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-   -   Cartagena Columbia (http://www.cruisemates.com/forum/travel-gripes/363341-cartagena-columbia.html)

pipefit April 9th, 2009 04:03 PM

Cartagena Columbia
 
Just got back from Panama canal cruise. Stop at Cartagena was the worst port I have been in. Paid for a tour and the whole time had to fight off vendors that would not take no for an answer. They followed people around like puppies and touched you, grabbed you, and got right in your face to sell crap. Our tour guide also contributed by stopping at his friends for cigars, tee shirts, paintings, cold drinks, emeralds, photos of fruit carrying locals and the finest silver plated steel jewelry.

I for one will never get off the ship at this port again.

On the other hand, Costa Rica has been cleaned up and the stop there was enjoyable this time. I did not see any military with auto weapons on every street corner and did not see all the trash we seen the last time we were there. I also did not see people getting fleeced looking for imaginary monkeys in the trees. Also the town was just cleaned up. I enjoyed walking around and looking around. Felt safe.

Panama was great except the land fill was on fire and the ship had to float through the smoke. Other than that we did the train to the Pacific and the bus ride back. Had a great guide and the trip was nice. I enjoyed this port and the trip through the locks.

richstacy April 9th, 2009 06:12 PM

The vendors are obnoxious to be sure, but the Spanish Fort is truly one of the marvels of the Western Hemisphere. Not to be missed by any educated person.

Re Costa Rica, depends on where you go. Some of the monkeys and crocodiles etc. are definitely NOT imaginary.

belgique April 10th, 2009 10:57 PM

Have been to both places several times. In 1998, on the Regal Princess, a warming was issued by the U.S. State Department and slipped under every cabin door saying that "conditions in Colombia indicate that foreign visitors are not always welcome and we urge extreme caution while traveling in Colombia", or words to that effect. This was a smart move by Princess to give people a choice whether to disembark or not. I did not go ashore that time.

I have gone ashore in Cartagena 3 other times and yes, it is a marvelous, gorgeous city. If you can steel yourself against the vendors and just block them out if they do not look like they will cause you physical harm, it is worth a ship-sponsored tour to see the magnificent walled city. I would not venture out on a tour unless it was through the cruiseline.

Costa Rica was wonderful when I first went there in 1994 and has only improved. The people of Costa Rica are some of the warmest, kindest, happiest people I've met anywhere in the world.
belgique

Triton May 18th, 2009 02:17 PM

Will be sailing on my first Panama cruise in September, thanks for the information to the OP and the other posters.

The Spanish Fort sounds very intersting, we've enjoyed visiting many forts on our journeys (the last one in Morrocco!).

Would any of you be kind to recommend any other "must" sees? If it matters, I'll be on the =X=, Infinity late September.

Thank you!

richstacy May 18th, 2009 09:06 PM

triton, there is one thing: The canal itself is a wonderful experience :!:

Triton May 28th, 2009 05:21 PM

Thanks Richstacy. I was actually pondering whether to get off the ship to explore, than rejoin the passengers at Cristobal.

I have a nice veranda booked, on deck 9 with a larger bump-out balcony. I think we'll stay on board and watch the canal go by. :)

richstacy May 28th, 2009 06:10 PM

If you've never done it, or if you have any interest in mechanical things or engineering, you will be totally fascinated :!:

Parrot Mom May 30th, 2009 10:32 PM

CARTEGENA
 
LOL TRITON.... it is a wonderful port.. we spent a week there many years ago and I loved going back.. First before you leave the terminal check out the prices on the leather belts and silk hand crotched or macrame shawls..You can either get a guide/driver when you leave the terminal or check the postings for private guides.. The Old City is a miracle in itself. it was left to flounder and the owners rebuilt their homes and the area.. behind all those heavy wooden doors are/were lovely restaurants.. I could wander around there forever. You might want to see La Popa..and of couse the stupid fort.. Parrot Pop knows the exact name (Don Blas Lalazer), but there is a statue of a soldier who fought after they cut off a foot, then an arm...and so on. lol Our favorite place is The Dungeons.. now here you will get high pressure, but in between the high pressure and the junk are those shawls and I think they are made by women in prison.. the idea is that you want the silk or macrame..and bargain hard.. The vedors are outside and are very aggressive.. One day Ill tell you about an"antiquity" that Parrot Pop broke.. the driver begged us to go back to the cab.. but I insisted there was a primative mask I wanted. By the time I got the mask the cab was surrounded by soldiers and vendors.. An american speakig gentleman said we did not break an antiquity.. w paid the girl $50.00 and ran for our lives.. with our camers underneath us.. Oh yes..I love Cartegena..

belgique May 31st, 2009 11:14 PM

Parrott Mom has it right. One man's junk is another man's treasure and all the rest of those sayings.

Yes, the Walled City of Cartagena is wonderful, exotic, exciting and inticing. Getting there can be somewhat annoying, if not downright dangerous.

Point of this post is that shortly after 9/11/01, I was scheduled to fly from my home in northern Michigan, to Detroit, to New York, to Genoa to board a trans-Atlantic cruise westbound to Lauderdale. I phoned an old friend in Manhattan and said I was apprehensive about flying that "far from home", alone.

He said, "You are not safe anywhere, so you might as well go everywhere". Words I have taken to heart and told to dozens of people. No point in being careless, traveling or at home, but no point in missing this wonderful world and it's interesting people.

Just do it!
belgique

Triton June 1st, 2009 10:56 AM

Thanks Parrot Mom and Belgique :!: I've learned quite a bit from all of you on this post, and from the original OP.

We'll have to do the fort. I'm sure this is nothing like Acapulco, but man alive, when we were there a few years back, we spent so much energy fighting them off! Honestly, it was a wall of locals, pulling and pleading...so I'll combine my memory of that with caution for potential danger. Thanks for the head's up. I am looking forward to seeing it and will certainly do a ship-sponsored tour.

Belgique, I like your motto and if you don't mind, would like adapt that. It's very positive-thinking and so true :!:

belgique June 1st, 2009 11:37 PM

Triton: You are most welcome to use the "motto". I makes a lot of sense. And I'm happy you are going to experience Cartagena - you will not regret it.

Happy to be of help and welcome to this wonderful group!

belgique

Barb Nahoumi October 22nd, 2009 12:15 AM

I recently did the Panama Canal Cruise on the NCL Pearl. When we docked in Colombia, the captain warned us to use extreme caution in this port.

We chose a ships tour of this city, which included a horse & carriage tour of the old city. The guide was very informative. I noticed that we had a police escort while we were in the carriages.

The peddlars were in our faces. We could not wait to get back to the ship.

Parrot Mom October 22nd, 2009 12:55 AM

CARTEGENA
 
Many years ago we spent a week in Cartegena and we fell in love with it even going with friends out to the countryside. .A few years back six of us were on the NCL Sky and took a private tour with a cabbie and had a ball.. Maybe it's because I seem to thrive in that atmosphere, maybe because Parrot Pop speaks a bit of spanish (tourista) But I never felt unsafe there.. as for the soldiers..they were there to protect us...and I love now the Old City that has been resurrected by owners of the homes there.. Did you know behind many of those big gates are wonderful restaurants.. Surprisingly the vendors didn't bother me.. I just told them."tarde".. but it was one of the shop girls that gave us grief. I will always consider any cruise that goes to Cartegena.. but that's what makes us all different..

nlb1050 October 23rd, 2009 09:42 PM

First, Triton what ddi you you in Cartegena?

Second we were there in April and we took a tour from the dock and loved it. Our guide told us before we got to the fort that the best way to avoid the vendors there and elsewher was not to look them in the face and it worked. WE loved the walking tour thru the old city, absolutely beautiful.

In Pananma our ship did not enter the canal but they offered a tour that took us by bus to a ferry and then rode the ferry thru the canal to the Pacific. Becaude the ferries have to wit for any large ships before the locks can be closed and emptied it took much longer than the planned time and we ended up leaving 3 hours later than planned.

Triton November 6th, 2009 05:26 PM

Hi Nancy, sorry for the late reply. For some reason I wasn't notified after your post.

We absolutely loved the Panama Canal cruise on =X=. Have to tell you we were a bit apprehensive getting off in Cartegena, but we did and had a great excursion. We did what was called, "Deluxe Cartegena". No, it wasn't a European tour traipsing through castles, but we did see the Spanish Fort and thought it was so amazing! Our small coach took us through town as well, and we also stopped at the Inquisition Palace, the tour there was a couple of hours.

Our final stop in Cartegena was a small shopping center, where emeralds, coffee and other artisan crafts were sold.

Celebrity and our tour operator made it very clear to NOT look at or engage in any conversation at all, with the street vendors. We didn't, but there were a couple who did and they were sorry, LOL! Our tour operator stopped by one of his "friends" or family member's kiosk and he sold coffee, etc., but it wasn't a hard sell.

Personally, I found the street "merchants" in Acapuulco to be far more pushy and insistent.

The Panama Canal was awesome! So very glad we stayed on the ship for our first transit through!

Thanks for asking, Nancy! 8)

PS- I posted a review on Cruisemates.

nlb1050 November 6th, 2009 05:50 PM

Triton, thanks for the reply. I will have to check out your review.

Rick November 16th, 2009 09:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pipefit (Post 1209542)
Just got back from Panama canal cruise. Stop at Cartagena was the worst port I have been in. Paid for a tour and the whole time had to fight off vendors that would not take no for an answer. They followed people around like puppies and touched you, grabbed you, and got right in your face to sell crap. Our tour guide also contributed by stopping at his friends for cigars, tee shirts, paintings, cold drinks, emeralds, photos of fruit carrying locals and the finest silver plated steel jewelry.

I for one will never get off the ship at this port again.

On the other hand, Costa Rica has been cleaned up and the stop there was enjoyable this time. I did not see any military with auto weapons on every street corner and did not see all the trash we seen the last time we were there. I also did not see people getting fleeced looking for imaginary monkeys in the trees. Also the town was just cleaned up. I enjoyed walking around and looking around. Felt safe.

Panama was great except the land fill was on fire and the ship had to float through the smoke. Other than that we did the train to the Pacific and the bus ride back. Had a great guide and the trip was nice. I enjoyed this port and the trip through the locks.

Same thing happened to us a couple years ago. Beach Break Tour Cartagena . We were swarmed the whole time there. When we returned to Ship, we complained and received a refund for the tour. Worst port ever!!!!!

This year we are doing a land vacation in Aruba.

pioner17 November 27th, 2009 09:49 PM

What I found most interesting in Cartegena was that the police seemed to be carrying simple revolvers and the private security guards at almost every store had 14 round semi's


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