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Old 11-18-2012, 01:45 AM   #1
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Any Advice on Cartegena?

We are looking into a Panama Canal cruise and have heard conflicting info on Cartegena. The word was that it was not nice at all. I still remember it from the movie "Romancing the Stone", but thinking if DCL stops here, it should be decent.

Anyone been there who could comment?
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:23 AM   #2
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Well, IMHO it is similiar to the Mexican Riviera cruises. To some it is grand, to others not so much. Depends on your path, and also the one you take in port. Don't believe that if DCL docks there it meets your requirements for a safe port. DCL may be docking for necessary fuel, etc., not for your pleasure, fwiw. Good luck.

Last edited by Bear3412; 11-18-2012 at 02:31 AM.
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Old 11-18-2012, 03:05 AM   #3
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A friend who is from Columbia tells me it is an absolutely beautiful city. We are going on the PC in may and are planning on taking a tour of the city.
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Old 11-18-2012, 03:07 AM   #4
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We met a CM on our last cruise from Colombia - she said 10 years ago she never would have gone but now it's a beautiful city and they have cleaned it up a lot. Personally I can't wait!
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Old 11-18-2012, 07:30 AM   #5
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Went there on the PC EB in 2008. I was told stick with DCL tours and you'll be fine. Was teaching in a school with Colombian and Mexican students at the time and the Mexican students had more negative comments about Mexico than the Colombian ones did about Cartagena.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:52 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by huskydogg View Post
We are looking into a Panama Canal cruise and have heard conflicting info on Cartegena. The word was that it was not nice at all. I still remember it from the movie "Romancing the Stone", but thinking if DCL stops here, it should be decent.

Anyone been there who could comment?
I had the same reaction. That's one of our favorite movies. So I looked it up and it wasn't filmed in Cartegena. So now I have no idea what to expect.


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Old 11-18-2012, 02:03 PM   #7
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I am curious about Cartegena as well but I thought I would wait until the end of December when the PC cruise stops at that port and Dismembers posts their comments on that port.
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Old 11-18-2012, 03:18 PM   #8
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We were there quite a while ago, so please take my comments with a grain of salt. Cartagena is one of the places where I prefer to stay on the ship.

When we toured there, on a HAL tour, the locals got in our faces (really violated our sense of personal space), and tried to get money out of us for pictures by trying to hand us parrots. One person tried to hand off a sloth to one of the people in our tour group.

As well, there were heavily-armed police (automatic rifles I think) every two blocks in the main tourist area.

Our tour guide had clearly been instructed to give us the 'official line' about the safety of Columbia. According to the tour guide, anything bad you have ever read about Columbia is entirely fictitious.

Columbia. Never again.
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Last edited by Gigi22; 11-18-2012 at 03:18 PM. Reason: Correction
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:34 PM   #9
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Looks like it's going to be a roll of the dice, lol. The more I am looking into the PC cruise, the more I think it may be the next one for us. It just sounds so interesting.
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Old 11-18-2012, 06:19 PM   #10
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We went on a private tour with a large DIS group in 2008 on the EBPC cruise. Cartagena was my DS's favorite port. He was VERY excited to be visiting a different continent. We have seen soldiers with machine guns in several ports, as well as hawkers selling pictures, braids or jewelry -- so that was not a big deal for us. The only thing different in Cartagena was the fact that one time a guy followed people onto our tour bus, but the guide got him to leave. I thought that the city itself was beautiful. It reminded me a lot of New Orleans with the inner courtyards and the flower boxes lining the windows on the street. Regarding the vendors with animals. We joked that they must have shortcuts to take because they were always at the next stop on the tour before we were. There were some people who refused to get off the ship in Cartagena or Aruba on that cruise. I am glad that we did because we enjoyed both very much. There are places you don't want to go in a city in the U.S. It's the same thing when you are in a different country. We were with a large group of people we knew from the DIS meet thread. I wouldn't book a private tour with just your family -- but that is my general plan no matter where we go for excursions. Here are some pictures from our cruise.

It was the first visit by DCL to Cartagena, as well as the first cruise ship of the season, so there was a big celebration with dancers to greet us. People handed out pinwheels, balloons, fruit and candy as we got off the ship.

The tour buses were lined up on the pier area. Made it very easy with kids!

The streets looked the same throughout the city.

The market we stopped at before returning to the ship.

One of the guards patrolling the street by the market.


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Old 11-18-2012, 08:55 PM   #11
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We were on the EBPC in 2008, and Cartegena was our favorite stop. Everyone in my family wants to go back on a PC cruise just for that port alone!

We booked a private tour with another family of four, so there were eight of us. I am pretty sure it was with the same company as the large DIS group did.

Our guide and driver were great. We happened to be the some of the first ones off the ship, and got our pictures in the Cartegena papers. If I spoke more then high school Spanish we would have been interviewed on TV. Since we were first off, our bus (so roomy since there was only 8 of us) was first to leave. So we got to all the stops before the crowds.

Our kids loved the Fort so much, that we stayed there longer, and we were able to change our itinerary a bit. It was great. Being in a small group we were able to hear what our guide was telling us, and the kids were so engaged and they were asking tons of questions. We also went to a local restaurant for lunch. The local cuisine is so good.

Yes, there were vendors in your face (we were the first cruise ship of the season). And our guide warned us about the pictures with animals. We just smiled and said no.

Of all the stops on that cruise, that is the one we want to do again! If my inlaws weren't on a trip during December this year, DH and I would have been on that ship!!

It's a beautiful city, you will love it!

FYI, my kids were 12 and 7 at the time, the 2 kids in our group were about the same.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:09 PM   #12
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You can also take a look at my pic from the 2008 EB Panama Canal as well.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:33 AM   #13
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We were on the 2008 EB also. I think the city was our #2 or #3 fave port of call behind the canal and or Aruba/CC.
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:50 PM   #14

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Another DISer reporting in who was also on the '08 EBPC....we LOVED Cartegena!
LBGraves' pictures are a perfect example of what we saw.

I was with a group who did a tour of the city, on our way to a private beach resort. The resort was clean and beautiful, the did an exhibition dance, and the lunch was fantastic! They had a couple of different swimming pools, one with slides that were perfect for families with kids, and another quieter pool for the adult crowd. The beach was only a few steps from both.
There were also patrolmen along the beach, making sure that there were no vendors....and this made it very peaceful. We didn't even notice the patrolmen, and no vendors in sight!

We know a young woman who grew up in Columbia, and she had told us that her family spent their summer vacations in Cartegena, at one of the resorts, so I had decided that if it were the place to be for Columbians, then it was good enough for me.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:13 PM   #15
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Colombia today is different than the Colombia of years ago. I have traveled there about 5-6 different times...staying from a few days to 5 1/2 weeks. As long as you take the standard precautions you would in big cities and don't venture too far off the beaten path you will be fine. Travel in a group, don't flash cash or jewelry...standard stuff. I would go to most cities in Colombia before I'd go to many destinations in Mexico these days.

Cartegena is a Spanish Colonial town. I haven't been there but am very much looking forward to it on a future trip. If you have be to Puerto Rico my understanding is it is very much like Old San Juan. Colombian people are friendly and proud of their heritage. They appreciate tourists who are willing to take the chance on vacationing there. And it is full of wonderful places many will never see because they have a preconception of the place based on images and stories they saw 20 years ago.

Just an FYI to many on here...Colombia is spelled with 2 O' U.
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