Wednesday, July 3, 2024

June 12, 2024 – Cartagena, Colombia – Hot, Muggy – 87F

Distance from Miami to Cartagena, Colombia 1300 Nautical Miles


As is usually the case, Cartagena is hot and sticky.  We are both on tour today, “Panoramic Cartagena”, a leisurely bus tour of the city and one that mobility limited guests can take.  Our report time is early – 8:15 AM so we ordered Room Service – because of the availability of hot food in the morning, the food came in two orders.  The earlier food was cold cereal that I ordered followed by eggs, pancakes, and French Toast a bit later.  It all sort of worked out as we made it to the Stardust Lounge on time. 

We disembarked and headed as a group to the busses. I also got the first picture of Serenity docked.

 At least four busses are going to our tour and I am on #10 and Ellen is on #9.  I had 11 passengers on my van including at least two folks with mobility issues. 

The humidity was palpable as we got out of the ship.  I waited until all my folks got in the bus and the got in (a seat in the middle of the van) along with the guide, Nohemy (pronounced Naomi). 

At least two of the passengers recognized me and said they liked the talk (felt a bit better after that).  Our first stop was “La Popa”, El Convento de la Popa", on the hill overlooking the harbor. It is the highest location in Cartagena.  The convent was founded in 1607 by Augustinian Monks.  

After taking a lot of shots of the city – the views were spectacular - 

I was also able to get two nice panoramic shots of Cartagena.


we spent about 30 minutes going from room to room.  The courtyard at La Popa is also interesting and reflects the time period during which it was built.

I had been here before so it was all familiar.  I met up for a few minutes with Ellen.  I had forgotten my TP-containing backpack on the bus so when the crowd wanted a “bano” I was a little worried.  Fortunately, the banos at this facility had TP so crisis averted.  I hung back as we all went back to the bus as some of my people had a lot of difficulty negotiation the 10-15 stairs leading to the parking lot.  Everyone made it to the van safely.   

Our next stop was the “St. Felipe de Barajas Fortress” in Cartagena.  The fortress, which protects the city from land and sea attacks was built in 1536 by Spaniards using African Slave Labor.  

We’ve been here before and have actually climbed to the top on hot and humid days.  Doing so today would have killed almost everyone on my van, so we were only scheduled to stay here and get pictures of the fortress.  Some folks crossed the street to visit the Chocolate Museum (not so much a museum as a pricey store).  I went into the store looking for coffee and then stopped at a vendor next door.  They had small bags of coffee - very pricey (over $10 a pound I am guessing) and with iffy expiration dates.  

The group then assembled at the base of the Fortress where we were given a plastic container of fruit (mostly Mango, of which I only tried two pieces - the cruise is still in early days).  Interestingly, there was a vendor near the fruit stand trying to sell us the same fruit we were getting for free.  All through the tour, vendors were hassling the passengers to buy from them.  My job was to keep them away from people who didn’t want anything.

The rest of the tour involved a bus ride through the old city, where we got a glimpse of the Cathedral of Cartagena,

and “Boca Grande” or Cartagena Nuevo (new Cartagena).  This is the area containing mostly white high rise condos - the most striking objects seen from the ship.  We passed by the big Boca Grande Mall and checked out the shopping areas. 

It's a short tour and we then headed back to the ship.  I was hoping to park at the ship but port security made the van park at the entrance to the port zoo and shopping area.  Many of my passengers would have difficulty walking to the shuttle bus which would take us to the ship.  We walked through the zoo area, where I got pictures of a wild boar (I think), 

an anteater, 

and an iguana.  

We all finally got back on the AC friendly ship. 

After a nice lunch (an I-Burger), the rest of the afternoon was spent in the Palm Court.  I watched the early sail away.

After washing all the humidity and grime off, we got into our while outfits for tonight’s “While Party”.  The event is similar to Azamara's White Nights Party - everyone is in white and drinking and dancing in Crystal Cove, which has been draped in white.

The difference here is that there isn't a huge buffet and the singers and dancers are not performing a show.  There were some dancers out on the dance floor catalyzing guest dancing.  

I had a delicious Blue Curacao Sour - lots of citrus flavors.

Before dinner, I had the waiter, Lobo, take a picture of us all decked out in our white duds.

More special meals at the Waterside Restaurant.  Ellen had ordered two lamb chops and I had ordered two hot dogs.  Turns out that the kitchen prepared four chops and four hot dogs.  Ellen’s chops (she only ate two) were delicious and my hot dogs (I only ate two) were excellent. The kitchen had prepared a milk free bun and Craig, our waiter, has put together a dish of condiments including yellow mustard, pickle relish, and best of all, chopped onions.  That would result in the All-American Ballpark Hot Dog and it was delicious.  We had some Coconut Custard (dairy free) and tea and coffee for dessert.

There was no show tonight so we took in Keys and Melody in the Stardust Lounge 

and Neal Fullerton in Avenue Saloon.  Neal put on a nice show and even sang “Hallelujah” at my request.  

He sang some different verses than we don't normally hear and did a great job,

Even without a show tonight, the evening is short.  Back to the room.

Seas a a bit bouncy.

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