We will be cruising to this port in May 2020 but I have been researching all ports we will be visiting while on this cruise. With that said, I am hearing quite a bit of negativity toward this port of call. I know we all have to take reviews and comments with a grain of salt but with all the videos and testimonials I have viewed so far I am becoming hesitant about moving outside the cruise terminal area to explore this place. Any thoughts by those who may have visited this port?
I am not sure if I would try to explore this port on my own. First, you dock in a very industrial port. There is no walking out of it to a tourist area. You will have to leave either via a taxi/shuttle or on an excursion. we did an excursion that took us to the nearby fort and that was very cool. I would recommend that. Scenes from my favorite 80s movie "Romancing the Stone" were shot there. Afterwards we were taken to a local market where I got some great deals on lace tablecloths and then we took a walking tour of the historic downtown. It was very beautiful and very Spanish colonial. It was probably the most beautiful city we saw on our cruise (we did partial transit through the canal). I recommend you take an excursion. Enjoy!
We have been there twice, last time in late September. Did ship sponsored shore excursions both times and enjoyed them. Here were my comments to the kids and friends back home on our first visit four years ago when we did a partial transit:
"CARTAGENA, COLUMBIA---Never been to Columbia before, I thought it was a pretty rough country to visit. But our stay and tour in Cartagena today certainly didn't prove up on that. Beautiful day, nice tour and nice lady tour guide. We pulled out of port early today as we have to cover quite a few miles in order to make the first lock in the Panama Canal at 5:00 AM in the morn., captain says we will ...do 24 MPH all night to make it.
1st picture---Across the bay from our ship looking at part of the city, very modern.
2nd----Lady selling fruit all dressed in traditional garb. I walked past her then turned around to take her picture, she stood up and did this.
3rd----Now I've seen mimes before but these two took me by surprise, it was in a remote ally and I thought someone had dressed up a couple of dummies or something. I took this picture. A few minutes later I walked by them again and was startled when the one on the left started pointing at his can on the ground. I put some money in and he shook my hand. What some will go to in order to eek out a living.
4th----Cartagena eventually had the largest fortresses built in the new world. Pirates were always raiding Cartagena in order to get at the gold, silver, gems, spices, hardwoods, hides and other riches brought there and destined for Europe. Captain Jack Sparrow, anyone? This is part of the primary fortress which we toured today, pretty impressive. They built a wall around the entire city. Heart of the Spanish Main.
5th----The "Spanish Inquisition" reached the new world big time, for a couple hundred years. The Vatican was something else, "believe like we do or suffer". Heretics, witches (women who weighed less than 45K were suspect since they were light enough to fly) and a host of other contrived wrongdoings. Many innocents died due this religious insanity and miscarriage of Christian belief. The following pictures are just a few of the devices the fine church used on you in the new world.
6th---A rack. Hey, I worked with/for a guy one time who wanted to put me on one of these. The top two ropes are for your wrists, two of the bottom ones are for your ankles, and the middle one, sorry but guys only, well, use your imagination.
7th---Head clamp---They put it on you then began slowly turning the screws, torture, but this is one of those devices not made to walk away from.
8th----See my wife there? Cartagena is big on silver and emeralds--She just ran across a beautiful set of silver butterfly earrings."
Thanks for sharing your experiences. Much appreciated.
We have been to Cartagena 3 times part of the panama canal cruise packages. We took all excursions Carnival had to offer, and they were great. Our third trip we stayed at the welcome center and watched the birds as we really did not want to go non excursion.. When you are on an excursion, the locals really bug you to buy their stuff. If you take a photo with a local vendor or a bird owner, they want money. so no telling what they will do if you are by yourself. BUT if there is too much trouble, the cruise lines will drop the port.
Yes that is what my research is showing. So there is no tourist area in the cruise terminal itself with shops, etc?
A couple of photos showing where the ship is in relation to cartengia and the welcome area. It has a restaurant, a shop for colombia stuff and a wildlife area showing some of native animals, mostly birds, it is about a quarter mile walk to the center from the ship, follow pedestrian walkway
I took the ships City Tour
That is what we normally do on our first visit to a new port of call. Possibly will continue with this tradition.
Thank you to everyone who posted something. I will be visiting Cartagena in April 2020. The information is very helpful. I'm very excited about this upcoming cruise.
We really enjoyed Cartagena, we did do a ships excursion and really enjoyed it. I’m with the others don’t know if I would attempt it on my own.