-  if trip full, then WAITLIST


Check out all YOU get!…

  • AFS Group Cocktail Party
  • Private AFS Meet the Monkeys speedboat tour through the Canal!
  • $150 onboard credit for AFS only (extra $100 on Refer A Friend)
  • Half price Airport Transfers AFS only.
  • GTL Carol’s Meet & Greet Happy Hour
  • Access to the Captain’s Bridge
  • Beautiful Sail Away from every port – Get your videos ready
  • Spectacular deck barbecue under the stars
  • Champagne welcome reception
  • All meals in all venues
  • All non-alcoholic beverages, including specialty tea and coffee drinks
  • All onboard entertainment including local performances in most regions
  • Use of fitness facility
  • Fully equipped Water-sports Platform and use of water-sports equipment when anchored weather permitting.
  • Port lectures and briefings
  • Beautifully appointed ocean view stateroom
  • Wine, fresh fruit and flowers in your stateroom
  • Plush bathrobe and slippers
  • Laundry service available
  • Flat screen TV and DVD player


Not convinced yet?  Here’s a must read from Conde Nast Traveler Magazine on why this is the best.

Cruising the Panama Canal
June 15, 2018
"It turns out it's not so hard to create a private, rum-soaked romance aboard a megayacht carrying 148 strangers from west to east through the Panama Canal. The sun was about to set, and my fingers were sticky with pineapple and mango as I boarded a Zodiac to return to our yacht, moored a few hundred yards off 
the Costa Rican coast"... Click to read the entire article

15 Things to Do in Costa Rica

The eco-tourism hub of Central America, Costa Rica’s sunny climate creates the perfect atmosphere for some of the planet’s best gifts – forest fringed beaches, whimsical volcano springs, and conservation areas that preserve a nice percentage of the earth’s biodiversity. The green-covered geography offers opportunities for a wild adventure, whether it is trekking high-altitude routes or experiencing the white-water rapids. And for those who want a more laidback getaway, the stunning landscape and the colorful Costa Rican culture is exciting enough just to experience.

Here’s our curated list of things to do in Costa Rica; pick a few or do them all — it’s your chance to revel in the country’s offerings in different degrees of pleasure.

 Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

BOOK NOW-  if trip full, then WAITLIST

Download PDF Itinerary

Feb 1 – We advise you to go a day ahead to enjoy Panama and not miss the boat.  In your AFS Trip Tips emailed to you, we will present a pre-cruise package trip option that includes air from Miami, ship transfers and hotel, if interested.  Or choose our Group Air, Hotel and Transfer package.   Details below in price.

Overnight at Executive Hotel Panama City

Colon Cristobal Pier Panama Cruise Port

Colon has two cruise terminals:

1.The Cristobal Pier is located in Colon, Panama on the eastern side of the Panama Canal. This facility is now seldom used.

2.Colon 2000 Cruise Terminal – Colon, Panama The Colon 2000 cruise terminal is one of two cruise terminals in Colon and is located within the world’s largest free zone and duty-free shopping area. The terminal building features lounge areas, an internet café, a kind of deserted duty-free mall, restaurants and native craft boutiques. Although Colon is home to this relatively new cruise terminal, Colon remains essentially an industrial area with few tourist attractions.

For cruise passengers, you generally board shore excursions right outside the Colon 2000 terminal. If you take an organized tour, you will board your bus in the parking area just a few yards from the gangway. Otherwise, you have to walk past the parking lot perimeter into the terminal and across the overhead walkway to the shopping center.

Feb 2 –  Our cruise officially starts today as we meet up and transfer from Panama City to Colón, the east coast of Panama, where our stunning sailing yacht the Wind Star awaits!  All onboard by 3 pm. We set sail at 5pm with our first spectacular Sail Away party.

AFS Meet & Greet tonight when you’ve settled aboard.

Feb 3 – Panama Canal

Panama Canal
AFS Solos thru the Canal

Ocean to ocean, the Panama Canal is nearly 48 miles long. We’ll be able to experience the full magnitude of this man-made marvel and we pass through three sets of locks. The locks are wonders in and of themselves, raising and lowering the vessel 85 feet between the calm Pacific Ocean and the shimmering waters of the Atlantic. Our voyage takes place during the daylight hours for optimal viewing of every part of this amazing experience. There are numerous observation vantage points to witness this from the ships exterior, as well as comfortable indoor air-conditioned lounges. Expert onboard commentary enhances your journey as you watch the day to day workings of this engineering marvel. Tour the famous Miraflores Lock & Museum for great photos.

Feb 4 – Balboa/Fuerte Amador, Panama

Balboa/Fuerte Amador is one of the entrances to the Panama Canal and it is also one of the oldest cities in Central America. Founded in 1519, it is a short distance from Panama City. This busy port also holds incredible charm with its colonial homes, the Administration Building, the Goethals Memorial, the Prado, and the local handicraft markets of traditional Panamanian crafts.

capuchin monkey

We have included your own private AFS exhilarating speedboat excursion to Lake Gatun to go searching for wildlife!  These boats will zip us back through the canal. The excursion is called a “Monkey Watch,” but we’ll experience so much more! The lake is a labyrinth of jungle-covered islands teaming with wildlife such as capuchin monkeys, 3-toed sloths, howler monkeys, various kinds of toucans and other bird life as well as caimans, crocodiles, turtles and a wealth of butterflies. We’ll have our own naturalist to help us identify the wildlife and the jungle sounds we will hear.

Feb 5 – At sea

We will spend the day at sea, allowing you to take advantage of all the ship has to offer. There’s a pool and numerous water sports to enjoy, but the Wind Star also includes a spa, casino, and the famous Water Platform to play on! Take a bartending or cooking class or simply relax and enjoy the views of the azure waters. Tonight, we enjoy a private AFS Cocktail Party with the Captain.

CruiseCritic rates Windstar #1 in Water Sports because they offer complimentary water sports straight from the ship.  Experienced sports enthusiasts can borrow kayaks, windsurf boards, Rumba sailboats, and inflatable boats.  Snorkel equipment is free provided free of charge.   You can even bounce on an inflatable trampoline in the open water!

Feb 6 – Isla Parida, Panama

Windstar Signature Beach Party

Be prepared to be dazzled by nature as we spend the day at the incomparable Isla Parida. Located within a Nature Preserve of 50 islands, and part of Chiriqui Marine National Par this lovely island boasts magnificent beaches, one of which is over 1,300 feet long. The crystal clear waters stay at 82 degrees year round and are filled with marine life. There are numerous hardwood trees like teak, mahogany, and eucalyptus, and fruit trees like mango, banana and coconut trees.

In the early evening, we migrate to a secluded Pacific beach where we will be treated to Windstar’s Signature Beach Party. Music and entertainment only add to the ambiance which is only made better by the scrumptious food and delectable tropical drinks.

Feb 7 – Puerto Jimenez (Golfo Dulce), Costa Rica

You won’t know where to look first as we spend an incredible day in the wild and scenic Golfo Dulce, one of Costa Rica’s most biodiverse areas. Here, both the jungle and the sea brim with life. Picture Jurassic foliage growing down steep hillsides all the way to the waterline. Listen for the hoots of monkeys echoing through trees choked by orchids. You can explore the canals by kayak in search of macaws, sloths, butterflies, and incredible bird life, more than you will find in all of North America.

Check this out here –

Feb 8-  Incredible Quepos, Costa Rica

You can enjoy a full day of rainforest adventures, using the former banana-exporting town of Quepos is our basecamp. There’s so much to choose from!  Zipline over the jungle, walk along trails that weave up to waterfalls or ride horseback to a beautiful jungle pool. You could also choose to float through a mangrove swamp populated by monkeys, crocodiles, egrets, and herons…. or take a nature walk through Manuel Antonio National Park, with its pristine white-sand beaches with coral reefs, easy meandering trails, and abundant animal l

So much to see here –

Check out more about Quepos here

Feb 9 – Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

We awake in Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica where we bid out ship goodbye and transfer to San Jose and our flights home.  (Some may choose to tour on own other parts if this fab country.)

Fitness Level Two –  I have no trouble walking and if necessary, can walk for 3+ miles.  Uneven surfaces are not a problem.  I do not need a cane or walking device.

$500 deposit secures your reservation.  More details in AFS Trip Tips for registrants.

BOOK NOW-  if trip full, then WAITLIST

Priced from $2730 plus $175 Port Charges  (price includes $480 taxes)n. pp twin share, we can match you.

  • Cat B – $2730 (188 sq ft, outside cabin, forward, aft, deck one)
  • Cat BX – $2910  (188 sq ft, outside cabin, mid-ship, deck on)
  • Cat A – $2999  (188 sq ft, outside cabin, forward/aft deck two)
  • All cabins are Oceanview Staterooms.
  • If you want higher cabin or suite, please call and we’ll check availability and price.

All Prices PP twin share, we can find a match

Includes:  8-day cruise with all meals, private AFS cocktail party with the crew, all meals onboard, AFS private Speedboat Monkey Tour through Canal, $50 bottle wine with a fruit basket and only for our AFS Waterbabies, $150 shipboard credit (think spa!)  AFS GTL and great naturalist guides.

Not included:  gratuities paid onboard, shore excursions (good ideas on these to come in AFS Trip Tips.)

Optional Pre-trip package $998 + 88 air tax includes international air from  Miami, hotel in Panama, breakfast,  airport and ship transfers to piers in Colon and San Jose.  Limited to 18 people.  To book choose at booking or email your request and we will add it.

AA 4720  Feb 1  MIA-PTY  10:30am-1:33pm
AA 1600  Feb 9  SJO-MIA  1:38pm-5:50pm

Solo sailing schedule

Expert cruisers share why small ships are not the only thing different about Windstar

SEATTLE, July 24, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Windstar Cruises has been ranked first for small ships cruising in Panama Canal and Central America by Cruise Critic in their third annual Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards. Based entirely on consumer ratings and cruise reviews, the awards name the world’s most popular cruise destinations and new for 2018 also highlight the best cruise lines in each region.

Windstar was recognized as one of the best lines in the world, winning Top Cruise Line in Panama Canal & Central America in the Small Ship Cruise Line category.

“We are excited to be chosen as the top small ship cruise line in Panama Canal and Central America,” noted Windstar President John Delaney. “Our goal is to bring guests closer to the pulse of the culture so they can experience authentic moments in every port of call. Our immersive Costa Rica and Panama Canal sailings are a perfect example of how small ships cruise differently. We are thrilled that Cruise Critic cruisers enjoyed their Windstar cruises to these beautiful ports and applaud Cruise Critic for helping consumers better understand which ship and destination will be their best choice.”

Windstar’s Costa Rica and Panama Canal cruises visit smaller harbors such as Quepos and Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica with a multitude of immersive excursions and adventurous tours. The unspoiled sands of Isla Parida, Panama is a favorite in the region where the award-winning line throws a one-of-a-kind Signature Beach Party featured on every sailing with delicious food, complimentary water sports and tropical music. Cruises to Central America also feature an onboard naturalist to teach travelers about the wildlife, flora and fauna of the region. Local entertainment groups come aboard to share colorful cultural costumes and lively music. A full-day transit of the century-old Panama Canal is a highlight on ever itinerary and offers expert narration of the navigation through the multiple locks series, impressive Gatun Lake, under the Bridge of Americas and across the Continental Divide. Windstar is one of the only cruise line’s to offer a Panama Canal cruise crossing in just one week.

All prices arr per person twin share.  Single rooms limited per group and a single supplement applies.  Cost set by hotel/cruiseline and vary considerably.  AFS will find you a roommate match.  Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS.
Land – Price based on a minimum number of trip participants, as well as local currency exchange rates which can fluctuate. We write our Itineraries a year in advance. Though unlikely, we reserve the right to modify schedules, tours and hotels if necessary. All hotel rooms are “run of house.”
Group air – Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and the group is ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until the group air is set or we advise – though unlikely, airlines, times and dates can change!

Pre-trip package $998 + 88 air tax includes international air from  Miami, airport and ship transfers to piers in Colon and San Jose.  Limited to 18 people.  To book choose at booking or email your request and we will add it.

AA 4720  Feb 2  MIA-PTY  10:30am-1:33pm
AA 1600  Feb 9  SJO-MIA  1:38pm-5:50pm

Windstar Sailing Yacht

On any day, our 148-guest Wind Star, draws admiring glances as she glides majestically into port with her tall sails billowing. And her beauty is far more than skin deep.

Starting with all new finishes and furnishings in suites and staterooms, Wind Star brings you some of the most beautiful public spaces at sea.

During their cruise, guests will find the perfect setting for ‘making an entrance’ in the beautiful new reception area – and, appropriately, that’s only the beginning.

When you return to your stateroom, the luxury gets personal. Windstar’s signature bowls of flowers and fresh fruit will still be waiting for you, along with rich tufted headboards, soft seascape colors, beautiful new upholstery, and fine count Egyptian cotton linens welcome you to an oasis of relaxing indulgence.

Everything about Wind Star speaks of welcome. Come aboard and see it for yourself.

Solo sailing panama canal
capuchin monkey
solo travel to costa rice