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Cartegena excursions


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We will be doing an LA to Ft. Lauderdale cruise through Panama Canal in 2019.  Looking for feedback from those who have traveled there.  Cartegena will be our last port of call before getting to FtL.  In scoping out the various ports, Cartegena appears to be about the city.  Lots of options and many seem similar.  Other options appear to be countryside and nature. 

The city appears to be unique as compared other stops, so we are inclined to zero in on that.  I am guessing countryside would be attractive as well.  While there are nature related tours, I think we will get plenty of nature in other ports.  The ship is in port nine hours.


I am asking those out there, which ones they like.  Are some of the tours both city and countryside and is that a good use of our time?  Most of the city tours are in the three, four hour range. How are the hop on hop off tours down there?   Should we consider piggy backing a city with something else that would give us six or seven hours?  Which countryside make the most sense? 


Appreciate any feedback

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just got back from a Panama Canal partial transit and we visited Cartagena.  It was my favorite stop.  We didn't do an excursion though.  When you get off the ship, there's a nice little port area with flamingos and a big gift shop.  We walked past there and to a taxi, intending to just take a taxi into the old walled city and explore on our own.  Instead, we agreed to let the taxi driver give us a tour.  It cost $75 for the 2 of us, and he drove us around and showed us different areas.  We went to La Popa (look it up - very interesting), then to the fort, shopped for emerald jewelry, and he dropped us off by the clock tower.  We spent about 3 hours walking around the old city and loved it.  We stopped for a quick bite to eat, explored, practiced our Spanish, shopped.  There was still a lot more to see, but it is HOT AND HUMID.  We were there in November, and it was as miserable as Houston in its summertime peak (and that's saying something).  Initially I thought I might want to stay longer, but I'm glad we decided to return after 3 hours.  The driver met us back at the clock tower and dropped us off at the port where we did a bit more shopping in the A/C.  I think this was perfect - we had a glimpse of all areas of the city and plenty of time to spend at the highlights.  Cartagena is beautiful and historic - loved it!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I took a tour with Dora two weeks ago -- she was outstanding!  We had a very short time in port, which was further compounded by the fact that later in the day there would be parades for an independence festival, and streets were already closed.  We visited La Popa (the larger tour buses can't go up there), the old town, a couple other monasteries/churches, and did some shopping.  Dora is very knowledgeable and engaging.  We loved her and I was so glad to have a nice small group.  

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We were just there less than 2 weeks ago. We did the hop on/hop off bus with an included narrated walking tour of the old town. We would definitely do things differently next time.


1. The narrated tour was unnecessary unless you are keenly interested in a detailed history. There are English plaques on all of the important historical buildings in the walled city. We tipped our tour guide and ditched the tour after 15 minutes. Just get to the walled city and wander it for yourself.


2. The HOHO bus would have been okay if we'd a) had more time in port; and b) knew where to go on it. The stops listed in the brochure mean little to someone with no experience. With more time in town, we would've taken the HOHO to the walled city, then taken it to the beach (wish I had my brochure in front of me so I could give you the stop number). Keep in mind that although the busses run every 25-30 minutes, they fill up, so even though you are at your stop in time, you may not catch the first bus that comes by, meaning you could be standing there for 30-60 minutes. This is particularly true within the last 90 minutes before onboard time at the ship. If you use the HOHO, I would book it through the ship. That way if you're late getting back because the busses were full, they won't leave without you.


3. Allow yourself about an hour to browse the zoo and souvenir shop at the port terminal. It was far more interesting than we expected, and we had to rush through it to get back to the ship on time.


I loved Cartegena. We really only got to explore the walled city, and everything else we saw was from the window of the HOHO (we rode the whole route - 1.5 hours - without getting off just to see what there was to see). However, when we left we felt that if we only got to see one thing, we were glad it was the walled city. That's the most outstanding feature about Cartegena. Next time we're there, however, we'll probably hit the beach. 

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Like I said earlier, it appears that Cartegena is about the city.  We have decided that we are going to do ship's tours.  I had been advised that if one is going to stress out over getting back in time, they should stick with the ship's tours.   We WILL stress out, so.....no private for us, no matter how reputable.

That said we did private in Alaska, but that was Alaska and we did them early leaving a lot of time on the back end of the day.  We walked around, but were close to the ship.

I have had experience with hop on hop off and I hear what you are saying.  In Vancouver, we did it, but we did not go the length.  We got off at some point and walked back to the hotel.  Did the same thing in San Francisco when we got to Chinatown.

With Cartegena, if we do anything, it will entail the city.  There are a lot of options on the guided tours and we are inclined to wait until we are on the ship to decide.  I am guessing they are similar enough that not getting one will not be the end of the world.  The HOHOs are a little bit cheaper and allow for flexibility. 

Some of the other ports have more must see, where we may really WANT a specific excursion.  Those I will book in advance.

Any thoughts on specific tours having experienced Cartagena

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