Scientific American Logo

HAL Ship entering Panama Canal

Cosmic TrailsTM

Total Lunar Eclipse
Geminid Meteor Shower


Our Trip Into The Canal

»» Panama Canal Facts »»

TV Video Clip


December 13, 2010, 9pm

As we sail away from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we’ll kick off Cosmic Trails with observation of the Geminids meteor shower. Visit the ms Zuiderdam’s Sports Deck and chime in with your point of view as to whether the Geminids’ parent body, 3200 Phaeton, is an asteroid, extinct comet, or a mixed asteroid/comet body. Balmy Bahamian breezes set the pace for a splendid, medium-speed celestial display. (Picture below ©Wally Pacholka, one of the Cosmic Trails speakers.)

pic of Meteor Storm

December 20, 2010, 11pm

Enjoy an unparallelled view of the lunar eclipse. Dark, clear skies, far from light sources, give us exceptional conditions for observing the lunar eclipse. Wrapped in horizon-to-horizon darkness, we’ll track the stages of the event, observe the lunar surface, estimate brightness, and observe the Moon’s shifting color(s).

pic of Milky Way

While the full Moon obviously steals the show, you’ll get a memorable view of the cosmos at sea, much as early explorers experienced it. Join your fellow astronomy buffs for this late-night show and the glow of camraderie.



Our trip into the Canal

pdf icon

Download a flyer: one-page or two pages

pdf icon

Download a hardcopy of the online brochure


Destination photos

pdf icon

Never cruised with Holland America? Watch this and read this!

pdf icon

Download HAL’s Panama Canal Cruises Shore Excursion booklet (2010)

pdf icon

Download our ship’s (ms Zuiderdam) 2-page deckplan

pdf icon

Download a flyer of the cabins


Visit HAL’s interactive deckplan of the m.s. Zuiderdam

pdf icon

Download a flyer about the Suites

pdf icon

Download Holland America’s (HAL’s) 4‑page Panama Canal overview


Visit HAL’s interactive map

pdf icon

Visit HAL’s collection of videos

pdf icon

The Panama Canal’s Ultimate Upgrade (1‑minute videotakes about a minute to load — with accompanying Popular Mechanics article)

Click a Tab (above) for a port overview and available shore excursions.

For detailed information on a port including the weather, books to read, restaurants, maps, etc., please visit our ITINERARY page.

FT. LAUDERDALE — Monday, December 13, 2010

There is an abundance of things to see and do in the Ft. Lauderdale area: visit the newly redesigned Ft. Lauderdale Beach and cafes, stroll the historic Riverwalk, shop the luxurious stores on Las Olas Boulevard or venture to the Everglades for an intriguing air boat excursion.

»» Ft. Lauderdale Shore Excursion Details »»

»» Wikipedia »»

HALF MOON CAY, BAHAMAS — Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holland America Line’s pristine private island offers everything you need for a day of play in paradise: a two-mile crescent of perfect beach; an interior lagoon; private beachside cabanas with showers, misters, and butlers; watersports and activities, including a children’s aqua park, nature hikes, and a personal watercraft course. In spite of HAL’s use of 2% of this 1,700-acre island, it is so pristine and unspoiled that it has been designated a Wild Bird Reserve by the Bahamian National Trust.

»» Half Moon Cay Shore Excursion Details »»

Holland America’s »» description »»

»» Wikipedia »»

ORANJESTAD, ARUBA — Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Dutch jewel with a tropical touch. In Oranjestad, Aruba’s capital, explore the colorful floating market and Nassaustraat, brimming with quaint shops. Head for the beach where water sports abound: snorkeling, rides on glass bottom boats and submarines. Or venture into the countryside to see the haunts of the huge green parakeet, the unique rock gardens of Casi Bari, the curious divi divi tree, forever bending in the tradewind breezes.

»» Aruba Shore Excursion Details »»

»» Wikipedia »»

WILLEMSTAD, CURAÇAO — Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An isle of Dutch treats with the climate of coastal Venezuela? It’s none other than Curacao, with Amsterdam-style gabled storybook houses in the Punda section, duty-free Delftware always on sale, and the famous Curacao orange-flavored liqueur that now also comes in blue (surely a sign of the times!).

»» Curaçao Shore Excursion Details »»

»» Wikipedia »»

PANAMA CANAL AT CRISTÓBAL — Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gatun Lake (where all HAL shore excursions start for this day) is key to supplying the water necessary to operate the locks system. Formed by an earthen dam across the Chagres River to keep the water 85 feet above sea level, the water runs downhill to fill the locks. No pumps, no power other than the force of gravity! Fact: It will take about 52 million gallons of water to float your Holland America ship through the locks. Sample shore excursions: Gatun Locks & Kayak in the Canal; Panama Railway; Portobelo Market Town & the Panama Canal; The Canal Experience.

»» Panama Canal Schematic »»

»» Construction Event of the Century »»

»» Panama Canal Shore Excursion Details »»

»» Wikipedia »»

PUERTO LIMÓN (SAN JOSÉ), COSTA RICA — Monday, November 20, 2010

From Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast go in search of iridescent blue morpho butterflies, sloths, turtle nesting grounds and wise old shamans. Explore the capital city of San Jose, where museums beckon and markets burst with luscious local tastes — mangoes, bananas, pineapples, papayas. Sample shore excursions: Sloth Sanctuary & Canoe Adventure; The Tortuguero Canals; San José Town & Country; Nature Walk at the Shaman’s Land; The Old Banana Route Jungle Train

»» Puerto Limón Shore Excursion Details »»

»» Wikipedia »»


Sunday, December 12, 9:30am to 5pm

Guided by tour specialists, see the giant structures that make up the world’s largest launch facility. Get an up close look at the coastal launch pads that unleashed the power to put people on the moon and send space shuttles to the International Space Station. Discover what it takes to launch the space shuttle from preparation to liftoff. All of this and more are included in our full day of tours and events. Our tour will include:

  • LC 39 Observation Gantry:
    The 60-foot-tall Launch Complex (LC) 39 Observation Gantry provides a breathtaking 360-degree view of the two giant Shuttle Launch Pads, 39A and 39B. In addition to the bird’s-eye view of the launch pad structures, the panorama also includes the Launch Control Center, the well-traveled crawlerway and the massive Vehicle Assembly Building.
pic of Meteor Storm
  • International Space Station Center:
    This fascinating attraction gives you an up-close glimpse inside the facility where NASA prepares the components of the International Space Station. In an elevated observation room, you’ll see the processing bay where each Space Station component is checked out, processed, and readied for its trip into orbit. After the observation room, you can enter a full-scale mock-up of the Habitation Module and see how Space Station crew members live, sleep, and work.
  • Lunch With an Astronaut:
    We’ll pause for lunch and meet a veteran member of NASA’s Astronaut Corps. An impressive roster of astronauts have appeared since the program’s inception in 2001, among them Wally Schirra, John Glenn, Jim Lovell, etc. While we don’t know yet who we’ll be lunching with we do know that after lunch we’ll participate in a 30-minute interactive Q&A with the Astronaut.
pic of Meteor Storm
  • Apollo/Saturn V Center:
    The Apollo/Saturn V Center is the home of the largest rocket ever built — a real Saturn V 363-foot long moon rocket.
pic of Meteor Storm
  • IMAX Space Films:
    In two giant IMAX theaters, the dream of spaceflight comes alive. Dramatic footage shot by NASA astronauts during actual missions will make you feel like you’re floating alongside them.
  • Astronaut Hall of Fame:
    Explore a rare collection of astronaut artifacts and see remarkable displays, exhibits, and tributes dedicated to the heroes. From Wally Schirra’s Sigma 7 Mercury spacecraft to stunning glass etchings that line the Hall of Heroes, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame celebrates the accomplishments of astronauts everywhere. After you see the Astronaut Hall of Fame, it’s your turn to take the controls with hands-on activities such as the G-Force Trainer that lets you feel the pressure of four times the force of gravity, the shuttle landing simulator, and riding a rover across the rocky Martian terrain.

Price: $225. Includes all of the above plus lunch, dinner, and transportation from the Kennedy Space Center to our hotel in Ft. Lauderdale.


Andrew Chaikin
Susan French
Wally Pacholka
Gary Seronik
David Stevenson, Ph.D.



Speakers have confirmed their intent to participate; however, scheduling conflicts may arise.


Cruise prices vary from $999 for an Interior Stateroom to $3,799 for a Deluxe Suite, per person. (Cruise pricing is subject to change. InSight Cruises will generally match the cruise pricing offered at the Holland America website at the time of booking.) For those attending our SEMINARS, there is a $1,275 fee. Taxes are $244.23 per person. Port Charges and an InSight Cruises service fee are $245. All prices and fees are detailed on the BOOK NOW page.

For a detailed listing of the cruise itinerary please review our ITINERARY page.

Use our PRICING CALCULATOR for a quick price quote! For questions, please don’t hestitate in calling Neil Bauman at (650-787-5665) or emailing Neil.



The conference fee is $1,275 and includes all 19 90-minute seminars below. You may take every class — i.e., there will be no overlap as only one class will be going on at any one time. Classes only take place when we’re at sea, between 8:30am and 7:30pm.


  • America the Beautiful at Night
  • Capturing the Light — The Night Sky
  • Capturing the Dark — Iluminating the Landscape
  • Cutting Edge Landscape Astrophotography

Lunar Studies

  • Origin of the Moon
  • Mysteries of the Moon
  • Gearing Up for a Moon Shot
  • From Galileo to Apollo: A History of Lunar Exploration
  • Viewing and Understanding the Moon
  • Exploring Lunar Landscapes

Viewing the Cosmos

  • Exploring the Night Sky With Binoculars
  • Naked-Eye Astronomy
  • Telescopes for Stargazing
  • Winter-Sky Wonders
  • The Road Less Traveled

Exploring Our Solar System

  • Origin of Earth
  • Planetary Diversity
  • Apollo Astronaut Experience
  • The Quest for Mars


264 S. Meridith Ave., Pasadena, CA 91106 • 650-787-5665 • Copyright 2009 © InSight Cruises