It's easy to find a good tour guide when you buy a shore excursion from a cruise line. These are professionals at what they do, and if they didn't do it well they just wouldn't last.
Sometimes you just know when you've found one who is special.
That was Sandy Cuadrado to us.
The photo op above is Sandy (second from left) and three crew members from the Island Princess. The reason for the photo op is that Sandy was chosen Tour Guide of the Year in Cartagena by Princess passengers, for going above and beyond what was expected, and he was recognized when the Island Princess was in port.
Here's how part of his citation read: "Specifically, you were cited for your positive, friendly approach; knowledgeable and informative presentation; in essence, your mastery of the Moment of Truth, the instant a princess passenger…forms a first impression."
Sounds like Sandy to us.
We met him on the docks of a city we were visiting with some trepidation, like many cruise passengers who hear only about Colombian drug lords. We'd bought a shore excursion to visit a Spanish galleon, and he was the tour guide. When it ended, this enterprising and engaging man offered to take anyone interested on a quick tour of his city.
It was a no-brainer for us. We had planned to take a cab from the port, to wander around a part of a city we'd never seen. It would have cost more than going on Sandy's bus, and we'd have missed getting a real insight into Cartagena and Colombia.
And we'd have missed Sandy.
By the way, our cruise wasn't on Princess, it was a Celebrity cruise, on the Millennium. That speaks volumes about what all cruise passengers think of Senor Cuadrado.
June 29, 2012
Vancouver to Seward: Inside Passage, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier
Cost per day: $64