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Customer Reviews for Cartagena City Highlights

Cartagena City Highlights

An impressive fortress, the magnificent city of Cartagena was once the treasure chest of the Spanish Main, and thus a high-profile target for pirates.Explore by air-conditioned coach or mini-bus on a panoramic drive through the city that had the reputation of being the most impenetrable bastion of the conquistadors. The ‘new town’ became a prosperous urban center in the relatively short time between initial settlement in 1533 and independence in 1811. Travel past marvelous Republican architecture and the Manga residential area, where some of the aging mansions have been restored to their original splendor. Explore the Fort of San Felipe de Barajas, a 17th-century construction acknowledged to be the most important work of Spanish Military engineering in Latin America. At Las Bovedas, you’ll have about 20 minutes for handicraft shopping and for rubbing elbows with the local artisans who proudly display their works for you. Pass through Simón Bolívar Square and the Inquisition Palace before continuing on to the cathedral, also called the Minor Basilica. The cathedral was built in honor of Santa Catalina de Alejandria and is the first church built in the city in 1537. It was destroyed by fire in 1552 and again, while being rebuilt, by the cannons of the French privateer Baron Pointis. Reconstruction finally came to pass in 1612. Stop at the Church of San Pedro Claver -- the patron saint of slaves. Continue to the modern residential area of Bocagrande, famous for its wide variety of shops. Here, you will find Colombia’s famous native gem -- the emerald -- along with handicrafts and leather goods shops. You will have approximately 40 minutes to shop before returning to the ship.Notes:Guests who wish to remain in town for shopping may do so, returning to the ship at their own expense.
Average Customer Rating:
3.605 out of 5
3.6
 out of 
5
(38 Reviews) 38
Open Ratings Snapshot
Rating Snapshot (38 reviews)
5 stars
9
4 stars
15
3 stars
6
2 stars
6
1 star
2
25 out of 38(66%)reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.
Customer Reviews for Cartagena City Highlights
Review 1 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

A very enjoyable tour

Date:April 23, 2016
Location:Canada
Cruise Date Year:2015
Cruise Date Month:November
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
This was my first time in Columbia and I'm not sure what I thought I would see but this tour certainly exceeded my expectations.
The Fort was interesting but another surprise as I certainly did not anticipate the climb it took to get to the top. But the trip to the top and the top of the Fort made the exertion well worth it. There is lots of history to be seen and our tour guide was excellent.
The walking tour was amazing - my only regret is that we didn't have more time to check out the crafts for sale. I was able to get a couple of pieces of art on a mirror that are truly wonderful souveniers. Walking through the cathedral was also a wonderful experience.
Some of the comments on here indicate that there was too much shopping and I thought our first stop could have been a little longer as there was more variety of items to buy. Our second stop was very focused on jewelry and could have been a little shorter but I really didn't feel the shopping time was extensive as it was a very small part of the tour.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
0points
0out of 0found this review helpful.
Review 2 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

This is the one to take!

Date:April 11, 2016
Location:Glendale, AZ
Cruise Date Year:2016
Cruise Date Month:March
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Wow, I had planned to just walk the city as I didn't see a tour including everything I wanted to see. My husband decided we should not just go walking on our own and it didn't take long for me to agree. I am so glad we took this tour, as it gave us plenty of time to explore the Fort and we got to see the rest of the city and stop at a few shops (not my interest) but it was colorful and fascinating. Mr. Morales was our tour guide and he was an experience all on his own, with loads of history and culture to entertain us with. This was a fulfilling experience as I love fortresses and history. We did miss out on the Palace of Inquisition which i really wanted to see, but there just wasn't a tour that combined the sights for me. This one was wonderful and I would recommend it. I would definitely book whatever you do, through your cruise ship here...just saying.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+1point
1out of 1found this review helpful.
Review 3 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Shopping Trip

Date:April 3, 2016
Location:Michigan
Cruise Date Year:2016
Cruise Date Month:March
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Enjoyed it?
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Value
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Approximately half the tour time was spent at shopping venues.
The tour through the fortress, old city, and church were fine. If we would have spent the time we were shuttled to shopping locations at other historical sites such as the naval museum this would have received a much higher rating.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
0points
0out of 0found this review helpful.
Review 4 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Enjoyed this excursion!

Date:February 8, 2016
Location:Saginaw, Texas
Cruise Date Year:2016
Cruise Date Month:January
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
We enjoyed this excursion although it did not mention the totally UPHILL walk to the top of the fort. Some of the folks on the bus had a very difficult time. The last shopping stop is almost exclusively for emeralds so don't plan on finding much else at that stop. Should have added another 10 minutes at Las Bovedas instead of the longer at the emerald stop.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+1point
1out of 1found this review helpful.
Review 5 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Beautiful City, Memories of Spain

Date:January 29, 2016
Location:UK
Cruise Date Year:2016
Cruise Date Month:January
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Cartagena was far more interesting and photogenic than we expected. The Spanish influence reminded us of Cadiz and Seville. Others have reported on the intrusive street vendors. They are with you wherever you walk at the fort and in the city; you just have to ignore them and enjoy the sights. They are a Cartagena problem, not HAL. Our guide, Sandy, was most interesting and well-informed as a Cartagena resident from birth. We could have done without the emerald shopping stop. It is hot in Cartagena. This trip gives you a good taste of both the old and new cities.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
0points
0out of 0found this review helpful.
Review 6 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Some reservations

Date:October 24, 2015
Location:Williamsburg
Cruise Date Year:2015
Cruise Date Month:September
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
From reading previous reviews, I see that all the City Highlights tours are not the same. On ours, we visited the old fort where the slopes were steep and the hawkers were many. The Guide did an excellent job of keeping our group together, but when we were off the bus, it was impossible to hear. Our guide was not miked and despite his monumental efforts he could not be heard over a blaring trumpet, the squeaking parrots and/or other the guides that were miked. From the fort we took a walk through the old town, stopping outside two old churches. We went inside another old building but because I couldn't hear and there were so many people, I'm not sure exactly where we were. The bus made a quick 20 minute stop at a small mall of local shops. Again very crowded with people and buses. From there the bus toured the new city and made a 40 minute stop at another small group of stores that specialized in emeralds. The pressure to buy was extreme. Even on the bus, the "vendors" were knocking on the windows and nowhere were they deterred by a "No thank you!".
Even in late September, the heat was extreme but the city was beautiful and worth the discomfort. If I could have heard as well as seen, I would have given this tour a 5!
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+3points
3out of 3found this review helpful.
Review 7 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

A quick view of Cartagena

Date:May 18, 2015
Location:California
Cruise Date Year:2015
Cruise Date Month:April
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Time is short and the weather outside is sunny and hot...but the tour guide gave us just enough time to take it all in! The first stop was the magnificent fort where there was time for a photo shoot and barter with many street vendors. A drive through the city's small but bustling busy boulevards and colorful streets allowed one to see the "old" and the "new and modern" sites of this historically important city. A stop at the Las Bovedas gave everyone a chance to get off the bus and find the all important souvenirs of Columbia. More history is learned inside the thick walls of the cool museum where a dance troupe gyrated to the drums and folk music. The tour guide did his best to describe early life as depicted in the museum's exhibits. Then it was time to say good bey to the coffee vendor (Juan Valdez) and board the bus to head back to the waiting ship. Just enough ....
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+4points
4out of 4found this review helpful.
Review 8 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Cartagena City Highlight stops were very crowded.

Date:May 11, 2015
Location:Cranbrook, BC, Canada!
Cruise Date Year:2015
Cruise Date Month:April
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
The various stops were very interesting although some required some quick uphill walking. There was always several other tourists groups however and lots of locals with their wares trying to push them on you. Usually a simple "No, gracias" was all that was needed though until the next one came. The sights shown portray the poverty and hard work of the locals, but there is very little money or help to get above the poverty line. Always beautiful crafts. The stop where the artisans explained their crafts such as how they found and made and set the natural dyes for the wool was extremely well done.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
Review 9 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Enjoyed the Fort

Date:March 18, 2015
Location:Sagamore Hills, Ohio
Cruise Date Year:2015
Cruise Date Month:March
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
We chose this excursion so that we could spend most of our time at the fort. It was a steep incline to the top and we did tour the inside. Very cool! Our walk through some city streets and viewing the church was interesting, but the street sellers were annoying. Glad we spent less time shopping.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+7points
7out of 7found this review helpful.
Review 10 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Too much shopping and not enough highlights

Date:March 10, 2015
Location:San Jose, CA
Cruise Date Year:2015
Cruise Date Month:February
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
We began our day with a visit to the fortress which we enjoyed very much. I do wish we had had a little more time to wander around on our own there. We then were taken to a small shopping area which had nearly identical items in every shop. Next we visited the old town area but were led so quickly through there that we really didn't get to see much. We went inside one cathedral but only saw the exterior of the other. Then we spent quite a long time at another shopping area which had many stores selling emeralds. Everyone was back on our bus after about 10 minutes and we were there for 30 min. So we all wished we could have had more time on the walking tour and less at the shopping area. Unlike previous reviews which described the vendors as overly aggressive, we didn't really find them that bothersome. They were present, of course, but once you said "no thank you" they left you alone. A bigger problem was the heat and humidity. Be sure to bring a sun hat and plenty of water because it is brutally hot. Our guide frequently stopped in the middle of a courtyard to explain something and it was very uncomfortable standing in the blinding sun. Cartagena is a sad sort of place on the whole because the level of poverty you see riding into the city on the bus shows very clearly the huge divide between the "haves" and the "have nots." The modern downtown area looks from a distance as if it was built with white Legos, with every building the exact same design, varying only in height. The older part of the city is much more interesting and attractive, even if lots of it looks to be in disrepair. It was a place interesting to see once but not one I would ever want to return to visit.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+9points
11out of 13found this review helpful.
Review 11 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

City Highlights

Date:February 15, 2015
Location:Colorado
Cruise Date Year:2015
Cruise Date Month:February
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
It is a bit of a climb up inside the fort but there is a ramp most of the way so it is not so difficult. The view is wonderful. With the help of the tour guide and the view you get a good idea of the old city and the growth of the new city as well. We would have liked more time walking in the Old City instead of the handicraft stores and the high end emerald store. Good guide and comfortable bus.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+13points
13out of 13found this review helpful.
Review 12 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Lots of shopping

Date:February 7, 2015
Location:AZ
Cruise Date Year:2015
Cruise Date Month:January
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Enjoyed it?
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Value
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Strenuous walk up to the fort, not for anyone with a health condition. Then lots of shopping stops . . . old prison then old town then new town. Walking through old town was enjoyable.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+8points
8out of 8found this review helpful.
Review 13 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Good Tour - Bold Street Vendors

Date:January 23, 2015
Location:Ontario canada
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:January
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Good historical tour. Guide (Corpus) was very informative and entertaining. Would have liked to shop the market near Bolivar Square.
Be prepared for the street vendors. They are VERY bold. Say "No Thanks" and just keep walking.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+7points
7out of 7found this review helpful.
Review 14 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Great architecture and history!

Date:January 21, 2015
Location:san Diego
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:December
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
The city is beautiful and safe...loved the architecture and the history! Would return on an independent stay in the future...the boutique hotels and cafes and galleries looked so inviting! Just wish we had more time...reason for the 4 and not 5 rating. We spent a lot of time at Fort and San Pedro church; our walking tour was really enjoyable. We would have skipped the Bovedas and modern district shopping to see more of the central old city and inviting high quality galleries located there. No idea why the tour ran short of ship departure time...there was plenty more to see and experience.
Suggestion: Remember it is warm! Prepare!
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+8points
9out of 10found this review helpful.
Review 15 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Vendors Ruined It

Date:January 8, 2015
Cruise Date Year:2013
Cruise Date Month:October
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Enjoyed it?
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Value
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Bus was cramped. Vendors at the Fort were very agrressive. They tried to place items on my arms even though they were crossed. Would not take no for an answer even though I spoke to them in Spanish. The police were eventually called. For shopping, the bus and host obviously took us to the tourist traps and jewelry stops. Did enjoy the walk around the Old City. Very crowded no matter where we went
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+6points
6out of 6found this review helpful.
Review 16 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Great fort, great city, hoards of street vendors

Date:December 23, 2014
Location:Chandler, Arizona
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:December
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
The San Felipe fort is amazing! Our guide was very knowledgable and led us all over the expansive fort. We then went shopping in a "strip mall" of nice shops where we actually bought a platter we liked. Then back on the bus and off to a walking tour of the old city. Beautiful, narrow streets and sculptures. The cathedral grounds were very interesting but it was a shame to see the decaying works of art in serious need of restoration. Tate pictures, you may not see them again
Detracting from the tour was the sea of relentless street vendors who somehow think that NO means maybe and find secret ways of moving from street to street always in your face. Without the vendors, it was a great tour
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+7points
8out of 9found this review helpful.
Review 17 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Tour Guide saved the rainy day

Date:November 19, 2014
Location:Virginia
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:October
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Our tour guide was so smart. We were to arrive first at the fort, then to the old town, then finish with the Markets. That sounds reasonable, but rain was threatening and he suggested we reverse the tour, doing the inside markets first. The markets are not really memorable, but I did learn how to get a fair deal, thanks to memorable advice from our tour guide: everything is negotiable. (Also, everyone is selling emeralds. Buyer beware.) By the time we arrived at the old section of town, the roads were flooded though the rain had subsided. We had a nice tour through old streets, into the church, and then rode to the Fort, where many of us hiked up near to the top. It is steep - not for the mobility impaired. Many people on board our ship had a disastrous rainy day experience. Our tour guide saved the day by rearranging the sequence.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+5points
5out of 5found this review helpful.
Review 18 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Waste of time and money

Date:November 9, 2014
Location:Oklahoma City, OK - USA
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:October
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Enjoyed it?
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Value
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Do yourself a favor and stay on the ship in this port. This tour had too much walking, was too hot and humid, saw too few interesting places (except for the fort) and the local vendors were always pestering us.
Also, the two shopping stops were a complete waste of time and we were steered to the guides "favorite" shops.
The onboard tour guide booklet had this tour as a "light walking" and many people therefore took it, only to find out that it required a good deal of walking (including a good uphill hike at the fort) and a number of people really struggled to make it,
Only good thing was the air conditioned bus.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+11points
13out of 15found this review helpful.
Review 19 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

cartagena city highlights

Date:May 15, 2014
Location:Australia
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:April
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
This was our first excursions and was one of the very best, despite the extreme heat our guide was cheerful and informative and mindful of the ages of the group took things at a slow pace, a place we felt very safe in, this city was a complete surprise clean and modern and despite or perhaps because of the police presents everywhere we felt perfectly safe, the street artists are amazing the markets fun and good bargains with haggling and the fort a must see really enjoyed this excursion.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+15points
16out of 17found this review helpful.
Review 20 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

TOO MUCH SHOPPING-BEAUTIFUL CITY

Date:February 4, 2014
Location:Northville, Michigan, USA
Cruise Date Year:2013
Cruise Date Month:January
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
I should have read the description more closely but the alternatives were not a good choice for my mother due to the amount of walking. However, the bus was not like the other buses we had used for other tours. The visibility was not good - you couldn't see anything via the front windows, just from the window immediately at the side of the seats. Short visit to the fort of San Felipe (quite a walk to the top), then short shopping stop at the dungeons. The old town was really beautiful and I would have liked to spend more time there as were some lovely buildings to explore. The 40 minutes at the emerald shopping mall was just that...a strip mall with shops selling just emeralds. I would recommend this trip with reservations.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+18points
22out of 26found this review helpful.
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