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I have read that Dora is better than the ship tour, but her prices $65 (for up to 16 pax) is more than the cruise line is charging ($59.95 with max capacity of 20) and the itinerary looks similar.

 

For those who have done either, would appreciate your insight as to why Dora is better.

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I have read that Dora is better than the ship tour, but her prices $65 (for up to 16 pax) is more than the cruise line is charging ($59.95 with max capacity of 20) and the itinerary looks similar.

 

For those who have done either, would appreciate your insight as to why Dora is better.

 

The following is not specific to Dora or any other private tour guide, but when you do a private tour, you can limit the numbers to a very manageable group, like 6, 8, or 10. To me, that's far better than being herded around with 19 other people. Just because a private guide will allow up to 16 doesn't mean you have to have a group that large. Also, with a private guide, you can customize what you are doing, e.g., not spending a lot of time shopping.

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We booked a tour with Dora last April. Our guide was a lady who was both thorough and knowledgeable. She was clearly very proud of her home country and spoke to us in a respectful, informative way. The transportation was a 16 passenger passenger van which had a very good air conditioner. I cannot overemphasize how important the air conditioner was. We are from the Houston area where heat and humidity are common. That said, I was totally unprepared for the suppressive heat and humidity. Our guide combined driving and walking elements expertly and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Our group had a mix of ages and mobility challenges and the guide took time with each of us, addressing everyone's needs in a personal and kind manner.

 

If your concern is the perceived security of a ship tour, in this port I would say those concerns are unfounded. The old city is absolutely amazing and I say that as someone who seriously considered staying on the ship before I did what you're doing now; asking questions and getting the whole story. Whatever you decide I know you will enjoy this port. Dora certainly has my recommendation.

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I have read that Dora is better than the ship tour, but her prices $65 (for up to 16 pax) is more than the cruise line is charging ($59.95 with max capacity of 20) and the itinerary looks similar.

 

For those who have done either, would appreciate your insight as to why Dora is better.

 

We did ship tour ,had no problem with it. You will have same crowed when you out of your van. Next time we just grab a taxi and walk around old city.

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We booked a tour with Dora last April. Our guide was a lady who was both thorough and knowledgeable. She was clearly very proud of her home country and spoke to us in a respectful, informative way. The transportation was a 16 passenger passenger van which had a very good air conditioner. I cannot overemphasize how important the air conditioner was. We are from the Houston area where heat and humidity are common. That said, I was totally unprepared for the suppressive heat and humidity. Our guide combined driving and walking elements expertly and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Our group had a mix of ages and mobility challenges and the guide took time with each of us, addressing everyone's needs in a personal and kind manner.

 

If your concern is the perceived security of a ship tour, in this port I would say those concerns are unfounded. The old city is absolutely amazing and I say that as someone who seriously considered staying on the ship before I did what you're doing now; asking questions and getting the whole story. Whatever you decide I know you will enjoy this port. Dora certainly has my recommendation.

 

Thanks for the info lifes-a-beach, very helpful! We're just starting our research to prepare for a panama canal cruise in January with Princess (roundtrip out of FLL), Is this Cartegena you are referring to?

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Yes Cartagena, Columbia. We were on Caribbean Princess round trip out of Houston. It was their last cruise before the Houston Bayport terminal was closed. We had stops in Cartagena, Puerto Limon, Colon, Costa Maya and Cozumel. We went through the canal on a ferry through the ship.By the time we did the old city tour in Cartagena and the canal tour we were too wiped out to do much in Limon. Just walked around the city and found a wifi spot to FaceTime the kids. Anyway, Dora is a definite yes in Cartagena.

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We'll contact her, thanks.

 

I know you can only take an excursion through the ship when in Gatun Lake, and many strongly recommend the excursion from Gatun Lake that busses you to a ferry and you go through the Cut and the other locks, then bus back to meet the ship at Colon. Is that the excursion you chose for the canal? That one is pricey at $179pp and sounds like a long day and long bus rides. But it's probably an amazing excursion...

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Yes that's essentially the trip we took except we were docked at Colon not in Gatun Lake. Our bus left at 8:00am and all aboard was at 4 and departure at 5. We got back to the ship at 7. It was about that price but was bucket list for me. My dad was stationed there in WWII and I always wanted to see what he saw. It is also very hot and they will not raise or lower a lock without it being full, consequently a ferry has to sit in the lock waiting on ships to join them. It's pretty awe inspiring to see a colossal ship pull alongside your ferry. We sat in one of the locks for an hour before a container ship came and we could move again.

 

On a side note, the tour company sells tee shirts and caps on the ferry. They were ok and I was going to buy a shirt when I noticed that the boat staff were wearing those light weight, vented button up fishing type shirts like Columbia Sportswear makes. They were blue and had the company logo embroidered on them which was something like Canal Tours with an outline of the boat. Really cool shirts. So I spotted a guy about my size and asked where I could buy one. He grinned and said he had another one below but it would need washing and that he would give it to me. I gave him $20 and he was very happy with the sale. So I got the only really cool logo shirt off the boat! It's in great shape and I wear it often. Good looking shirt!

 

There was plenty of iced down water and they fed a pretty decent lunch. I think they sold beer as well. Except the oppressive heat it was a pretty good trip. I'll probably never do it again but not to many people get to touch the inside walls of the Panama Canal...just like I know my dad did.

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Yes that's essentially the trip we took except we were docked at Colon not in Gatun Lake. Our bus left at 8:00am and all aboard was at 4 and departure at 5. We got back to the ship at 7. It was about that price but was bucket list for me. My dad was stationed there in WWII and I always wanted to see what he saw. It is also very hot and they will not raise or lower a lock without it being full, consequently a ferry has to sit in the lock waiting on ships to join them. It's pretty awe inspiring to see a colossal ship pull alongside your ferry. We sat in one of the locks for an hour before a container ship came and we could move again.

 

On a side note, the tour company sells tee shirts and caps on the ferry. They were ok and I was going to buy a shirt when I noticed that the boat staff were wearing those light weight, vented button up fishing type shirts like Columbia Sportswear makes. They were blue and had the company logo embroidered on them which was something like Canal Tours with an outline of the boat. Really cool shirts. So I spotted a guy about my size and asked where I could buy one. He grinned and said he had another one below but it would need washing and that he would give it to me. I gave him $20 and he was very happy with the sale. So I got the only really cool logo shirt off the boat! It's in great shape and I wear it often. Good looking shirt!

 

There was plenty of iced down water and they fed a pretty decent lunch. I think they sold beer as well. Except the oppressive heat it was a pretty good trip. I'll probably never do it again but not to many people get to touch the inside walls of the Panama Canal...just like I know my dad did.

 

What a great experience - thanks for sharing. And smart thinking about the shirt!

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We used Dora last year when we were on the Island Princess. It was a great tour and we got to all of the main sites before the all the ship tours!

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Hi,

 

We will be in Cartagena next February and I am not sure whether to book a shipstour or to book Dora - we are 2 only and are willing to share with others? Do I have to bring a group or will Dora arrange the group? Thank you!

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Yes if you contact her she will give you the details, I just reserved a spot or our cruise in Januaty. You will be with others on a group tour but a smaller group from reports I've read. There is also a good report on going on your own if you google that.

 

http://www.cartagenatour.com/

Edited by blue_water

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Hi Bluewater,

 

I have read this, too. At the moment I haven't made a decision if we just take a taxi or book a tour. It is too long till then. But the easy peasy tour on your own doesn't sound bad. :) Will talk to my husband closer to our tour. I am looking to a Khao Lak vacation in September and after that will get closer into planning and booking.

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Hi,

 

We will be in Cartagena next February and I am not sure whether to book a shipstour or to book Dora - we are 2 only and are willing to share with others? Do I have to bring a group or will Dora arrange the group? Thank you!

 

Another option is to set up a private excursion with Dora and ask others on your Roll Call to join you. You can control the group size that way, and keep it small. Rolls Calls are great for this! (In fact, have you joined your Roll Call? There may already be folks looking for others to do a tour.)

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Not that our tour is with Dora as it is with Marelvy, but we have done this for our Roll Call. We will be overnighting in Cartegena and have booked her for an evening tour the first day and a City tour for the second.

 

I've received a number of positive responses from our Roll Call and everyone is excited about the port!!!!

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Another option is to set up a private excursion with Dora and ask others on your Roll Call to join you. You can control the group size that way, and keep it small. Rolls Calls are great for this! (In fact, have you joined your Roll Call? There may already be folks looking for others to do a tour.)

 

We book private tour guides in Limon and everywhere else as possible. We enjoy meeting and sharing experiences with others, but larger tours can be less enjoyable depending on the group. Dora obviously wants to take a full tour (her van holds 16 I'm reading) so I'm sure you'd have to pay more per person to limit the group size. So we are deciding between that option and a self-tour and the latter will probably prevail.

I've read there are other, smaller guides too who provide tours for 2 - 4 ppl. Dora is just so popular that she has a lot of requests everyday and so runs a larger operation...

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We book private tour guides in Limon and everywhere else as possible. We enjoy meeting and sharing experiences with others, but larger tours can be less enjoyable depending on the group. Dora obviously wants to take a full tour (her van holds 16 I'm reading) so I'm sure you'd have to pay more per person to limit the group size. So we are deciding between that option and a self-tour and the latter will probably prevail.

I've read there are other, smaller guides too who provide tours for 2 - 4 ppl. Dora is just so popular that she has a lot of requests everyday and so runs a larger operation...

 

I have a tour set up with Dora next year with a group put together on our Roll Call. Yes, there's a sliding per person scale, and the cost pp goes down with more folks. But it's totally affordable (imho) for 6 or 8 people (respectively $75 and $70 pp).

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I have a tour set up with Dora next year with a group put together on our Roll Call. Yes, there's a sliding per person scale, and the cost pp goes down with more folks. But it's totally affordable (imho) for 6 or 8 people (respectively $75 and $70 pp).

 

We're 2 couples who would be joining up to 12 others in her van and Dora offered a nice tour for $65pp.

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On Dora's tour, do you actually walk around the fort? Her description included " Following we head towards the San Felipe de Barajas Fort". I didn't know if we just drive by, or actually walk through it.

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When we did it with fora two years ago, the van stopped at the bottom of the fort. I think it was more so the vendors there had a shot at you as there really wasn't enough time to walk up the ramp and back again and actually see anything.

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We are in Cartagena November 12 and 13 with Celebrity Equinox. Dora is offering or a private van for us 3 ($340) for a 4 hours trip or a bus with 14 people. Any other option?

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We are in Cartagena November 12 and 13 with Celebrity Equinox. Dora is offering or a private van for us 3 ($340) for a 4 hours trip or a bus with 14 people. Any other option?

 

Not to hijack this thread, but we are on the same cruise and have Marelvy booked for an evening tour the first day and a city tour the second. Cost is $75 for each tour. If you go to the cruise's Roll Call you can read all about each tour. FYI, her city tour is 6.5 hours.

 

Whatever you choose to do, enjoy your cruise!

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