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GiannaD

Cartagena Shore Excursions

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We will have a port call in Cartagena in March and we would like ideas for shore excursions. We are not interested in diving, snorkeling, swimming, or zip lining. We prefer historic sites etc. What are your "must see" and/or "avoid" recommendations for first time visitors?

 

Thanks

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La Popa Monastery high on a hill over looking the city is a "must see" IMHO.. and the fortress whose exact name just escapes me at the moment. The old city is very picturesque!

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La Popa Monastery high on a hill over looking the city is a "must see" IMHO.. and the fortress whose exact name just escapes me at the moment. The old city is very picturesque!

 

Thank You:)

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Celebrity has an old city walking tour that is fabulous, especially for history/architecture buffs.

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If you are into historic sites I recommend the tour I went on thru RCI. Not sure what cruise line you will be on but it should offer a similar tour:

 

Board an air-conditioned bus or mini-bus to the city of Cartagena. Some of the attractions you will pass are the Republican architecture of Manga residential area, a stop at the Fort of San Felipe de Barajas, Las Bovedas (The Dungeons), the Inquisition Palace, San Pedro Claver Church and the Navy Museum to enjoy a folkloric show. You will have approximately 45 minutes to shop for handicrafts and leather goods at Pierino Gallo Shopping Mall before returning to the ship.

 

I was not interested in the two shopping stops but the other stuff was fascinating. The massive fortress that was never conquered, the inquisition palace where people were tortured, various old cathedrals, walks thru the old city, and the San Pedro Claver Church where you will see the skeleton of Saint Pedro Claver himself laying entombed in the alter.

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There may be room on our roll call excursion with Claudia (check her reviews here). Post on roll call or email me if interested.

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Definitely do a tour of the city which includes La Popa Monastery, San Felipe Fort and the Walled Old City. You should be able to find a tour either through your cruise ship or an independent tour guide that covers these sites. Several reputable indepedent tour guides are mentioned on this site. We did a private tour with J.J. Taborda and it was excellent. He created a tour exactly to our specifics--lots of history and no shopping.

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We just returned from Cartagena and used Dora as our guide. She did a wonderful 4 1/2 hour tour which included La Popa Monastery, San Felipe Fort and the Walled Old City. She was professional in every way. I would not hesitate to recommend her. The bus was clean and very well air conditioned. We had about 22 people and covered more than the ship tour for a lot less money.

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Cartegena? Well, excuse us, we found it to be:

Very dirty, very hot, many many pestering street vendors, cannot go to a bathroom unless you buy some junk. You could not pay us to go there. Really a mess. The museum had no lights, bumped into displays and tables and left. A dance group, nearly burst our eardrums. Ship tour is really overrated. Sorry, it was a real disappointment.

Spend your time in Huatulco or Zehuataneo ( Sp?).

 

Trying to be honest here. If you must go, get a cab and have him drive you around, on your own, walk out the gate and get the fare settled in advance, the ship tour was very disappointing. :eek:

p4b

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We were in Cartagena on the Jan.10th and did a private tour arranged through L. Miles and our cruise critic group. Claudia was are our guide. While she clearly was not feeling well, she did her best to make our tour informative and successful. Her knowledge of the city/country and her sense of humor made it a wonderful tour!

 

I completely disagree with the previous poster. Cartagena has a rich and powerful history. Yes, there is poverty but so much to see and be learned from all of the components of the city. The old colonial town is designated as a World UNESCO sight. It reminded me of Cadiz, Spain. This was our second visit to Cartagena and we look forward to returning.

 

A ship's tour or a prearranged private excursion is the way to go. The port is an industrial hub and a distance from the main areas to see.

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I think part of P4B's problem with Cartegena is that he took a ship's tour. We arranged a tour with a guide in advance and enjoyed it immensely. (In fact, Cartegena was probably our favorite port on the Panama Canal cruise.) Yes, it was hot and humid but we were prepared with bottles of water. I think the constant presence of our guide with us kept the vendors away. (I did walk away to take a photo and was approached by a vendor, but he was not at all aggressive. I just smiled and said, "No, gracias" and he walked away.) Also, by arranging a tour with a private guide, you can ask to see certain sites and to avoid sites that you are not interested in, such as shopping or museums or dance performances.

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We took a cruise line excursion to fortress (San Felipe I believe it is), La Popa monastery, drive through and short walk in old city and then short shopping stop at local mall that was not full of local vendors. We chose the "air conditioned" van option which made a huge difference. Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable and kept the street vendors etc. at bay. That was just our experience. Thoroughly enjoyed our day there.

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Thanks everyone for the advice. I'm sure we will enjoy the history and architecture of Cartagena. We survived the vendors in Cairo so we will likely be OK with the vendors in Colombia.

 

Gianna

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We were In Cartagena on January 10, 2011, and really enjoyed the old city. In fact it was our favourite spot of the whole cruise. We wished that we had more time there. Sure it was hot and humid, but what else would you expect given their location. There is a very nice welcome centre at the terminal. We walked through it and passed by two areas of tour operators before we reached the taxis. We found an English speaking driver who took us to the old city and gave us an excellent walking tour. There were people trying to sell us items, but you just politely say no and they leave you alone. Our tour cost us $10 US each and there were four of us. Hope that you enjoy your visit.

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We took a cruise line excursion to fortress (San Felipe I believe it is), La Popa monastery, drive through and short walk in old city and then short shopping stop at local mall that was not full of local vendors. We chose the "air conditioned" van option which made a huge difference. Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable and kept the street vendors etc. at bay. That was just our experience. Thoroughly enjoyed our day there.

 

How far is the monastery from the cruise port? My cruise line does not offer a tour there and I was wondering if I could get there by taxi or bus.

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We took a cruise line excursion to fortress (San Felipe I believe it is), La Popa monastery, drive through and short walk in old city and then short shopping stop at local mall that was not full of local vendors. We chose the "air conditioned" van option which made a huge difference. Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable and kept the street vendors etc. at bay. That was just our experience. Thoroughly enjoyed our day there.

 

You believe correctly, it is San Felipe.

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Although we often book our tours independently, we booked our tour of Cartagena thru Celebrity. We were very pleased with our tour, and I believe it was the same tour described here by Cruiser 4 Life 66. Personally, I was not bothered by the vendors, as they were very polite and if told, "no, gracias", they would leave one alone (unlike vendors in Jamaica or the Bahamas).

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