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Customer Reviews for Cartagena City Highlights

Cartagena City Highlights

The magnificent city of Cartagena, once the treasure chest of the Spanish Main and thus a preferred target for pirates, is yours to explore as you embark an air-conditioned bus or mini-bus for a panoramic drive. An impressive fortress, Cartagena earned the reputation of being the most impenetrable city 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. On tour, you will be accompanied by an English-speaking guide as you travel past marvelous Republican architecture. Don’t miss the Manga residential area, where some of the aging mansions have been restored to their original splendor. Stop for a half hour to 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 in a fire in 1552 and again, while being rebuilt, by the cannons of the French privateer Baron Pointis. The cathedral’s reconstruction finally came to pass in 1612. Next stop is 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:
3.533 out of 5
3.5
 out of 
5
(30 Reviews) 30
Open Ratings Snapshot
Rating Snapshot (30 reviews)
5 stars
8
4 stars
9
3 stars
6
2 stars
5
1 star
2
18 out of 30(60%)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

Enjoyed the Fort

Date:March 18, 2015
Fluffy
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
+4points
4out of 4found this review helpful.
Review 2 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
Bitsy
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
+6points
8out of 10found this review helpful.
Review 3 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

City Highlights

Date:February 15, 2015
Kullbys
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
+11points
11out of 11found this review helpful.
Review 4 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Lots of shopping

Date:February 7, 2015
DaveVette
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
+6points
6out of 6found this review helpful.
Review 5 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Good Tour - Bold Street Vendors

Date:January 23, 2015
10191956
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 6 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Great architecture and history!

Date:January 21, 2015
CaliforniaBooklady
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
+7points
8out of 9found this review helpful.
Review 7 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Vendors Ruined It

Date:January 8, 2015
NurseTerre
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
+5points
5out of 5found this review helpful.
Review 8 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
Walter
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
+6points
7out of 8found this review helpful.
Review 9 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Tour Guide saved the rainy day

Date:November 19, 2014
Virginian
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 10 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Waste of time and money

Date:November 9, 2014
DaveOKC
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
+10points
12out of 14found this review helpful.
Review 11 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

cartagena city highlights

Date:May 15, 2014
travelnan
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 12 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

TOO MUCH SHOPPING-BEAUTIFUL CITY

Date:February 4, 2014
Lindawanderer
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
+17points
21out of 25found this review helpful.
Review 13 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Take a taxi

Date:November 13, 2013
maddog
Location:Las Vegas, NV
Cruise Date Year:2013
Cruise Date Month:October
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
Our guide did not speak very good english and when we were off the bus unless you were standing right next to her you could not hear what she was saying. The tour itself hit all the highlights with the fortress being the most impressive. The rest of the tour we were crammed into jewelry stores where they went for the quick slam dunk. I would recommend taking a taxi from the cruise port to the fort then calling it a day
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+20points
21out of 22found this review helpful.
Review 14 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

50/50

Date:June 18, 2013
Beave
Location:Stuttgart, Germany
Cruise Date Year:2013
Cruise Date Month:March
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
The initial part of the tour was really interesting. Seeing the old part of the city and visting all the local places was very nice. There were local vendors trying to sell things but they were not pushy, especially compared to other parts of the world where I have been. After the tour of the old city, we were taken to a shopping mall which I would have skipped altogether. It was selling junk which I wouldn't buy, hence the reason I think this tour is only 50/50. I would have enjoyed to stay in the old city for some shopping over going to the shady shopping area. i would not recommend this particular tour unless you are looking at buying gems, otherwise just stick to a tour of the old city without shopping.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+31points
32out of 33found this review helpful.
Review 15 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Enjoying Cartagena

Date:May 23, 2013
airborne
Location:Chicago
Cruise Date Year:2013
Cruise Date Month:February
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
One of the best tours we have taken.Only wish it was longer.What a beautiful city.The weather was perfect as well as the shopping.Great Job.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+3points
8out of 13found this review helpful.
Review 16 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Crowded and how

Date:April 22, 2013
Arty
Location:Columbus, Ohio
Cruise Date Year:2013
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
The traffic was horrible. We spent too much time on bus in heavy traffic. Street vendors were in you face constantly. Tour guide spoke to us like we were 8 year old children. This tour, like most off the ship, concentrated on taking us to jewelry stores either owned by HAL or friends of the tour company trying to get us to buy "stuff" we did not sign up for. HAL should find tour companies who provide sight seeing entertainment rather than those intent on selling passengers funk and jewelry they don't want or need.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+22points
23out of 24found this review helpful.
Review 17 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Not a shopping excursion

Date:April 3, 2013
loadyolady
Location:St Albert
Cruise Date Year:2013
Cruise Date Month:March
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
We were on this excursion with our grandson. The highlight for him was the fortress. The walk around the city, because of our tour guide, was very informative and gave us some insight into their way of life. The only thing I could complain about is there was very little time to shop. We had more time at a stop where you could buy emeralds than at the touristy area.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+7points
8out of 9found this review helpful.
Review 18 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Good for First Time Visit

Date:March 2, 2013
bwitch
Location:Orlando, FL
Cruise Date Year:2013
Cruise Date Month:February
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
We boarded one of many buses waiting on the dock. First stop was the fort which was incredible. Our guide was excellent, explained many historical points and even took pictures of us with our own cameras. Next stop was the dungeons - which is actually shopping stalls - several. If you're into shopping this is great. Lots of variety in price and quality. From there we reboarded the bus for the center of Cartegena. Beautiful churches, monuments and more history. Our guide gave exellent talks about what we were seeing and how Columbia was redeveloping areas and making the country safer.
The only uncomfortable part is the many street vendors who circle you. We understand that this is a poor country and that the vendors are licensed, but it can be off putting to certain other cultures to have people in your face all of the time. A sImple, "No, Thank You" or "Gracious, No", helps a very little. Also note, the people in costume, with the Parrots, with the Donkeys all expect a dollar or two if you take their picture. There is evidently some agreement between the guides and the vendors or the government that licenses them to not have them steer clear of tours. On the bright side -we bought the best Columbian Coffee beans I've ever had from the vendor right before getting back on the bus. Reboarded the bus and were driven to a very sorry shopping plaza for 30 minutes. Thank goodness they had a quick mart so bought a local beer and drank it on the street. Reboarded the bus for the ship.
Bottom line - good first time tour, need less vendors/shopping (this was supposed to be the tour with less shopping) and would probably do a private tour next time.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+11points
11out of 11found this review helpful.
Review 19 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Average Caribbean Tour.

Date:February 20, 2013
bigpoppi
Location:Montgomery, Ohio
Cruise Date Year:2013
Cruise Date Month:February
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Enjoyed it?
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Value
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Its better than staying on the ship if you've never to been to Cartagena. Bus was decent. The fort was kind of interesting with good views of the city from up high. Our guide was a little difficult to understand but she worked hard and knew her stuff. Shopping opportunities were brief and not very good. Street vendors were all over us at times. We got a nice taste of Cartagena and what life is like here. A typical city tour, not bad but nothing special. If you want to shop, pick another tour, or better yet, wait for another port.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+4points
5out of 6found this review helpful.
Review 20 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Disappointed

Date:January 27, 2013
TRNMGR
Location:Atlanta, GA
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:January
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
We took this tour in January, 2013. We looked forward to being in an open-air carriage with a tour guide, hoping to be able to take pictures of the old city. The tour guide was difficult to understand, and the radio receivers we were given cut off while in the old city. I don't know if the reception was spotty because the receivers did not have the range, or if it was the buildings, but when we were in the carriages we could not hear anything the guide said. Taking pictures was close to impossible because the carriages did not stop for very long and we were too close to the buildings being in carriages in the middle of narrow streets.
Cartagena has lots of street vendors who are extremely aggressive. The carriages move slowly, so these vendors will run right alongside and continue to harass the tourists. To make matters worse, a mime jumped into our carriage and would not leave until we gave him money. Since there was no guide in the carriage to make him leave, and the driver did nothing about it, the other couple on the carriage gave him the money. (My inclination was to push the guy out into the road.)
The cruise line told us about some recommended shops in Cartagena, but they are not available if you take this tour. Instead the tour guide took us to some storefronts with a line of shops that all sell pretty much the same junk, along with emeralds. Even the emeralds looked like expensive junk. We didn't buy anything here except postcards.
All along the tour route there were policemen everywhere. Oddly, this did not make me feel safer, it made me feel as thought we had reason to be afraid there.
Overall our experience with this excursion was disappointing, and we do NOT recommend it.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+4points
7out of 10found this review helpful.
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