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Caregena and Aruba, need advice for shore excursions!

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Dec 25th, 2007, 03:03 PM
  #1
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Caregena and Aruba, need advice for shore excursions!

Hi, my mom and I will be sailing on the Constellation in late March/early April next year. We would appreciate some advice on shore excursions in Cartegena and Aruba. We enjoy the beach scene and shopping. Thank you! Lori
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Dec 26th, 2007, 09:48 PM
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In Cartagena I would stick with the ship's tours. I know of several people who had problems when they took some of the local tours. As a matter of fact on one cruise I was on some friends were involved in an accident caused by the driver of the taxi they were in.

In Aruba - no problem. If you like shopping it is in the area of the terminal that the ship docks in. You can walk to it. As far as a tour and beaches the taxis are great there. You can get a taxi to some of the hotels on the beaches and use their facilities. There are a lot of cabs available and there isn't a problem getting one back to the ship either. You can just negotiate with the driver if you want a tour as well. We usually just do the beach in Aruba as the sand and water there are spectacular. Just in case you didn't know don't be surprised that a lot of the women go topless there.
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Dec 27th, 2007, 05:02 AM
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In Cartagena: We're not into shopping, so we booked a tour with Christian Martinez to walk the streets of the walled city and spent several hours with one of his associates, Johnnie, on December 14. Since you like shopping, you might be able to customize a private tour to spend more time at the shops (Las Bovedas is popular because of the crafts stores) and many of the old town streets are lined with stores as well. Christian's website is: http://www.tourcartagena.info/index.html.

Here's more about our tour: Christian called Johnnie near the beginning of the tour to touch base with us. Can't say enough about the tour. We customized the standard three-hour city itinerary to add an extra hour and cover the fortress as well. We had been looking forward to Cartagena as a highlight of our cruise itinerary, and everything we saw and experienced exceeded our expectations. We had fantastic weather, by the way -- hot but not a drop of rain. Vendors did approach us, but a polite no was sufficient to send them on their way. We were never hassled to buy anything.

Johnnie met us just outside the pax terminal at the pier (still inside the port facilities). From there, we took a taxi to the walled city and walked all around, stopping frequently to take photos, etc. Since this was a custom tour, we were able to set the pace ourselves and go to the places that were of interest to us. We skipped going into the museums due to our limited time, but made sure we had an opportunity to walk on top of the city walls. Last stop was Las Bovedas, the former dungeons that now house a crafts market. Once we were done in the city, we took a cab to the fortress. Spent about 45 minutes there - mostly on the ramparts and outside walls. Fantastic place for a bird's eye view of the surrounding city scape. Afterwards, Johnnie accompanied us back to the port by cab. Due to the way we customized the tour, the cab rides were in addition to the standard fee.

A word of warning - this is a WALKING tour. While the terrain is easy - level city streets mostly; the short climb to get inside the fortress might be considered steep - the hot temperature can take a toll. Comfortable shoes and clothes (long sleeves/pants help protect from the brutal sun), a wide-brimmed hat, plenty of sun block and plenty of water are essential. Mid-way in our tour, we stopped at a Juan Valdez Cafe for a break - need local currency if you do this.

Aruba: our ship docked smack-dab in the middle of Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba. From the ship, it's a five minute walk to the shops - there are a ton of them.

Hubby did browse the stores after we returned from the ship, but on this visit we spent most of our time on the beach. Here's what we did for our half-day visit to the island.

We took the Number 10 bus to the beaches. (Bus Depot is easy to find, just on the other side of the fence for the docks.) Got off near Riu Resort - told the bus driver in advance where we wanted to get off and he alerted us when we arrived at our destination. It was $2.70 US R/T per person.

We camped out near De Palm Pier. We rented lounge chairs and an umbrella from one of the vendors and spent about 3 hours enjoying the beach. As we arrived very early, we had most of this part of the beach to ourselves. The only other people around were all at the pier for their boat excursions. It was starting to get crowded when we left around 11:00a.

Catching the bus back to town was no problem. Just stood under a shade tree and flagged down the bus (we noticed the drivers stop just about anywhere if they are flagged down). Had we been in a hurry to get back, we would have flagged down one of the many cabs that passed us while we were waiting for the bus.

You might want to check the Cruise Critic boards - they have a ports section where you can get a lot of information just by searching and browsing past posts, or you can post your own questions. (http://boards.cruisecritic.com/)
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Dec 27th, 2007, 07:41 AM
  #4
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Thank you both for your OUTSTANDING advice for both Cartagena and Aruba!!!

I hope your advice will help others as well. Lori
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Dec 27th, 2007, 04:43 PM
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In Aruba there is a very small church with a hand carved altar and pulpit that is a true work of art. Its hundreds of yrs. old and is made from a dark wood, what kind I can't recall. It is very much worth seeing I think. I suppose just about any one of the locals would know what you means if you described it and could tell you how to get there. You will hear "bon dia" alot in Aruba too. It is the Papiemento version of good day. Cheers, Larry.
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Dec 28th, 2007, 07:22 AM
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Thanks Larry, my mom and I would really enjoy seeing that! Lori
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Dec 28th, 2007, 08:23 AM
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The name of the church is the Alto Vista. Bon dia. Larry
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