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bayjoens

Puerto Quetza/Antigua safety

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Some friends and I are considering a private tour here and are concerned about some posts from a few years ago about the safety of the port, so we would love to hear from people who have been there recently, especially those who were on private tours.

 

Just to be safe, we are thinking of booking the ship's "self-guided" tour of Antigua and then using Helmuth to tour privately in town.

 

Thoughts?

 

Thanks!

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The ship's tour busses were accompanied by police. I don't know whether this is always necessary. We were there on Good Friday, a major holiday, and Guatemala's big beer brewery had arranged a rock concert next to the port. Antigua itself looked very safe. Lots of people from all over Guatemala in addition to us cruisers.

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The road between Puerto Quetzal and Antigua has heavy security. Once in Antigua there is security everywhere. (Lots of plain clothes so you may not notice.)

A couple of our "cruise friends" took a private taxi tour from the port to Antigua and ask the driver to drive them to get a better look at a lake they saw on the way. The taxi driver told them he was so sorry but not allowed to get off of the main highway with tourist to assure their security.

Happily, it is safe to go from the port to Antigua and you'll be safe while there. :)

LuLu

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We took a private tour with Carlos Mijangos of www.guatemalanguide.com

to Antigua. We never felt like there was any threat to our security and the people were quite friendly. It was a most enjoyable and interesting tour.

Edited by MVPinBoynton

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Bayjoens, We have found the BEST/CHEAPEST way to get from Puerto Quetzal up to Antigua is by Bus; doing the 'Antigua On Your Own' method. Bus guide on board has always been very informative. I travel to some very 'unique' places and Antigua is very safe in our opinion. You'll Unload off Bus in Antigua at the door to a Jade Shop/Factory. Walk the 5 or 6 Blocks down hill to downtown Zocalo and Markets, then Hire a jitney tuk-tuk to take you up to a Panoramic view of the city and Volcano for $10.bucks for something different. Our fave Restaurant is LaFonda de la Calle Real for Lunch and a Cold one with tropic ambience to die for. Last there April2014. Locomotiveman Tom

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Bayjoens, We have found the BEST/CHEAPEST way to get from Puerto Quetzal up to Antigua is by Bus; doing the 'Antigua On Your Own' method. Bus guide on board has always been very informative. I travel to some very 'unique' places and Antigua is very safe in our opinion. You'll Unload off Bus in Antigua at the door to a Jade Shop/Factory. Walk the 5 or 6 Blocks down hill to downtown Zocalo and Markets, then Hire a jitney tuk-tuk to take you up to a Panoramic view of the city and Volcano for $10.bucks for something different. Our fave Restaurant is LaFonda de la Calle Real for Lunch and a Cold one with tropic ambience to die for. Last there April2014. Locomotiveman Tom

 

Was the panoramic view location at the Hill of the Cross? If so, as of November 2014, it is not recommended that tourists go there anymore due to high incidence of crime against tourists. It did look like it would be a great place for photos of the Antigua area. The below photos show the area I am talking about from town and then close up with a telephoto lens shot.

 

pc_antigua_IMG_8781_.jpg

 

pc_antigua_IMG_9004_.jpg

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Some friends and I are considering a private tour here and are concerned about some posts from a few years ago about the safety of the port, so we would love to hear from people who have been there recently, especially those who were on private tours.

 

Just to be safe, we are thinking of booking the ship's "self-guided" tour of Antigua and then using Helmuth to tour privately in town.

 

Thoughts?

 

Thanks!

Again, WE found Antigua quite safe in all regards in 2014. Going up to Antigua's 'Cross on the Hill' in a 'Tuk-tuk was great. Some jogger-types hoofed it the 1/2mile. 3 local cops lounging in the shade and locals with kids having a picnic lunch up there with us tourists told me more than any 'Post' could. Beautiful view of the Volcano from up there. Antigua is more an Artisan crafts/textile village than a city. Locomotiveman Tom

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Some friends and I are considering a private tour here and are concerned about some posts from a few years ago about the safety of the port, so we would love to hear from people who have been there recently, especially those who were on private tours.

 

Just to be safe, we are thinking of booking the ship's "self-guided" tour of Antigua and then using Helmuth to tour privately in town.

 

Thoughts?

 

Thanks!

Bayjoens, I should have answered your 'Post' more directly. In 2014 I also walked from the ship's pier down a dusty road amongst the 18-wheelers to the Port city beach proper to find a 'Cold One' and ceviche'. Not much there. Volcanic grit beach, Cantinas and little palapa stands etc. Nothing unsafe about the Port itself...but zero Wow-factor. Dockside at the Pier is very nice Tourist Board Hall w/kiosks for trinkets and such. Handy for the infirm unable to endure walking or tropical heat. Go to up to Antigua for volcanos, cooler temps. and local color. Locomotiveman Tom

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Some friends and I are considering a private tour here and are concerned about some posts from a few years ago about the safety of the port, so we would love to hear from people who have been there recently, especially those who were on private tours.

 

Just to be safe, we are thinking of booking the ship's "self-guided" tour of Antigua and then using Helmuth to tour privately in town.

 

Thoughts?

 

Thanks!

 

We did this last year (with a different private guide in Antigua) and felt perfectly safe the entire time. As others have mentioned, the ship shuttle will take you directly from the ship on a major highway, and drop you off right in Antigua. We were dropped at a jewelry shop. I did notice there were a couple of police nearby. We met our guide and have a great walking tour of Antigua, and grabbed some lunch before heading back to catch the return bus to the ship. Felt very safe the entire time in Antigua.

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How long is the bus ride to Antigua? ( without an accident or other blockage:rolleyes:)

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We spent a week in Guatemala a few years ago and there is lots of security but there is also a high level of crime. We never had a problem but we were a group of 10 40-50 year old men. Antigua is safe but I would be careful wondering too far from the port. The other problem they have is with beggars and very very young prostitutes.

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I spent a week in Antigua a few years back and absolutely loved it and can't wait to go back on the cruise I'm booked for. The city is amazing and safe. With that said, I would not recommend going off the beaten path. Guatemala does have a crime problem, as do just about any other place cruise ships go. Be smart and you'll be fine.

 

Two other small points: Guatemala also has a pretty decent tourist police force that is separate from any other law enforcement. Main tourist roads and areas are well patrolled.

 

Another thing in my one experience in the country is don't be alarmed to see guns. I didn't see this in Antigua at all but other cities, even convenience stores have armed guards. I honestly don't know about other cities outside of the ones I visited, which are no where near the cruise port. Again, not an issue in Antigua.

 

But to reiterate, Antigua is amazing.

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I am a sucker for old Spanish towns and some of the best preserved are in Central America. Leon, near the Nicaragua port if Corinto, is an uncut gem stone compared to Antiqua, near Puerto Quetzal.

 

I am glad I have a chance to see both again in May, in addition to some South American old towns I have not seen yet.

 

By all means, you should take the ship's bus service for a day on your own. It was fully narrated and each passenger got a little souvenir (forget if it was a flag or something else). Drop off at the Jade shop, which is easy to find, and so is the pickup. Quetzal is artsy-craftsy, Leon may or may not become a similar big tourist attraction. . .

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Is Antigua wheelchair friendly? Also I read your review of Cartagena and was wondering the same about there. Your reviews are excellent and very informative. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

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Is Antigua wheelchair friendly? Also I read your review of Cartagena and was wondering the same about there. Your reviews are excellent and very informative. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

 

Was in Antigua and Cartagena this December with my wife who uses a transport chair with larger back wheels. Cartagena is not a problem at all but Antigua is the most unfriendly place, wheelchair wise, we have ever been. I have pushed her through Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Mexico, most Caribbean cruise ports and a large portion of the United States getting to all of the major sites. Antigua was a whole different experience. Not only are the streets cobblestones, many European and Mexican areas are, but the cobblestones are severely uneven with large potholes running through the streets at crossings and major differences in elevation of individual adjacent cobblestones. There are many regions of the sidewalk that are also cobblestone so it is impossible to walk through the city without going over the cobblestones. Most of the time we crossed streets it was necessary to lift the chair onto the two back wheels and push through the street or pull the chair backwards. Think of a handtruck delivering cases of coke to the convenience store. In a few cases, there were so many ruts that people actually came over to help as I could not find a place where the wheels would move. Also many of the stores have steep steps so for instance we could not get into the chocolate factory. This was not a problem with the Jade stores. That being said, we were able to tour Antigua on our own and more or less completed the path that the tour bus driver said to take. I therefore assume we saw all of the sites that could be seen in the alloted time. Did not have time to stop for lunch or tour some of the side streets both time limit and not sure it would be worth the effort.

That being said, I am glad that we went to Antigua. It was worth the effort. I am not in supper shape, but am an experienced pusher in one port pushing over 5 miles. The ship tour desk did caution us about going and I believe there was an option to hire a cab or perhaps it was a guide to help getting around.

Cartegena was fairly easy and I do not recall any difficulties getting around even when we wandered into the more commercial area. Some sidewalks were narrow and curbcuts were virtually non existent but we are used to that when we do our two week land vacation in Mazatlan. I will caution that these are some of the most aggressive vendors I have encountered. In one case I had to ask in spanish if he understood what no meant. Leaving the port, taxis to town were unavailable and a van driver tried to severly overcharge us, $5 per person for the others in the van and $15 for us; finnaly gave him ten but he would not accept that we did not want to tour with him and had to push wheelchair out of back of van. Coming back, we found a different cab at correct rates but the person who took us to town was at the pickup site and started yelling at the other driver that we were his passanger. Did get some decent prices in the street on a hat and some t-shirts but the t-shirts were not in the correct sizes, we did not check. Would go back prepared for what we would encounter. This was second visit to Cartegena, the first morning to about one this starting at 12 and some of what we encountered may be related to the larger number of people there at the later time. Once again I would definitely go there again.

Hope this helps

Hope this helps.

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Thank you so much, sdschwrt, for all the information you supplied. Actually I have a transport chair also. My husband is tall and the handles are higher than on a wheelchair. I can walk some but no very far, maybe about a block. I have good days and bad days. We are just trying to decide if it's worth taking it since most of the tours I have booked, since I first posted this question, require little walking.

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On 2/8/2015 at 7:17 AM, MVPinBoynton said:

 

Was the panoramic view location at the Hill of the Cross? If so, as of November 2014, it is not recommended that tourists go there anymore due to high incidence of crime against tourists. It did look like it would be a great place for photos of the Antigua area. The below photos show the area I am talking about from town and then close up with a telephoto lens shot.

 

pc_antigua_IMG_8781_.jpg

 

pc_antigua_IMG_9004_.jpg

This is the Cerro de la Cruz area. We hiked to the top this wk. You can also hire a tuk tuk.  Standard rate for tuk tuk is Q10 total (not per person) each way.   In all my research preparing for this trip I did not see anything current warning tourists to not hike this area. Well worth doing! 

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4 minutes ago, cpayne said:

This is the Cerro de la Cruz area. We hiked to the top this wk. You can also hire a tuk tuk.  Standard rate for tuk tuk is Q10 total (not per person) each way.   In all my research preparing for this trip I did not see anything current warning tourists to not hike this area. Well worth doing! 


I’m so glad to hear that  Thanks for the update. 

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Was just in Antigua. I never felt unsafe. There’s lots of people around.

 

Regarding the police escort for tourist buses: we were told by many sources that the escort was for us to have priority on the roads.  Traffic can be horrible and the government does not want tourists delayed by traffic jams. The buses get to go around all the traffic and get priority around the congested areas. 

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