I am on a Princess cruise next year that stops in Cartagena, Columbia. I have heard quite a bit of mixed reviews about Cartagena. In addition, I read what the City of Cartegena itself had to say on its tourism website:
We will be there in a bit over one week. Will reply then. As planned, we are taking the ships walking tour around Cartagena. Instead of a bus tour, it should be good to stretch our see legs, and will be in a group.
They say not to wear any flashy jewelery.
Just got back from this cruise on Coral Princess last week;
Colombia was "iffy"
armed guards everywhere but i always felt safe;
however the vendors are like vultures; do no make eye contact, do not TAKE anything in your hand to look at you can never give it back;
we took ship tour for this reason of safety, but know many people who just got a taxi that took them EVERYWHERE for $20 per person;
Old Town is best thing to see there, reminiscent of new Orleans, I'm told; just do NOT encourage the vendors;
We were in Cartegena,Columbia last month. I was quite against going ashore, but we went. There were four of us, and we took one of the taxi's right outside the pax/terminal area. They have a price list posted, you do not pay the driver until he brings you back to the terminal area. (I believe it was $40 for the four of us.)
We had a very nice gentleman, named Mario, who spoke VERY LITTLE English. We showed him the map of where to take us, and he did so. I think we did 5 stops. For all except the downtown stop he waited for us where he dropped us off, did not rush us, and when asking for some bottled water took us to this emerald retail place, where you go through to the storefront, and you do get a bottle of water.... free. It was sort of a sales pitch stop, but no heavy pressure.
When we went into the downtown area, he parked the taxi and had us wait for him. He walked with us, which at first I thought a little weird, but very much appreciated it as we walked the streets. The vendors are the most horrific, pushy, in-your-face street vendors. Non Stop. And there are soldiers about 3 on each block. We had no trouble, but the constant barrage of street vendors made it impossible to really take in any of the architecture/history/etc. Had we known better we would have skipped the downtown stop.
That sales pitch stop at the emerald store, did give us 'new' small bottles of water. We would not buy anything from anyone on the streets....including bottled water/drinks. I looked very closely at those bottles and they very well could be 'refills'. Take bottled water with you.
Thank you so much for your information. My paper, The Contra Costa Times, wants full names and where you're from in order for me to print your quote. Is there a way to do that?
my website is www.rosiethewriter.com if you need to send it that way; i'm thinking they don't allow that on these sites?
Thanks for that info! We're going to be in Cartegena in November when we go through the Panama Canal and were wondering how things were. I've heard about the armed guards all over the place. The fact that the vendors were more annoying then vendors in other places was a little off-putting but we'll have to deal with it.