Cartagena City Highlights
The magnificent city of Cartagena, once the treasure chest of the Spanish Main and thus a preferred target for pirates, is yours to explore as you embark an air-conditioned bus or mini-bus for a panoramic drive. An impressive fortress, Cartagena earned the reputation of being the most impenetrable city of the conquistadors. The "new" town became a prosperous urban center in the relatively short time between initial settlement in 1533 and independence in 1811. On tour, you will be accompanied by an English-speaking guide as you travel past marvelous Republican architecture. Don’t miss the Manga residential area, where some of the aging mansions have been restored to their original splendor. Stop for a half hour to explore the Fort of San Felipe de Barajas, a 17th-century construction acknowledged to be the most important work of Spanish Military engineering in Latin America. At Las Bovedas, you’ll have about 20 minutes for handicraft shopping and for rubbing elbows with the local artisans who proudly display their works for you. Pass through Simón Bolívar Square and the Inquisition Palace before continuing on to the cathedral, also called the Minor Basilica. The cathedral was built in honor of Santa Catalina de Alejandria and is the first church built in the city in 1537. It was destroyed in a fire in 1552 and again, while being rebuilt, by the cannons of the French privateer Baron Pointis. The cathedral’s reconstruction finally came to pass in 1612. Next stop is the Church of San Pedro Claver—the patron saint of slaves. Continue to the modern residential area of Bocagrande, famous for its wide variety of shops. Here, you will find Colombia’s famous native gem—the emerald—along with handicrafts and leather goods shops. You will have approximately 40 minutes to shop before returning to the ship.
Guests who wish to remain in town for shopping may do so, returning to the ship at their own expense.