Cartagena Columbia

was our next stop.  Cartagena is only a short cruise almost due east from the Atlantic exit of the Panama Canal.  I wasn’t able to photograph the approach the the harbor, but there was a long section (about 4 miles) that is only a ship-width wide.  The buoys were only 50 feet off the side of the ship and we cruised through there at a good clip, perhaps 10-15 knots.  Fortunately the channel is nearly perfectly strait.  I wonder how many ships have run aground in that area.   We arrived in the port and docked at 9:00am, shortly after breakfast. 

The usual large number of air-conditioned buses were waiting for us at the dock.  Cartagena’s cruise ship dock is right in the middle of the industrial port.  After a winding drive through security, we were on our way to the "Cartagena City Tour".  First stop was an old monastery overlooking the city.

The Statendam is in the left center of this picture.  This photo is part of a group that I’m going to paste together to form a panorama of the downtown area.  Cartagena is a beautiful city, colorful with a lot of history.  It was attacked and sacked several times over it’s history by the English and the French.  Cartagena was the main assembly point for Spanish galleons loaded with gold and treasure headed for Europe.

Our guide points out some highlights of the huge, ornate, gold leaf altar.

Novia descends the steps from the church.  It was a torturous, steep drive to the top of the hill overlooking the city.  When all the tour buses arrived from the ship there was hardly anywhere to walk and no place for the buses to park.  The buses had to line up and we maneuvered to escape so another bus could replace us.  We were in the first bus.  I had learned by this time that it paid to get on the very first bus if possible, you had a little time to look around before the sites became intolerably crowded.

One of the forts in Cartagena.  We climbed to the top of this fort for another spectacular view of the area.  There is another fort nearby that has miles of walls and surrounds the old downtown section of the city. 

Novia poses near a colorfully clad local that was singing, dancing, playing the trumpet, anything to entertain the tourists that were ascending the fort.  The heat in the open sunshine was stifling, but this young man never acted like it was even warm.  I was always looking for shade, but he hadn’t even broken into a sweat.  I recorded him playing a tune on his trumpet with my video camera.   He was endlessly energetic.

Looking down the ramp towards our buses with downtown Cartagena in the background.

A couple of the local fruit ladies ham it up in front of the old prison in the old fort section.  Ladies like these parade all around selling fresh fruit but mostly hoping for tourists to pay them a buck for a picture.  I bought a black Cartagena t shirt.

We then had a walking tour of the central area in the old fort near the sea.  There was not a chance a bus could navigate these streets.  We walked for about 1 hour and took in some old cathedrals, statues, art, and parks.  Next stop was a series of shops where beautiful Colombian emeralds were being sold.  Again prices were good, but we weren’t there to shop for jewelry.  A Japanese couple we met spent over $5000 on jewelry in one store.  Wow!


If you have to ask the price of this rascal in a piece of jewelry, you can’t afford it!  

Praxy and Dina near the jewelry shops.  Dina was on board as a nurse (she was an RN) for an infirm passenger.  She and Praxy hit it off and spent a lot of time together socializing with the Filipino crew and hanging around.  Then back to the ship.

Cartagena is one of the largest container ports in the world.  I suspect that containers are shipped here, organized, and reloaded on other ships headed for specific locations in the Atlantic region.  This is just one of the areas with containers that was visible from our ship.

We left Cartagena and set course north towards the eastern edge of Cuba.  The seas were exceptionally rough for the first 36 hours of the voyage from Cartagena to Fort Lauderdale.  12:00n 12/9/9 on our cruise log showed "Moderate gale, rough seas, partly cloudy skies, 30C".  What that doesn’t say was the wind was about 30-40 mph and the seas were up to 14 feet!.  Every now and then a large wave would hit the ship and you could feel the whole ship vibrate at about 1 cycle per 2 seconds.  Weird feeling.  Through all that I never got seasick, a first for me.  The weather settled down as we neared Cuba.  Cuba was visible to our port side off-and-on throughout the morning of December 10 with calms seas.

The last sunset of the voyage.

And…our last dinner on the cruise, with Dina and Norman.

And Novia poses for one of the last shipboard pictures.  More to follow.


About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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