Will be sailing on the Grandeur out of San Juan in Dec. Have never been to Aruba or Curacao. Would appreciate any info on these ports...things to do or things to avoid. I am interested in history and also love to snorkel. Thanks.
We did a snorkeling excersion through the ship (Rhapsody) in Curacao which was really good. You snorkel off a boat and there were plenty of fish. In Aruba there is a jeep tour you can take, which I understand was good, but you get really hot and dusty, we went on an island tour in the morning, saw the natural bridge, a neat church and a few other stops, really got the feeling of the island. Later after we had lunch on ship, we took their public transportation and visited a beach and did a little walking around town. Aruba is an interesting place to visit, really enjoy it.
Also this last trip to Curacao we did some walking through town and its a very friendly town, no one bothers you. Since our first visit to Curacao they built a new dock, which is very nice, you'll see where people made these rock people. In this picture you can kind of see the rock people. If you do want to walk into town, you'll need to cross the bridge, which they keep out unless a ship needs to pass and then they bring it back. They also run boats for people to cross if for some reason the walking or floating bridge isn't out. I think you'll enjoy the town, I sure did. Enjoy.
Donna and Gail have given you some good advice about snorkeling and the jeep tour on Aruba and Curacao. Since you are interested in History, you will definately like the architecture of both Aruba and Curacao. Both of these islands are part of Holland. In the center of the business district, the building are build in the Dutch historic style. Curacao has the most building built with the Dutch architectural motif.
So, after you finish your shore excursion in the morning, be sure to spend some time walking around the business district, especially in Curacao. You will love the Dutch, European flavor of the island. Don't forget to take a lot of pictures.You might want to read the note I wrote up about these two ports for the cruiser BREEZE on the message board "PRACTICAL ADVICE" under "SHORE EXCURSIONS", topic: "GET OFF THE SHIP OR NOT?" where I mentioned taking photos from the ship as you enter the ship channel at Curacao as well as at the waterside market. Here are two photos I took of the downtown area of Willemstad, the capital; the first from the ship as we entered the ship channel and the other of the waterside market on a channel just off the main channel. You will enjoy both of these Dutch islands for the shore activities and the European flavor in abundence.
I will add one photo to this message and the second to a separate, following thread to this message.Have a good cruise.
Here is the second of 2 photos of Curacao. This one is taken of the waterside market, just off the main ship channel where the produce boats from Venezuela tie up and the vendors erect brightly colored awnings over their fresh produce stands. Keep your camera handy. There are a lot of photo subjects to take in this port. Bon Voyage.
We will also be on the Grandeur in December (9-16). We were in Aruba last year in December on The Dawn Princess. Aruba is nice but not much to see as sightseeing. We did our own tour through the island and were back to the ship plenty time for lunch.
A lot depends upon your personal interests and tastes. On Curaçao last March, I enjoyed the island highlights tour that combines a visit to the distillery where they make the famous Curaçao liqueurs, a stop at a plantation, and a tour of downtown Willemstad.
We just returned from a week in Aruba. Wonderful vacation! We did some great snorkeling. We stayed at Palm Beach and did 2 snorkel trips from the DePalm pier. Both trips went to the same 3 snorkel spots. The most interesting was the Antilla wreck. The Antilla was a German WWII cargo ship that was sunk by the Captain. Captain was not aware that Germans and Dutch had declared war when he entered the Aruba waters. Rather than have ship taken, he sunk it in shallow water. A small portion of the ship is out of the water and the fish were plentiful. The snorkel trips leave DePalm pier 9:30 - 10am.
Aruba is a wonderful island. People are friendly. Island is safe and clean. Island is small and north side of island is barren. Quite a contrast to the south side. Enjoy your cruise!
When cruise ships leave port that late, they often have local groups come aboard to provide the evening's entertainment. Thus, you will find some of the island's best night life right aboard the ship -- with the added benefit that you won't miss the sailing if you lose track of the time during the show.
Having returned home just last night from a cruise that stopped in Aruba, I can highly recommend the Catamaran Snorkel and Beach Adventure excursion in Aruba. The catamaran takes you to a couple snorkelling/swimming areas, after which it pulls up to a pier with a restaurant where the operator serves a delicious barbecue of local cuisine. There's a gorgeous beach adjacent to the pier where you are free to swim or simply to walk for a while before returning to the ship. The crew of the catamaran additionally pulled off a pretty good party, with rum punch flowing pretty freely, on the way back to the ship.