Cartagena (Colombia) City Tour Excursion Reviews
2 1/2 hour historic bus tour (best tour guide we ever had bus # 27) even though it took longer because of construction the tour guide made us want to stay on the bus.
We decided on a private tour because we wanted something small and intimate, with more freedom to see the things we wanted. We heard about cartagenatour.com from the Internet, and saw numerous positive reviews on CruiseCritic and Trip Advisor. We took the Cartagena City Tour, which we booked with Dora de Zubiria (who owns the company) around four weeks before departure.
The pre-excursion correspondence was excellent. We had the full itinerary, cost and contact information, and where to meet well in advance. My email inquiries were answered promptly by Dora.
On the day of our excursion, we met one of Dora’s assistants at the end of the dock, where she had a pre-printed sign with our names. There was a delay while some latecomers were located, but the full group of twelve finally got underway. There were 12 of us in an air-conditioned van. Philippe was our driver and Mercedes was our guide. We really enjoyed Mercedes. She is a retired school teacher who is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Flemish. The cost was $60/person and the tour lasted 4.5 hours. We visited the monastery and chapel at La Popa, the San Felipe Barajas Fort, Las Bovedas (former dungeons which today contains a series of handcraft shops), took a walking tour of the walled area of the old city, visited San Pedro Claver Church, and then traveled over to the new city and the Pierino Gallo Mall before being returned to the ship terminal. We really enjoyed this tour. We felt completely safe, Mercedes was an excellent guide (knowledgeable, witty, and opinionated), we had an excellent driver, and the van was clean and well-air-conditioned. I liked the size of the tour, just twelve people. The operators were very conscious of when we needed to be back at the ship and there was never a worry on that score. There are many street vendors at the tourist venues and they are persistent, but polite. We just kept moving forward and said “no, thank you” or shook our heads. It really did not detract from our tour. For me, the best part was walking through the old city. The architecture is just lovely, and the area is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/285 Also, when you visit the handcraft stalls at Las Bovedas, check out stall #6. The artist sells her own handcrafted ceramic items there, and they are not available anywhere else in Cartegena. There were quite a few that we liked. To be honest, if the drive to the new city and the Peirino Gallo Mall was eliminated from the tour, so that we could spend more time in the old city, I’d have no regrets. Part of the reason the new city may be included is due to a sense of civic pride… but the old city is so interesting.
I would book another tour with this company in a minute if I was making a return trip to Cartegena.
Definately not worth the money. We saw one fisherman, he tossed the net a couple of times, we got a coconut with coconut water in it if we wanted. More tacky trinkets. Went to a restaurant....food was ok, music was ok, pushing Columbian coffee for sale. Walking tour of old town. Some history shared, some beautiful buildings, lots of pushy vendors selling the same stuff. Hot humid day. We went to the Hardrock Cafe to get away from the vendors till it was time to get on the bus. Jairo the guide had little personality. Would not recommend this tour, would not do it again if I knew what I know now.
We took two other tours which were not listed for me to review. One was to Huatulco where we went to a butterfly farm. The other was to Puerto Chiapas where we went to the planetarium, and an archaeological site. I put my thoughts on those two tours in the body of my cruise review.
As the time we hardly had time in this port and then it was Sunday so everything was closed, Except the stores that are affiliated with the cruise lines.....unfortunately not very good. You had to rush through everything
Here we joined others from Cruise Critic for a small group city tour: Tour in Cartagena with Marelvy Pena-Hall. We had 14 people in our tour. Her assistant met us near the ship and took us to the bus. Our first stop was the La Popa Monastery. Not only is the Monastery beautiful, but it is on the highest point in the city, allowing for fantastic views of the city and harbor. We then went to the historic old town where we walked through beautifully restored buildings before arriving at the cathedral. The cathedral was quite nice and reminded me of Spain. From here, we visited the park and then the Gold Museum where you see many samples of Inca jewelry that drew the Spanish here. The tour ended with a drive through the beach/high rise condo area to see modern Cartagena. Marelvy concluded the tour by giving us each a poster here husband had painted. She got us back t o the port in plenty of time to relax and take some photos of the exotic birds, monkeys, and other animals in the ports wildlife area before boarding the ship. One final note: my wife wanted some Colombian coffee, and Marelvy got her a good deal from a local vendor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
One hour tour then went on our own. Cheaper and safer than taking a taxi. Guide was excellent.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.