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11 Night Ultimate Caribbean Cruise Photo Review - Celebrity Reflection


Marvy Mare
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March 5 - DAY 4 - Cartagena, Columbia

 

 

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We were in port by 6:30. On this trip, port side was a good choice. Except for Grand Cayman, we always had a great view from our balcony. I was hoping to see sunrise over the city. It just turned out to be one of those hot 'red rubber ball' sunrises. Sunrises and sunsets are never stunning without clouds to show them off. Some clouds at anytime help make photos better. Cartagena could have called for sky replacement if I was into that. It had been misty all morning or maybe it was just heat haze but as the sun came up the mist burned off.

 

 

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6:32 am

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March 5 - DAY 4 - Cartagena

I'm finally not having to look up the spelling for Cartagena every time I type it. I didn't do a photo review of our first cruise on the Silhouette mainly because I couldn't spell the ship's name. Just kidding. That may be why I like the Reflection better. There are two things that I preferred on the Reflection - the walking 'track', and the larger area outside the Oceanview. When I walked I went around the whole deck and sometimes included deck 16 in my travels. On the Reflection you could walk right around to the front of the trip, though this time it wasn't opened up yet most mornings. I'm not rebel enough to climb over the rope closure, though I did see a man doing that. Some mornings I set my walking to end once I got to go all around the ship.

 

We had a little bit of time to catch up on emails and messages. My phone plan kicked in while in port. No one wanted to worry us, but at this time, I may have had to message 'Don't tell dad'. It was early yet though. In a more innocent time. We heard from our dog caregivers as well. The dogs were having a great time. We planned to catch up with all and maybe FaceTime when we were back on the ship. 

 

Our ideas for tours came from suggestions on our Cruise Critic Roll Call. We had considered Dora's tour at one point but we had the impression that it was an all day tour and we didn't want that. So we planned to walk? into town, or take a cab into old town. Our friend Lorie told us that someone told them they walked into town and back and they walked 13k.  Is that even possible? Especially in the heat and in a strange country like Columbia.

By December, I thought that I should start making some plans. All the reviews we read for Dora were outstanding. Hoping we weren't too late I e-mailed Dora and heard right back from her. We were in. With Dora 2. I checked over our Roll Call and a few others from the group were with Dora 2 as well.

 

It was all very well organized. Our instructions were very specific.'When you come down the gangway, follow the walkway and we will be at he end of the pier (70 meters, 280 ft.). We will be with a sign with your name on it "Dora Group 2" Don't move from there . Staff will be wearing green jackets.' Very specific. I liked that. Ken liked that even more. Did I mention that he worries.😎

We were off the ship by 7:45 and sure enough there was a person in a green jacket with a sign Dora 2 at the end of the pier.

 

 

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The Reflection and the Caribbean Princess - Caribbean is another word I have trouble spelling. 

 

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Look at that hot sky. It was wonderful!

 

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You can see our room in that picture. Port side at the end of the hall. 

 

 

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March 5 - DAY 4 - Cartagena, Columbia

 

Once our group had gathered, we were walked as a group to the Port Oasis to wait again. Again don't move. We follow instructions well. I wish I had moved around a bit more. Turns out there was more to this little Oasis than we saw. We were just afraid to miss our tour. There were a few different groups waiting there. It was a small Eco Park. I don't know much more about it but someone said that most of the animals and birds had been 'rescued'. Not sure from whom they were rescued. For grammarians out there. Was that the correct usage of whom? That's one I am never clear on.

 

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Show off! These fellows loved getting their photos taken.

 

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This could have been a very cool photo without the guy fighting with the hose. Someday I will get photoshop figured out. I think he's a bit too big of an object to be removed successfully. These flamingoes were so pink. Special food additives?

 

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Another show off.

 

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Can't hide from me.

 

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Guess what kind of bird this is?

 

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This little guy was so cute. Might be a Yellow Crowned Amazon!

 

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"Please Miss" or "por favor señorita!"

 

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I can see my reflection in that clear glass! 

 

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Gracias señorita!

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Blue and Yellow & Scarlet Macaws! These birds said goodbye to us as we headed with our group to our small bus. 

Edited by Marvy Mare
correction
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March 5 - DAY 4 - Cartagena, Columbia

 

Back behind the Oasis there was a large parking lot where you could get a taxi and where tours were picking people up. The Dora Tour was great, but if we were to return, I just think we'd hire a cab and just go into the old town. 

There were about 6 couples on our bus I think and all from the Reflection. The people from the Caribbean Princess were on other tours and maybe on Dora 1? Dora 1 was guided by the real Dora. We met Tom & Terri from Atlanta, Chris & Charlie from New Jersey (later to become famous playing the "Marriage Game" late one evening on the Reflection) and Pat & Rick from Chicago. An employee from Dora's Tours also joined us. I'm not sure what her roll was. Maybe to keep us in line or crowd control. Our guide was Mercedes. 

 

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Traffic was very heavy. Rush hour I guess. There were hundreds of motorcycles everywhere. Most of the cars are taxis. The young people all ride on motorcycles and it was crazy. They run up between lanes of traffic in huge groups. Mercedes said that there were very few accidents. I found that hard to believe, considering the way everyone drove. We did come across one accident in our trip to our first stop.

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I didn't get a lot of photos as we were driving but did notice the gates, like you see in this photo at private residences. Season 3 of Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime, was supposed to take place in Venezuela. Obviously with the political situation in Venezuela filming didn't take place there and it was filmed in Mexico & Columbia masquerading as Venezuela. The homes, especially those of the more affluent had gates by the road with a driveway into the home and an inner courtyard. I'll have to check out season 3 again. It just dawned on me during our tour that Season 3 may have been filmed in Columbia and Google told me that I was right. 

 

Our first stop on the tour was to the monastery on the hill of Popa. 

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A view of the city from the monastery. 

 

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Beautiful flowers everywhere.

 

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A view of me from the monastery. See I was there.

 

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The Cruise Port.

 

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The monastery courtyard. We were only able to explore on the main level as the monks still live upstairs.

Charlie & Chris

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The other Dora employee. I can't remember her name.

 

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A brave guide from another tour.

 

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Rick (Dick) & Pat. A mural being restored.

 

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Ken was there too.

 

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From La Popa we headed back down the hill into town.

Edited by Marvy Mare
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On 3/21/2020 at 9:28 AM, PelicanLvr said:

Stuck home "sheltering" just outside New York City  We are about 30 miles from Times Square.  Crazy times!

 

Really enjoying the distraction of your review.  It's a needed break from the news.

 

Please keep it coming.

 

Good luck to everyone out there!

Thanks. Times Square looks quite empty right now. The news is terrible right now but it’s tough to look away. 
 

Maris

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14 minutes ago, Country_Cruiser67 said:

 

Thank you so much for your review. Unfortunately our March 23 Reflection cruise was cancelled so i am really enjoying your photos as there were many ports we had not been to previously. It would have also been our first time on the Reflection.

The Reflection is currently floating around somewhere off the Bahamas, I think. If you get a chance to do this itinerary in the future , I’d recommend it. It was great. 
 

Maris

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Maris & Ken. Thanks so much for taking the time & talent to do this review!  Our first time on Reflection, loved The Porch! We were on the MardiGras cruise prior this & on the 2 Mar cruise. Weather was much better for this cruise.  We were part of Dora#1 Celebrity (she had Dora 1 Celebrity & Dora 1 Princess) great tour, would’ve liked more time at the fort. Here’s my photos from Colombia & The Porch. I drool thinking about that PilPilshrimp!  We are at home enjoying your photos   Les & Melody

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6 hours ago, Marvy Mare said:

Not sure from whom they were rescued. For grammarians out there. Was that the correct usage of whom? That's one I am never clear on.

You were correct, Maris.

Norris

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1 hour ago, awhfy said:

Maris & Ken. Thanks so much for taking the time & talent to do this review!  Our first time on Reflection, loved The Porch! We were on the MardiGras cruise prior this & on the 2 Mar cruise. Weather was much better for this cruise.  We were part of Dora#1 Celebrity (she had Dora 1 Celebrity & Dora 1 Princess) great tour, would’ve liked more time at the fort. 

 

 

 

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Hi Les & Melody

We may have spoken to you on the cruise. Possibly waiting for Dora. I do remember someone who had done the Mardi Gras and enjoyed it. We actually checked into it at the future cruise office. The price was prohibitive at this point. I'm figuring that they may come down. 

That food from The Porch looks so good. I would have loved it, but unfortunately Ken is not a seafood lover so we didn't go there. We also found the visit to the fort was a little short. I could have skipped the shopping stop and would have liked to have climbed to the top of the Fort.

 

Maris

Edited by Marvy Mare
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1 hour ago, awhfy said:

Maris & Ken. Thanks so much for taking the time & talent to do this review!  Our first time on Reflection, loved The Porch! We were on the MardiGras cruise prior this & on the 2 Mar cruise. Weather was much better for this cruise.  We were part of Dora#1 Celebrity (she had Dora 1 Celebrity & Dora 1 Princess) great tour, would’ve liked more time at the fort. Here’s my photos from Colombia & The Porch. I drool thinking about that PilPilshrimp!  We are at home enjoying your photos   Les & Melody

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Love your pictures as well Les & Melody.  We 4 got to enjoy it earlier in the week on a sea day. That Seafood tower looks great but I do prefer my lobster warm.

 

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Love the photos Maris.  The peacock is beautiful.  We have the Reflection booked for the TA in 2021 and want to try the Porch.  We are seafood enthusiasts.  We have the Edge booked for February 2022 and Columbia is on the Itinerary.  Also have the Equinox for 2021 but that is Eastern Caribbean so no Columbia or Porch.

 

Gail

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1 hour ago, gfkcruiser said:

Love the photos Maris.  The peacock is beautiful.  We have the Reflection booked for the TA in 2021 and want to try the Porch.  We are seafood enthusiasts.  We have the Edge booked for February 2022 and Columbia is on the Itinerary.  Also have the Equinox for 2021 but that is Eastern Caribbean so no Columbia or Porch.

 

Gail

Thanks Gail

Lots of future plans. How exciting. Did you manage to get away on a cruise this year? The Porch was never busy but looked very nice.

 

Maris

 

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Hi Maris.

 

We did a "Dora" tour on our MSC Divina cruise in 2014, and Mercedes was our guide.  She was amazing, and loved it.  We were with another group of 4 that I friended on Cruise Critic, so  for this excursion, we were a group of 6.  We are going back to Cartagena (unless this virus changes things) in November 2020, and have booked Dora (with Mercedes) again!  We loved Cartagena in 2014, and can't wait to go back and spend more time in the old walled city!

 

Dale

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Dale

 

Yes, I'm really glad we chose to do this tour. It was great Mercedes was an excellent guide. November 2020. I sure hope that our world may have returned to normal. Though I don't think it will ever be the same.

 

Maris

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March 5 - DAY 4 - Cartagena, Columbia

 

From the hill of La Popa we headed back down into town to our next stop the San Felipe de  Barajas Fort. It was a very quick stop. It is the greatest fortress ever built by the Spaniards in any of their colonies and it was huge. I think I had my wide angle lens in my camera bag but was reluctant to pull it out here. 

 

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You can see San Felipe's sword, top left. 

 

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I see Chris and Charlie again in this photo.

 

Unfortunately, it was a very quick stop. There wasn't any time to climb the battlements. It was very crowded here. These pictures are deceiving. Maybe everyone ran when they saw my camera. No more like run towards me to beg to get their photo taken for cash. There were hundreds of hawkers everywhere in Cartagena. They weren't really aggressive and generally took no for an answer, but I didn't need or want hats or purses or sunglasses. Maybe they were getting desperate if they knew what was coming. I imagine that busy square is pretty quiet now. I should have bought something. 

 

Onward to the Dungeons. They are attached to the wall of the Old City. The Dungeons were originally built as vaults in the 1700s for explosives and then used during civil wars as prisons. They are now a series of souvenir shops. Not being big shoppers, we wandered around and enjoyed the views.

 

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A view from up above the Dungeons. Most of those vehicles, maybe all, have dropped off tourists here.

 

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A view of the Caribbean Sea from the roof.

 

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The red buses were city buses. Beautiful and clean looking. It was about 10am by this time and it appears that traffic has subsided. 

 

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Up on the roof. As you can see, most of the other tourists preferred to shop. I'm not sure if the places you see in the background are residences or resorts.

 

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Dora 2 on the right. I'm not sure if that's our driver. I only saw the back of his head. The driver did an amazing job though. The traffic was crazy.

 

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A few people bought coffee from this beautiful cart. That I would have liked but I wasn't sure if we could bring coffee back into Canada. All of our Dora 2 gang were American. 

 

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The coffee seller was stunning. There were a lot of beautiful people in Cartagena (mainly an ethnic mix of Amerindians, Africans and Europeans).

 

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The Dungeons. And I think I see Pat.

 

 

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March 5, DAY 4,  Cartagena

 

I've typed Cartagena so many times now but spell check still has to correct me. Ahhh, a former Special Education teacher who may have needed a little extra help herself. 

This next stop was what I had really been waiting for. Inside the wall. I have never been to Europe. Someday. This may have been a little taste. It was so beautiful. If we ever return, I would take more time there.

 

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There's our Dora 2 bus again and our Dora 2 assistant. The photo is a little too close up to be flattering. 

 

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Mercedes explained that there were 2 types of architecture in the city. This is one type. I can't remember how they were differentiated but one was Spanish Colonial. All pretty cool though.

 

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I think we were lost. A few folks on our cruise had just visited there on a back to back. 

 

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I mentioned earlier that the hawkers were numerous but not really aggressive. We did encounter some locals that just wouldn't quit. A group of young 'rappers' (and they were quite good) that latched onto Charlie and Chris and wouldn't quit. Followed them for quite a distance rapping the whole time. They wanted to be paid off and were 'holding them hostage' until they got some money. Charlie unfortunately didn't have change but the rapping group finally gave up. They probably could have earned a place on 'South American Idol'.

 

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The area was crowed, but all so clean. There must be a constant effort to keep it that way. Check out the vines and the bougainvillea (now there's a challenging word for the spelling impaired).

 

 

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Even the banks were beautiful.

 

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March 5 - DAY 4 - Cartagena

Mercedes explained to us that the walled city is divided into areas (kind of like parishes) and each area has a square and a church. Columbia is a very Catholic country. We stopped at one of the Plazas for a few moments. 

 

 

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Here's Mercedes. She was an amazing tour guide. 

More later. My dog is barking for breakfast - literally.

Edited by Marvy Mare
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Reading your Cartagena entries was a great way to start  the day... Dreary here in Suburban NY...snow flurries will change quuckly to rain.  No walks outside.

 

Loved all the photos and commentary...esp like the birds, nature and architecture !

We usually take ship's tours and try to avoid the shopping stops but for this port they all seem to have have it..can't wait for 2021.

 

Btw :   spell check Columbia.. I think it's Colombia

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hcat

 

Lol - You are right about Colombia - I appreciate human spell checks as well. As a native of British Columbia I made an incorrect assumption. 

Dreary here in Lakefield too. We may get up to 10cm of snow today and the grass that was visible yesterday is already covered. No chance to rake the leaves that we didn't get to in the fall. 

 

Maris

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Back to DAY 4 in Colombia (thanks hcat)

 

 

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Mercedes our wonderful tour guide. When I first saw her standing by our small tour bus, I thought she was one of our group and wondered how she would keep up with us. It turned out that we had trouble keeping up with her. She knew people everywhere we went. She told us a little about herself during her running commentary. Mercedes arrived from Belgium with her family in the early 50s after WWII. Her dad was an Engineer. I can't remember if she said that they planned to stay but they did. She was a teacher, French at first (it was the universal language at one time). She said that all the wealthy wanted their children to learn French. Then the demand changed and she became an English teacher. She worked as a tour guide at some point and that's when she met Dora. After Mercedes had retired, she got a call from Dora. Dora had started her own business and needed help. It started out as a couple of days a week for a few hours and grew to full time. 

She stressed many times how little crime there was in Colombia. Really? I saw Escobar on Netflix! 

A plan launched in 2011 called "Borders for Prosperity" has had a positive impact on life in Colombia and tourists are now able to enjoy the beauty of this country.

 

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21 hours ago, Marvy Mare said:

Hi Les & Melody

We may have spoken to you on the cruise. Possibly waiting for Dora. I do remember someone who had done the Mardi Gras and enjoyed it. We actually checked into it at the future cruise office. The price was prohibitive at this point. I'm figuring that they may come down. 

That food from The Porch looks so good. I would have loved it, but unfortunately Ken is not a seafood lover so we didn't go there. We also found the visit to the fort was a little short. I could have skipped the shopping stop and would have liked to have climbed to the top of the Fort.

 

Maris

That was us Maris. 

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March 5 - DAY 4 - Cartagena, Colombia

 

 

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I'm not sure what Plaza this was. This group was dancing for the crowd by one of the statues.  

 

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 There's one of those statues again. These people were watching the dancers.

 

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Heading into San Pedro Claver Church. It was built between 1850 & 1864. There is a convent located in this building.

 

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The original dome was replace in 1921.

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At the alter in a glass coffin are the remains of Peter Claver, a Saint who evangelized the black slaves of New Granada. 

 

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As we left the church, there were two elderly nuns in traditional habits taking collection.

 

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