Categories: CruisesFamily TravelLatin AmericaMulti GenerationalTravel

Cruising Costa Rica and Panama

I am a huge advocate of multi-generational travel. I started traveling alone with my Grandmother when I was twelve. Our first trip was to Greece. After that, we cruised around the Caribbean a few times and then explored a bunch of small islands. Growing up she was a constant fixture on most of my family trips as well.

In her mid-90s she was still keen to travel as much as possible. As a matter of fact, she kept her suitcase packed at all times.  In the fall of 2011, while we were reminiscing over our last trip with her (a cruise from Rome to Málaga), she casually slipped into the conversation that she was “ready to go again” whenever we were. We started dreaming of all the possibilities because, with Gram, the world was truly our oyster. It was soon decided that we would go through the Panama Canal over the Christmas holiday.


Cruising on small ships was always my Grandmother’s preferred method of travel. To our surprise, we found we really love it too.  It is a great way to see a lot in a short period of time without having to pack up and move every few days, which can be difficult with kids and elders. Plus the intimacy and service you get on a smaller ship like the Windstar is absolutely extraordinary. Our children have never minded that there was no kids club, no water slide, or no daily volleyball game in the pool. Rather they enjoyed spending quality time with their Great-Grandmother and seeing things that you don’t normally do when you travel on a larger cruise line.

For example, one day we anchored off of this tiny private island. We took the tenders in so we could spend the day swimming, snorkeling and just relaxing.

There are always plenty of water sports to partake in. Wherever we were for the day, the crew brought kayaks, paddle boards, and other water sports equipment. Other times we were able to swim right off the back of the ship into the ocean from their onboard water platform.

In Costa Rica, we got this close to a sloth. Really!

We loved Casco Viejo – Old Town Panama City.

Whenever we traveled with my Grandmother, we were always the anomaly. We’d have the oldest passenger on board and the youngest. It usually garners us a bit of attention and some questions from fellow travelers. But we don’t mind. It usually resulted in Gram telling a great travel story like the time she missed the last tender back to her cruise ship and had to take a fishing boat out to her ship only to climb up the outside to get back on board. True story!

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