Select Page

DAY 13: Cartagena, Columbia

Cartagena, Columbia: As scheduled, the Norwegian Bliss docked in Cartagena at 10a. There was a bit of rocking and rolling overnight, but we both slept well.

Old fort at bay entrance
Modern Cartagena
The Ruby Princess is our next-door neighbor.

Will I ever learn? Organized tours suck. No idea about anything in Cartegena though, so I signed us up for a 4-hour city tour. It was mostly miserable, but it was 85 degrees, with 70% humidity. No one to fault for the weather. And, though I know it is a “thing” in many cultures for the tour guide to haul his tour group to certain shops so a percentage of the sales will be given to the guide, it so stinks. Reporting in advance, I spent $1 today - for a much-needed bottle of cold water.

Our bus left the ship at ten o’clock, and we had a very fun group of fellow travelers, including a large group from Puerto Rico. First stop was to a fort, part of the nine kilometers of the original walled city of Cartagena. No tour of the fort, just a photo op. It was nearly impossible to exit the bus. So many vendors jumping in your face, waving hats, shaking maracas, shoving an icy beer can at you. It was awful.

Stop two was to a handicraft market set inside the cells of an ancient prison. Interesting, but again, being hassled and jostled was over-the-top. Back on the bus we went to the Naval Museum for a traditional Colombian dance performance:

We had a look around the museum, but as I do not understand much Spanish, have no idea what we saw… except a replica of a sunken ship:

Next on the agenda was the church of Saint Pedro Claver. Claver was a Spanish Catholic priest who devoted his life helping slaves brought to Cartagena. Not sure if he was helping them convert or not, but maybe the guide was explaining that he taught them enough scripture and prayers so they could pass for a Catholic? If you were not Catholic, you were killed.

Claver with a slave. He became a saint in 1888.
San Pedro Claver Church. His skeleton is under the altar. Well, half.
The other half of his bones are at the Vatican.

Some photos of the pretty old town:

A hotel
Public square

Then, the most interesting stop: the Spanish Inquisition Museum. Dang the Catholics were a fine group of peeps! They killed (and not in humane ways) anyone who was a witch, Jews, Protestants, Muslims, adulterers, people who read banned books, and on and on. Obviously humans never learn. The torture devices were barbaric. There was a “court” in Cartagena, one in Lima, and a third in Mexico. Over a period of just over 200 years, thousands of non-perfect people were killed.

City view

Our last stop was to another shop! Seriously. We ditched this stop and climbed to the top of the ancient wall.

Wall around the city
City wall
City wall
View from the top of the wall
View of old town from the top of the wall.

Back on the bus, for a long drive back to the ship. The driver left us at the end of the pier where the port has the most amazing free aviary (and small zoo) for passengers to walk through on the way back to the cruise ships. We saw so many tropical birds and a few little monkeys. The monkeys were NOT in the aviary, just wild creatures. Of course, the exit is through the gift shop and, dang, this shop was the nicest - by far - we had seen today. Still didn’t buy a thing. Our poor grandchildren are getting skunked on this trip - no gifts for the kidlets.

Macaws of every flavor
Your favorite correspondent.

It was a long hot day and I only took my mask off when DT snapped my photo or I sipped from my water bottle… not to mention we were without any food for over six hours. Will have a nice meal tonight!

The Norwegian Bliss sets sail at 5p, and there will be no more good WiFi, so I will post this early. The next two days are at sea, sailing by Cuba, to reach Miami. I will update with a recap when we get back to California. Thank you all for reading and commenting. Really appreciated.

Until my next update, I remain, your “don’t forget to tip your driver” correspondent.

Castle San Felipe de Barajas
Las Bóvedas
Plaza de Bolivar
Inquisition Palace
San Pedro Claver Cloister and Monastery
Naval Museum
Cartagena Tourism Office
Norwegian Bliss
Real-time ship tracking

3 thoughts

  1. I wrote earlier thinking you had already sailed and I’m embarrassed to say I realized later you were actually on the Panama Canal cruise. We are sailing almost same route in February on the Joy. Thanks for your comments on tours. We will miss puerto Vallarta but add Georgetown, Carmen island. Any hints you might add will be appreciated. Enjoyed your cruise diary immensely.

  2. I can’t imagine why they would take people on a six hour tour and not provide a place to sit and order food and drink. The cruise ship looks wonderful. I’m glad you had mostly calm seas.

Comments are closed.