Emerald Princess Day 44

Written by Safarigal
April 19, 2024

Cartagena, Colombia

April 16th, 2024

I must admit, I had felt a bit anxious about visiting Colombia. Drug cartels, kidnappings, armed robbery, terrorist groups. Captain MacBain had been worried about Ecuador when we were on the Sapphire, but the US State Department doesn’t paint a pretty picture of Colombia either.

But I have also heard some really great things about the country as well, so I was very excited to spend the day here.

We had decided to explore the old city on our own, and luckily there was a bus tour from the ship that let you do that.

Prior to arrival in  Cartagena I had no idea that it was such a large modern city. We were greeted by gleaming white sky scrapers and a view of the skyline that would rival Chicago, or even New York.

By the time we disembarked it was already very hot and humid, and finding our bus among the many on the quayside was quite a challenge. I was exhausted by the time we settled down in the air conditioned bus.

It was a short ride to the old city

and the bus dropped us off near to the main gate to the old city, the Puerto del Reloj. We walked from there to the Plaza de la Aduana, which is the oldest and largest square in the old city. It was quite calm and peaceful there today, and they seemed to be setting up for a concert, however, the square has had a troubled history of violence in the past.

There is a statue of Christopher Columbus in the middle of the square.

We walked from there to Plaza de Bolivar with its statue of Simon Bolivar.

On one side of the square stands the Palace of the Inquisition with its rather grand entrance. Once a rather nasty place it now houses the museum.

From there we wandered up and down the streets

looking at the houses with their flower laden balconies.

The houses are all lived in, and the old city had a very vibrant feel to it, unlike other old cities we have visited where you feel the whole place is a museum.

The city walls are mostly intact and you can walk on top of them. There is a good view of the new part of the city,

as well as the old city streets below.

There were interesting metal sculptures in the square in front of the San Pedro Claver church.

I loved everything about the old city, and even the street vendors weren’t too intrusive and left you alone if you declined to purchase something from them.

On our drive back to the ship, Brian was interested in the wiring on the utility poles.

The cruise terminal has to be the best terminal we have ever visited. No, there is no large edifice with a multitude of stores and seating for a cast of thousands, instead there is a beautiful little wildlife park. It was a welcome site after the hustle and bustle and heat of the old city.

We were greeted by a friendly parrot, who clearly posed for Brian, and looked annoyed that it was taking Brian so long to take the photo.

There were a lot of birds

And animals

And even the cutest baby sloth.

After walking through the park you arrive at the terminal buildings.

There is a restaurant and a café, and several interesting shops as well as plenty of benches where you can sit and use the wifi. It was all so civilized.

From the terminal it was a short walk to the ship.

I must say we were very impressed with Cartagena, and I would love to spend longer here the next time we visit. Canoeing through the mangroves sounds like a great shore tour. We will have to do that next time.

Our steelpan teacher, Stephan, provided the musical entertainment for our sail away.

There was no party or attempt by the entertainment staff to get everyone up and dancing, we just sat back and enjoyed the music as we sailed out of the bay and made our way towards the Cayman Islands.

Post Discussion


  1. Sylvia Boecker

    In a world of doom and danger, your delightful emails are the first thing I
    open each day. Thank you very much!

    • Safarigal

      Thank you! I am so touched by this 🙂

  2. Karen

    It’s been quite awhile since our day in Cartagena. Do not remember the wildlife park at all. One thing we did really appreciate was the Gold Museum (free, at least back then) – incredible jewelery items and Air Conditioning !!! with benches to sit. Such a respite from the heart outside.
    We took a taxi in for about 10.00 US, then caught a another one to go back for only 5.00. We just showed him a picture of the ship – really weren’t at all sure if we’d make it back since we had no idea where we were (now days, we plug everything into Google Maps and follow our route!)

    Off to Kruger in 3 weeks 🙂

    • Safarigal

      I’m sorry we missed the Gold Museum – especially as a way to get out of the heat! The wildlife park is apparently quite new, and such a pleasant change from all of the other cruise terminals on this trip :).

      Have a wonderful time in Kruger – we will be thinking of you there watching those amazing animals and birds.

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I love to share my adventures with others, and hopefully give them some insight into what to expect on their own exciting travels. I hope reading my blog will be a useful resource, and inspire others to follow their travel dreams. As a travel advisor, I get great pleasure out of being able to help folks fulfill their aspirations by translating my experience in safari adventures and ocean voyages into memorable travel experiences for them.