Wednesday, November 7, 2018 – Aruba
Time in port today is 1:00 – 11:00 so there was no rush to get up and out. I still woke up at 7:00 and we were both ready for coffee. From the looks of this morning, it was going to be a beautiful day. We had no excursion planned as we have taken both the island tour and done some snorkeling before.
Aruba, part of the ABC islands, is located just off the coast of South America and is 19.6 miles in length and 6 miles across at its widest point. Aruba is a former Dutch colony though it is now its own country. However, Aruba is still part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is considered outside of the hurricane belt. The average temperature is 82 degrees. Aruba’s slogan is “One Happy Island.”
Languages spoken are Papiamento, Dutch, English, and Spanish. The origin of Papiamento is still a bit of a mystery. However, Arubans say that it was developed from Portuguese-African pidgin which was used as the language for communication between slaves and slave traders.
Though the US dollar is widely accepted, the currency is the Aruban Florin which is worth about 0.56 US Dollars.
Aruba has a national park – Arikok National Park which houses the natural pool and the Fontein Cave which are famous for the decorative brownish-red Arawak pictographs etched by the Amerindians. There are over 20 miles of hiking trails. It is home to a rare species of the burrowing owl. It lives in burrows in the ground hidden by cacti. It is one of Aruba’s national symbols and appears on postage stamps. There are numerous Divi Divi trees all over the island and they all lean the same way because of the winds.
Decided to eat in the main dining room this morning. I like eating there when I have no need to be anywhere specific. But the service can be slow, so I avoid it when I am in a hurry. We were seated at a table for eight. There was a couple from North Carolina and two couples from Florida (one originally from West Virginia, the other I don’t remember). I finished my breakfast before the others because I ordered fruit and oatmeal and they brought them both out as starters. I don’t know who could eat a big bowl of oatmeal and then eat more, but oatmeal is not considered the main meal. I chatted with people and read the flyer on upcoming cruises while they finished. Chuck had the western omelet. He ordered turkey sausage to go with it but they forgot to bring it.
After breakfast, we went to the gym. We were supposed to be going every day but this is the first day we have made it. It is small but well-equipped – bicycles, steppers, treadmills, free weights, weight machines, etc. There was a yoga class being conducted in the corner. Chuck got on the bike while I went to the treadmill. Since the gym is at the very front of the ship, I could feel the motion. I don’t normally have to hang on to the handrails of a treadmill but I did this one. As I was finishing the treadmill, Chuck was finishing with the rowing machine. He didn’t like it as much as he does the one at the rehab place.
We decided to finish our walk outside so we headed for the promenade deck and walked six laps around the ship which was 2 miles. Very breezy. Did feel good to get in some real exercise.
The location director was going to start her narration into Aruba around 11:45 so we got showers and I went out on Deck 10 to watch us sail in. I could have gone to the bow but I knew it would be crowded. As I was watching the sail in, the pilot boat was beside us and there were 3 dolphins swimming just right in front of it. One veered off but the other 2 were staying just in front. The little boat was gaining on them and I got so caught up in telling them to swim faster or veer off that I forgot to get a picture. The boat finally went over the top of them. I have to hope that they had dived down or veered off as I didn’t seem them again in all the froth made by the boat.
They made the announcement exactly at 1:00 that people could get off. We were eating lunch by the Lido pool of grilled chicken sandwiches from the Dive In Burger spot on deck. We finished, got the backpack, and some water and walked off about 2:00.
Of course there were a lot of vendors on the street offering rides to the beaches or tours of the island. I looked for the free trolley but didn’t see one. We walked along the main road toward Fort Zoutman/William III Tower which now serves as the Historical Museum of Aruba. It is one of the oldest building on the island. We passed a number of high-end shops, casinos, and craft markets as well as sculptures. The fort/museum was small (at its heyday It only housed 25 people) but we enjoyed listening to the docent and looking at the artifacts. We climbed 4 flights to get to the top of the bell tower. And it was a climb as there were no regular steps, just ladders. But the view was great.
Walked back along a different street toward the ship and looked at the different artwork that had been built. Even turned some solar panels into a work of art. Before leaving home, I ordered from Amazon two “cooling cloths.” You are supposed to wet them with cold water, wring them out, and then “snap” them. The snap activates the cloth into getting cold. When the coolness starts to wear off, you snap them again and they are cold again. I specifically bought them for our tour in Costa Rica but we decided to try them in Aruba. I thought it worked pretty well. We had them wrapped around our neck and snapped them a couple of times during our walk to help stay cool because it was sweltering. It had to be higher than the average 82 degrees.
Once we got back, we needed another shower. Got cleaned up for the evening. It was casual night so we both just wore jeans. Went to the Crow’s Nest and talked to some people about their tours that day in Aruba. At dinner, we sat with one of the couples we had had dinner with on a previous night. They were from Florida and we really enjoyed their company. I had the carne asada – thin slices of steak on top of black beans and rice, with a side of guacamole and salsa. Chuck had the regular NY strip steak. I had ice cream for dessert. Chuck skipped dessert.
Since we would be in port until 11:00 tonight, there was not a lot happening on the ship. BB King band had the night off and there was no main stage production. They were going to show Mama Mia 2 on the big screen but neither Chuck nor I cared to see it. All the shops and the casino were closed. We did watch the one hour presentation on the history of the Panama Canal. There was a DJ playing some dance music in the lounge so we hung out there for a while.
Decided to call it a night about 11:00 and came on back to the room. Laundry was there, ready to be put away. Towel animal, I assume, was a flying fish. Tomorrow is Curacao. Again, no specific plans for the day.