Welcome to the third post in a series of four posts which will look at the ports of call for the 28-day Panama Canal cruise which I was onboard earlier this year. In this post, I will cover the next three ports in a little more detail than the summary post here “28 Day Panama Canal Cruise Summary.”
Looking for the other parts? Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4
After completing the Panama Canal Transit, the sea did turn out to be a little rougher. It was not too bad, although the first real movement I had noticed since boarding. There was a sea day before we arrive into Cartagena, followed by two more sea days to Fort Lauderdale. Fort Lauderdale is the half way point for the cruise and will be followed by two more sea days to Aruba.
Cartagena – Colombia
Cartagena was not what I was expecting. There is quite a mix of old and the new, however, done in a very haphazard way. I booked for a tour in the old city here. I figured this would be the best way to see some of the city without any safety concerns.
The tour was a walking tour of the old walled city. It started at the main gate which is a large concrete structure with three separate entrances. Once inside there is a definite colonial feel to the architecture. There are a lot of archways and balconies that are self-supporting wooden constructions. The streets are all quite small and narrow, with cars trying to make their way through the streets crowded with people.
Some of the most interesting sights here were not even the oldest or the buildings. But the way of life for some of the local people. Seeing a man with a donkey pulling a wagon was not uncommon. While the most surprising sight was a man, who chose to swing from the doorway of a moving bus. He landed on the road in front of the bus and made it clear to the other side without getting run over. The most annoying aspect though is the number and persistence of people trying to sell everything. From shirts, bags, tablecloths, curtains, cigars and beer, all from a bag over their shoulder or a cooler on wheels.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida – USA
From the tour brochure, there were not many tours available in Fort Lauderdale. Initially, I thought that this could be due to being an embarkation/disembarkation port. However, when renting a car, a group of us found there is little to do in Fort Lauderdale.
With few options, we decided to make what we could of the day. The first stop was a place by the name of Swap Shop, a vast flea market. I honestly believe you could have found just about anything that you could want here. There was always another corner to turn with something different for sale. I do not know how they were able to offer some of the items so cheap, five printed t-shirts for $10? Or three ties for $10, I took advantage of this offer. There was more than enough perfume, luggage, fashion, tools, electronics and just about anything you could want.
The other stop that we made was Fort Lauderdale Beach. With the sun shining and a few clouds in the sky it seems like the perfect place to be. The only problem we had not planned for swimming and just enjoyed a walk instead. We made use of the car for the rest of the day, driving around to see some of the canals and massive boats. But soon enough it was time to return to the ship for the remainder of the cruise.
Oranjestad – Aruba
The start of this port call you could say was a little wasted, as I decided that I needed to try and get online. My search for Wi-Fi did give me a chance to see a little of the town, but also wasted a lot of time. The problem is everywhere has wifi, but I just could not connect.
Even with this first mistake I still managed to rescue the rest of the day. I wandered along the main street for about 1km. You do get to see a variety of buildings from new modern to some of the older buildings. Unlike some other ports, it does all sort of meld together quite well.
Near to where the ship was docked, there was a small market selling a variety of souvenirs. Then towards the end of the main street of Aruba, I found a small park with a mixture of lizards and birds. It would be quite a nice place just to spend some time relaxing without the pressure of needing to do anything.
Finally, there was a beautiful open air shopping area just opposite the ship. Architecturally it was quite an impressive building, mixing a couple of different styles together. I found a couple of interesting shops to wandered around as well as some more souvenir stores. Before stopping at one of the cafe/bars to enjoy the local interpretation on Nachos. Corn chips with a cheesy dipping sauce and a salsa type sauce, along with a local beer.
Still To come
While the cruise has just passed the halfway mark, there is just one more post to come. In the second half of the cruise, a couple of aspects are duplicated, such as the second Panama Canal Transit and revisiting Huatulco. Additionally one of the ports, Acapulco, Mexico I chose not to go ashore, so there is little to say.
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