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RCCL Tour vs. Dora, Claudia or Lee Miles

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We are in Cartegena for the first time in November. Any recommendations about whether to book a tour through the ship (RCCL Jewel of the Seas) vs. Dora, Claudia or Lee Miles.

 

Since they all seem priced the same (deluxe Cartegena and fortress) and the ship detail of the excursion boasts the same type of tour, we are wondering which has the best value for the old city, fort etc...

 

Decisions, Decisions ............

 

Thanks

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Definitively Claudia; she´s the best.

 

I notice Mistral has commented on very few post here on CC and they all support Claudia. I'm just saying....

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Thanks for the heads up.

 

There are a lot of positive private tour reviews. My wife is leaning towards a tour booked through the cruise considering the "get left behind" factor. We do not really want to try Cartegena on our own.

Edited by customcruise

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I wouldn't worry too much about being left behind on a private tour. The private tour guides recommended on the various threads here are all well aware of your need to be back to the ship on time and it's not far from any of the tourist spots (Walled City, La Popa Monastery, Castillo de San Felipe) to the cruise ships. We actually did a completely private tour (myself, spouse, and guide) with J.J. Taborda (jacinto-200@hotmail.com) and it was great.

I would recommend going on a private tour or on a small group tour because you'll have more flexibility to arrange what you want to see and do and because there are places (e.g. La Popa Monastery) that can't be reached via large tour buses.

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We are in Cartegena for the first time in November. Any recommendations about whether to book a tour through the ship (RCCL Jewel of the Seas) vs. Dora, Claudia or Lee Miles.

 

Since they all seem priced the same (deluxe Cartegena and fortress) and the ship detail of the excursion boasts the same type of tour, we are wondering which has the best value for the old city, fort etc...

 

Decisions, Decisions ............

 

Thanks

 

We did the Deluxe Cartagena and Fortress thru Celebrity this past March. We really enjoyed the tour and felt it offered a very good value for the money. The reason we chose the tour thru Celebrity was because it was one of the few tours that offered a tour of the fortress vs a short stop for photos.

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We did a tour through Lee Miles. Very good tour. He allowed us to customize the tour for what we wanted to see. I think I saw more of Cartegena than I would have otherwise. We were back at the ship well before our time to leave. Would definitely recommend Lee Miles tours.

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Just booked Claudia for our cruise in Jan. We are 3 couples and all of us are excited about the tour and seeing Cartegena. I sure hope Claudia's tour is everything you all have said and look forward to reporting back upon our return.

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We are in Cartegena for the first time in November. Any recommendations about whether to book a tour through the ship (RCCL Jewel of the Seas) vs. Dora, Claudia or Lee Miles.

 

Since they all seem priced the same (deluxe Cartegena and fortress) and the ship detail of the excursion boasts the same type of tour, we are wondering which has the best value for the old city, fort etc...

 

Decisions, Decisions ............

 

Thanks

 

We were in Cartegena in April of this year on the Jewel of the Sea. We were only in port for 5 hours so went with the ship tour. I was very disappointed in the length of time in each spot. We were at the dungeons for about 15 minutes because the tour operator had to get us back to the emerald shopping area. I don't know if he was getting a kick back to get us there but I'm not spending $5000 on an emerald necklace!

 

Wanted to go with Claudia Vidal but listened to all the posts about how bad it was in Columbia and how the state department was warning all it's citizens. I'm sure there are problems there just like every place else in the world but I'm not looking for trouble and I'm not going in places that are not safe. So! We're booking with Claudia for our trip next April and we're going to see the things we want to see.

 

Claudette

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We did a tour through Lee Miles. Very good tour. He allowed us to customize the tour for what we wanted to see. I think I saw more of Cartegena than I would have otherwise. We were back at the ship well before our time to leave. Would definitely recommend Lee Miles tours.

 

We just returned from Princess Coral Panama trip (Nov.5). We booked our Cartagena tour with Lee Miles, and it met our expectations. Lee met us at the ship's gateway (not at the end of the pier), introduced us to the driver and guide, and off we went. There were 6 on the tour...the other four Lee had them get in touch with me on Roll Call.

 

Any private tour excursions are well worth it. You can make stops when and where you want...even to supermarkets for coffee! We felt safe. The guide was always near us, and he was very informative about the history of the city.

 

The independent tour operators are well aware of the time frame to return you to the ship. They have their reputation, and more importantly, their livelhood depends on the tourist trade.

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We were in Cartagena last February and booked 5 hours with Claudia. There were 6 of us in the party. Claudia met us with her van and driver. The tour was fantastic. She was not only delightful but guided us through a wonderful day. We went off the beaten track a bit with her but it allowed us to see more of a local side of the city. At no time were we worried at all about safety. We had more than adequate time to see evrything we wanted to. Claudia made sure we were back at the ship, Jewel, with more than enough time to spare. I would not hesitate to book with her.

 

The only mishap occured when we left the harbor, a long trip, and the pilot boat rammed the last marker buoy before it appproached the ship to collect the pilot. That boat hit the buoy at 10-15 knots and buried it. We talked to the captain later who was astounded by it and had not seen anything like it in 25 years of sailing. Wonder if the guy still has a job?

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We booked with Dora and were very happy. She was our tour guide and the driver was great too. Smaller vehicles can get to La Popa Monastery which was very nice. The old city walking portion was excellent and we saw the fort as well. Stopped for coffee at Juan Valdes which was excellent while our companions shopped for emeralds. There were four of us in the van.

 

Dora was excellent with substantial knowledge and passion for her home.:)

Edited by 9ersRule

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We just returned from Columbia and booked Lee Miles. We only had four of us so it was $90 p/p and we were friends of the other couple so we thought that we could arrange our tour the way we wanted. Not so for us. The driver we had was on a time clock and wanted to stick right to it. I asked when we first got into the van if we were going to the monastery and he looked a a piece of paper and said "Nope". From that point on, it was rush rush rush.

We asked about stopping to pick up beers because for $90 each, a cooler was not provided.

We had passed up beers being sold on the streets and finally he stopped at a store and ran in to get us three beers. He then charged us more than what the street vendors were charging.

Our first stop was the fort. I have to admit that he knew a lot of the history and recited it in English nicely, but he wanted our full attention and I wanted to look at the things he was talking about, not watch his face while he was talking. When we would look around while he was narrating, he would become upset. The problem was that he would narrate about a certain thing and then it was follow me. No time to look at what he had finished talking about and when the men wandered off to take pictures, he kept looking at his watch and saying we had to go.

This continued on throughout the day. He was not personable and did not appreciate

our humor or did not understand humor at all. The last hour of our four hour tour was at Mr.Miles Emeralds store. Now, we did want to go to the store but to incorporate us shopping at his own store as part of the city tour was unacceptable. We actually thought that we were going to a touristy shopping area after we were done with the store but told "no" that our time was over and he had to get us back to the ship. The area that his store was located did not have local items, just another jewelry store, a restaurant and a drug store that did have a few items for sale.

Mr. Miles did ask us how our tour was going and he asked right in front of his tour guide, so thinking that our tour wasnt over yet, we told him that we enjoyed the city and the guide was very knowledgeable.

I have heard about good reviews but maybe it was the guide. I would certainly say that if you pay what we did for a private tour, there should have been a whole lot of flexibility and the emerald shopping should not have been part of the four hours.

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Just booked Claudia for our cruise in Jan. We are 3 couples and all of us are excited about the tour and seeing Cartegena. I sure hope Claudia's tour is everything you all have said and look forward to reporting back upon our return.

Hi

can you please give claudia's web/e mail adresses please?

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We just returned from Columbia and booked Lee Miles. We only had four of us so it was $90 p/p and we were friends of the other couple so we thought that we could arrange our tour the way we wanted. Not so for us. The driver we had was on a time clock and wanted to stick right to it. I asked when we first got into the van if we were going to the monastery and he looked a a piece of paper and said "Nope". From that point on, it was rush rush rush.

We asked about stopping to pick up beers because for $90 each, a cooler was not provided.

We had passed up beers being sold on the streets and finally he stopped at a store and ran in to get us three beers. He then charged us more than what the street vendors were charging.

Our first stop was the fort. I have to admit that he knew a lot of the history and recited it in English nicely, but he wanted our full attention and I wanted to look at the things he was talking about, not watch his face while he was talking. When we would look around while he was narrating, he would become upset. The problem was that he would narrate about a certain thing and then it was follow me. No time to look at what he had finished talking about and when the men wandered off to take pictures, he kept looking at his watch and saying we had to go.

This continued on throughout the day. He was not personable and did not appreciate

our humor or did not understand humor at all. The last hour of our four hour tour was at Mr.Miles Emeralds store. Now, we did want to go to the store but to incorporate us shopping at his own store as part of the city tour was unacceptable. We actually thought that we were going to a touristy shopping area after we were done with the store but told "no" that our time was over and he had to get us back to the ship. The area that his store was located did not have local items, just another jewelry store, a restaurant and a drug store that did have a few items for sale.

Mr. Miles did ask us how our tour was going and he asked right in front of his tour guide, so thinking that our tour wasnt over yet, we told him that we enjoyed the city and the guide was very knowledgeable.

I have heard about good reviews but maybe it was the guide. I would certainly say that if you pay what we did for a private tour, there should have been a whole lot of flexibility and the emerald shopping should not have been part of the four hours.

 

We have on one occasion had a poor guide (rushed, very poor English, not open to answering many questions etc) on a trip in Italy. We were compensated for the tour when we wrote to the owner. I would recommend doing the same and at least get a partial refund. However...by telling the owner things were going fine, you sort of put yourself behind the eight ball. On private tours, we expect to have some control of the day's activities along with the other passengers. That's one reason we choose them.

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We just returned from Columbia and booked Lee Miles. . . . . maybe it was the guide.

 

We are in the process of booking with Lee and can request a guide. Can you tell me the name of your guide so I can avoid him? ;)

 

Anyone else who toured with Lee's service, can you name a guide you enjoyed? Thanks.

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We toured with Claudia Jan 7th. She was great.

FYI...Lee is not really a tour guide. He owns a jewelry store in Cartegena. I met him while touring with Claudia. He organizes tours=he doesn't give them. As an American, he wouldn't be as knowledgeable as Claudia or Dora.

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We did the Deluxe Cartagena and Fortress thru Celebrity this past March. We really enjoyed the tour and felt it offered a very good value for the money. The reason we chose the tour thru Celebrity was because it was one of the few tours that offered a tour of the fortress vs a short stop for photos.

 

We are stopping at Cartagena 24th Mch on our 28n cruise .. can't decide which tour to do but hope to include the Fortress ...glad to hear you enjoyed your tour ..we are wondering why Celebrity warn that this tour is "strenuous". Can you tell me if there is much steep climbing or what the problem is? Thank you,

Andrea

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We are stopping at Cartagena 24th Mch on our 28n cruise .. can't decide which tour to do but hope to include the Fortress ...glad to hear you enjoyed your tour ..we are wondering why Celebrity warn that this tour is "strenuous". Can you tell me if there is much steep climbing or what the problem is? Thank you,

Andrea

 

Andrea, we were there in early March '10. Our bus dropped us at the base of the fortress. We had to walk up a long, steep ramp to the top to begin our tour. That was the most strenous part, IMO. However, even in early March, it was very hot, and you are out in the sun for the majority of the tour of the fortress, so I would recommend wearing a hat if you are sensitive to the sun. There is a portion of the tour where you are taken into the tunnels and interior of the fortress, but otherwise, most of it is outside, from point to point, and this fortress is huge. There is also quite a bit of walking in old town, so you'll want to wear comfortable shoes. I think the fact that you are on your feet for a good portion of the day, combined with the extreme heat, is what leads Celebrity to mark this excursion as 'strenuous'.

Hope this answers your question. If you need more specifics, just ask away. :)

Edited by rjscott

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We are also interested in booking this tour, did you tell them what you wanted to see? what was your tour called and for how log was it

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We toured with Claudia earlier this month -- it was wonderful. I organized a tour for a group from our roll call and people kept thanking me. She is a very enjoyable person and thinks of everything. The tour is well planned out and she is willing to be flexibile if there is something you'd like to do differently. She really knows her city and what will appeal to her participants.

 

We saw more than I expected and she even gave us shopping advice. I originally didn't want to shop but the stops were brief and worthwhile. I got the best souvenirs of the cruise there.

 

She is extremely responsive so don't hesitate to ask her whatever you want to know.

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We are in Cartegena for the first time in November. Any recommendations about whether to book a tour through the ship (RCCL Jewel of the Seas) vs. Dora, Claudia or Lee Miles.

 

Since they all seem priced the same (deluxe Cartegena and fortress) and the ship detail of the excursion boasts the same type of tour, we are wondering which has the best value for the old city, fort etc...

 

Decisions, Decisions ............

 

Thanks

 

My vote would be for a private tour with Dora. We were able to get places that the large tour busses used by the cruise lines can't get to. Dora responds quickly and if you post the tour on your roll call you won't have any trouble getting a group together that will make the tour affordable and a much better experience then with a large bus load of people. gail

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Dear friends:

 

The cost of living in Colombia is 300% less than in the United States and 400%-500% less than the Eurozone.

 

$360 for a private tour in any Colombian city, even touristy Cartagena, is highway robbery.

 

Last time I took my extended family to Cartagena, we were 23 people and for that same amount of money we purchased from a major local ground operator a private tour for all 23 of us -- private bus, driver and guide, for a full day, and we arranged the itinerary.

 

Anybody who legitimately works in Cartagena in the tourism business geared towards foreigners speaks good English, so don't be fooled by these "private guides" who get people to write about them on Cruise Critic, but end up charging U.S. or European prices, and ask you to pay them through a Paypal account they have registered in Miami because they do not even license themselves locally to do proper business in Cartagena.

 

Kind regards,

 

Gunther and Uta

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