April 15, 2023 – Saturday – Cartagena, Colombia

2023 Panama Canal Cruise

I am up by 6am to witness the beautiful sunrise as the ship enters Cartagena harbour. The ship docks in an industrial area called Manga, but it is not far from the city.

Sunrise over Manzanillo

I take the Land and Sail excursion, which tests my endurance since we start off by climbing to the top of the fortifications at Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. Thankfully, the bus driver has cold bottles of water waiting for us as we reboard. We are then dropped off at the old walled city, where our guide takes us to a couple of his “preferred” street vendors before we go to the Mister Emerald shop to cool off and use the washrooms. We are to meet back here in 35 minutes, so I immediately get out of that tourist trap and wander around the old city. I take photos of ornate doors, brass knockers, and beautiful old second story balconies that overhang the streets. Centro is a picturesque part of the city, but the heat and humidity are oppressive, and the street vendors are persistent.

Once we regroup, we walk a short distance past the Naval Museum to board a motorized catamaran which takes us on a tour of the Bahia de Cartagenas harbour area, where we see the modern side of the city. We are dropped off at a dock adjacent to our cruise ship, so it’s an easy walk from the end of our excursion. I’m exhausted, and so glad to board the air-conditioned ship, have some lunch, and then get freshened up!

I have a 6:30pm reservation for Nami Sushi this evening, but go to the Tamarind bar to have a pre-dinner Martini half an hour before being seated. Thankfully they are not hosting the martini hour today, so the service has returned to what I expect: a lovely quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of many of the other venues around the ship this afternoon.

Thai Basil Szechuan Shrimp

Once seated in Nami Sushi, I decide to try the Wasabi Cocktail – Momokawa Silver sake, lychee liqueur, sour mix, agave syrup, orange juice. It is sweet but has nice flavours. I have the Hamachi, Scallop & Salmon Ceviche to start, which is my fave, but not quite as good as I had on the Koningsdam last year. The Thai Basil Szechuan Shrimp with lobster rice is my main course – huge shrimp and perfect medium spiciness to the sauce. I don’t have room for dessert! The a-la-cart charge is US$24.78 instead of $38 at Tamarind. It’s pretty sparse in the restaurant this evening, probably because there is a Seafood Boil event happening in the Lido Market (which I’m avoiding, due to the expected crowds).

The captain made it clear with an earlier announcement that departing from Cartagena on time is important so we don’t miss the scheduled transit time for the Panama Canal tomorrow.

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