Cruises to exotic Curacao give passengers an opportunity to enjoy duty-free shopping, tasty cuisine, and colorful Dutch Colonial architecture. Just thirty-five miles north of Venezuela and forty miles east of Aruba, Curacao (coo-ra-sow) is a little known but nonetheless delightful cruise destination on many southern Caribbean voyages, as well as some Panama Canal voyages.
Cruise Your Way to Curacao
All of the following cruises stop at Curacao, and they have been chosen because they offer unique experiences for their passengers. Whether you're traveling with children, looking for a romantic getaway, or just want to have a little fun, one of these cruises could be just what you're looking for.
Royal Caribbean: The Barbie Dream Cruise
The Barbie Dream cruise is guaranteed to send any young girl into squeals of delight. For only $349, she will get to stay in a Barbie stateroom full of Barbie memorabilia she can take home, including a Barbie quilt and pillow cover. She'll also have the opportunity to participate in activities such as a tiara tea party and a fashion show with like-minded new friends. When she talks to her own children about the great times she had when she young, this cruise will be right at the top of her list.
The following ships sail to Curacao:
- Legend of the Seas: This ship is a Vision Class ship with eight bars, and six pools and whirlpools. While your daughter is busy having the time of her life, you and your partner can find privacy in the ship's adults-only solarium. A round trip from Fort Lauderdale, prices start at $599 for nine nights.
- Brilliance of the Seas: Full of sunlit spaces, the Royal Caribbean classes the Brilliance of the Seas as a radiance class ship. Bigger than the Legend of the Seas, it has 16 bars and lounges, a Broadway style theater and five pools. Departing from Boston and arriving back in Tampa, prices start from $1,284 for 13 nights.
Carnival Cruises: Onboard Weddings
If the film Titanic is anything to go by, the wide open sea make an incredibly romantic of setting. With this wedding package, you get a pre-day wedding agent and a lovely wedding ceremony aboard the ship. this package includes, among other pleasant surprises, a cake, champagne and a photo service. Prices vary depending on which port you leave from. For more information, including other wedding and honeymoon packages, see Carnival's brochure.
The following ships sail to Curcao:
- Carnival Legend: Whether is it the spa or a nightclub, there is always something open on the Legend. Potentially, you could party all night, everyday for up to 11 days. Of course if that is not your style, you can relax on the deck or in your luxury apartment with nothing to disturb you except the slight splash of water against the ship's side. Departing from New York and arriving back at Tampa, Florida, prices start at $649 for 11 days.
- Carnival Freedom: The Carnival Freedom offers many the same amenities as the Carnival Legend. However, its water slides, pools and youth spaces offer more activities to occupy any potentially bored kids. Departing and arriving back at Fort Lauderdale, prices start at $549 for eight days.
Norwegian Cruise Liners: Nightlife
The Norwegian Cruise Liner not only has nighttime entertainment, it's entertainment of the highest quality. Their casino for example, Casinos at Sea, has won best cruise line casino ten years in a row. According to customer reviews, the on board pub crawls are legendary. With sports bars and cocktail bars a plenty, most guests claim they don't stop until sunrise. Don't worry, though. As they say on the website, your room is only an elevator ride away.
Sail to Curacao on the following ships:
- The Norwegian Pearl: The Norwegian Pearl has 16 dining options and 13 bars and lounges. Its Haven Garden suites on the top deck provide a 24-hour butler and concierge services. Departing from Miami, Florida, prices start at $849 for 11 days.
- The Norwegian Dawn: The major difference between the Norwegian Pearl and the Norwegian Dawn is in the accommodation provided. Their large family suites suit those on a budget. Departing from Boston and arriving in Tampa, prices start at $899 for 14 days.
MSC Cruises: Kids Sail Free
You know a cruise liner genuinely welcomes kids when it lets them sail for free. MSC cruises only allows kids under the age of 12 in for free, but they offer reduced rates for children up to 17. If you have have a big family, that amounts to huge savings. In addition, as far as the kids are concerned, the MSC is not trying to seduce them with the latest TV characters. From Nintendo Wii to complimentary kids clubs, they seems to genuinely understand what kids want.
Sail to Curacao on the MSC Divina. The ship is named in honor of Sophia Loren. Like the Italian actress, the ship is sleek, stylish and lavishly attired. Holding almost 4,000 people, it has a 4D cinema and a Broadway theater. The Divinia departs from Miami, Florida, and costs a minimum of $899 for 11 nights.
Princess Cruises: Engagement Package
Ever see one of those movies where a woman is just about to board a plane or train, and a man makes his way through the crowd and asks her to marry him in front of everyone? Princess Cruise provides a similar scenario, except the proposal will be broadcast on the Movie Under the Stars movie screen just before the main feature. A video of the event, a dinner for two, a breakfast in bed and a massage are all included in the price of $695.
Sail to Curacao on the following ships:
- Emerald Princess: As one of Princess Cruises; largest ships, the Emerald Princess has space for four pools, 900 balcony staterooms, and a variety of restaurants and cafes. Departing and arriving back in Ft. Lauderdale, prices start at $1979 for 20 days.
- Crown Princess: With a capacity of 3,080 passengers, the Crown Princess is one of this line's largest ships. Have dinner in the International Cafe, and then maybe go roll the dice at Gatsby's Casino. Round trip from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the price of this seven-day cruise starts at $659.
Arriving in Curacao
As the largest and most populous island in the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao is well-equipped to accommodate even large cruise ships at the mega-pier complex near downtown Willemstad, the island's capital. The harbor is framed by picturesque Dutch-colonial homes in bright colors, and it's spanned by the famous Queen Emma Pontoon bridge, which introduces passengers to the colorful and eclectic culture of Curacao from the moment they sail into port.
Necessary information about Curacao:
- Dutch is the official language but both English and Spanish are widely spoken and passengers should have no trouble communicating.
- The official currency is the Netherlands Antillean Florin and is equal to approximately $0.60 U.S., but U.S. dollars are widely accepted.
- Because of its unique position in Dutch history, Curacao is the initial setting for the classic children's book by Theodore Taylor, The Cay.
Cruises to Curacao: Sightseeing
Since the pier is located an easy ten-minute walk from downtown Willemstad, and taxis are easy to hire, there are many sites that cruise passengers can visit without organized excursions. Some of Curacao's more popular attractions include:
- Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge: This motorized sentinel opens at least thirty times daily to permit ships to enter and leave the harbor. Foot traffic is permitted across the bridge, connecting both sides of Willemstad (Punda and Otrabanda) across the Santa Anna Bay. There is no toll to use the bridge.
- Floating Market: Every day, dozens of ships from Venezuela, Colombia, and other West Indian islands dock to sell fruits, vegetables, and handicrafts in this unique shopping venue.
- Punda: This five-block shopping district in Willemstad is a shopper's paradise. It includes more than 200 shops featuring cheese, perfumes, silks and linens, watches, liquor, leather goods and more.
- Curacao Sea Aquarium: Located east of Willemstad, this spectacular aquarium hosts more than 400 species of fish, crabs, coral, sea anemones, and other marine life. Visitors can swim with dolphins, and hand-feed sharks, sea turtles, and stingrays. They can even enjoy a semi-submersible tour.
- Curacao Underwater Marine Park: Lining the island's southeastern coast, these 12.5 miles of protected reefs offer numerous diving opportunities with snorkel trails, sunken wrecks, and more than thirty species of coral. Options are available for both novice and experienced divers.
- Den Paradera: On the island's eastern end, this organic herb garden offers educational guided tours about folk medicines and local remedies - the perfect attraction for new-age or naturalist inclined visitors. The gift shop stocks organic shampoos, oils, and potpourris.
- Ostrich Farm: The largest ostrich breeding farm outside of Africa, this attraction in Curacao's northeast corner allows guests to hold an ostrich egg, sit astride an adult ostrich, and try ostrich delicacies in the on-site restaurant.
- Hato Caves: A popular choice for adventurous visitors, this park features limestone stalactites, stalagmites, and underground lakes. Several prehistoric petroglyphs create a striking tableau that demonstrates the island's ancient history.
- Beaches: With more than three dozen available beaches, Curacao is a sunbather's paradise. One of the most well-equipped beaches is Santa Barbara Beach. It has a wide variety of water sports and recreational opportunities, as well as full changing facilities and other amenities highlighted by the beach's pure white sand.
Although Curacao may seem like a tropical paradise, visitors should note that the majority of the island is an arid desert and proper precautions should be taken to avoid heatstroke, sunstroke, or sunburns. Furthermore, passengers who elect to explore distant attractions should plan on returning to Willemstad and the port early because taxi fares may increase by as much as twenty-five percent after 11 p.m.
Something to Entertain Everyone
With abundant beaches an eclectic history, and a wide variety of attractions, Curacao offers interesting activities for all cruise passengers. Whether you want to sunbathe and snorkel or explore ancient civilizations, Curacao has it all.