These are two very nice port stops. They are safe friendly islands. Curacao offers a great chance to experience her Dutch history in her architecture . There is a good Dolphin experince done here. Shopping is not as discounted as elsewhere but is nice and "upscale". Beaches are not long streches of sandy beach and have some coral and rock but this is perhaps offset by good snorkelling and diving.
Aruba is a great place (heading there next month for 8 days). Great long stretches of beach, good snorkelling and diving, very good shopping, 360 days a year of sun. The "windward" side of the island has several natural wonders such as natural bridge, natural pool, indian /bat caves . People are extraordinarily friendly. Scuba and snorkel opportunities include several near shore ship wrecks. Transportation whether by cab or bus is inexpensive. Several companies offer reliable excursions independent of those offered by the ship.
Both islands are places you can "do" on your own.
I agree about Aruba.We have been there numerious times.The beaches are free.You can take the bus to the hotel district[cost $2 for the round trip],we usually go to the end of the line to the holiday inn.You can use the bathrooms if need be .The Bus driver will tell you when to get off and where to pick it up just across the street.I am jealous that I cant go with you.If you burn easy,there are cross winds that will burn you fast so be prepared.When you go back to the ship you can shop there.
Bring coins for the bus, small bills in general, and note that although most places take US currency, they'll give you the change in Netherlands Antilles Florins. Nice prettty coins.
Unlike Barbados, where $2 local = $1 US, the Aruba exchange was not an even number. Kept the brain sharp, after a few Balashi local beers.....my favorite edging out Banks label in Barbados (close second) and Medalla (Puerto Rico).
I've been to Aruba twice and absolutely loved it, especially the snorkelling. On my last cruise, I went on a Jolly Roger Pirate ship (I think that's what it's called). If you are a novice snorkeller, you will love this excursion. They do three snorkelling sites, with two of them being quite easy. I saw some older passengers try snorkelling for the first time and they loved it. The third snorkelling site is the sunken ship Antilla, which is a little more difficut to snorkel in, but it is extremely interesting. I've never seen so many and different fish as I saw on this site. They also served a wonderful lunch and the drinks flowed freely, although nobody got drunk and too rowdy (it was a Holland America crown).
I also loved shopping in Aruba. Everyone is most helpful and the vendors never harass you the way they do on some islands. I will try to book my next cruise with a stop in Cuaracao. I've been to Bonaire, which I also loved, and would love to see all three "ABC" islands.
Best place to visit, Aruba. Beautiful beaches. Safe environment, just use common sense. Cruise ships docs right in downtown where all the shopping is. There are upscale stores and the usual tourist souvenir shops. Beaches are about 5/10 minutes away. Either with tour buses or taxi. Beaches are clean, clear and turqoise! Best beaches I have seen. White sandy beaches. just gorgeous! Enjoy your trip!
Book a snorkel with Captain Jethro Gesterkaamp's vessel, Tranquillo. He is a wonderful captain. For the novices, he and his shipmate will snorkel along side anyone feeling the need for safety sake. Jethro is friendly, full of Aruba information and we loved the adventure. You can find his excursions on line and book via e-mail.
I will happily relay his e-mail address if requested. We visited Aruba for 9 wonderful days 2 years ago and will do so again in the future. Love this island and especially the people who are so tourist friendly and helpful. Very, very safe island to wander around at night. Stayed in the Palm Beach area (hi-rise hotel section) at the Wyndham.
CORRECTION: We booked Jethro's snorkel cruise but the boat is OCTOPUS. We also booked with Gayle & Anthony Hagedoorn's vessel which is Tranquillo. Captain Anthony's 6 hour cruise was just as wonderful as Jethro's excursion. Sorry for the confusion for all those who traveled to Aruba and are saying, "whaaat"!