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Is Cartegena Safe? Or a machine gun city?

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My Dear MIL has warned us about Cartegena and said she was scared the whole time she was there. She advised not to take a cruise that stops there. Is there any truth to this? Thanks!

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We were there in December, and we took a taxi tour. At every stop, I felt totally safe. Though our taxi driver told us, as we drove through a very poor neighborhood on the way to the monestary, that people would shoot you for $10. I was thinking to myself, I hope no one stops us!! This was our first time to Cartegena, and me and my wife loved it. Walking around the old part of town was my favorite.

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We were there in December, and we took a taxi tour. At every stop, I felt totally safe. Though our taxi driver told us, as we drove through a very poor neighborhood on the way to the monestary, that people would shoot you for $10. I was thinking to myself, I hope no one stops us!! This was our first time to Cartegena, and me and my wife loved it. Walking around the old part of town was my favorite.

 

:eek: Gosh, that comment by the taxi driver wasn't very comforting.

 

We've avoided Cartegena for many years. When last there, we did an excursion though the ship and we're told to stay with the group and not to stray off on our own. At one point a group of teens appeared at a stop light and began shaking our small tour bus. A police car was there very quickly and they left.

 

Good thread. Hoping to learn things actually are better now.

 

LuLu

~~~~

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We were there last April and took a tour arranged through Dora. Our guide stayed with us everywhere and our driver picked us up at various points when we had gotten out to go tour someplace. Some of the vendors can be a bit aggressive but left us alone when we told them no. It's not a city where I'd ever go off walking on my own or just as a couple.

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We were in Cartagena in December - took a cab to the old town and walked for hours through this very nice old city. We felt very safe (maybe safer than in some US cities). When street vendors approach you, just say "no, thanks" and they leave you alone. But as always you have to be careful and leave your jewelry and Rolexes at home or on the ship!

Edited by peterm

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My Dear MIL has warned us about Cartegena and said she was scared the whole time she was there. She advised not to take a cruise that stops there. Is there any truth to this? Thanks!

 

Would you get off the ship if it stopped in New York City?

 

It's about the same in Cartagena. Parts of the city are dangerous, others not so much. The authorities know the value of tourism and have extra protection at the sites that tourists frequent.

 

We hired a cab at the port, went to the big fort and then the old city....had a wonderful time with no problems (other than my wife wanting to buy an emerald).:D

 

It was delightful and very interesting. We learned that after several raids by pirates and other nations, Spain spent about $1 trillion to fortify Cartagena, building a huge fort and lengthy walls to keep out invaders. It worked.

 

The old city would remind you of being in Europe with narrow streets, little shops, second floor balcony windows. They really have done a nice job of keeping it up.

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Not too bad. You'll NOT be there at 2/am and you won't be alone. Thousands of German and Spanish tourists book many of Cartegena's beach hotels in Winter..they seem to like it. An interesting tropical city. Locomotiveman Tom

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We did a tour with Dora in December - yes she mentioned there was a part of town on the way to 'La Popa' that was somewhat 'dodgy' but we didn't have any problems driving through there.

 

The later part of our tour was a walking tour of the old town, during which we didn't need to worry about being in close formation, very relaxed, no worries.

 

Overal impression of Cartagena was it was a lovely colonial town with some amazing buildings and history and that was a very interesting corner of Columbia.

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My wife and I were in Cartagena last April and felt perfectly safe. We did a shore excursion from the ship that started with a guided walk through the Old City, followed by an hour and a half on your own. We wandered through the narrow streets all by ourselves, and never felt uncomfortable. Here are some photos I took that day:

Cartagena, Columbia

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The only thing that happened to us in Cartagena was a huge thunderstorm popped up - while this was happening, the van we were in with several other couples decided to break down. Thankfully one of the couples spoke fluent Spanish and understood what was going on. This was not a cruise-tour, but one we negotiated for outside the port. Our guide was incredible. The driver managed to get the van to stop in front of a Police Booth, so we were very safe. The guide immediately started making calls and got rides for all of us back to the ship. DH & I were the last to leave and the guide stayed with us the entire time. Again, it wasn't scary because we were surrounded by police. We made it back to the ship with no problems, and the guide covered all the cab fares.

 

The best thing of all this is we still remain in contact with 2 of the couples that were on that van with us. In fact, we toured three other ports with them because we had so much fun!

 

Risa

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we did a tour that was guided at some points and on your own at other times. we never felt unsafe there. the vendors could be a little aggressive but that was the worst of it. we treated it like we would any unfamiliar big city - be aware of your surroundings. we walked around on our own for awhile in the old city. when our tour group made a shopping stop on the way back to the ship, we left the shopping area to walk back to a beach the tour bus had passed. don't miss out on this port!

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Were just there this past Jan. on a private tour for the day. Drove through a number of neighborhoods and walked all around the old city. Never at anytime felt unsafe. I have been more nervous in some cities in the USA.

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Like any city there are some bad areas but by and large the tourist areas are very safe. I would use more care in the evening.

 

It is a beautiful city and I really enjoy it. Have been there several times including this past January.

 

Keith

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I was there this morning. :) None of us felt unsafe. We were on a Dora tour that was excellent. Frankly, it left me thinking I'd like to return for a stay at one of the hotels in the old city. Some of them looked very nice.

 

I guess it all depends on where you have travelled, but I had my 2 kids and my 79 year old mother with me, and I didn't feel we had problems with vendors. If you told them no, they quit asking. It may have helped to be in a small group, and with a local guide. I know when I have travelled in countries like India, it has helped to not be part of a huge tour, and to have someone with you to run interference for you.

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Here’s my take on Colombia:

 

What a beautiful country and wonderful people.

 

Now, the danger……

 

Colombia, as a whole, has 13 times more homicides than the USA.

It is just a little smaller than Texas. (!! WOW!)

 

Machine gun city, yes? .......Not so fast.

 

Most of the homicides in Colombia occur in Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Buenaventura and Barranquilla.

 

Cartagena has a lower homicide rate than Panama, Caracas, Memphis, Atlanta, Kansas City, Mo. or Cincinnati.

 

Cartagena is the safest of Colombia’s 32 state (capitals).

 

We are so impressed with Cartagena that we’re returning for two (2) weeks in the fall and perhaps investing in real estate there.

 

Yes, there are parts of the city that can be dangerous. No different than your own home town. Don’t wear flashy jewelry or watches. Don’t walk where you feel, or know it’s dangerous and enjoy this great city. Do the tour with guides and not a rental car if you don’t feel confident solo.

 

As the stats indicate, you could get capped or mugged quicker in Memphis or Atlanta.

 

Don’t miss this great city out of fear.

 

You’ll be just fine and happy that you saw it. :)

Edited by barbados

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Here’s my take on Colombia:

 

What a beautiful country and wonderful people.

 

Now, the danger……

 

Colombia, as a whole, has 13 times more homicides than the USA.

It is just a little smaller than Texas. (!! WOW!)

 

Machine gun city, yes? .......Not so fast.

 

Most of the homicides in Colombia occur in Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Buenaventura and Barranquilla.

 

Cartagena has a lower homicide rate than Panama, Caracas, Memphis, Atlanta, Kansas City, Mo. or Cincinnati.

 

Cartagena is the safest of Colombia’s 32 state (capitals).

 

We are so impressed with Cartagena that we’re returning for two (2) weeks in the fall and perhaps investing in real estate there.

 

Yes, there are parts of the city that can be dangerous. No different than your own home town. Don’t wear flashy jewelry or watches. Don’t walk where you feel, or know it’s dangerous and enjoy this great city. Do the tour with guides and not a rental car if you don’t feel confident solo.

 

As the stats indicate, you could get capped or mugged quicker in Memphis or Atlanta.

 

Don’t miss this great city out of fear.

 

You’ll be just fine and happy that you saw it. :)

 

Thanks for the stats.....it eases my mind quite a bit....we're going to plan on a tour there....likely with Claudia....all of the comments here have been very positive....thank you all!

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I have not been to Cartagena. Looking forward to visiting there and was trying to decide if a cruise or a land tour was better for my husand and me. I noticed the words "machine gun" city was used in a post and just wanted to comment on that. I live in Cozumel, Mexico ... often it is quite disconcerting for people especially from the states to see people walking around with big machine guns etc. Those are usually used by police and military to curb crime, and is not an indication that the place is unsafe. It may seem like a contradiction but it is not. I have come to take comfort in seeing our Navy carrying heavy ammunition around town. That just means they are here to protect us. I am not sure about Colombia, but in Mexico most of our police force do not carry guns.

Sometimes places are just different than the states and the same rules do not apply. I guess my point is just because they have big guns does not mean the place is unsafe. My husband spends a lot of time in Colombia, in Bogota. He is friends with many people associated with the government and their jobs is to gauge and protect tourists. It is a very high priority in Colombia. He loves it there.

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We were hoping to do a little (very little since my husband has knee problems and walks very slowly, even with his cane) walking around on our own near the ship without having to take a taxi. Is this possible? What is near where the ship docks? Are there any shops at all? We will be on the Star mid-October.

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We were hoping to do a little (very little since my husband has knee problems and walks very slowly, even with his cane) walking around on our own near the ship without having to take a taxi. Is this possible? What is near where the ship docks? Are there any shops at all? We will be on the Star mid-October.
There is really nothing to see where the cruise ships dock in Cartagena. It is an industrial port area. Here's a photo I took from on the ship:

 

8475882881_3d650ba445_z.jpg

Cartagena Harbor by Jasperdo, on Flickr

 

At the end of the pier there is a small cruise terminal with a few shops. Here's a photo of that:

 

8475880123_39e2707e7a_z.jpg

Cartagena Harbor by Jasperdo, on Flickr

 

What I would suggest is that you have a taxi take you to the Clock Tower at the entrance to the Old City. From there you can leisurely explore as much of the Old City as your husband is capable of. It's all flat and compact. You can get a nice sample of the Old City within a few short blocks of the Clock Tower. Here's a photo of the Clock Tower. The Old City begins just through those arches:

 

7926441724_90682f8aa9_z.jpg

Cartagena, Colombia by Jasperdo, on Flickr

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There is really nothing to see where the cruise ships dock in Cartagena. It is an industrial port area. Here's a photo I took from on the ship:

 

8475882881_3d650ba445_z.jpg

Cartagena Harbor by Jasperdo, on Flickr

 

At the end of the pier there is a small cruise terminal with a few shops. Here's a photo of that:

 

8475880123_39e2707e7a_z.jpg

Cartagena Harbor by Jasperdo, on Flickr

 

What I would suggest is that you have a taxi take you to the Clock Tower at the entrance to the Old City. From there you can leisurely explore as much of the Old City as your husband is capable of. It's all flat and compact. You can get a nice sample of the Old City within a few short blocks of the Clock Tower. Here's a photo of the Clock Tower. The Old City begins just through those arches:

 

7926441724_90682f8aa9_z.jpg

Cartagena, Colombia by Jasperdo, on Flickr

 

THANK YOU. That is very helpful information. I also appreciate the photos.

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Wonder if Cartegena is not safe for health reasons? :confused:

 

All three times I've been there I've had trouble breathing and normally I don't have problems breathing ....

 

LuLu

~~~~

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I saw on NCL excursion page a carriage ride, had great reviews, thinking of doing this myself!

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I saw on NCL excursion page a carriage ride, had great reviews, thinking of doing this myself!

 

I did not see that excursion offered by the NCL Star but I'll check again. That would be a good excursion for us.

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I saw on NCL excursion page a carriage ride, had great reviews, thinking of doing this myself!

 

I found the carriage ride excursion but it has some walking stops, including the vendor shops in the Dungeons.

 

It evidently not a ride where you always stay in the carriage. Also, many of the reviews comment on the limited English of the driver so the passengers didn't really learn anything about the sites they were seeing,

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