Eight-Country Cruise from Bahamas to San Diego - Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America

16-Night, Eight-Country Central American Educational Cruise from Institute for Shipboard Education

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16-Night Cruise from Caribbean to San Diego with Educational Workshops and Lectures

The cruise includes:

  • All onboard meals
  • All onboard lectures and most workshops

The Institute for Shipboard Education was born from an idea to create a floating campus that reflected the ideals of the United Nations and the realities of globalization. As Chinese shipping magnate C.Y. Tung put it, “Ships can transport more than cargo—they can carry ideas.” The institute has attracted world-famous guest speakers including Mikhail Gorbachev, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. The Institute for Shipboard Education also administers the study-abroad program Semester at Sea. Today, the cruising university offers Enrichment Voyages for adventurers of all ages, with educational programming that digs deep into each port of call's culture and history.

This 16-night cruise incorporates both lectures and hands-on exploration. Departing from Nassau, Bahamas, the MV Explorer stops in the Dominican Republic and Colombia before heading through the Panama Canal. After transitioning from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, the cruise visits Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico before ending in San Diego.

Below, we've outlined some suggestions for each port of call; click here to see a full itinerary.

December 21: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

After departing from Nassau, Bahamas, the cruise heads south to Santo Domingo, considered the oldest city in the New World. Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial reflects the city's rich history and its vibrant contemporary culture. Here, you can see the 16th-century palace where Christopher Columbus's son once lived. Along the cobblestone streets, there are art galleries and vendors selling handmade goods, cigars, and insects encased in Dominican amber.

December 23: Cartagena, Colombia

The next port of call is Cartagena, Colombia, which Lonely Planet describes as “a fairy-tale city of romance, legends, and sheer beauty.” Walls up to 60 feet thick surround the city as a former defense from pirates. In the Old Town area, you can see a massive 16th-century stone fortress and the Cartagena Gold Museum, which features 2,000-year-old pottery and gold artifacts.

December 26: Puntarenas, Costa Rica

The cruise passes through the Panama Canal en route to Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Located on the country's western coast, Puntarenas draws tourists for its beaches along the Gulf of Nicoya. Farther inland, the landscape gives way to old-growth rainforests and volcanic craters.

December 28: Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

Next, you'll stop at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. Many people use Puerto Quetzal as a jumping-off point to the historic Guatemalan capital of Antigua, which is about an hour’s drive north. Surrounded by volcanic mountains, Antigua boasts a large collection of Spanish Colonial architecture, including the 18th-century Iglesia de La Merced, a baroque church with two bell towers.

December 31: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

As the cruise heads toward San Diego, you'll stop off at Puerto Vallarta. One of Mexico's top destinations, the resort city has pristine beaches that overlook the Bay of Banderas. The city buzzes with activity, from its sculpture-lined boardwalk to its late-night discotheques.

January 1: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Spend the last leg of the cruise taking in the sights and sounds of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Witness the postcard-worthy sight of El Arco, a 200-foot granite arch that rises out of the Pacific Ocean and once served as a hiding place for pirates playing hide-and-seek. After Cabo, you’ll head to San Diego, where the cruise ends on January 3.

What You Get

16-night, eight-country enrichment cruise for one from 12/18/13 to 1/3/14. Valid for a Travel with a Friend package (two Groupons required), or pay a fee to travel solo. Read about package structures here.

  • Option 1: $1,399 per person for an economy cabin (up to a $2,349 value)
  • Option 2: $1,599 per person for an inside cabin (up to a $2,949 value)
  • Option 3: $2,099 per person for an outside cabin (up to a $3,899 value)

Policies and Fees

Book by: 11/1/13

To Travel Solo:

  • Option 1: $2,098.50 total ($1,399 + $699.50 fee)
  • Option 2: $2,398.50 total ($1,599 + $799.50 fee)
  • Option 3: $3,148.50 total ($2,099 + $1,049.50 fee)

  • Cancellation policy and fees: 91-day cancellation notice required in writing or fee of 25% Groupon price applies; 61-day notice or 1/2 of Groupon price; 31-day notice or fee of Groupon price
  • Additional fees: $280 in port fees and up to $9 per day per person in fuel surcharge not included

Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.


  • Several dining options
  • Swimming pool
  • 9,000-volume library
  • Wireless Internet
22 Questions

The Fine Print

  • Book by 11/1/13 or promo value expires
  • Embark 12/18/13
  • Valid only for option bought
  • Reservation required
  • 91-day cancel req'd in writing or fee of 25% Groupon price applies; 61-day notice or 1/2 Groupon price applies; 31-day notice or Groupon price applies
  • Must be 18+ to check in and 2+ to stay
  • CC req'd at check-in
  • Passport req'd
  • Not valid w/ reward points
  • $280 port fee & possible fuel fee up to $9/day not included & due at booking
  • Fee of 1/2 Groupon price for traveling alone; may opt for room matching.
  • Merchant is solely responsible to purchasers for the care and quality of the advertised goods and services.

Other Details

Room Details

All Cabins

  • Two twin beds
  • Standard occupancy: 2
  • Maximum occupancy: 2–4 on a case-by-case basis during reservations, based on availability
  • Adding occupants above standard: in a limited number of cabins, each additional occupant 17 or older may be added for $795 per trip plus $280 in port fees; each additional occupant 16 or younger may be added for $395 per trip plus $280 in port fees

Hotel Policies

  • Rollaways: not available
  • Smoking policy: no smoking allowed inside the cabins; smoking restricted to designated areas
  • Pet policy: pets are not allowed onboard.
  • Accessibility: handicap-accessible cabins are available upon request during booking.
  • Room upgrades: guests can pay a single-supplement fee to stay in a single-occupancy cabin.

Getting There

  • Beginning airport: Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS)
  • Beginning port: Nassau, Bahamas
  • Final port: San Diego, California
  • Final airport: San Diego International Airport (SAN)

Traveler's Tips

  • A passport is required for all travel outside the U.S.
  • Before international travel, always check the State Department's website for important info on the destination and its entry/exit requirements.

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