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Spif Barwunkel

"Dora The Explorer" In Cartagena, Columbia

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Just off Celebrity Reflection after a lovely 11 day ABC's, Cartagena, Grand Cayman itinerary. Cartagena, Columbia was the only disappointment. 

 

We booked a highlights tour through "Dora The Explorer", a well known local tour operator. After pick-up at the port, we proceeded to town where several stops were to be made and highlights visited. From the first step off the bus on to Cartagena city ground, until the last step back on to the bus and return to port - a little over four hours - the onslaught was constant and relentless. Street peddlers take it to a higher level here and will pursue tourists to the point of frustration and anger. What's worse is, our Dora tour guide did nothing to ease the unpleasantness. Even during lecture stops our group was infiltrated by persistent peddlers who made it impossible to hear and understand anything that was said. "Dora The Explorer" via JC, our tour guide and Jack, our driver enlightened us about nothing in Cartagena. Rather, it seemed that our group was just taken on an unwanted shopping spree amongst thousands of family and friends wanting to get in to our pocketbooks.

 

If you must leave the ship in Cartagena, do not do it with "Dora The Explorer." The $70.00pp tour cost is not worth the HASSLE!!      

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Sorry to hear that. Thanks for the heads up.( hope you also post on the ports board)

 

We just booked a cruise that includes Cartagena...overnight.

We only take Celebrity excursions but will keep this info in mind when making our choices.

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41 minutes ago, Spif Barwunkel said:

Just off Celebrity Reflection after a lovely 11 day ABC's, Cartagena, Grand Cayman itinerary. Cartagena, Columbia was the only disappointment. 

 

We booked a highlights tour through "Dora The Explorer", a well known local tour operator. After pick-up at the port, we proceeded to town where several stops were to be made and highlights visited. From the first step off the bus on to Cartagena city ground, until the last step back on to the bus and return to port - a little over four hours - the onslaught was constant and relentless. Street peddlers take it to a higher level here and will pursue tourists to the point of frustration and anger. What's worse is, our Dora tour guide did nothing to ease the unpleasantness. Even during lecture stops our group was infiltrated by persistent peddlers who made it impossible to hear and understand anything that was said. "Dora The Explorer" via JC, our tour guide and Jack, our driver enlightened us about nothing in Cartagena. Rather, it seemed that our group was just taken on an unwanted shopping spree amongst thousands of family and friends wanting to get in to our pocketbooks.

 

If you must leave the ship in Cartagena, do not do it with "Dora The Explorer." The $70.00pp tour cost is not worth the HASSLE!!      

We used Dora in 2011 when we were in Cartagena and our tour was great. We had no shopping on our tour.

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We had the total opposite experience

We booked with Dora last February    What a great tour and lady

Dora was our guide and she was fantastic!

Yes the vendors are aggressive but be aggressive back  My husband said stop and they did

I highly recommend this tour

We saw all the highlights    One of our best tours yet

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I've been on a private tour with Dora in Cartagena as well.  Excellent tour and very informative.  I'm sorry to hear you had a poor experience.  ☹️

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Yes, we also went with Dora a few years ago.  She did fend off the street peddlers pretty well, but there are so many of them some still snuck through.😱

Our only shopping stop was at Lee Miles … Mr. Emerald, but since I wanted to purchase an emerald cross I enjoyed the stop.

My only complaint was it was so hot and I wished she had supplied us with some water.

 

 

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Sorry that you did not have a good tour, I used her in November 2019 and had a great experience,  it was a great tour and highly recommend it.   Yes some of the locals where aggressive but just said a polite no and they moved on.  I got a lot of information out of the tour and it was a lot of fun and informative.  We had a small tour, about 8 of us and it was very personable.  I saw the ship tours and there were like 25 or more on them for same places.  The only thing about the tour that was hard was how hot it was but that is not her control. 

Edited by bikerunner

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3 minutes ago, mafig said:

Yes, we also went with Dora a few years ago.  She did fend off the street peddlers pretty well, but there are so many of them some still snuck through.😱

Our only shopping stop was at Lee Miles … Mr. Emerald, but since I wanted to purchase an emerald cross I enjoyed the stop.

My only complaint was it was so hot and I wished she had supplied us with some water.

 

 

Agree about the water, but i had read reviews before and made sure each of us on the tour had 4 or so waters with us and drank 1 every hour.  

Edited by bikerunner

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54 minutes ago, hcat said:

Sorry to hear that. Thanks for the heads up.( hope you also post on the ports board)

 

We just booked a cruise that includes Cartagena...overnight.

We only take Celebrity excursions but will keep this info in mind when making our choices.

I did not have the opportunity to speak to other passengers who might have taken a Celebrity tour. Perhaps the "X" dissuades peddlers from being bothersome.  

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3 minutes ago, Spif Barwunkel said:

I did not have the opportunity to speak to other passengers who might have taken a Celebrity tour. Perhaps the "X" dissuades peddlers from being bothersome.  

99.9 % of Dora’s reviews on cruise critic and Trip Advisor are the complete opposite of yours ......Hmmmmm.......... I had her on NCL so Celebrity has nothing to do with it .

Edited by tallnthensome

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9 minutes ago, Spif Barwunkel said:

I did not have the opportunity to speak to other passengers who might have taken a Celebrity tour. Perhaps the "X" dissuades peddlers from being bothersome.  

 

There is nothing X or any tour operator can do to dissuade the peddlers. I went with Dora a couple of months ago and the tour was great. The peddlers were persistent like they have been in many other third world countries, and she did her best to shoo them off. Many third world  I have visited countries have similar desperate peddlers unless the local government has reined them in. There were annoying but since I have encountered this before I was able to tune the peddlers out and keep it in perspective. 

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Thank you Spif for the review.  I wonder if the street peddlers are getting worse?  I booked a tour in Cartagena and my tour guide said he had booked a police officer to accompany us.  

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Since your comments are on a non-Celebrity tour, you should post on the appropriate ports of call board.

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Sorry to hear that!  I visited Cartagena 20 years ago and booked a Celebrity tour.  The peddlers and those begging were unsettling.  It was intense ... they grabbed onto you and when you finally broke free, there was another one to take his/her place.  I was concerned about returning the year before last.  I was wrong .... this place was simply awesome this second time around.  I booked a free walking tour of the Walled City online, brushed up on my Spanish to bargain for a taxi out there.  Bargaining wasn't required on the way back and we saw not one peddler or anybody begging or hanging all over us this time around.  I wonder if it's gotten worse again since the problems that Venezuela is having.  I've heard that Columbia has taken in a lot of their refugees.  So sad if that's the case.  I saw that as a place that really turned itself around, enough so that I was comfortable to have a very safe and wonderful tour all that we booked all on our own.  Sorry to hear you missed out on that experience!    

 

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We used Dora in 2016 and thought it was a very good tour. We had very few problems of any kind. There were vendors at various locations, but they were not pushy at all.

Mike

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk

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I was  on the Reflection January 20 sailing which included Cartagena and booked with "Dora" and had a fantastic tour. Our guide Wil was great. I would reccomend  highly.

 

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I also was on the Dora tour with JC and driver Jack on the January 20th Reflection tour. I agree with everything the original poster mentioned.

 

Our guide JC did nothing to shoo away the relentless peddlers. There was times We couldn’t hear his description of the sites for the constant requests to purchase items.

 

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On 2/1/2020 at 8:42 PM, soccermom123 said:

I also was on the Dora tour with JC and driver Jack on the January 20th Reflection tour. I agree with everything the original poster mentioned.

 

Our guide JC did nothing to shoo away the relentless peddlers. There was times We couldn’t hear his description of the sites for the constant requests to purchase items.

 

 

What would you have had him do, on a public street no less?   Shoot them?  

 

We toured with Dora several years ago, and it was an excellent tour.  Yes, Cartagena is a pretty tough place in terms of peddlers.  Dora did her best to "shoo" them off, but again, what can any one person do?   They still kept coming up to us.  We would say "No, gracias" in a firm voice.

 

It's another culture.  People are trying to get by.   

 

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Hmm....we were on a Dora tour in 2014 (Mercedes was our guide).  It was excellent.  In fact, we are going back in November 2020 and have asked for her again (she is still there).  We had no problems with peddlers, and she managed to get us to the best places before the other cruise ship passengers arrived (like La Popa).

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We were on a tour with Dora yesterday, and were lucky enough to have Dora as our guide. We very much enjoyed our tour as did everyone else we toured with. Dora was very informative and we were able to visit several highlights of the area including the fort, the walled city, and 2 cathedrals. We also had some free time to shop and purchase snacks or drinks if we wanted. In addition, there was ice cold water provided on the van. I agree that the peddlers were everywhere, but I don't think that any other tour provider could have kept them away either. A simple "no" kept them from continuing to hassle us. I feel that we had an excellent tour, and wouldn't hesitate to tour with Dora again or recommend her to anyone else.

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