Looking for a popular place to take your next vacation? Think Aruba. Whether you're coming to the island for a land-based vacation or a cruise, this island gets rave reviews from travelers on holiday.
It's no wonder that Aruba has the highest repeat visitor rate in the Caribbean. This laid-back island is blessed with spectacular beaches, abundant marine life, and some of the friendliest residents you'll find. “Bon Bini!” means welcome and you'll hear that phrase called out to you repeatedly as you tour the island.
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 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: Holland America offers transatlantic sailings 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 relaxing late fall voyages allow passengers to 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 Pinnacle Grill is a continental steakhouse-type restaurant serving prime cuts of beef as well as seafood, veal and lamb. 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 for roughly four hours each evening. 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. The Horizon was built in 1990 and holds over 1,800 passengers. 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 much of the crew speaks some English as well. International guests are welcomed on the ship and announcements are made in Spanish and English. Dining practices onboard follow those of Spain, with 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 will plan to arrive a few days before their cruise or stay on the island for several nights upon returning from their voyage. Those seeking to relax and unwind completely on their cruise or land-based vacation should check out Aruba's popular Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts, the only boutique property on the island that cater exclusively to adults. Named as one of the world's most romantic resorts by TripAdvisor, this award-winning resort's high standards of service and excellence have earned it an exceptionally high guest return rate. Approximately 65% of the resort's guests have previously vacationed at the property. Located on 14 acres along the shimmering white sands of 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 you won't find here are additional undisclosed taxes and resort fees tacked onto your bill at check-out time, an unwelcome surprise that's shunned by this owner managed, environmentally-friendly 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.
If You Go:
* For more information on Holland America's transatlantic cruises, visit http://www.hollandamerica.com.
* To find out more about Pullmantur's cruises from Aruba to ports throughout the Caribbean, visit http://www.pullmantur.es/en.
* Plan to arrive in Aruba at least one to two nights before your cruise. Flight delays and cancellations are common these days, and when this happens, it’s quite easy for passengers (and/or their luggage) to miss the ship. Allow for potential delays and enjoy the island of Aruba before your voyage.
* To learn more about Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts in Aruba, visit their website at http://www.bucuti.com.