TUESDAY 07 March – Cartagena, Columbia
[ This post has some narrative along with 22 photos with captions. ]
After finishing our daytime transit of the Panama Canal on March 6th, we were at sea for the rest of the evening and overnight into March 7th, arriving at the cruise ship dock in the harbor at Cartagena, Columbia around 10 AM.
The Zandam, a Holland America cruise ship, was already there when we arrived. Cartagena is Columbia’s main Caribbean port. It is mostly commercial, but the Columbian Navy has a base here, and there are marinas for pleasure craft and sightseeing boats. We were amazed, however, at the number of containers stacked up in the shipyard and the number of gantry cranes that were in use moving them around. Outside of the commercial and cruise ship docks, however, the city around the harbor is very modern and (we were told) has become a safe, inviting place for tourists.
Like Antiqua, Guatemala the Spanish presence in Cartagena dates back to the very beginning of the 16th century. The Walled Old Town by the sea is still intact, and is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The four of us booked a shore excursion that involved a bus ride from the dock to the Old City, a walking tour of the Old City, and then a 1-hour boat ride around the harbor. As part of the harbor cruise, we got a close-up look at the Caribbean fleet of the Columbian Navy base, which includes two small submarines and a 3-masted sailing vessel named Gloria (presumably for training cadets). While on our cruise, we watched the Holland America Zandam back out from the dock, turn around and head for the ocean.
Following our harbor cruise, we were bused back to the cruise terminal, which we entered by walking through a small outdoor zoo and then past some gift shops. Although farther north than Panama City, the climate, even at this time of year, was more tropical – warm and humid – and the birds reflected that. We were always aware that we were getting a superficial “tourist eye’s view” of Cartagena, but nonetheless enjoyed our brief time in Cartagena, Columbia and felt like this was another port-of-call where an overnight stop might have allowed a closer, more relaxed acquaintance with the place and its people and culture.
The Norwegian Joy left Cartagena at 6 PM and headed for our next port, sailing all evening, all the following day, and overnight into March 9th.
WEDNESDAY 08 March – At Sea
We spent the entire day sailing NNW in the western Caribbean Sea, out of sight of land. The weather was pleasant with blue skies and water and white, puffy clouds. The only photo I’ve included shows the monitor in our suite. Our present location is approximately half way to our destination of Georgetown, Cayman Islands. The right end of the upper information banner shows that we have sailed 3,767.1 NM (nautical miles) from our starting point at the Port of Los Angeles. We sailed overnight before finally sighting land around sunrise.
While we enjoy seeing land from the ship, and getting off the ship at ports to explore, we also enjoyed our days at sea. Far from being boring, sea days provided a chance to relax and explore/enjoy the many amenities the ship had to offer. While cruise ships can take you to amazing places there is no doubt that the ships themselves (and especially the staff) are part of the experience.