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Baru Island


jigsawboy

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If you fancy an all inclusive break at a beautiful beach then take the Baru Island trip that will probably be offered through most ships. I am certain we could have had a more 'cultural' experience but we just fancied a beach and a bar and this did the trick!

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If you fancy an all inclusive break at a beautiful beach then take the Baru Island trip that will probably be offered through most ships. I am certain we could have had a more 'cultural' experience but we just fancied a beach and a bar and this did the trick!

Martyn

 

Martyn,

 

Where on Baru Island did they take you? Did the beach and bar have a name?

 

Patrick

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Did you notice any independant tours that take people over to Barru Island?

When you say all inclusive day....did your ship take you to and all inclusive hotel resort?

This sounds like a real chill out day, quite fancy that myself.

Lorraine

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Well, we're booked into the Hotel SportBaru for the day in late April. It picks you up in Cartagena at 8:30 and returns you at 3:15. They serve you lunch, let you use the facilities, its beautiful palm trees, beach and blue water and snorkeling. Sounds what I'm looking for... All for $47.

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Well, we're booked into the Hotel SportBaru for the day in late April. It picks you up in Cartagena at 8:30 and returns you at 3:15. They serve you lunch, let you use the facilities, its beautiful palm trees, beach and blue water and snorkeling. Sounds what I'm looking for... All for $47.

 

Please tell more...

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Well, we're booked into the Hotel SportBaru for the day in late April. It picks you up in Cartagena at 8:30 and returns you at 3:15. They serve you lunch, let you use the facilities, its beautiful palm trees, beach and blue water and snorkeling. Sounds what I'm looking for... All for $47.

 

 

Hi can you tell me how you enjoyed your day? Did you book directly through HSB or another?

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Day 5 Jewel of the Seas December 12, 2008

 

I went to sleep early last night so I was up, writing, at 6:30. We were still at sea as our docking time in Cartagena was 11:30. It was soon sunny and warm with all signs pointing to a great beach day.

 

Before breakfast I went up to the Concierge Lounge for Cappuccino and a Croissant. Such a nice perk to have the CL available 24 hours. I sat, drinking my Cappuccino, gazing out the floor length windows at the sea and eventually the city, far away. Very cool!

 

We all met for breakfast in the dining room at 9:00 AM. One of the nice things on this ship is that the dining room is open from 8 to 10 each day. That extra half hour from the usual 9:30 closing is very nice. We ate a variety of things from omelets to lox and bagels. All were well prepared and delicious. Only slight annoyance is always having to ask for the Splenda which is now never on the table. It is available but only on request. I think too many people were pocketing it. How sad.

 

After breakfast we all went to the Concierge Lounge for more Cappuccino (I discovered the decaf cappuccino button so didn’t have to be cut off today! J) and to watch the docking procedures. We watched the escort boats and the pilot boat and how all the crew works with such precision during the tying up. We left about 11:15 to get ready for our ships tour: Cartagena Beach and Boating Tour

 

We walked off the ship at 11:35 and immediately found and boarded the bus to take us to the boat. The bus covered about ¼ mile and put us out to wait in the shade while they went back to the ship to pick up more passengers. Once we were all assembled we were led down a flight of stairs to the boat.

 

Before I go any further let me tell you what the description of this tour is, as listed in the RCL brochure:

 

Duration 3 ½ hours Departure 11:45 Cost $67 per person

 

Level of difficulty:

 

Mild – These excursions might require leisurely walking for minimal distances over primarily flat terrain. There might be some steps.

 

The tour description:

 

Transportation to Baru Island will be by fast motorboat. En route you will pass the island of Tierra Bomba and the fishing villages of Punta Arenas, Cano del Ora and Bocahica. At Bocaahica Fort the boat will stop for a few minutes for pictures taken from the boat. From here it is 30 minutes to Baru. A two hour beach stop is included with ample time to swim, sun or snorkel (snorkel gear is not included). Please note: wear a swimsuit and being sunscreen, towel, aqua socks, waterproof sandals. Water and soft drinks included.

 

Now from this description of the tour and the level of difficulty, Terri and I felt safe in booking this tour. We wanted a leisurely boat ride with stops for photos followed by a swimming/sunning beach.

 

Here’s what we really got:

 

We walked down a full flight of stairs (and then some) only to find that there was no ramp or steps of any kind to get into the boat. You needed to place a foot on the side of the boat which was about waist level, pull yourself up by the overhead rail, bring your other foot up and into the boat (while still holding on for dear life as this boat is moving, then once both feet are on the seat they grab your arm as you teeter and manage to get one foot down on the bottom of the boat and can walk to a seat. Okay,not what we expected but we all made it in, some with greater difficulty than others, found seats and started on our trip. Before we left the dock it was explained that we had an armed policeman on our tour (get this) so that he could ‘practice his English! As he never spoke to anyone, he didn’t get much practice. This was our first clue that we were going to a dangerous place. We were told the island was 25 miles away and that we would have a short tour before we got there. The tour was brief as we motored by run down homes, some with men sitting outside in chairs and swings. Some of these men made gestures indicating they wanted us to move on. They were not friendly gestures. We eventually got to Bocahica which was to be the photo stop. We did not stop but slowed down and idled for maybe a minute and a half. Hard to take pictures from a rocking boat but a few tried.

 

Then we were off to the island. The boat ride over was a little bumpy but not out of line. When we got to the beach we saw two things.

 

1. In order to get off the boat they provided no platform on the back of the boat as others around us, no ladder, no ramp. They anchored out from the beach and you were expected to first climb over a rail that was almost chest high (1 ½” stainless steel, round) onto the well where the engines were resting (they were raised). You had to navigate between the two engines in a small space and then jump (granted with them holding your hand) about 2 feet before hitting 3 feet if water. I don’t think you will find many middle aged people who will tell you this is a mild level of difficulty! We had several people who refused to leave the boat and at least one terrified child.

 

2. When people began to get off the boat a crowd of 40 to 50 vendors (no, I am not exaggerating) congregated on the beach. There were enough of them to be frightening. They easily outnumbered us. A few more people objected to getting off in such a situation. Now we knew why we had the armed police officer on the tour and it was definitely obvious where we were going was not safe.

 

Soon people were coming back onto the boat saying they did not feel safe because the vendors were so aggressive. We were told before we got there to tell them ‘no gracias’ and they leave us alone. Not so! One man finally pulled both pockets out showing he had no money to try to get rid of them. But they just continued to swarm. Massages, trinkets, carvings, hair braiding, etc, etc. It was way beyond what I saw in Haiti which, up till now I had considered the most aggressive vendors I had ever seen. You were hardly given a minutes rest from them. All this I observed from the boat as there was no way I could safely get off the boat.

 

Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. Everyone was back on the boat early so that we could leave. Thank God! We were told again that the island was 25 miles from the ship and that we would be going about 20 miles an hour, that is would be very rough and to hold on. Before we got started we were chased TWICE by a wave runner with two people onboard. They kept trying to get close enough to hold on to our boat but the captain maneuvered away a little each time. They were speaking Spanish but the gist of it was that they were owed money. The second time they came one of the guys went into the well between the engines and handed them something that we thought was money. They were clearly being paid off but for what we didn’t know. Maybe to stop harassing us? Or worse?

 

That was disconcerting enough but then it was time for the ‘rough’ part. Well, ‘rough’ hardly covers it. We were thrown, bounced, buffeted, slammed and every other word you can think of. Every time you would hit a wave you would be bounced up from your seat only to crash back down. The jarring was felt from your butt all the way up to the top of your head! It was basically like being in a car wreck that never stopped. For a while it only got worse. After 25 minutes it calmed down to a reasonable ride. We were near the ship in 35 minutes. I can do math and we were NOT going ’20 MPH’! We were going more like 40+ MPH! We covered 25 miles in 35 minutes – you figure it out. Several people were injured, me included, due to the extreme battering our bodies took during the worst part of the trip. BTW, one of the crew, when asked why it was so rough said ‘oh this wasn’t too bad, we really expect more wave action out here’! All I can say is OMG! MORE wave action? How in the world can they list this as a ‘mild’ excursion? Suitable for children and old people? There were absolutely NO warnings listed at all! You were given to think this excursion was safe and suitable for ALL! In addition, nothing was ever said about motion sickness. I personally do not get it but we had several people walking off that boat a little green around the gills!

 

This Excursion is BADLY MISREPRESENTED in the RCL Shore Excursion Form!

Out of 44 people that took the excursion, I only talked to a couple who thought it was ‘okay’, the rest were disappointed or felt they did not get what they paid for.

 

 

My advice? DO NOT BOOK THIS EXCURSION! It is Cartagena Beach & Boating Tour CA 13. Beware!

 

BTW, the beach isn’t even nice. The chairs provided are old, rickety plastic side chairs under a piece of cloth strung over some wood stakes. Beach seems to have some rocks and trees and roots. With the boats anchored 20 to 30 feet off the beach, some idling, the smell of gas and oil can be bothersome too.

 

I have talked to the Shore Excursion Manager and he (along with GR which told me at 4:30 they were sending a complaint form) said he would bring me the form himself because they can’t begin a complaint without that written form. It’s 9:45 and I’m still waiting. On HAL when there was a problem with one of the excursions and a group went down, the Excursion Manager made a decision on the spot and returned their money.

 

Can’t tell you what the menus were tonight because Terri and I weren’t able to make it. Likewise, The Quest which we had looked forward to, It’s tonight but we will not be making it.

 

I know I will be laying on, and moving, the ice packs (plastic quart bags filled with ice) I asked for when I returned to the ship. My head hurts, my neck and shoulders hurt, my middle back hurts, my lower back hurts, ‘me bum hurts’ as the English would say, my thighs, top and back, hurt, my right knee hurts and both arms (from trying to hold on I guess), plus my right wrist. Like I said, I feel exactly like I did after a car accident many years ago! I think my best bet is to take more meds (pain, anti inflammatory and muscle relaxers – good thing I carry a pharmacy!) and go to sleep. Tomorrow will be better. Maybe! Pray for me!

 

BTW, I’m using onboard minutes (high) so could someone cut out the part about the excursion and copy it anywhere it needs to go on the boards? I would like to save someone else the pain and discomfort we endured! People need to know the real deal on this excursion before they book. If you are young and athletic, you would probably enjoy it. But passengers need to know the truth so they can make an informed decision!

 

Thanks for listening to my rant! Maybe tomorrow will be better. Like I can walk again!

 

Bye For Now!

 

 

4:45 AM It’s worse than I thought. I’ve had to call for ice to refill my ice packs twice. Usually the ice and meds help more than this. I sure hope Terri is doing better than I am. I haven’t heard anything from her since about 6 last night.

 

They finally put the complaint form for the excursion under my door sometime after midnight. When I spoke with the excursion manager he said all the documentation would have to go to Miami and they would ‘make a decision on any changes that should be made’ to the excursion and/or the description. Well, when you go to Disney World, or any other theme park, they always have signs outside the rides saying you should not take this ride if you have back problems, neck problems or are pregnant. I think that is the least they can do – warn people. This is certainly NOT the ‘mild’ excursion as they have it listed. And I have the back and neck pain to prove it!!!

 

I am going to be SO mad if this impacts even another day of my cruise! I have been looking forward to seeing the Panama Canal for so long and to not be able to see it without pain sitting or standing is going to make me a very unhappy camper!

 

Bye For Now (again! J)

 

 

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