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Kevin's girl
May 25th, 2009, 01:19 PM
We were wondering if this is a port where you can get right off the ship and wander around town. Is the ship docked right in town or do you need transportation to get into town? Is it safe to wander around without a guide? What is close by? No matter how much talking I do I can't talk my DH into seeing the fort there. He says we have seen more than enough forts and is not at all interested in seeing another one. Most of the tours I have seen to book includes the fort.:( He says after looking at photos of Cartagena he would like to spend the day there. Any suggestions?

Putterdude
May 26th, 2009, 04:21 PM
The fort of course is really something to behold, it is 16th century and candidly I have never seen anything quite like it. If you don't want to take a tour then I would take a cab into the city...I don't think that I would want to walk it. You can walk around in the old city but be aware of your surroundings and don't go down any dark alleys. One suggestion that was made to us, was to carry a photo of the ship...not all of the cabbies speak good English but all will understand that you want to go back to the ship.:)

unklez
May 26th, 2009, 08:29 PM
We were wondering if this is a port where you can get right off the ship and wander around town. Is the ship docked right in town or do you need transportation to get into town? Is it safe to wander around without a guide? What is close by? No matter how much talking I do I can't talk my DH into seeing the fort there. He says we have seen more than enough forts and is not at all interested in seeing another one. Most of the tours I have seen to book includes the fort.:( He says after looking at photos of Cartagena he would like to spend the day there. Any suggestions?

Yes it is safe in Cartagena. Very pretty town.

There are 4 main places in Cartagena where typical cruiser goes. 1. The Fort 2. The Monastery 3. The Old City (lots to walk around and see) and Ocean front 4. Shopping area near the rich part of town.

You can get a free shuttle bus (or walk) to the end of the pier from where you can get any number of licensed cabs. A cab ride to the fort should cost $20 per cab. There will be plenty of cabs available to come back for the same price. No need to make arrangement with the same fella unless you love him.

Unfortunately you will need a cab to go between each of these points also. So if you decide to do all of these, I suggest you find a taxi at the pier and negotiate a price for 4-5 hours and visits to these spots. Look to pay approx $50-$60 for that. If you speak Spanish, even a little bit, it will help. If not, hire a guide thru' Lee Miles. It will cost you more but Lee is upfront about prices.

Soccrmom65
May 27th, 2009, 10:09 AM
I was wondering the same thing as the poster asked. I loved your suggestions and appreciate you pointing out the highlights so we know what not to miss.

lambs2
May 27th, 2009, 01:30 PM
I was wondering the same thing as the poster asked. I loved your suggestions and appreciate you pointing out the highlights so we know what not to miss.

I concur. Thanks for sharing unklez!

cruiser620
May 29th, 2009, 05:47 PM
I was just in Cartegena in April, but not on a cruise. I can't give you any advice on transportation from the port, but definitely go to the old city and just walk around. It is a lovely old colonial city and very safe. Besides historical buildings, there are many beautiful churches, museums, interesting metal sculptures, sidewalk cafes, great food, and a square where cultural dances are performed daily. Walk around and feel the great vibe of the city and watch women in native dress balance baskets of fruit on their head. The only downside was there are many vendors who can be very annoying. It's best to just ignore them and not make eye contact unless you're sure you really want to buy something. But at least I'd rather have people trying to make a living by selling things than by picking my pocket. I am told there is very little crime and they are really trying to welcome tourists who may have been scared away in the past when there were a lot of problems in Colombia. The Lonely Planet guidebook for Colombia has a great section about sights in Cartegena that you might want to read before visiting.

tinasue01
June 1st, 2009, 11:43 PM
We were wondering if this is a port where you can get right off the ship and wander around town. Is the ship docked right in town or do you need transportation to get into town? Is it safe to wander around without a guide? What is close by? No matter how much talking I do I can't talk my DH into seeing the fort there. He says we have seen more than enough forts and is not at all interested in seeing another one. Most of the tours I have seen to book includes the fort.:( He says after looking at photos of Cartagena he would like to spend the day there. Any suggestions?

I've been reading the advice your getting & I went to Cartagena 11/08 & will NEVER return:eek: Victor was my guide, he loved his country. We went on a "mangrove city walk" tour mangroves... a little nervous the city walk, greatful to get out with out being kidnaped! Oh & I had no problem saying NO to the vendors chaseing me thru town. I have been on several cruises I am going 11/15/09 on rccl liberty, I have loved every minute except there.

unklez
June 2nd, 2009, 01:10 AM
I've been reading the advice your getting & I went to Cartagena 11/08 & will NEVER return:eek: Victor was my guide, he loved his country. We went on a "mangrove city walk" tour mangroves... a little nervous the city walk, greatful to get out with out being kidnaped! Oh & I had no problem saying NO to the vendors chaseing me thru town. I have been on several cruises I am going 11/15/09 on rccl liberty, I have loved every minute except there.

Amazed to hear that you had a bad experience. Could you be a bit more specific what made you nervous on the city walk and why you thought you'd be kidnapped. Was it all related to the vendors chasing you?

wwinfl91
June 5th, 2009, 07:00 PM
We were there in April on our way to the Panama Canal on the Zuiderdam. One of the ladies on the cruise had arranged a private tour at a very reasonable price for us and we had a great time. We did 3 of the 4 places to see, 1. The Fort 2. The Monastery 3. The Old City (lots to walk around and see).

The dock we were at and as far as I know we were the only cruise ship in town was a commercial dock and the gates and taxis were too far away to be considered an easy walk.

Here is some of the info provided by the guy who arranged our tour.

The price for 12 is $46 per person ($552 total); 14: $40 per
person ($560 total); 16: $37pp. I do not require a deposit ahead of time.

I would like US dollars please, and if you could collect ahead of time, that would be wonderful, so we are not making change on the pier...and it will, hopefully, prevent no shows. I will be waiting near the bottom of the gang plank wearing a green vest (required by the port authorities) and holding a sign with the person from the ship who organized the tour.

Here is Les's web site.

http://www.destinationcartagena.com/privatetours

I will also warn you that Les owns a emerald store and the last 30-45 minutes of the tour was spent at the shopping area where his store is located.

But the tour guide was good and the bus was new, clean and had good A/C.

I would suggest if you are visiting Cartagena try doing a tour.

Have a great next cruise.

unklez
June 10th, 2009, 12:11 AM
............I will also warn you that Les owns a emerald store and the last 30-45 minutes of the tour was spent at the shopping area where his store is located......

Just tell the tour guide upfront that you'd like to spend less time at Lee's Emerald store. Really it is that simple.

wwinfl91
June 10th, 2009, 12:32 PM
We probably should have done that except there were a couple of couples who were interested in getting some jewery and actually did buy some of Lee's Emeralds. He is NOT a pushy sales person and all of the people working in his shop were very nice and polite. I wasn't really complaining as much as letting people know what to expect.

All and all it was a good tour and was enjoyed by all.

Have a great next cruise.

Kevin's girl
June 16th, 2009, 11:10 AM
Thanks for all of the advice. How did you go about getting a group together to do Lee's tour?
cruiser620 - thanks for the photos. My DH likes the idea of catching a cab and going out to the old city. I'm glad we still have time to decide what to do and the best way to see and get a feel for the city.

wwinfl91
June 16th, 2009, 11:37 AM
We got the group together from the rollcall for our cruise and then added a couple of more couples that we or others met on the ship who expressed interest in going. We contacted Lee during the cruise via email so he could make sure the vehicle being provided was big enough (and it was) for everyone.

Rollcalls for cruises that are a long way off tend to be slow but keep going to it and adding comments and keeping it visable to people who book after you and try to recruit new members.

I added a link to the rollcall to my signature and tried to use my signature more than normal when posting on the HAL, Mexican, Columbia and Panama Canal boards to attract people who were booked on the cruise but hadn't joined the rollcall.

Have a great next cruise.

unklez
June 16th, 2009, 11:48 AM
Thanks for all of the advice. How did you go about getting a group together to do Lee's tour?
cruiser620 - thanks for the photos. My DH likes the idea of catching a cab and going out to the old city. I'm glad we still have time to decide what to do and the best way to see and get a feel for the city.

1. Your own group which can be as small as the 2 people in your cabin!
2. Your specific cruise's roll-call

Keep in mind that a group more than 8-10 people could end up being difficult to please with some wanting to do xx more than yy.

lais
June 17th, 2009, 06:49 PM
Yes it is safe in Cartagena. Very pretty town.

There are 4 main places in Cartagena where typical cruiser goes. 1. The Fort 2. The Monastery 3. The Old City (lots to walk around and see) and Ocean front 4. Shopping area near the rich part of town.

You can get a free shuttle bus (or walk) to the end of the pier from where you can get any number of licensed cabs. A cab ride to the fort should cost $20 per cab. There will be plenty of cabs available to come back for the same price. No need to make arrangement with the same fella unless you love him.

Unfortunately you will need a cab to go between each of these points also. So if you decide to do all of these, I suggest you find a taxi at the pier and negotiate a price for 4-5 hours and visits to these spots. Look to pay approx $50-$60 for that. If you speak Spanish, even a little bit, it will help. If not, hire a guide thru' Lee Miles. It will cost you more but Lee is upfront about prices.

Your fourth suggestion is to visit the Ocean front. What's happening there and is it in walking distance?

unklez
June 18th, 2009, 02:29 PM
Your fourth suggestion is to visit the Ocean front. What's happening there and is it in walking distance?

Ocean front is walking distance from the old city. It is mostly just a scenic area. You will see some locals using it as a beach also.

lambs2
June 20th, 2009, 07:30 PM
We got the group together from the rollcall for our cruise and then added a couple of more couples that we or others met on the ship who expressed interest in going. We contacted Lee during the cruise via email so he could make sure the vehicle being provided was big enough (and it was) for everyone.

Rollcalls for cruises that are a long way off tend to be slow but keep going to it and adding comments and keeping it visable to people who book after you and try to recruit new members.

I added a link to the rollcall to my signature and tried to use my signature more than normal when posting on the HAL, Mexican, Columbia and Panama Canal boards to attract people who were booked on the cruise but hadn't joined the rollcall.

Have a great next cruise.

Our roll call for Dec on the NCL Star is the slowest I have EVER seen for roll calls we have been a part of! I would love to organize this excursion with Lee for our sailing, but it may be slow going! :)

wwinfl91
June 20th, 2009, 07:37 PM
Hang in there on the rollcall. The one we had for our April Eurodam cruise was slow for a long time and then heated up the last two months.

We had a good time on the excursion that Lee arranged and would recommend using him in Cartagena.

Have a great next cruise.

unklez
June 20th, 2009, 11:45 PM
Hang in there on the rollcall. The one we had for our April Eurodam cruise was slow for a long time and then heated up the last two months........

Ya last 1-2 months it will pick up. Don't worry about space running out on Lee's tours. Start talking to him at least 3-4 months before cruise date.

ellbon
July 18th, 2009, 10:33 AM
No one mades yuo visit lee's store. I like to buy local crafts and sundresses but I rarely buy jewelery while traveling. You do not have to get shopping included

unklez
July 18th, 2009, 08:47 PM
No one mades yuo visit lee's store. I like to buy local crafts and sundresses but I rarely buy jewelery while traveling. You do not have to get shopping included

You can tell them upfront if you do not want shopping included. There really is no pressure.

kidoctr
July 22nd, 2009, 04:56 PM
We're working with Lee right now for our December holiday cruise on Celebrity. This is our itinerary so far:
Drive to San Felipe Fortress
Visit San Felipe Fortress (*)
Drive to Plaza Bolivar
Precolumbian Gold Museum; walking Old City
Visit Palace of the Inquisition (*)
Walk to San Pedro Claver
Visit San Pedro Claver Church&Monastery (*)
Drive to New City and Pierino Gallo Center
Shopping at Pierino Gallo Center
Drive to ship

He has us going from 8 am to noon but I'm going to have him add in
lunch somewhere he recommends.

He wanted to know up front if we wanted to "just" do sightseeing
or if we also wanted to shop some. We opted for both.

Any other major sites that we're missing or that anyone suggests
we add to our tour? Thanks.

Eve

wwinfl91
July 22nd, 2009, 06:36 PM
The church, Convento de la Popa, which sits on a high hill overlooking the city and the harbor was the first place we went. It houses a statue of the Virgin that is used in a parade every year and supposingly saved the city at some time in the past. It would be one of the places I would add if I was you especially if you go there first before the tour buses from the ship can get there like we did.

I don't know which day of the week you are in Cartagena but the Precolumbian Gold Museum was closed on Sunday which was the day we were going to be visiting it. Our guide seemed surprised by this which I would have thought she would have known but later she explained she usually guides tours other than city ones.

I know you will have a great day and a great cruise.

STARFISH*4
July 23rd, 2009, 08:12 PM
just was asking if the EMERALD SHOP is located in a place with lots of other shops so we wouldnt have to go there if we were not interested. but still have some other shopping choices maybe for a souvenir or two..THANKS

wwinfl91
July 24th, 2009, 02:50 PM
There are a few other stores around a small plaza including one souvenir store with lots of real Columbian made gifts. We got some Christmas tree ornaments there. There is also a small store with sodas and a small place to get beer or drinks. There are more stores downstairs as well as some street vendors. I think I saw a drugstore across the street. There are enough opportunities to find something to buy especially if you can walk around and up and down the stairs.

Have a great next cruise.

STARFISH*4
July 24th, 2009, 04:26 PM
THANKS MUCHLY for the info;)

unklez
July 24th, 2009, 06:16 PM
We're working with Lee right now for our December holiday cruise on Celebrity......He wanted to know up front if we wanted to "just" do sightseeing or if we also wanted to shop some. We opted for both........

If I were you, I'd tell Lee upfront to keep the shopping time < 1/2 hr. All the shops are next to each other including Lee's emerald shop. Any more time here will be really cutting into sight seeing. Also at every sight there are street vendors with very reasonable prices and open to bargaining....

camofwilliamsburg
August 2nd, 2009, 02:25 PM
CAn you get to the walled city without going on a tour?Can you get to the different things inside the walled city without a tour...like the Palace of the Inquisition? What about San Felipe fortress?

wwinfl91
August 2nd, 2009, 06:19 PM
The walled city is some distance from the port and there was a considerable walk from where our ship was docked to the guarded port gates. There seemed to be cabs available on the other side of that gate but you would have to walk to get there and then negotiate a price to go to the walled city without knowing if you were paying too much. Unless you also paid for the driver to wait for you you would have to find a way back to the port and I didn't see any cabs waiting around the walled old city. You might be able to find a way to call for a cab but you probably also would have to be able to speak Spanish.

Given Columbia's history of violence especially against Americans we decided it would be safer to go on a tour with a local guide. Current conditions in Columbia and especially in Cartagena seem to be much more peaceful than it has been in the past but being safe rather than sorry seemed to be the way to go.

You can get in the walled city without any admission fee as far as I could see. You would have to pay a fee to enter the Palace of the Inquisition.

We never felt threatened except we were sometimes surrounded by vendors trying to sell us "souvenirs" or services like shoe shines. One cigar vendor followed us from the time we entered into the old city until we boarded our bus to leave. I kept telling him I didn't smoke but he didn't seem to remember he had already asked me.

There were armed soldiers and armed police at various places around the city but they didn't seem to be bothering anyone including us.

This didn't seem to one of those ports where you could walk off the ship and be right in the city. The area surrounding where we were docked was a commercial shipping area and didn't seem to have anything worth stopping to look at.

Again in my opinion this is a port to either arrange a tour, go on cruise line tour or stay on the ship (which I wouldn't recommend).

Have a great next cruise.

milagarcia
August 4th, 2009, 01:23 AM
wwinfl91,

you mentioned you used a local guide, was this arranged prior to the cruise or did you hire someone on the dock area?

thanks for your help.

wwinfl91
August 4th, 2009, 09:09 PM
We did a tour thru Lee Miles although another lady actually gave the tour. Lee was there in the morning to take the money and make sure we got onto the bus and introduce us to the guide. We saw him again at his emerald store which was the last stop on the tour.

I posted this earlier in the tread but here is his web site.

http://www.destinationcartagena.com/privatetours

I noticed the cabs by the gates to the port area as we were leaving and I assume they were there to pick up people for tours. I remember briefly talking with someone on the ship later who said that they walked down to the gates and got a cab but I don't remember what he said it cost.

Have a great next cruise.

cruiser620
September 11th, 2009, 11:09 PM
I visited Cartagena recently, but not on a cruise. I can't believe how many people have this ridiculous idea that it is a scary and dangerous place. Nothing could be further from the truth. Check out this Time magazine article: http://www.time.com/time/travel/article/0,31542,1882856,00.html
I am female and walked all around the old city at night and it was great. The mix of cultures makes for a really interesting vibe. Yes, there are vendors trying to sell you things to make a living -- HORRORS! Just ignore them or say no gracious if you don't want to buy something to help them out. They're not trying to rob or hurt you -- they just want to feed their families and are trying to find a way to make a little money. Unlike most of the European cities I have visited, I never saw or heard of anyone pickpocketed in Cartagena. The old city is wonderful to see, and if you're stopping in port, why in the world would you miss it? Taxis are everywhere, especially near the clock tower entrance, and are easy to use and inexpensive. I don't speak any Spanish and didn't have any trouble at all. If you're worried about getting back to the ship, show the driver a picture of it. (Be careful how you say "port", though, or they may think you mean the airport.) I loved visiting Cartagena and wouldn't hesitate to return.

TrentS
September 12th, 2009, 01:00 AM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I couldn't agree more! Cartagena is a beautiful, fascinating city, the people are wonderful, and I feel safer there than I do in half of the places I go in the US!

STARFISH*4
September 12th, 2009, 07:43 PM
when i first heard Cartagena i said OMG...COLOMBIA and i was a little taken back and apprehensive...scared:eek:....the more i read and understand i am now like CARTAGENA...OMG we are going to COLOMBIA:)...did you ever think we would and now it is with ANTICIPATION;)
thanks EVERYONE for posting your EXPERIENCEs!!!

Kevin's girl
September 16th, 2009, 06:23 PM
when i first heard Cartagena i said OMG...COLOMBIA and i was a little taken back and apprehensive...scared:eek:....the more i read and understand i am now like CARTAGENA...OMG we are going to COLOMBIA:)...did you ever think we would and now it is with ANTICIPATION;)
thanks EVERYONE for posting your EXPERIENCEs!!!
I could not agree more. While we are still not sure what we are going to do here, I can not wait to see the city. Thank you to all who have posted.