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Home > Member Reviews > ew2103's Port Reviews of Half Moon Cay, Cartagena (Colombia), Half Moon Cay, Cabo San Lucas, San Diego

ew2103's Port Reviews of Half Moon Cay, Cartagena (Colombia), Half Moon Cay, Cabo San Lucas, San Diego
Amsterdam cruise in April 2014
Member Name: ew2103
Cruise Date: April 2014
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Member Review: ew2103's Amsterdam Review
Half Moon Cay
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+

First tour, Eco-Lagoon Cruise. You'll tender ashore and then ride 5 minutes (in what amounts to a "truck-alias-little-bus") to the glass-bottomed boat (and reverse at tour end). The guide (highly knowledgeable) carefully defined "lagoon" as "a body of water with exactly ONE connection to the ocean" (interesting contrast with Wikipedia and such). Fascinating and colorful marine plants, highly varied, are easily visible on the shallow lagoon floor. We got occasional glimpses of small fish too. Don't forget to look ashore also, to admire the mangroves and other trees. After this tour, you'll have much more appreciation for how mangroves protect areas struck by powerful hurricanes from devastating erosion. If you take this tour, I recommend also taking the "Glass-Bottom Boat" tour (schedules make that possible), providing strong insight into the differences between two very different marine ecological environments only several miles apart.



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Cartagena (Colombia)
Horse Carriage Tour Rating: 3.0 out of 5+

You ride in a large bus (with interesting sights and commentary) to a street where many horse-drawn carriages await. Each carriage, which has 2 benches, holds 4 comfortably or 6 uncomfortably. Try to sit facing forward, as I did. The guide rides in one carriage, so you are given an earphone to hear what he or she says. Herewith the major problem -- cutoff of sound occurred frequently; I heard about every 3rd or 4th word the guide said -- very frustrating! The sights in Old Town are splendid; you appreciate how the narrow, frequently angled streets would frustrate an invading army (why the Old Town was built so). I really enjoyed the quaint buildings, many with balconies aflame with colorful flowers. You move slowly enough to get a good view but just fast enough that the 800,801 street vendors can't hassle you much. The carriages have canopies, but they were not raised. Still, since the streets are so narrow, we weren't in direct sun much. On return, you visit the former city dungeons, now souvenir shops. Our guide recommended two, which did have good values. One contained a unisex bathroom accommodating ONE person at a time -- STAMPEDE! Then the bus goes back to the pier, stopping at the Fort of San Felipe de Barajas for photographs (but we did not enter the fort. I would rate this tour a 5, not a 3, if only the earphones worked.




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Half Moon Cay
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+

Second tour: Glass-Bottom Boat. From the shore point (you've tendered ashore), it's a short walk to the boat, which has 24 glass windows, 12 port and 12 starboard. I had no problem getting a bench seat to look straight down through the windows as the boat passed slowly over a fascinating variety of corals; their color contrasts were lovely. Later, the crew invites you topside; lively fish come to the surface when the crew tosses enticing food tidbits to them. Our guide was knowledgeable and enthusiastic. If you take this tour, I recommend also taking the "Eco-Lagoon Cruise" tour (schedules make that possible), providing strong insight into the differences between two very different marine ecological environments only several miles apart.
Each of these tours lasted just over an hour.



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Cabo San Lucas
San Jose del Cabo Rating: 4.0 out of 5+

The tender ride to the pier provides lovely views of the harbor and shore town even before the tour starts. The bus drives to a famous restaurant which is a high lookout point over the harbor -- breathtaking views! Then on to the interior town and a pleasant walk around the shaded commons; I enjoyed looking inside the Jesuit mission church. There are museums just steps away -- all closed for Sunday, unfortunately. Then the bus took us back to the glass factory, where I watched the two skilled craftsmen make first a man smoking a pipe, then an elephant. Amusingly, he asked (while holding the elephant, just out of the blazing furnace, in long tongs) "Does anyone want to pet the elephant?" I said yes, 10 days from now. There's beautiful glassware for sale, and NO pressure to buy. Then back to the bus for a stop at a restaurant for a brief drink. OOPS! There's a church near the restaurant, and it being Sunday, the driver literally could NOT park the bus. So we skipped that stop (the least important one, to me) and went back to the pier and the tender. This tour would surely have earned at least 5 if not on Sunday.




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San Diego
City Tour Rating: 2.0 out of 5+

This is the only tour listed for those disembarking the ship here (versus Vancouver or Seattle), as I was. (Other tours return to the ship.) You get 8-second glimpses of what are surely interesting sites through the bus window (I felt lucky when a traffic light turned red so the bus driver had to stop and I could get a 20-second look). Then we marched (I said "marched," not "walked") around Balboa Park. The tour guide must have been a drill sergeant in a previous incarnation: "All right, you've gawked at that sight 2 minutes now! Attention! About face! Forward MARCH! Hup, two, three, four, hup, two....." We were marched to shops selling junkier things, at higher prices, than the shops in the Spanish-speaking countries. In the Old Town, I managed to sneak into the lovely church versus the greasy-spoon restaurant so heartily recommended. Then to the airport; the bus driver was very courteous and accommodating to drop me off at the nearby Hilton, where I stayed over until my flight home the following morning. Recommendation: Make the tour of the famous zoo (we never even saw it!) accessible to disembarking passengers as well as passengers who will return to the ship.




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