Today would be a short day in Cartagena, Columbia. We would arrive pier side at 7 am and the all aboard was 12:30. We didn’t sign up for any shore excursions but decided to explore something other than the typical tourist areas.
As normal we started our day with a hot room service breakfast. This is something we enjoy as we like to linger in our cabin as the day gets started. There are a few differences in room service as compared to the Grand Voyage. Missing from our tray were fresh flowers and salt and pepper shakers which are replaced by the small salt and pepper bags.
We managed to get moving around 9:45 and were off the ship by 10 am. On the Grand World Voyage we would receive a small card the night before each port with some helpful phrases, a currency conversion table and the name and phone number of the port agent. On normal cruises, we don’t get a card, but the name of the port agent is listed in the Explorers Pamphlet that is distributed before each cruise. It is important to always have the name and phone number of the port agent when you go ashore as this is the best way to contact the ship if you run into any trouble or delays when ashore.
We were surprised to see a shuttle bus waiting for us when we left the ship as we were informed the night before that there wasn’t any shuttle bus. As it turns out, the shuttle bus only takes you to a small cruise terminal maybe ½ mile away over level ground that is easily walkable. No need to wait for a shuttle bus if you can handle walking a ¼ mile.
The cruise terminal is very nice. They have a complete souvenir shop selling T shirts, post cards, snacks, jewelry, bags and other similar items. I couldn’t think of a single item that the typical tourist may want that wasn’t available here. We bought some post cards and stamps and spent a few minutes to write them and then drop them in the mail. It was a one stop shop for buying stamps and mailing post cards.
They had some of the Robin Ruth bags that Judy collects but none of the particular style we were looking for. We asked one of the clerks if there was a shopping center nearby with more stores. She referred us to the Caribe Plaza which was a short cab ride away. Given more time, we could have walked, it was maybe 1 and 1/4 miles, but we were pressed for time so decided to take a cab. Cartagena has UBER so I was able to get a fare estimate to the mall ($5.00) and the cars were about 4 minutes away. Once we left the main terminal we were surrounded by Taxi drivers wanting to take us to Old Town $20 fixed price (fare listed on a sign posted on a poll). Since we were only going a few miles we started to negotiate and prices started at $20 – quickly dropping to $10 but I kept walking since UBER was only $5. I probably could have found one here for $5 but I wanted to try UBER so I kept walking another hundred yards or so to the main street so an UBER driver could reach us. There were a few cabs here as well and I found one who would take me to the mall, wait for me and then bring me back for $5 each way.
After a short drive, we arrived at Caribe Plaza, a very modern multi story mall. There weren’t any tourists here as this is where the locals shop. We spent about 30 minutes walking up and down the center section of each level and popped into a few stores to check out what was for sale. As is the case almost everywhere in the world anymore, everything for sale is the same as everywhere else. Had the stores signs been in English, we could have been in San Diego and not felt out of place. We didn’t find the bags we were looking for so we headed back to where our driver dropped us off and he was waiting for us as expected. After our short drive back to the Terminal, he accepted our negotiated $10 fare without further issue so I gave him a little extra on top of that. Much different than Sri Lanka where, as you remember, taxi drivers could not be trusted.
Once back in the Terminal we wandered about the wonderful garden that was full of Parrots and Peacocks. We enjoyed watching one of the male peacocks fully open his feathers in an effort to impress a nearby female. Not sure if she was impressed as he wandered off by himself.
There was interesting sign that stated “Touch the birds at your own risk” instead of what you would see in the USA, “Touching birds punishable by law”. The rest of the world, for better or worse, is far more lenient with tourists touching artifacts and animals than you will experience in the USA.
The Terminal had WiFi – not free but available for $3 for 1 Hour or $5 for 2 Hours. I didn’t try it so I don’t know how fast it may have been.
We couldn’t resist getting a Frozen Mango Slurpee from a vendor near the birds who would add a shot of tequila for $2. It was very good.
There wasn’t a shuttle bus waiting for us at the terminal so we walked back to the ship – about 10 minutes away.
Sail Away was from 12:30 to 1:30 and was quite hot. We found a table in the shade with an acquaintance from the world cruise. We learned from her that someone she knew accumulated 8000 grand dollars during the world cruise without pooling any from other people. He had nearly perfect attendance at every event that gave out dollars and occasionally you get some big winners – for example there was one time you could get 1000 dollars for a successful half-court basketball shot.
Dive-In Burgers and Hot Dogs sounded really good, so I went forward to the main pool and placed my order. They estimated a 20 minute wait and provided a pager so they can alert you when the order is complete. I wasn’t sure if the pager would reach back to the Seaview pool and after 20 minutes I headed back to check on my order. As I got halfway thru the LIDO, the pager started going off so I learned that may represent the outer range of the Dive-In pager. The Burger and Hot Dog were outstanding and we sat by the pool for another hour, until the ship turned and we were now receiving full sun. It was time to head back to our cabin and get ready for the rest of the day.
There weren’t enough people to run a Texas Hold’em tournament, so I played 3 card poker for a bit then headed off to the Queen’s Lounge to listen to Location Guide Wallis’s overview of what we will see tomorrow as we transit the Panama Canal. Her talk was outstanding and she provided some new information to me about the canal and its construction.
I enjoyed a nice nap prior to Dinner where we were joined by the 4 HAL cast singers: Kate, Kara, Greg and Wesley. Rick, Presty’s replacement as the assistance dining room manager, was able to move us to a 10 top so the 6 regulars would fit with our 4 guest easier than trying to wedge us into a 8 top. We enjoyed our dinner with this wonderful group of entertainers and learning more about their interesting backgrounds and how they came to start working on Cruise ships. This was their first contract for all and for some it was the first time on a cruise ship period.
Bernie Fields was the guest entertainer and was outstanding once again. We saw his show on April 1st and a few days later for a special Spotlight Show. We always enjoying seeing the best entertainers again and again as talented folks like Bernie Fields always put on a spectacular show.This entry was posted in Uncategorized