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BEFORE YOU CRUISE

Taking An Aruba Cruise

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aruba cruiseBy Nancy Schretter

Situated in the southern Caribbean, Aruba is known for its crystal clear blue-green waters and white sandy beaches. The island’s picturesque capital, Orangestad, is a colorful and charming place for sightseeing and shopping. Vacationers will find vendor stalls as well as stores selling international luxury items including jewelry, perfume, crystal and more.

Cruises depart from Aruba regularly, particularly during the fall and the winter high season. Most travelers plan to stay in Aruba for several nights to a week pre- or post-cruise to add to the enjoyment of their tropical vacation. Here are five reasons to consider a cruise from Aruba for your next Caribbean escape:

* Sail Away on a Transatlantic Voyage:  Transatlantic sailings can be a wonderful way to relax. Holland America offers transatlantic voyages between Aruba and Southampton, England or Rotterdam, Holland aboard the Rotterdam VI, Holland America’s classic flagship vessel. The cruises stop in Curacao, Trinidad, Barbados, and Funchal, Portugal with ten days at sea. These late fall voyages allow passengers to relax and fully experience the fine dining and elegance for which Holland America and the ship are known. The Rotterdam VI features Holland America’s Culinary Arts Center show kitchen as well as the Pinnacle Grill, a popular alternative dining restaurant. The ship’s two-deck La Fontaine Dining Room offers the usual two dinner seatings as well as the more flexible “As You Wish” dining. The casual Lido Restaurant serves a wide variety of fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Canaletto, a free Italian alternative dining restaurant, is set up in one section of the ship’s Lido Restaurant in the evening.

* Take a Spanish-Inspired Cruise:  Seeking a cruise with an international flair? Look into Pullmantur’s weekly departures from Aruba during the Caribbean’s high season. Pullmantur is Spain’s largest cruise line and is owned by Royal Caribbean. From late November through March, Pullmantur offers 7-night round-trip cruises on the Horizon from Aruba to Caracas (La Guaira), Venezuala; Curacao; Colon, Panama; and Cartegena, Colombia with two nights at sea. Although this is a Caribbean itinerary, the cruise experience on these voyages has a heavy Spanish influence. The majority of Pullmantur’s guests speak Spanish, although the crew speaks some English as well. International guests are welcomed on the ship and announcements are made in Spanish and English. In line with Spanish customs, the ship’s early dinner seating commencing at 8 p.m. at night. For Spanish-speaking cruisers or those seeking to practice their Spanish while cruising the tropics, Pullmantur’s voyages from Aruba might be a good bet.

* Chill Out at a Boutique-Style Resort:  Most cruise passengers sailing from Aruba arrive a few days before their cruise or stay on the island for several nights post-voyage. Those seeking to relax and unwind completely on their cruise or land-based vacation should check out the popular Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts, the only Aruba boutique property that caters exclusively to adults. Named as one of the world’s most romantic resorts by TripAdvisor, this award-winning resort’s high standards of service bring guests back repeatedly – about 65% of the resort’s guests have previously vacationed at the property. Located on 14 acres along Eagle Beach, Bucuti provides guests with spacious rooms and suites, a freshwater infinity pool, the Intermezzo Spa, free Wi-Fi across the entire property, a Netbook with Skype in each room and a full American breakfast included daily. What guests won’t find here are additional undisclosed taxes and resort fees tacked onto their bill at check-out time, an unwelcome surprise that’s shunned by this property.

* Go Wild for Watersports:  Aruba vacationers can choose from scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, kite boarding, water and jet skiing, parasailing and other activities. While many activities can be arranged right from your resort, tours are also available to De Palm Island where you can snorkel through schools of brightly colored fish. Other activities, such as water slides, SNUBA (a kid-friendly variation on scuba for children ages 8 and older) and Sea Treks (walking underwater with a specially designed helmet and air supply system) are also offered here as well.

* Sample Awesome Activities:  While the waters surrounding Aruba’s resorts are generally very calm, thundering waves can be found by those choosing to visit the island’s rugged northeastern coast. Vacationers can rent their own 4-wheel drive vehicles to explore this area or go on a safari jeep adventure with a tour company.  Make sure to stop at the Aruba Ostrich Farm and visit the California Lighthouse, the cute Alto Vista Chapel, and the Bushiribana Gold Mill ruins along the way. Arikok National Park and the caves where native Arawak Indians dwelled are also in this area. Golfers will have their needs met on Aruba. The island’s 18-hole Tierra del Sol golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., offers championship golf along with beautiful sea vistas and lush greens.

Nancy Schretter is the Managing Editor of the Family Travel Network.

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