I am basically a land lover but I decided to go on a charter through the Panama Canal. The group was from ivy universities and was scheduled in 2014 to celebrate 100 years since the Panama Canal was opened. The trip was magical, because of this experience I have gone on the ship, not charter weeks, two more times. The second trip was through the Canal again. The first time the Canal passage was during the day, the second was at night. The two had different ports and tours. Both were in winter months and took me away from cold, nasty weather to warm and magical. The third trip was in October to Sicily and Malta. Each morning, going into another port was an experience making the trip worthwhile in itself!
The ship is not large, 70 passengers, 30 crew. The ship is spotless, the food is varied and delicious. All the professional crew members, as well as the maintenance and cleaning individuals were friendly, helpful and charming. The three outstanding individuals for me were: Captain Andreas, open bridge policy, experience, and knowledge of the ship and ports; the musician/ IT man, Milos, his help to the passengers with any Internet or computer situation, but above all, his live entertainment...keyboard, singing, special requests, many passengers commented to each other and to me what a delight; Elliott, the Costa Rican Conservationist, unbelievable knowledge of plants, animals, insects...a delight to hear and watch his presentations and then to go ashore and take in the best of the country.
The onshore tours were all educational, and completely worthwhile.
The crew is made up of individuals from many different countries, Greece, Egypt, Serbia, Ukraine, etc...everyone I met spoke more than one language, all speak English, none have English as their first language. For me, this fact led to more charm.
Reading and relaxing on deck, taking the Zodiac to shore, sometimes with a wet landing requiring extra shoes, swimming on a beach or off the ship, relaxing or learning about a new area or port during the day and dressing for a sit down dinner at night, listening to live music or disc jockey night with dancing, many choices for various tastes and desires, a world of its' own exists on this ship.