The first stop on our Caribbean Cruise on Monday 12 November was Curacao – a Dutch colony around 38 miles long. After stopping for a group photo, we elected to hire our own air-conditioned mini-bus to do some sightseeing, stopping at the Liqueur Distillery to taste some samples, before visiting different areas on the tiny island.
Curacao is full of unique, pastel-coloured colonial buildings built during the slave trade, which blends Dutch and Spanish architectural styles.
In common with the rest of the Caribbean, there is a sharp economic divide between descendants of slave owners who accumulated vast wealth during slavery, mostly residing in upscale, communities and those descendants of the former enslaved who are largely employed in manual and semi-skilled jobs, in many ways still servicing the needs and interests of wealthy Whites. It serves as a stark reminder that the legacies of slavery still persist and the global distribution of wealth and poverty along racial lines remains largely unchanged in the Caribbean.
After returning to the ship we watched it sail away from our cabin. Most of the 1500 guests on board were either out on their balconies like us, or in the pool area participating in the ‘Sail Away’ celebrations.
On Day 5 of the cruise, my sister Rosiepoos and I decided to make a healthy start with an hour in the gym, before enjoying a healthy breakfast. Afterwards, we joined the others in leaving the ship to explore Aruba. In common with Curacao, the first inhabitants of the Island were the Arawak Indians. The island was first colonized by the Spanish and later conquered by the Dutch, sharing similar colourful architecture to Curacao.
My sister Jennifer and I had a casual stroll around the town, where we witnessed a wedding party leaving the Registry Office. After browsing through shops in town we stopped to enjoy some ice-cream before heading off on a bus trip to San Nicolas, situated in southern point of the island, home to the large oil refinery.
It is largely inhabited by Venezuelans, Haitians, Jamaicans and other Caribbean ethnicities. Our bus ride coincided with the end of the school/college day so many teenagers travelled on the bus, which was surprisingly quiet.
We were unaware we had boarded the slow bus, which takes the long route through residential areas, but it enabled us to see where ‘real’ Arubans live and it felt like a more authentic experience. However, we took the short ride back via the motorway to ensure we arrived on time to board the ship.
Rosiepoos and I decided to join the Sail Away celebrations in the pool area, dancing away to calypso and Soca tunes, led by the entertainment team. I was pretty exhausted after that and could only muster enough energy to enjoy dinner in the Meridian restaurant before retiring for the evening!
@pandocruises @sailorwes Passengers on deck 15 would like to commend our hard-working cabin steward Jerry who is doing a brilliant job of looking after us and helping to make this a memorable trip! pic.twitter.com/3GKoXiroSK— Dr. Deborah Gabriel (@deborahgabriel) November 14, 2018