Subscribe today
Get Cruise Critic in your inbox

Cartagena (Colombia) City Tour Excursion Reviews

Home > Member Reviews > Cartagena (Colombia) Shore Excursions > City Tour

Enjoy Cartagena's restored colonial mansions, fusion restaurants and the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, the greatest fortress ever built by the Spanish colonies.

walldor2

1 review

Wow! What can I say...you think peddlers hassle you on some of the island, well, the experience here is unbelievable. The guide dropped us in front of a "good" emerald store. The peddlers in the area were such that after five minutes, I just got back on the bus to wait. But, in spite of the peddler experience, it's worth doing the old city excursion because there is so much history, and some of the older structures (fortress, cathedral) are amazing.


Provider: Princess Cruises

WAYFARING STRANGER

1 review

We had a terrific tour with Dora. We were 3 couples from the ship, and our private English speaking guide was Dancy. We were taken to the La Popa Monastery, and had an extensive tour of the San Felipe fortress, as well as a nice driving tour of the city, a walk through the old walled city and some shopping. Everything was exactly as we were promised. Dancy was delightful and went out of her way to accommodate our interests. I was surprised in a very positive way with the beauty of Cartegena, the clean streets in the old walled city, the Columbian people who were kind, respectful and not overly pushy in trying to sell their wares, and the sense of safety everywhere we went.


Provider: Independent Operator

ingreece

9 reviews

I would not recommend Claudia Vidal Tours at all. I booked for a large group from Cruise Critic well in advance and at the last minute she said she was tied up and gave us a guide whose English was very poor. He just kept telling us how expensive Cartagena was. We enjoyed the stops on the tour but felt cheated by not having a good guide. Not only was his English poor but his accent was very thick. If I were you, I'd exit the port and hire a cab for a fraction of the price we paid.
Be careful to negotiate heavily on any emeralds you purchase. Try to get 40-50 percent of asking price if you can or walk away.


Provider: Independent Operator

Podie

7 reviews

Our tour with Dora was wonderful. It is a beautiful city and we enjoyed walking around the Old City. We also shopped for emerald earrings and I bought two pairs which were half the price of the same thing in Florida.


Provider: Celebrity Cruises

LanSluder

1 review

I had never visited Cartagena before, and I was impressed by both the modern city and the old walled city. However, I was much less impressed with the city tour we took. At best we just saw a few highlights briefly, and the focus seemed to be on getting us in and out of everything quickly (except the "artisan shops" that sold mostly junk.)


Provider: Celebrity Cruises

Cruz4Sun

12 reviews

We went on the ship’s Scenic Drive of Cartagena and La Popa Monastery. This 3 hour tour had several stops including a folkloric show at the Navy Museum which gave us a flavor of Cartagena. The included “refreshing soft drink” per the tour description turned out to be bottled water. While street vendors did actively hawk their wares at each stop, they were not aggressive in any way. I can recommend this tour.


Provider: Princess Cruises

HnJCruzrs

1 review

One hour tour then went on our own. Cheaper and safer than taking a taxi. Guide was excellent.


Provider: Princess Cruises

Herbs Mom

1 review

We were very leary about going into Cartagena even with a cruise line shore excursion, let alone on our own, but we are SO glad we did. We hired Wil after we got off the ship and he was great! Good English, so it was easy to understand him. He took us to great spots. We had heard that Cartagena was dangerous, but if you use good common sense you'll be fine. Don't hesitate to go into the Old City and enjoy! The street vendors are very persistent, but pleasant. We wish we would have been able to spend more time there.


Provider: Independent Operator

chamaeleo

2 reviews

Bus tour to a fabulous monastery on the highest point in the city. Spectacular view. The Old City was aslso interesting although the Gold Museum was largely a waste of time.


Provider: Princess Cruises

rubinstein2r

6 reviews

This was a highlight of our trip. The Witts took us to see a senior center and a day care center where we were able to directly interact with real people who live in Cartagena. This was followed by a walking tour and we were able to comfortably ask many questions and really get a good feeling about life in this city. Highly highly recommended.


Provider: Independent Operator

NECV88

1 review

Best port by far... what a beautiful city, we actually want to go back and possibly buy a condo there... watch out Miami Beach! Cartagena can give you a run for your money ;)

Our tour included the San Felipe fortress, the Cathedral, the Bovedas, the walls walking tour, the inquisition palace, and the beach... great value for our money.


Provider: Celebrity Cruises

LAPH

1 review

Tour to top of Fort for over 60 too much in the heat The baby was sleeping so I stayed on the bus to which my children all said good decision mum The palacio de la inquistion was interesting but our guide gave way too much information .Cartegena a very attractive city Would have liked an hour or two just to wander around


Provider: Princess Cruises

hvbaskey

1 review

We booked this tour with "Marelvy" - a native of Columbia. What a super nice lady and very knowledgeable of her city. We were a small group in a small van - all from the Celebrity Century. I would recommend Marelvy to anyone looking to book a small group excursion for Cartagena - she was GREAT!!!!


Provider: Independent Operator

sabotlours

1 review

It was a nice sampler to a magnificent city, but there were several occasions where our group was herded into shops where the guide was probably getting a kickback. It was also sometimes hard to understand the significance of a particular place due to the number of tours around and the size of the group. It would have been better to just rent a taxi and get dropped off in Old Town where you could explore the place on your own.


Provider: Celebrity Cruises

oshunreef

5 reviews

It was a Easy City Tour. The tour guide was very knowledgeable, but the tour was disappointing because we only stopped at the fort and at a shopping area. There was some streets in the city that I would have liked to have seen, other than from our bus seat.


Provider: Norwegian Cruise Line

FarEast33

2 reviews

We visited the old city of Cartagena during a cruise tour and were very impressed with the architecture, colour and vitality of the city. It rates as a 'must see' destination but the route through the new city from the dock was uninspiring. Once inside the old majesty was obvious and the loss of major traffic congestion aided this experience. The old colonial verandahs, the church, other major buildings are all impressive. The locals participate in much people watching themselves whilst sitting on benches in Bolivar Plaza, a pleasant garden area with a well photographed fountain. Sit here for a while and observe the tourists following the flag! There are quite a few tourist shops including jewelry and other tat and there are quite a few street hawkers selling even more tat. What we particularly enjoyed was some of the interesting 'rusty metal' statues. Street horse drawn buggy rides are also available. A focal point in the Cartagena walled city is the San Pedro Carver. This impressive structure has a large busy courtyard to the front of the building. Probably one of the most photographed buildings in Columbia and the centrepiece of this grand world heritage site.


Provider: Princess Cruises

cmlv150

1 review

The fort was amazing and it was also very informational to learn about the Spanish inquisition up close and personal. On a side note - the street vendors were the most aggressive I've ever ran into - "Hey lady, Hey lady - I have special price for you" was everywhere you go :)

Provider: Royal Caribbean International

Professor69

3 reviews

Very historical tour of the "Walled City" of Cartagena

Provider: Carnival Cruise Lines

sunshine nana

2 reviews

Good guide and very interesting history and culture.

Provider: Princess Cruises

ritz1030

1 review

Great port with tropical birds to take pictures with and they were just walking around, beautiful landscaping and that was just the port. Hired a driver there are severeral there to hire a private van, and we saw the old Cartagena and walked thru and saw shops and a church or two and stopped for drinks and to cool off. There are lots of street vendors they are a bit aggressive but they arent scary and do give you good deals on stuff. Went to an emerald museum and shop. Nice, elegeant shop and bought some emerald earrings with authenticity papers and got a great deal on them. Saw a bit of the new Cartagena, its a well advanced city, clean, organized. The best by far to visit. Its just blazing hot there.

Provider: Independent Operator

rhonda819

2 reviews

Took the Chiva Party bus, had a blast.

Provider: Norwegian Cruise Line

rexcoast

1 review

Good city tour. We were suspicious when the tour guide stopped at a specific street artist (was this a relative?), but otherwise a good tour.

Provider: Celebrity Cruises

CruiserGVMN

1 review

Bus was in very poor shape but the overall tour was good.

Provider: Princess Cruises

katefur

1 review

Cartagena was our favorite port. The was a shopping area close to the port which had quality merchandise at reasonable prices. If we hadn't wanted to see the city, we could have bought fine jewelry and souvenirs there. At the suggestion of a sales clerk, we contracted with a local guide to see the city. He was excellent, giving us a history and insight into the city that only a native can do. We saw the La Popa Monastery with its panoramic views of the city, Old City with its unique architecture, the city park with fountains and statues and museums. Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed Cartagena and would like to return.

Provider: Independent Operator

seattlefam

1 review

Our tour guide Roosevelt shouted into the mic the whole time, causing feedback and a raspy sore throat. He told us about St Augustine and local slavery history, took us up to the fort where we saw the Captain Cook statue (one eye, one arm, one leg!) and got mobbed by venders, drove us through upscale Mango neighborhood, and walked us along the plaza and shopping district. Shopping shopping shopping shopping shopping shopping shopping. Ended with a nice panoramic view of the city.

Provider: Royal Caribbean International

plastic2244

1 review

The excursion was great except for the people selling their wares. They would not leave you alone

Provider: Norwegian Cruise Line

Lover1Boy

1 review

Very good. Beautifull city.

Provider: Paul Gauguin Cruises

bluephrog

2 reviews

Pleasant to see a city we had been to, enjoying the old city and beach area

Provider: Celebrity Cruises

true45

10 reviews

Poor information from guide, boring tour, no good picture of Cartagena

Provider: Celebrity Cruises

jeanne_lynn

1 review

We loved walking the old city with it's cobblestone streets. Loved the old buildings and that some streets didn't' allow any cars on them. The old buildings are being restored to their original beauty.

Provider: Independent Operator

bigcity57

2 reviews

What I expected at the right pace with an English speaking tour guide in an a/c van with 10 passengers.

Provider: Independent Operator

dencruise80

1 review

The old town tour was good. The guide was knowledgeable. The town is interesting. It was renovated for tourists.

Provider: Cunard Line

cardamom

2 reviews

We did the walking tour of the old city and it was fascinating. Our guide, JJ, knew his history and gave us a lively, interesting lecture at every opportunity. The streets of the old city are beautiful, lined with centuries old buildings, second story balconies had overflowing flower boxes covered in beautiful blooms. Poverty is everywhere, but people were friendly. JJ was attentive and very safety conscious. Never did we feel unsafe or feel like we would be left behind (like we did on the Panama City walking tour). This tour is worth the money, but take a bottle of water. A bottle was provided at the end of the tour but it wasn't enough for me because of the intense heat and humidity. Two thumbs up!

Provider: Princess Cruises

wyobean

2 reviews

Great tour with JJ. Very detailed, part walking and part driving. He is very knowledgable and we enjoyed it very much.

Provider: Independent Operator

teachman

1 review

An extremely knowledgeable guide for a very interesting world-heritage site.

Provider: Independent Operator

DavidWebster

1 review

We went to the fort and looked around the Old town, the guide had his own special stops at shopping places that were too long so we could spend money at these places. We didn't get to see the La Popa Monastery that was advertised.

Provider: Oceania Cruises

Lanfarm

1 review

Guide was not really helpful in answering questions and seemed to prefer not being bothered with anything other than what he wanted to say which was somewhat limited. We saw very little security at the port or in town and this affected how we might have enjoyed the visit. Again, we loved the architecture and what history we could glean.

Provider: Disney Cruise Line

Seadawgsx2

5 reviews

plenty of scenery and history at this port. Wake up early and enjoy the sail into port

Provider: Norwegian Cruise Line

Iamcookiea

1 review

Fernando was a great guide - loved the churches!

Provider: Holland America Line

MeanMeosh

3 reviews

Great city tour. Wish we had a little more time to go inside the fort. Narrated walking tour of the old city was very good.

Provider: Independent Operator

kcscrapper

1 review

Claudia met us promptly with a modern appearing mini tour bus. We promptly boarded the already cool van and off we went. Claudia is well spoken, well organized and professional giving us a lot of information as we traveled. In all respects, the tour was exactly as advertised. Which is the problem since we had requested a customization -- entry INTO the Fort. The roll call tour organizer had verified the entry INTO the Fort by email shortly before sailing. Entry INTO the Fort was the specific condition upon which my sister and I joined the tour. It did not happen; the tour operator provided no explanation. We didn't care for the dungeon shopping area. Our disappointment is probably due to the fact that we believed the area would be local crafts and artisans -- it was a lot of "tourist" type shops .... plastic do-dads, linen, jewelry trinkets. We were surprised to see "pre-Colombia relics" ... which to my archaeologist sister, appeared pretty authentic. Claudia explained that the items were "probably not" relics and the provenance to be provided by the shop would indicate the item was a replica (put all of that in air quotes.) The emerald museum is just a minimally disguised jewelry store. Yes - there is a display but very little attention or time is given to viewing it. The store employee whisked us through the museum with minimal time to see the displays, and delivered us to the shopping floor. One of the passengers had done some pre-cruise pricing of emeralds and, in a later conversation, started that they prices were about double what we'd found in New York. Cartagena is a beautiful old city ... with aggressive street vendors. It became near impossible to be polite as they just. did. not. quit.

Provider: Independent Operator

Phoenix cruiser

3 reviews

Fabulous walking tour of the walled city seeing the architecture, getting a feel for Cartagena and learning lots about its history and culture.

Provider: Independent Operator

Eurovisionfan

1 review

Gave a good first impression of Colombia and Cartagena.

Provider: Celebrity Cruises

jeffnjan

1 review

Toured the fort but would have liked to have seen more of it, very good. The old cathedral was interesting and all of the other areas that we saw were good but so crowded that the experience was not what it could have been. They took us to some shopping areas but was very limited and way too crowded. Mostly disappointed in Cartagena, very hot and very crowded.

Provider: Celebrity Cruises

Maryrickp

1 review

Very fun way to explore the city! We took our 2 girls (14 & 10) and they loved every minute of it!! Lots of laughs and made lots of friends!

Provider: Norwegian Cruise Line

laplume

3 reviews

CARTAGENA: The sail into Cartagena is quite beautiful. You pass the protective forts of the bay and see the stark white skyscrapers in the city proper. We took the ship's tour of the Scenic Drive of Cartagena, Las Bovedes & Shopping. Our first stop was the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas fortress. We only stopped for a picture of the exterior and after seeing the very steep incline you would have to walk to enter in the 90+ heat and humidity, we were grateful. The traffic around the area is very heavy. After the fortress we traveled to the Old City and briefly walked around. Again, it's very hot and humid. Then we went to the Navy Museum and saw local dancers. Our final drive was thru the "high end" area of Bocagrande. WARNING: The area around the port if very sketchy...you do not want to walk around here. At the fortress, the vendors are the most aggressive I have seen in 28 countries. One elderly woman on our tour was accosted by several vendors, and she had quite a hard time getting away from them. If you are on private tours, insure your guide provides enough time to get back to the ship as traffic is intense. We left 4 people behind in Cartagena after waiting a half hour for them.

Provider: Princess Cruises

OnTheWaterNow

1 review

The tour was mostly on foot and was interesting but we were constantly hounded by folks begging us to buy something. The tour ended in a long stop at a shopping center that was over priced and tourist trappy. We left the tour and went to a shop down the street to do our shopping.

Provider: MSC Cruises

QuilterGirl

4 reviews

Dora and (air-conditioned!) van with driver picked us up on time and right at the foot of the gangway, as pre-arranged. She tailored the tour to suit our desires, and the mobility of our group; the tour was just what was requested. Dora is known at many of the tour stops. She explained how best to fend off the numerous souvenir vendors that swarmed like flies around us. Dora was most accommodating about the number in our group (which doubled after our Cruise Critic meet-up on the ship). One of our group wanted to stop at a grocery store and buy 12 cans of local beer; Dora fronted him the money so he wouldn't have to get US Dollars changed into local funds for the purchase (then he paid her back in dollars). Each couple on our tour paid Dora in cash at the end of the tour. Dora was happy to answer questions about life in Cartagena and Colombia. She was easy to work with via email, prompt in her replies, and spoke easy-to-understand English. I would recommend her without hesitation!

Provider: Independent Operator

cormike1

2 reviews

We did a tour of the old city and it was beautiful! Our guide was very knowledgeable and spoke English every well. Walked all over and stopped at important places such as the church, etc. It poured rain and our guide tried to keep us under porches or overhangs. It was a lovely walk. The only complaint I had was stopping at an Emerald store and 1 lade taking way too long to decide about what pair of earrings she would buy. Held up the tour....very inconsiderate! We did stop at the "old jail cells" which are now shops and had a bit of time there before boarding and heading back to the ship. A good tour though.

Provider: Princess Cruises

travelgal17

2 reviews

We really enjoyed the opportunity to explore Cartagena on this particular excursion. The sights were nice, but it was a bit tough to deal with the individuals who were constantly in our faces trying to sell us merchandise. Overall, we recommend doing an excursion in this particular city due to personal safety issues.

Provider: Norwegian Cruise Line

Jonhaz

2 reviews

Long bus ride, vendors aggresive

Provider: Princess Cruises

TheGoomba

1 review

Part of a deluxe package to visit the castle fort, inquicision palace, and tour of the city. Being in Colombia itself was a treat and the locals were very nice (non merchants), saying 'welcome to our country', 'enjoy your stay' (we speak spanish). This part of the tour was over 60+ minutes and in my opinion was the best part. I loved the colonial style buildings and the long walk through the town, many small vendors along the way but none were too pushy. Would definitely be interested in a longer city tour if I were to visit again.

Provider: Celebrity Cruises

chatty_cathy

3 reviews

We also booked this tour online for $85pp. Marelvy Pena-Hall, our tour guide, was there right as we exited the ship to take 4 of us in a van around the city. We went first to El Poppa for a tour of the old convent with awesome views of the city. We also went to a fort and then for some shopping. We left our van and walked through the old city seeing several old churches and lots of architectural buildings. You really got a feel for what it was like to live there. Then, we headed to the new city and drove through it's streets. Marelvy was extremely knowledgeable and passionate to share with you about her city. Nice tour!

Provider: Independent Operator

shamrockace

2 reviews

Met us right at the pier. The van was airconditioned and the driver was excellent and watched our belongings left on the van. La Popa Monastery was my favorite. Beautiful courtyard. Be prepared for about 3 miles of walking on the ciyt tour in old town. We stopped in several cathedrals, the dungeons for shopping and also visited the new town shops. Street vendors are hard to ignore, just don't make eye contact. Dora gave us a lot of history and is very proud of her country.

Provider: Independent Operator

JimBob88

1 review

Here, you get off the ship, and at the end of the cruise dock, get presented with the same tour from everyone. You join a group of about 20, and with a guide, get on a bus for a city tour. Everyone gets the same tour. The price is the same for everyone- $20. Same tour on the ship is $60. Our guide was great- well spoken English, and funny.

Provider: Independent Operator

Hazily2

2 reviews

Six of us went on a city tour with 5 others from the ship. Van was comfortable but difficult to get in and out of at the locations. Was a walking tour both in old Cartegena and at the mall area. Our only complaint was we weren't allowed to go in any store of our choosing - only those they directed us to both in the Old Town and at the Mall area, and didn't have sufficient time to shop in either. The guide however, had excellent English and was extremely knowledgeable and provided us a lot of information about the history of the area.

Provider: Independent Operator

AKman2495

2 reviews

Overall, a nice tour with a pleasant guide. But it was HOT and HUMID. Shopping was rushed and not great. but otherwise I found it to be a pleasant excursion.

Provider: Princess Cruises

Naval Aviator

5 reviews

Nothing exceptional about this tour but she did provide us a good overview of Cartagena and we got to visit a few of the main attractions such as the Cathedral.

Provider: Independent Operator

Duckgirl

1 review

Nice history lesson on both the old and new parts of Cartegena. Monica was our guide and did a very good job of answering questions and keeping everyone on track.

Provider: Celebrity Cruises

Pollyanna Dreamgirl

4 reviews

A great all-day tour to churches, forts, shopping, inquisition museum. Travelled by private a/c van for our group of 14. Extremely hot (95 degrees) but a great experience. Received a DVD of the tour at the end.


Provider: Independent Operator

Gussys Mom

4 reviews

Excellent guide..Dora...nice walking through old town

Provider: Celebrity Cruises

marlowe

2 reviews

Not so great as the places visited were dismal and it was hot and not too friendly.

Provider: Celebrity Cruises

ny-outdoorsman

7 reviews

Our guide, Ben Torres, gave us each tour stickers, which all said "Ben Torres", but he said he was the original. He took care of us, helping us with vendors and shopping. We started out at a fishing village, watching a man repairing a net and throwing it. I have one, they are not easy to do! Lots of military standing all over, watching. We next went to a beachfront restaurant with good local fare, and entertainment. Beer was good, $3. We then went to an emerald museum/store. That was interesting, and purchased some things. There is a 1st, 2nd, 3rd best price! Bargain for it, they like the game too!!

Provider: Norwegian Cruise Line

pjf@san.rr.com

1 review

A short trip through the city with narration by a knowledgeable guide. First stop a brief viewing of Fort of San Felipe (so brief we could have stayed on the bus as it slowly drove in city traffic). Then to a walking tour of the old city with equally brief tour of a museum and city parks (shopping limited to street vendors) and a long stay at an emerald museum (read jewelry store not listed on the itinerary and a waste of time for most on the tour) Back to the bus to visit one of a strip of artisan shops (read souvenir stores). Then back to the ship. An inconsiderate passenger got on the wrong bus. We wasted over a half-hour with a distressed spouse while search parties went in vein to find the hapless passenger. He purposely boarded the other bus, their guide should have caught the error but they were actually short a passenger. Never did find out if that person was found.

Provider: Princess Cruises

bort31

2 reviews

A good tour with a great guide (Dora); would have skipped La Popa hill and opted to enter the fort instead. Enjoyed the old walled city but the "modern city" isn't anything special except an opportunity to herd you into an emerald store. If you're adventurous and want to do it on your own, hire a taxi to the fort, then one to the old town, then head back to the ship!

Provider: Independent Operator

Traveling Gators

1 review

Best of Cartegna tour. Takes you to all the important museums and a church; no time to see the fort as our driver waited 30 minutes for 2 people who could not or would not follow directions and return on time. We should have driven on and left them to take a taxi as their delay affected all of us who paid to see Cartagena. However, Cartagena is still one of my favorite ports.

Provider: Celebrity Cruises

centerlinefl

1 review

Cartagena,Columbia - Marelvy Pea-Hall excellent. We had a group of 12, nice mini bus with a driver. Looked new. $54.00 each. lots of info, all over tour of historic sites.

Provider: Independent Operator

pi45

1 review

We had fun! We all felt we needed more time in this pretty city. The little restaurants in old town looked so inviting. The shops there, too, looked beautiful. If there is a next time, we would skip the flea market type pf shops set up for the tourists. We also would skip the little plaza where they sell coffee. I could really downgrade the tour rating to a 2 or 3, except Marelvy was so nice, and we did not suggest changing things.

Provider: Independent Operator

julenow

1 review

Didn't enjoy all the street vendors. The naval museum and folklorico dancers were excellent.

Provider: Holland America Line

trinity777

1 review

Old City Tour interesting. Very hot and humid. If you do shopping you can bargain.

Provider: Princess Cruises

UtahFishing

1 review

saw the local sights, spoke poor English, wasted time at emerald factory, dropped us at end in ugly old city. Shopping was a waste of time. Some stuff from China would have been an improvement! Dirty, ugly city with only some interesting architecture as "something to see"

Provider: Independent Operator

About UsAdvertisingEditorial DisclaimerPress
PrivacySite MapStoreSubscribe
X

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add news@cruisecritic.com to your address book.

We're committed to protecting your privacy and will not rent or sell your e-mail address. By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.