According to the Panama Tourism Authority, Lindblad signed a letter of intent to operate cruises from Puerto Cristóbal and the new Panama Cruise Terminal at Amador in 2021 and 2022.
The line, which has sailed to Panama for years, has a new itinerary that features a Canal transit and explores the country's Caribbean coast and Colombia. Another route visits Costa Rica.
The Panama Tourism Authority said six cruises are planned in 2021 and 14 in 2022 in connection with National Geographic and Ancon Expeditions in Panama.
Lindblad expressed an interest in availing itself of the benefits of Executive Decree No. 274, which reimburses operators for their Panama Canal toll when they homeport in the country. Panama expects the incentive to generate economic impact from passengers staying in the country before or after their cruise.
The program will operate on the 100-passenger National Geographic Quest.
The new Panama-Colombia itinerary sails between Panama City and Cartagena, with the opportunity to explore the island of Barro Colorado, home of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Soberanía National Park; Portobelo, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Guna Yala (San Blas) archipelago.
Another itinerary pairs Panama and Costa Rica, and begins or ends at Puerto Cristóbal, transiting the Panama Canal and visiting Barro Colorado; Coiba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and destinations in Costa Rica including Golfo Dulce.
Panama Tourism Authority Administrator Iván Eskildsen noted the small-ship segment supports the Sustainable Tourism Master Plan 2020-2025 that aims to transform Panama into a world-class sustainable tourism destination.