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Old July 27th, 2007, 01:54 PM
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Default PANAMA CANAL - FULL TRANSIT

My husband and I are going to the Panama Canal (full transit) in Jan. on the Island Princess and are looking for suggestions for shore excursions. Also, do they actually stop in Cartagena?? The itineary indicates that we are there 8:30AM - 2:00PM.

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Old July 27th, 2007, 06:25 PM
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Default Re: PANAMA CANAL - FULL TRANSIT

lormarscribs,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
My husband and I are going to the Panama Canal (full transit) in Jan. on the Island Princess and are looking for suggestions for shore excursions.
What are your ports of call?

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Also, do they actually stop in Cartagena?? The itineary indicates that we are there 8:30AM - 2:00PM.
My first Panama Canal cruise, aboard MV Sun Princess in the fall of 2000, did stop in Cartagena. It was an "okay" port of call -- not bad, but not a place to which I'm eager to return. Basically, there are thee variants of the Cartagena shore excursion -- one that visits the fort and has only a little time for shopping (which I did), one that only drives past the fort in favor of more time for shopping, and one that skips the fort completely, in favor of even more time for shopping. IIRC, there might also be a fourth excursion that's basically transportation to and from the shopping areas. So I have seen what's there. But if you go, take the version of the Cartagena the shore excursion that visits the fort.

On my last Panama Canal cruise, aboard GTS Infinity in the fall of 2003, Cartagena appeared on the itinerary as a scheduled port of call when I booked but the cruise line cancelled that port of call before we sailed due serious concerns about safety. At the time, drug cartels that thrive along the Panama-Columbia border had gained the upper hand and were stirring up violence throughout much of the country so all of the major cruise lines were cancelling their ports of call. All of the major cruise lines also stopped scheduling ports of call in Cartagena for the same reason. IIRC, the cancelled port of call meant that we could spend a full day rather than just a half day in Aruba the day before.

I honestly have not tracked the situation surrounding the drug cartels in Columbia. The fact that the major cruise lines are again scheduling ports of call there is an indictation that the situation has improved sufficiently so safety of passengers and crew going ashore in the city is no longer a concern, but I have no verification of that fact. And if the situation again deteriorates, the cruise lines will again cancel that port of call to ensure the safety of their passengers and crews. Of course, the fact that cruise lines have such flexibility to change ports of call if there are safety issues is one of the great advantages of cruising!

Norm.
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Old July 30th, 2007, 03:09 PM
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When we went through the Canal on the old Royal Princess we were scheduled to stop in Cartagena. The day we were to arrive Princess cancelled the stop due to dangerous conditions on land. We are again scheduled to stop there on our Oct 9th Island Princess journey. It appears ships have been stopping there on a regular basis lately. We will see !
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