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“Day Excursion with MareIvy Pena”

Tour in Cartagena with Marelvy Pena-Hall
Ranked #3 of 112 Tours in Cartagena
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Marelvy Peña-Hall is completely fluent in English, French and Spanish. In her work as a tour guide she combines the intimate knowledge of a native of Cartagena who is steeped in the city’s centuries-old traditions with an easy familiarity with North American and European people, society and culture, having traveled and lived in both the U.S. and France.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Food available for purchase
Reviewed December 28, 2012

Our day tour of Cartagena, Columbia with MareIvy Pena was wonderful. From the planning, MareIvy immediately responded to my emails with answers to all my questions. We were on a Celebrity Cruise with a port visit in Cartegena. MareIvy met us right on the dock with a big warm smile and the rest of the day just got better. Everything previously written I confirm. Additionally, she addressed personal requests and our entire group of 12 were thrilled with the individual and group attention we received from MareIvy. I highly recommend her services!

2  Thank BettyBG2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 22, 2012

We toured with Marelvy and our experience was exceptional. In my opinion, you could not find a guide with more knowledge of the history of her country. Her personality is engaging and we enjoyed our tour so much we plan to visit Cartegena again and again.

2  Thank a5lson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 15, 2012

I first contacted Marelvy via email. Knew right away I had made good choice. Knowledgeable, helpful and a sense of humor. Answered all my email questions (and I had a lot). She met us at the bottom of the gang way dressed in white. Smile, warm welcome hug. There were 12 of us. The tour was fantastic. She is very knowledgeable, pleasant, communicates well and relates to her guests. Catered the tour to our interests and at our pace.Talking to fellow cruisers upon return to ship, feel we had BEST tour and great price/value ratio. Her fee includes all admissions. There is none better. AND, she had a surprise for each of us. Won't tell, but was a very nice memory of her and of Cartagena. Book early, as our tour was sold out. Bob R, Rule 240

3  Thank Rule240
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 9, 2012

We arrived on a Princess Cruise Nov. 15. Since we were the only ship in port that day, we received a wonderful, personal tour. What other reviewers say is true, don't look any further for your tour guide. Marelvy does a great job of showing you her city. She lets you move slowly & enjoy the atmosphere. Ship tours spend their time getting people off and on the bus. The rest of the time goes to rounding up lost souls. Since our time in port was short, this was the only way to go.
I would recommend Marelvy for her friendly personality & knowledge of the city. We truly enjoyed our adventure in Catagena.

4  Thank daysters2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 8, 2012

As a frequent TripAdvisor user, I was a bit skeptical that this tour guide had 80+ reviews and they were all 5 stars. Not a single review less than that? Surely not?

Surely SO. MareIvy Pena-Hall is the consumate host of Cartagena: educated, well spoken, passionate about her land and her community, and a generous soul who genuinely loves to show off Cartagena.

MareIvy met us right at our cruise ship, within feet of the gangway, holding a sign with our names so we saw her as we disembarked the Coral Princess. She herded us gently to a waiting air conditioned van with plenty of room, chauffered by an experienced and pleasant driver. Our tour included two other Coral Princess couples unknown to us. Before the day was out, we felt like old friends, so relaxed and enjoyable was the tour experience that MareIvy established from the first 10 minutes in the van.

Our tour began with La Popa Monastery, and Marelvy took us there first, so we had the site to ourselves to experience the sweeping vista of the city from the hill for a few precious minutes before the cruise ship hordes descended. Here she took the opportunity to use a large map of Columbia to introduce us to the country, current and historical, industry and culture. She spoke about current events, putting the city of Cartagena in context of our American experiences.

She did not simply usher us through each stop, but included short vignettes or colorful anecdotes of important people or key events in the city's history. I'm not sure how she did it, but without rushing us, her tour included most key points of interest in Cartagena: the Old Walled City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its colorful Spanish Colonial architecture; Las Murallas (the most impressive city walls in the world), the Museo de Oro y Arqueloguia (the Gold Museum), a drive by of Las Bo'vedas (we opted not to stop at the tourist-slanted boutiques), and the Hotel Sofitel Santa Clara, once a convent of some fame. Marelvy presented her knowledge of each location with passion and an obvious joy for her homeland.

But Marelvy also shared the little memory-making stops. For example, in the Sofitel, she allowed time for photos of a toucan I found croaking inside the courtyard garden. Someone in our tour mentioned their love of a local street food, and the next thing we knew, she'd shepherded us to a corner that served just THAT delicacy, and she purchased the food and shared it among us.

She explained how to deal (or not deal) with the street vendors, and helped us with purchases in local currency. She introduced us to a local park with fountains to cool off, and told us the story of the park vendor who smiled at us from behind his cart of books: he doesn't sell anything, but actually lends books to those who rest in the park area. A dancer in her earlier day, Marelvy's gestures and movement are as graceful as the pictures she paints with her amazing English fluency.

When someone asked for a good place to purchase Columbian coffee, she asked the driver to wisk us off to the Columbian equivalent of Starbucks, a neighborhood Juan Valdez Cafe (I kid you not). We purchased something to drink there, and the other couples purchased whole coffee to take home. While I am not a coffee connessieur, I believe the latte I had there was the best I've had in my life.

I admit to some trepidations about the safety of touring in Cartagena. At all times I felt safe with MareIvy. The local vendors were persistent, but not pesky, probably thanks to MareIvy's presence.

We've toured from Cancun to Venice, and we've had many fine tour guides. MareIvy may be at the top of the list. Of course we will be buying her book when it is published. Ask her about it! So much more to say about the tour, but so little room. Please consider booking this Columbian's tour so that you get the real flavor of Columbia.

1  Thank muse_clio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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