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Ya Ya Cruiser

Info on Cartagena, Please

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Elaine,

 

I asked Lee about the capacity of the van--he said it would hold up to 10 persons for an "easy fit." That would bring per person cost down to $21, which then seems like a good value. If you had at least six people, it would work out less than the ship tours.

 

I would agree with Fodor's. Having lived and traveled in the third world, a firm but polite no to vendors and beggars generally gives them the message. Giving an inch causes swarms, which can conceal pickpockets or worse. You keep your wits and ignore them and they will (eventually) go in search of softer targets. Some think that you are a bigger target in a large group tour as it may give some cause to think they can let their guard down due to being in a group. In the end, it's all about what situation you think you will enjoy and in which you'd feel the most comfortable.

 

Will let you know if I hear anything else and what our group decides.

 

Take care,

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Lori, Thanks for the further information. I know that if you have a larger group the price goes down last year we were 8 people in Greece and Turkey and I was able to make great deals for private tours I am finding this year with just 4 of us it is not as good a deal we have hired private tours in Costa Rica, Guatamala, and am also looking at a private tour in Nicaragua but there is where it starts to get pricey the Princess tour in Cartegena is 35.00 per person for the same thing that Lee is offering at $170 so a little more expensive I don't know yet what I am doing I will let you know also. I always like the privates better but we will see our friends are a little more nervous about private tours but I think we are fine . Thanks again Elaine

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Elaine, could you tell me who you are using for your private tours in the other ports? Thanks.

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hello floflegs, I will be happy to tell you who we are using for tour guides.

Costa Rica Charlie Soto Okeydokeytours.com

Guatemala Gowithgustours.com I told him what I wanted to do and we are very happy with the arrangements. I also had emailed toursnicaragua.com but I think 110 per person for 4 hours is pricey and also in Cartegena I emailed Leland@misterEmerald.com he wants $170 for 4 of us but we are going to do the ship walking tour from 10-1 with lunch back at the ship for 35 per person we are 4 people and the more people the cheaper it is. I hope that helped you I would be happy to answer any other questions you have. Elaine

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Four of us are taking a cruise on INFINITY in November. The ship will be in Cartagena on November 14 from 7:00 am until 8:00 pm. I have reserved a 14 passenger van with English speaking guide through Le Miles for $375 for a tour from 8:30 am until 4:30 am. Admissions (about $23 per person) and the cost of lunch are extra. We are looking for four more people to join us to share the cost and experience with us. We will have no more than eight persons plus the driver so everyone has a window seat. With eight people the cost for the van and guide for the full day will be $47 per person. This is substantially less than a full day tour through the ship. The van and guide will pick us up right at the ship. :)

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Thanks, Elaine. We don't have the ship's tour prices yet so I will probably wait until we do before booking.

I did get a quote for a 3 hour tour of Cartagena but the prices are for a bus of 20 - $40 pp or bus of 30 - $35. If you are interested the email is

mago_bar@hotmail.com

If you are going to Huatulco www.xpert-travel.com have some good tours

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Further information on guides for Cartagena. I had run across a young man with a website at www.tourcartagena.info/index.html, or, that's the way I pull it up. His name is Cristian Martinez. I sent him an e-mail and he just replied. His e-mail address is criul@yahoo.com I asked him for three state side references with telephone numbers to check him out. I now am waiting for his reply. I will then do a people search and background check of the referrals on the internet and then call these people. if all checks out, I may use him. Sorry, this does not help Stan 1 leaving on 9/29. Will keep Phlewt informed as it goes along. I'm not leaving until Feb so I have time.

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Does anyone know if the tours the ships offer GO INTO the churches, the fort , the gold museum etc etc..or just drive by...

 

Also regarding entrance fees etc..can that be done on Am ex for example...

or are we going to need to change money...

 

and the rates--what are the rates in local currency? How would I find that out?

 

For example right now a US dollar is equal to 2158.000 col peso

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I cannot comment on the ship's tours as I normally am a DIY, but you will have no problem with the 'greenback'. Depending on the size of the company with which you are working, CCs may be all right. Cash is always king... your exchange rate is bang on... but the need to convert to local currency is unnecessary. Just be aware of the existing rate and you can't go wrong.

 

Cheers, Bruce

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Further information on guides for Cartagena. I had run across a young man with a website at www.tourcartagena.info/index.html, or, that's the way I pull it up. His name is Cristian Martinez. I sent him an e-mail and he just replied. His e-mail address is criul@yahoo.com I asked him for three state side references with telephone numbers to check him out. I now am waiting for his reply. I will then do a people search and background check of the referrals on the internet and then call these people. if all checks out, I may use him. Sorry, this does not help Stan 1 leaving on 9/29. Will keep Phlewt informed as it goes along. I'm not leaving until Feb so I have time.

 

Will you let us know if you do hear back and get references.

 

I guess I am wondering with van vs car rental & driver/guide PLUS you all all entrance fees, lunch (and paid lunch for guide yes) , plus tips...

how much it costs and what quality difference there is at the end of the day...

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Will you let us know if you do hear back and get references.

 

I guess I am wondering with van vs car rental & driver/guide PLUS you all all entrance fees, lunch (and paid lunch for guide yes) , plus tips...

how much it costs and what quality difference there is at the end of the day...

 

 

will post what info I get when I get it.

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I have the FOOTPRINT Guide 2007 for South America from the librarey...

 

I was interested in the entrance fees for places of interest in Cartagena etc..

 

 

Taxis intown $3 US

Taxis from airport to Bocagrande $3 US

these are official taxi rate/prices.

 

The Casa de Cambio will change American Express travleers checks NOT Bank of America checks. Best rates at into banks NEVER change money on the street

 

Castillo San Felipe $5 US adult, $2.30 children and students

 

Museum of Modern Art--$1.30 US per adult

 

Church of San Pedro and Monastery

$2.20 (reduction with ISIC)

guides $3.00 in spanish, a LITTLE bit more in english

 

Musuem of Naval (Caribbean) $2.70 US per adult. Children half price

 

Palacio de la Inquision $2.75 US per adult, Children half price

 

Museo d Oro FREE

 

Several other churches, cathedral and monastery-- lots ---they are free

 

Museum Fortification fo Santa Catalina $1.50 US

 

Up on La Popa hill, Santa Cruz church and Monastery

$1.50 US per adult $0.75 per child

The public bus from Teatro Miramar at the foot of the hill to La Popa $0.50

Taxi - round trip $7.00US

 

Hope this helps

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alphazeta, please let us know what you find out regarding this tour guide. We will be in Cartagena in early February (part of a canal cruise) and are interested in finding a guide to show us around.

I was checking out a tour guide, Christian Martinez. I found him on the inter-net by using www.tourcartagena.info/index.html. He is in his twenties and says he just finished his university studies. He and several of his university friends are doing this. I asked him for stateside references, and he gave me three names and telephone numbers. I pulled a "people search" to get their addresses. One was in New Mexico, but the phone was disconnected. Another was in New Jersey. I pulled a background check on the person (male) and found he was clean as far as convictions, bankruptcies, etc. I called him and he said he used Christian in May. He travels a lot in South America and Mexico and usually does it himself with the help of Frommer's Guides. To me, that makes sense since I have traveled a lot a Europe and find Frommer's is much better than Fodor's. Fodor's is good in the States but I think it poor outside of the States. He was in Cartagena and had not had time to plan his tour and therefore used Christian whom he found on the inter-net. He said that Christian was extremely good and pointed out things to him that he would have completely missed. He recommended him, which is not unusual since he told Christian that he could use his name. The third person was a woman who lived in Manhatten. She originally was from Venezuela and had a woman friend living in Bogota. She went to visit her and used Christian as a guide when they were in Cartagena. She liked him. She said he was a very nice, personable young man and knew the city. So there, you have it. I think he's legit. I have corresponded with him & can't think of anything else to question. I will probably use him for a tour and then have lunch at Club Pesca Restaurant, which is supposed to have exquisite food with a fantastic view. That is my purpose of getting him. His rate is $85 for a half day of 3 hrs up to 4 people, and $160 for a full day 5 hrs up to 4 people. If somebody thinks I'm wrong doing it, tell me. I will be there on the Coral Princess with the cruise starting 2/15/08. I say this because phlewt said he/she was going in early Feb 08.

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Alphazeta, you certainly did a thorough job of researching this fellow. He does indeed sound like a good, legitimate guide who should be able to provide a thorough tour of Cartagena.

 

We have decided to use Lee Miles. It will be about 4-5 hours including lunch. Since there are 4 of us it will be in a car. Lee has suggested a good itinerary; we will finalize it in the future since our cruise isn't until March 3. Total cost (not including the cost of lunch) will be about $210 or more depending on exactly what sites we want to see since the admissions costs (as mentioned earlier) vary quite a bit.

 

David

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Alphazeta, you certainly did a thorough job of researching this fellow. He does indeed sound like a good, legitimate guide who should be able to provide a thorough tour of Cartagena.

 

We have decided to use Lee Miles. It will be about 4-5 hours including lunch. Since there are 4 of us it will be in a car. Lee has suggested a good itinerary; we will finalize it in the future since our cruise isn't until March 3. Total cost (not including the cost of lunch) will be about $210 or more depending on exactly what sites we want to see since the admissions costs (as mentioned earlier) vary quite a bit.

 

David

Well done. It really boils down to what you want to do. I love cruising, but the food on board is at best "good hotel" food. Therefore, my wife & I search out outstanding restaurants to go to when the ship is in port. We have the means and it's a ball. I just wanted a tour of Cartagena and a means of getting over to Club Pesca, which is one of the best restaurants.

 

Also, you may want to check out "Evita's" restaurant in Oho Rios, it's about 15 minutes away from the pier and everybody who is anybody has dined there. It's Italian. It's godd for a luch when we're in port.

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I was checking out a tour guide, Christian Martinez. I found him on the inter-net by using www.tourcartagena.info/index.html. He is in his twenties and says he just finished his university studies. He and several of his university friends are doing this. I asked him for stateside references, and he gave me three names and telephone numbers. I pulled a "people search" to get their addresses. One was in New Mexico, but the phone was disconnected. Another was in New Jersey. I pulled a background check on the person (male) and found he was clean as far as convictions, bankruptcies, etc. I called him and he said he used Christian in May. He travels a lot in South America and Mexico and usually does it himself with the help of Frommer's Guides. To me, that makes sense since I have traveled a lot a Europe and find Frommer's is much better than Fodor's. Fodor's is good in the States but I think it poor outside of the States. He was in Cartagena and had not had time to plan his tour and therefore used Christian whom he found on the inter-net. He said that Christian was extremely good and pointed out things to him that he would have completely missed. He recommended him, which is not unusual since he told Christian that he could use his name. The third person was a woman who lived in Manhatten. She originally was from Venezuela and had a woman friend living in Bogota. She went to visit her and used Christian as a guide when they were in Cartagena. She liked him. She said he was a very nice, personable young man and knew the city. So there, you have it. I think he's legit. I have corresponded with him & can't think of anything else to question. I will probably use him for a tour and then have lunch at Club Pesca Restaurant, which is supposed to have exquisite food with a fantastic view. That is my purpose of getting him. His rate is $85 for a half day of 3 hrs up to 4 people, and $160 for a full day 5 hrs up to 4 people. If somebody thinks I'm wrong doing it, tell me. I will be there on the Coral Princess with the cruise starting 2/15/08. I say this because phlewt said he/she was going in early Feb 08.

 

Thank you so much for your efforts. I will follow up with him.

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Did anyone have to get any special vaccinations for Cartegena. On another post, someone is saying that there are mandatory vaccinations. Thanks for your help.

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The CDC web page http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationColombia.aspx has the recommended vacinations but apparently none are required. I hadn't thought of this since our we'll onlly be in port for 6 hours and always in Cartagena. I am going to check with the county health department here and see what they say but I think following the standard precautions about eating and drinking should preclude getting any serious illnesses.

 

I traveled on business to Colombia in the late '80's through the mid '90's. I do not recall getting any vacinations for any of those trips. But times change.

 

David

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Hi,

We have someone on our thread who is very cautious regarding Cartagena travel. This person has posted nothing but terrifying reports from our government regarding this area. Then I come on this website and I read about all of you and what wonderful times you are all having. I have traveled a lot, and know that every place has it's dangers, but these reports he is sending out sound awful. Please give me some advice...I really want to enjoy this city and learn as much as I can...I also enjoy a good meal. I am an older women who will most likely be traveling alone. Any suggestions.

Thanks

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As I have mentioned previously, I used to travel to Colombia prior to retirement but I have no current information since my last visit there was over 10 years ago. However, in my opinion, cruise ships would not be docking there and offering excursions if it were not safe.

 

A visitor probably needs to take precautions any time they are visiting a new place - either go with a recognized, organized tour; or learn enough about where you are visiting to avoid problem areas which occur in essentially any city. I would not hesitate to go off on my own in cities I know but for Cartagena since I don't know the city well, I will be using a professional tour guide who knows the city, knows the places to go and the places to avoid.

 

I have read that in certain areas of Cartagena there are aggressive beggars or those selling souvenirs. It would make sense to avoid those areas. But on the other hand, based on my previous visits, there are lots of interesting historic areas and some good shopping, should you be so inclined.

 

If you read the State Department Advisories, the picture is not very nice. It reminds me of when I was working: Our company hired a private security firm to provide safety and security updates for places we would be visiting anywhere in the world. After reading these updates, for almost any city or country in the world, you would conclude that first you better not go there (even a safe city like London), and second if you are there you better not leave your hotel! Then the clincher - almost always the updates ended with something like if you use common sense and avoid known trouble areas you can visit with minimum risk!

 

Of course there were exceptions. In Bogota for example, extra security was needed because of the possibilities of kidnapping. And in Sao Paulo youth gangs (or really child gangs) were a problem so walking around unescorted was discouraged.

 

This is a long way of saying, in my opinion, if you stay with organized tours by known tour guides your visit to Cartagena should be great, and an opportunity to see a beautiful city. I think that going it alone, if you don't know the city, could get you to places you don't want to be. But that can happen even here in my city, St. Louis.

 

I and my family are looking forward to our tour of Cartagena next March.

 

David

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Hi,

We have someone on our thread who is very cautious regarding Cartagena travel. This person has posted nothing but terrifying reports from our government regarding this area. Then I come on this website and I read about all of you and what wonderful times you are all having. I have traveled a lot, and know that every place has it's dangers, but these reports he is sending out sound awful. Please give me some advice...I really want to enjoy this city and learn as much as I can...I also enjoy a good meal. I am an older women who will most likely be traveling alone. Any suggestions.

Thanks

No 1, I would not go on any tour with an independent guide if I was (1) a woman (2) older. I am a senior citizen, but with my army experience I am somewhat better qualified to handle a tough situation. My wife & I like to find unique restaurants to dine at for lunch when we're in port. That is why I will use Christian Martinez as a guide. I have already invited him to lunch since the restaurant, Club de Pesca, I want to go to is 5 min by taxi away from the old city. I do not want to do it on my own. I will be making further inquiries to the American Consulate asking if there has been any bogus guide situation happening, etc. But, as far as I can see, the guy is legit. To bad you are not cruising on the Coral Princess 2/15/08. We could combine.

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We love Cartegena! Never take ship tours and always just grab a cab and go exploring, it is a fantastic city.

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Rev, sorry for the late reply. Somehow I became "unsubscribed"!

 

We are working through Lee Miles. He actually owns an emerald shop but also arranges tours. I got his name from one of these boards. He seems legitimate. He can be reached at leland@misteremerald.com. He has arranged about a 5 hour tour including lunch at La Olla Cartagenera, at little shopping and a few of the high points. (Cost of lunch is not included nor are admissions.) Estimated total cost is about $210 + for 4 of us depending on where we go and the admission costs involved. I think the cost for 4 is the minimum so it might be useful if you get others to join you to help share the costs.

I don't feel comfortable with Cartagena to just get a taxi and take off although I know there have been several on here who have done that with little problem. My Spanish is not good enough should a difficult situation arise.

By the way he mentions Club de Pesca and El Santisimo as other likely lunch spots. He noted the prices at Club de Pesca are $30-60 per person.

I will try to pin down the cost a little more accurately.

David

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To listen to some people, Cartagena is a 'den of iniquity'! Don't believe it.

As others have suggested, it is a beautiful city that should not be missed.

If you are not already on the Roll Call for your trip, do so and try to arrange something with others as travelling alone can be expensive. If you have no other guide in mind, DO get Lee Miles. He IS ligitimate! I corresponded with him for some months last year prior to my cruise and found him to be very knowlegeable, helpful and a true gentleman. Using the same amount of caution that you would use in any city, you will have no problem. Lee is able to pick you up and drop you off at the ship. There was a van at the pier (they held a sign with my name on it) waiting for me and my wife as well as the other 8 people who joined us (here on a roll call). Six of us were driven back to the ship and had lunch while the other four remained, walked the streets and returned by cab (cheap and safe). Our 4 hours there were well spent!

 

Bruce

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