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Customer Reviews for Cartagena City Highlights

Cartagena City Highlights

The magnificent city of Cartagena, once a preferred target for pirates and the treasure chest of the Spanish Main, 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, about 20 minutes are allowed 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.
Average Customer Rating:
3.579 out of 5
3.6
 out of 
5
(19 Reviews) 19
Open Ratings Snapshot
Rating Snapshot (19 reviews)
5 stars
7
4 stars
2
3 stars
5
2 stars
5
1 star
0
11 out of 19(58%)reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.
Customer Reviews for Cartagena City Highlights
Review 1 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
+4points
4out of 4found this review helpful.
Review 2 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
+7points
7out of 7found this review helpful.
Review 3 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
+15points
15out of 15found this review helpful.
Review 4 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
+4points
6out of 8found this review helpful.
Review 5 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
+20points
20out of 20found this review helpful.
Review 6 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
+4points
5out of 6found this review helpful.
Review 7 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
+8points
8out of 8found this review helpful.
Review 8 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
+3points
3out of 3found this review helpful.
Review 9 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
6out of 8found this review helpful.
Review 10 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Nice tour, but very rushed

Date:January 12, 2013
Virgie
Location:Cincinnati, Ohio
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:December
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Our tour date was Jan. 1 2013. We enjoyed the carriage ride and bus tour, and it was probably one of the better excursions offered at this port, but it was very rushed. The bus took us straight to the carriages and we were all placed in a long train of about 10 or 15 vehicles. We were each given a receiver with an earpiece to hear the guide (who was located a few coaches ahead of ours) giving the hightlights. Then the carriages took off bouncing us over the cobblestones and moving so fast that taking photos was very difficult. The reception on the headsets was spotty since the small receiver had to be pointed directly at the guide to work, so it was often hard to know what we were seeing. It would have been very much nicer at a slower pace. Also, it was very hot...so wear sunscreen and a hat and sunglasses and bring water.
After this, the bus took us for another fast tour past other city highlights and a brief stop at the fortress. I wanted to be able to explore some of these places, especially the fort, but no time. Then we were dropped at a shopping area full of "touristy" shops that all sold the same things... and lots of vendors in your face (although we were used to that). This was also a short 15 min stop. I don't know if going on our own in a taxi would have been better, but we might have had time to see something more in-depth or at a slower pace. I also think that we weren't in the port long enough to experience the city in the first place ... only from 10 am to 1:30 pm. If Holland is going to go to a port and offer excursions, they should try to at least stay until 5 pm or so.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+11points
11out of 11found this review helpful.
Review 11 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Cartagena overview

Date:January 9, 2013
Janette
Location:Australia
Cruise Date Year:2011
Cruise Date Month:November
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Wonderful tour, it gave me a taste of Cartagena and a desire to see more. The guide was proud of his homeland and a delight. It felt like lots of walking in the hot sun - so take a hat. It's very humid too but worth it. Hearing about the evil pirate Sir Francis Drake was confronting for an Aussie who only knew him as a hero from English history. The houses in the old city are beautifully restored.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+3points
3out of 3found this review helpful.
Review 12 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Valuable for shopping and education

Date:January 5, 2013
Suzannah
Location:Denver CO
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:October
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
Not enough time for shopping. Should advise to bring water and wear comfotable shoes. Felt safe and had fun.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+4points
4out of 4found this review helpful.
Review 13 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

City Highlights

Date:December 24, 2012
Blondtwin2
Location:Laurelville, Ohio
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:December
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
Great side trip. My Mother had to walk slow but the guide was exceptionally patient and always made sure we were in sight.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+6points
6out of 6found this review helpful.
Review 14 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Worth the hot day!

Date:December 1, 2012
oregonman2
Location:Forest Grove, Oregon
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:October
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
Enjoyed it?
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Even though it was a hot and humid day, we had a good time. Got to visit the famous fort and walk around some of the area. Nice drive through the walled city. We had a nice time on the walking tour. We were able to get some wonderful pictures during this excursion. We went to the little shops to do some shopping. Overall, this was a good tour.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+6points
6out of 6found this review helpful.
Review 15 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Minimal information given about the city.

Date:October 26, 2012
Lois
Location:British Columbia, Canada
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:October
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Enjoyed it?
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Value
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
I felt we were hustled on and off the bus and were not given a good background as on other tours. I must admit the street vendors were very "in your face" and spoiled the experience for me. They all had the same wares. The old city was very pretty and clean but the stop by the fortification was dauntingly dirty and I did feel unsafe.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+6points
6out of 6found this review helpful.
Review 16 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Cartagena Highlights

Date:May 13, 2012
Carrie
Location:LA
Cruise Date Year:2012
Cruise Date Month:April
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
This excursion was on new buses, our tour guide was articulate and knowledgeable. There were people on our tour who were in wheelchairs and walkers and I feel strongly that this tour was more than they could handle. Our guide (a hero in my mind) probably went home with a huge backache after manhandling one rather helpless gentleman in a wheelchair who had to bodily be hoisted by the guide and other tourists on and off the bus. A word to the wise, get in line early before going ashore and BUY your water on the ship... you will need it. Definitely take a hat and ladies if you have a have a fan take it... you will need and use it. One other note, I didn't plan on buying emeralds, but changed my mind only to find I had left my credit card on the ship. If you are contemplating emeralds, don't forget your credit card!
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+17points
17out of 17found this review helpful.
Review 17 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Tour was a disappointment

Date:February 12, 2012
stella
Location:Prather, CA
Cruise Date Year:2012
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
We were so excited to stop at Cartegena, a place that we very much wanted to experiance. I suppose we saw the highlights of the city in the bus. The fort was wonderful and would have loved to have had more time there to roam around and get more history. We drove through neighborhoods with some minimal background and then dumped into the shopping area that was horrific. The area was stores of emeralds and the basic tourist stuff and then outside, local vendors that would just not let you peruse their wares without a confrontation. In retrospect, we would have prefered to go out into the countryside so maybe next time.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+17points
17out of 17found this review helpful.
Review 18 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

A Beautiful City

Date:November 2, 2011
Anon
Location:U.S.
Cruise Date Year:2011
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
This was the second favorite excursion on our 16-day cruise. The guide was enthusiastic, easy to understand, and very skilled at keeping our group together, despite the throngs of tourists (3 ships in port that day).
The fort was beautiful and provided a panoramic view of the city, and the churches were exquisite in their detail. It was fun to walk the colorful streets and see the lush flowering plants. Shopping time was minimal (our preference).
I did wish for more time to explore the fort, but there wasn't any other stop that I'd have been willing to sacrifice.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
+21points
21out of 21found this review helpful.
Review 19 for Cartagena City Highlights
Overall Rating
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Private car would be better value

Date:October 25, 2011
DavidS
Cruise Date Year:2011
Cruise Date Month:September
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
Enjoyed it?
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Value
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
The visit to the old fort was good, but we were hurried through the old city with almost no explanation of what we were seeing. The visit to the shopping area was a joke. Who wants to buy overpriced emeralds from unknown dealers in Columbia? Next time I will rent a driver and save lots of money.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
+20points
21out of 22found this review helpful.