Aruba is a 33 km-long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, located 27 km north of the coast of Venezuela. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands of the Leeward Antilles, the southern island chain of the Lesser Antilles.
Aruba, which has no administrative subdivisions, is one of the four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, together with the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten. Aruban citizens hold Dutch passports. Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape. This climate has helped tourism as visitors to the island can reliably expect warm, sunny weather. It has a land area of 69 sq miles and is densely populated with its estimated 103,000 people. It lies outside the hurricane belt.
Oranjestad (English, literally “Orangetown”) is the capital and most important city of Aruba located on the southern coast near the western end of the island. In the local language, Papiamento, Oranjestad is often referred to simply as “Playa”.
The town was built around Fort Zoutman shortly after it was built in 1796. Initially the town had no official name, being known only as the town on the Bay of Horses – a fitting designation for the place from which many native-bred and raised horses left for neighboring Curaçao. The town has ever since been the capital city of the island. The fort is still one of the town’s attractions, others being the tax-free harbour and the Willem III Tower, located near the fort.
The city is named after the first King Willem van Oranje-Nassau (William of Orange-Nassau) – the first heir to the Dutch House of Orange. The name was conferred on the city in the 1820s when interest in Aruba increased due to the discovery of (alluvial) gold deposits.
This was our first visit to Aruba and we found it much different than the other Caribbean Islands we have visited. It is much more arid, actually a desert island. Kay and I shared a taxi with Sharon and Al Johnson from California. I met Sharon on the Cruise Critic forum prior to the cruise. She had posted that she and Al were interested in touring the island with special interest on photographing the island scenery. We had a very nice tour with Ivan, our driver/tour guide.
Since I am several days late with this post, I am not going to include much commentary. I do plan a post soon to summarize the cruise and give our overall impressions. As I write this, it is Sunday the 14th and we are in Mobile, Alabama. We did make it back to Canton yesterday afternoon and left for Mobile this morning, unfortunately, to attend the funeral of Kay’s aunt who passed away at the grand old age of 97.
Now for a few photos!
Original Dutch windmill, brought from Holland piece by piece.
Aruba’s motto is “One Happy Island” and the islanders seem to live up to the motto.
The California Lighthouse
Children from the San Francisco Church School, leaving the church after the Ash Wednesday Service; note the cross on the children’s foreheads.
View from the top of the Casibari Rock Formations
Casibari Boulders Clusters of huge tonalite boulders sit together in an area just north of Hooiberg. This rock formation, unique to the more typical features of the area, inexplicably rises up from the desert soil to create an unusual setting. Some of the boulders weigh several tons and feature peculiar forms.
There are no “Nanny State” safety requirements here to diminish the beauty of the formations. They expect you to use commons sense and exercise good judgment.
Cave drawings at the Ayo Rock Formations area.
Aruba has many different cacti
The following photographs were taken on the North Shore of Aruba. This area is mostly part of a large National Park because it is pretty much uninhabitable due to the high and continuous winds from the north. The famous Natural Bridge is located here. The large one collapsed a few years ago. I have some photos of the smaller one, but honestly it was not all that impressive to me. The island has a few large wind turbine generators and hopes to install more to service the majority of the island’s electricity needs. For now though, just enjoy the beauty of the surf crashing against the rocks.
Back in town, Kay and I toured the downtown area and the mandatory vendor stalls. Pretty much one looked like another, except for this one. We immediately noticed that the goods for sale were of a different quality and type. While we were looking we met the owner, Sylvia. She is an artist and craftsman. The wares in her stall were probably 80% entirely made by her, her husband and her son. She and her son were actually working while we were there. We ended up purchasing a couple of small paintings by Sylvia as well as some jewelry crafted by her son. I am glad we had the opportunity to meet Sylvia.
I will close this post with one more photograph. As we were docking, the first thing I saw from our veranda was another cruise ship. Of course, the first thing you do is try to identify the Line the ship sales for. Not seeing a Line name, which is usually quite obvious, I began looking for the ship’s name. When we came close enough to identify, I was surprised to see that the ship was The World. I first learned about The World a couple of years ago from a documentary done by the Discovery Channel or The Travel Channel. I have been fascinated by the ship since. I hope you enjoy the information.
The World is a private sailing condominium. The following quote comes from their website. “The World opens a vast amount of opportunity to travel the world in an exclusive community as either a Resident or vacationing Guest. With 165 private residences located aboard, many Residents call The World home on a consistent basis while others open their doors temporarily for short term rentals that allows others a unique vacation experience unlike any other. ”
You can rent a 2 bedroom apartment for 2 persons including meals and select beverages or between $3,000.00 and $5,000.00 per NIGHT.
The World does not publish sale prices, but from Wikipedia “As of 2010, a 328 sq ft studio (Ocean Studio 661) has a list price of USD $600,000. Ocean Residence 1006 (2 bedroom, 2.5 bath) list price USD $2,950,000. The World Suite 1108/1110 list price USD $13,500,000.
Monthly homeowner dues range from $20,000 per month (for the smaller units) and up ($220,000), and cover fuel, crew, maintenance and a meal allowance for the owner.
For more information see their website at www.aboardtheworld.com .
Their itinerary may be found at: www.aboardtheworld.com/our-journey/itineraries/2011 .