Cruises to exotic Aruba give passengers the opportunity to soak in the island's sunny climate, picturesque architecture, and white sand beaches. With its glittering casinos, abundant shopping, and European charm, Aruba is a popular port of call on many cruise ships' southern Caribbean itineraries. The following cruise companies all have ships with a variety of accommodations, including interior and balcony rooms. Most sail to Aruba from American ports, as well as one British port. While they all have a variety of packages to offer, the packages featured here give their respective cruise lines a little bit of an edge over the competition.
The Royal Caribbean: Romance Packages
The Royal Caribbean is recommended for its romance packages. While never going overboard, they will decorate the room and leave roses on the pillows and champagne in a bucket of ice on the side. The Anniversary package runs about $225, and the cost of the honeymoon package is about $185. The Ultimate Romance package costs about $600, and they will give you breakfast in the morning and leave canapés and petit fours in your room every evening.
About the Ships
- The Legend of the Seas has a nine-hole golf course and a solarium. People that enjoy keeping active can take yoga classes and kick boxing classes. Departing from Fort Lauderdale, prices start from $599 for 9 nights and from $899 for 11 nights.
- The Brilliance of the Seas has three pools, three whirlpools, and a vitality spa that will leave you looking as fresh and brilliant as the sea on a clear sunny day. Just make sure you are around long enough to show your friends the new you - in the evening they hold a Mystery Theater who dunnit over dinner. Departing from Boston and arriving back in Tampa, Florida, prices runs about $1299 for 13 nights.
Princess Cruises: Teenagers and Children
The Princess Caribbean has every right to pride itself on its provisions for teenagers and children. While the parents take advantage of its spa facilities, onboard counselors will provide activities for children between 3-17 at no extra cost. Don't worry, they don't mix the children together. For the 3-7 year olds, they hold such events as pajama parties. Kids 8-12 can participate in such events as scavenger hunts, and 13-17 years olds will enjoy events such as a DJ workshop.
About the Ships
- The Crown Princess has a capacity of ove 3,000, which makes it a virtual floating city. They even have room for a piazza that creates the kind of street cafe vibe you would expect to find in most major European cities. Departing and arriving back in Ft. Lauderdale, prices start at $649 for 7 days.
- The Coral Princess has much the same facilities as the Crown, with the addition of the Bayou Cafe. At night, the cafe offers jazz and New Orleans-style dishes. Departing from either Ft. Lauderdale or Vancouver and arriving back at either Ft. Lauderdale or Los Angeles, prices start at about $1,199 for 11 days and $1,829 for 18 days.
Norwegian Cruise Liners: Freestyle Cruises
Norwegian Cruise Liners pride themselves on what they call their freestyle cruises. Whether you are with your family, your partner or on your own, they have something for everyone. Kids will enjoy playing and chatting with their favorite Nickelodeon characters at the pajama jam breakfast, while their parents can take advantage of the spa on the upper decks. Passengers traveling on their own or with a partner can win money at the casinos, watch variety shows at the theater, and enjoy one of their fine dining restaurants, including a steak house and French gourmet cuisine.
About the Ships
- The Norwegian Pearl is a jewel class ship that has 16 dining options (including 6 complimentary dining) and 13 bars and lounges. What sets it above the Norwegian Dawn below is its Haven garden suites on the top deck. In addition to living and dining rooms, they provide a 24-hour butler and concierge. Departing from Miami, Florida, prices start from $849 for 11 days.
- The Norwegian Dawn may not not have the luxury of the Norwegian Pearl, but it is exactly the same size and offers 14 dining options and 12 bars. The major difference is in the accommodation provided. Their large family suites suit passengers on a budget. Departing from Boston and arriving in Tampa, prices start from $899 for 14 days.
P&O Cruises: Spa Cruises
Every cruise liner has a spa, but P&O is one of the few cruise liners confident enough in their spa facilities to provide a spa package as one of their main attractions. From $200 to $800 for up to 109 nights, you will have the luxury of priority service to the spa, complimentary consultation, and access to the Retreat, Oasis pool, and thermal suite.
About the Ship
The Aurora has a world class spa and three pools, but its biggest draw is the cafe Bordeaux bistro with a menu by the world famous French chef Marco Pierre White. At night, you can visit a choice of nightclubs, theaters, and casinos. Departing from Southampton, prices to Aruba start from $2,905 for 22 nights to $213,966 for 109 nights.
Arriving in Aruba
Cruises to Aruba arrive at the island's well-equipped and modern cruise terminal at Oranjestad, designed to accommodate even the largest vessels. A tourist information booth can provide local maps and attraction brochures, and passengers can access ATMs, if necessary. As in most cruise ports, there are several local shops available right at the dock, although more varied stores are only a brief walk away in the downtown shopping district.
Necessary information about Aruba includes:
- Dutch is the official language, but both English and Spanish are widely spoken, particularly in tourist areas.
- The Aruba florin is the official currency and is equal to approximately $0.60 U.S., but U.S. dollars are widely accepted.
- All the island's beaches are public, but visitors will be charged for the use of lounge chairs and shade umbrellas.
Sightseeing in Aruba
For guests who wish to explore Aruba in a less organized fashion, there are many different cultural tidbits throughout the island that offer insights into Aruban culture, history, and lifestyle. Rental cars and mopeds are plentiful, and the roads are generally well-maintained, which makes it easy to arrange your own individualized tour.
Some of Aruba's most intriguing attractions include:
- National Archeological Museum of Aruba: This museum is a cultural haven highlights the island's Amerindian heritage with multiple displays of pottery, stone tools, shells, bones, and other artifacts.
- Fort Zoutman: More than 200 years old, this defensive site houses another collection of artifacts for the culturally inclined.
- Numismatic Museum of Aruba: Near Fort Zoutman, this museum offers visitors an impressive collection of coins from more than 400 countries, and the coins are arranged in historical exhibits.
- Natural Bridge: On the island's northern coast opposite Oranjestad, this limestone arch is the nation's most photographed attraction. The formation stretches 25 feet in the air and spans approximately 100 feet of water.
- Hooiberg: Also known as the "Haystack," this 540-foot tall hill of boulders is another impressive natural formation. Located near the center of the island, it is possible to see the Venezuelan coast on a clear day from the formation's peak.
- Arikok National Park: Covering 20 percent of the island, this ecological preserve includes many caves that were once inhabited by various Amerindian tribes. Fontein Cave is decorated with primitive drawings, and nearby Baranca Sunu cave has a quaint, heart-shaped entrance that gives it the nickname the "Tunnel of Love."
- Wilhelmina Park: Within walking distance of downtown Oranjestad, this small park includes a meticulously maintained tropical garden with a statue of Queen Wilhelmina as the highlight, emphasizing the island's Dutch heritage.
- Beaches: With less than 20 inches of annual rainfall, Aruba's beaches are perfect for serious sunbathers. Many beaches can easily be accessed by taxi for a moderate fee. Taxi rates in Aruba are all flat fees, so agree on a price before beginning the drive. Hotel beaches offer a variety of water sports, including scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, and water skiing.
- Shopping: For guests more interested in spending than sunning, Aruba has an amazing variety of stores concentrated in downtown Oranjestad. From hokey tourist shops to upscale boutiques, visitors can find amazing deals on chocolate, cheese, watches, jewelry, china, perfume, and crystal.
As with any port of call, visitors need to be aware of potential problems including occasionally aggressive merchants, as well as locals too willing to give private island tours, particularly to women. Due to the island's sun-drenched climate, cruise passengers should be sure to take appropriate precautions to avoid excessive sunburn or heat stroke, including drinking plenty of non-alcoholic beverages; taking a bottle of water along is a sensible choice. If renting a car or moped, drivers should note that many roads outside of the capital can become quite slippery with blowing sand.
An Island Gem
Aruba is a southern Caribbean gem with its turquoise waters, sunny beaches, and impressive array of rugged rock formations. With abundant shopping and numerous cultural points of interest, cruise travelers will always find something to intrigue them on this quaint island, adding yet another unique experience to their vacation memories.