Cruise ships are a popular option for touring the Caribbean and now, more then ever, ships are making stops in Cartagena and Santa Marta in Colombia. In 2010 alone, more than 500,000 tourists arrived by cruise ship in Cartagena to explore the historic city.
There are a myriad of cruise ships making the journey through the Caribbean and to Colombia including companies like Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Carnivale and Holland America.
If you are interested in doing La Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City) and will be travelling by cruise ship you will need to check the number of ‘shore days’ that the ship’s itinerary gives you in Cartagena or Santa Marta. To do the hike to La Ciudad Perdida you will need a minimum of four shore days. If you have less than that or would prefer a less strenous but equally magnificent view of the ruins – scenic helicopter tours that do an overflight of the Lost City ruins are available. With the helicopter tour you will experience a magical, birds eye view of the pristine Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region and mountain range.
Private Yacht / Boat Tour from Panama:
If you are travelling to Colombia from Panama or vice versa you can travel via a boat tour or private yacht. On this journey you will pass through the beautiful San Blas islands and experience the turqoise blue water of the Caribbean. Most trips take between four to six days, leaving from Colón, Panama to Cartagena, Colombia and include a few days exploring the San Blas Islands.
The price for trips on private yachts varies greatly with a guide price of USD$300. These services do not run regularly and on the Cartagena side you can find departures advertised at Casa Viena and Hotel Holiday. Before booking a trip you should ask to see the boat as there have been past reports of overcrowding.
Another option is a boat tour with a company like The Darian Gapster. Instead of using a yacht they use a quick boat and camp on the San Blas Islands. The upside is a shorter journey (3 days) with more time spent exploring the scenic San Blas islands. See their website for more details and pricing.