Cartagena Cruises

Cobbled streets and elegant plazas
Spanish colonial fortresses
Colombian coffee

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One of the most photogenic cities in the Caribbean

Cobbled streets, balconies overflowing with blooming bougainvillea and pastel-coloured buildings lining elegant plazas make Cartagena in Colombia one of the Caribbean's most photogenic cities, and a memorable stop on an MSC Caribbean and Antilles cruise.
Founded in 1533, this Spanish colonial city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is steeped in history. Its location made it a popular target for plunderers and English pirates, and arguably features the most impressive collection of forts in the Caribbean. Today the city is eager to share its treasures with modern visitors. Magnificent colonial structures such as the 16th-century Santa Catalina Cathedral, with its striking stuccoes and dome tower, and the three-arch clock gate, the Torre del Reloj, are just two of the many landmarks of this enchanting city dotted with many squares and sidewalk cafés.
MSC Cruises excursions offer plenty of exciting things to see including:
• Cobbled streets and elegant plazas
• Spanish colonial fortresses
• Colombian coffee
• Emeralds
A wonderful photo stop on our Cartagena City MSC excursion is the San Felipe de Barajas fortress, a marvel of colonial Spanish military engineering. Its construction began in 1536. Slaves laboured for more than 120 years to erect this fortress - built on high ground with dominating approaches to the city by land and sea to fend off pirates - and its network of tunnels. 
On yet another MSC excursion, enrich your palate as you learn about the rich aromas and flavours of Colombian coffee. Introduced by the Jesuits in 1723, coffee quickly became a key crop in Colombia, which is now one of the top producers of Arabica coffee in the world. 
Colombia is also the world’s top producer of emeralds. If jewellery and gems fascinate you, learn all about these green precious stones and make your own emerald-studded jewellery in sterling silver during a hands-on MSC excursion that guides you step-by-step.
And you don’t need to go far to explore nature. An MSC excursion takes you by canoe through mangrove tunnels to Ciénaga de la Virgen, where you can witness a diversity of birds from king-fishers and white herons to pelicans and pink-feathered roseate spoonbills.

Must see places in Cartagena

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    A sophisticated colonial style
    A sophisticated colonial style

    Home to a traumatic but rich history, stunning scenery and some of the continent’s most welcoming and sophisticated people, Colombia is a natural draw for travellers to South America.

    Foreigners and Colombians alike are now far more able to explore this thrilling paradise of cloud- forested mountains, palm-fringed beaches and gorgeous colonial cities. The only country in South America to border both the Pacific and the Caribbean, Colombia offers a huge range of ecosystems, from the Amazon rainforest near Leticia to the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the tropical islands of San Andrés and Providencia. Cosmopolitan Bogotá is, like most capitals, a busy commercial centre, with a vibrant cultural scene and festive nightlife.

    The two other major cities, Medellín and Cali, are also lively but less overwhelming. Just a stone’s throw from the beach, the walled city of Cartagena is the biggest South American Spanish colonial port you will visit during your cruise to Colombia. A few hours east, the less scenic Santa Marta and fishing village of Taganga are near Parque Nacional Tayrona, whose picturesque sandy beaches are unrivalled.