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Home > Member Reviews > CalUrsus's Port Reviews of Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera), Colon (Cristobal), Cartagena (Colombia)

CalUrsus's Port Reviews of Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera), Colon (Cristobal), Cartagena (Colombia)
Celebrity Century cruise in December 2012
Member Name: CalUrsus
Cruise Date: December 2012
Embarkation: San Diego
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Member Review: CalUrsus's Celebrity Century Review
Cabo San Lucas
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Clean and modern but utterly Americanized. Not much of Mexico to experience here besides the food and drink.

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Puerto Vallarta
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
A nicer mix of high-rise and old town, beautifully constructed waterfront walkways, easy to get around with cabs. PV pulls it off--absorbs the gringos and still feels like a pretty place in Mexico.
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Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera)
Coffee Plantation Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
The port of Puntarenas is a bit grungy with some limited shops for tourists at the end of the pier, with spotty wi-fi available. Took a tour to a coffee plantation collective Espritu Santo in Naranjo. It was probably one of the closest destinations at 1 1/2 hours over Costa Rica's spotty main highway. One of the drawbacks of this port is that the lousy roads make bus trips to any of the other more scenic destinations extremely long. You might need the dramamine you didn't use on the cruise. The add-on of this and many tours to Sarchi where you are paraded past an early 1900s machine shop, see some folks painting colorful oxcarts, is interesting for about 10 minutes. Then you are kept in a ridiculously overpriced souvenir shop for about another half hour.

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Colon (Cristobal)
Panama Canal Tour Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
The port of Colon itself is a real dump, and you will be advised by both crew and tour guides to not wander outside the shopping center of the cruise port, since it's a really rough looking slum, no joke. The tours are necessary so you can get out of there to see the Canal visitors center from another view point, and perhaps go to Panama City. The tour descriptions offered through Celebrity are spotty, so it's not clear how long the various operators spend at which place. And they're also useless at being clear on where you're going when they say the "Old City"--do they mean series of ruins in a city park not worth a long visit, or the "Casco Viejo" which is the old colonial section of town being restored. Unfortunately, the tour I was on was represented as going to the UNESCO-protected colonial town, however once on the tour: 'Sorry, sir, our buses don't fit into that neighborhood'...

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Cartagena (Colombia)
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Hands down one of the prettiest harbors on the Panama Canal itinerary, with views of both Miami-style and Spanish colonial seafronts.

Celebrity barely spends 4-5 hours in port here, which was a joke, unless you book their tours to get early access out.

The port center itself was terrific, probably the best on this itinerary--a garden with live flamingos, toucans and macaws flying around wild that want to be fed, and a shop with some better quality souvenirs at not as exorbitant prices and a Juan Valdez coffee shop. Check out their many varieties of local coffee and chocolate if you can't grab some in town.

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