Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Saturday, December 24, 2011 – Willemstad, Curacao, NA – Partly Cloudy – 85F – Humid

Charlotte Amalie to Curacao: 452 nautical miles

Seas are smooth…

We are not scheduled to arrive in Willemstad, Curacao until 2:30 PM (a half hour late). 

There are two lectures this morning but I plan to attend the 11:15 AM talk by Christine Roussel called “Colossi – Tallest Statues in the World”.  It was a travelogue type lecture with pictures of the tallest statues (free standing) around the world.  The tallest was in Asia and stood over 400 ft high.  Many were in the US including the Statue of Liberty and two equestrian statues in Texas.

The island of Curacao could be spotted off the port side.

2011-12-24 Curacao (Small)

We watched the approach to Willemstad from the Commodore Lounge, while reading and relaxing in their comfortable chairs.

  2011-12-24 Kindling in Commodore Lounge (Small)

Comfortable and Kindling

2011-12-24 Approaching Mega Sea Port (Small)

Approaching Willemstad Mega Pier Cruise Ship Terminal

The ship essentially moved sideways into the port.  The Renaissance Hotel complex with its infinity pool was nearby.

2011-12-24 Renaissance Hotel (Small)

Renaissance Hotel and Grounds

2011-12-24 Willemstad (Small)

Willemstad beyond the Hotel

The QM2 is such a long ship that it is difficult to get the whole ship into a picture – per the example below. 

2011-12-24 QM2 and Willemstad (Small)2011-12-24 Me and QM2 Willemstad (Small)

Top:  QM2 at Mega Pier Cruise Port; Bottom: Me and the QM2

Our stay in Willemstad is very short – 3:00 – 7:00 PM – made shorter still by the fact that it is Christmas Eve and the stores will most likely close early.  After leaving the port area and its predictable shops, we crossed the Queen Emma Bridge connecting Otrabanda (“other side”) neighborhood with the Punda section.  The Queen Emma Bridge is a floating bridge that swings open to allow ships to come and go through St. Anna Bay.

2011-12-24 Willemstad Curacao (Small)

Punda Area across St. Anna Bay

Besides the usual search for free WiFi, we are also looking for the Curacao Synagogue – Mikvah Yisrael, purported to be, as others have also claimed, the oldest synagogue in the Americas.  We located the shul on Columbusstraat not far from the local McDonalds.  Personal observation – the other oldest shul in the Americas in Barbados looks ancient compared to this one.

Mikvah Israel Curacao (Small)   

Mikvah Yisrael Synagogue

The rabbi on board had tried to arrange a tour of the shul but when the group arrived there (and we caught up with them), the place was closed. 

We did locate some free WiFi – thanks to KAOOZ, who didn’t secure his router.  Checked in but the signal was unreliable so we never got to really exchange any updates.  Still, better than nothing.

We also spent a lot of time dodging tropical downpours – warm but wet rain.  They only lasted a few minutes but they were drenching.

Someone in the ship’s group suggested we cross the Wilhemina Bridge and check out the old mansions originally built by Jewish merchants in Curacao.  We did that but the neighborhood didn’t seem secure so we headed back.  We walked past the Floating Market, featuring fruits, vegetables, and an unidentifiable odor.  It looked like the vendors lived in the boats moored behind their stands.

Floating Market (Small)

Floating Market

Punda was almost entirely mall type shops and most of them were about to close so we headed back to the ship. 

2011-12-24 QM2 Willemstad 2 (Small)

QM2 and Rif Fort across St. Anna Bay

When we got to St. Anna Bay, the bridge was fully open yet there were no ships passing through.  It turns out that the bridge was inoperable so we took the free ferry back to the Otrabanda side.

We returned by walking through the Rif Fort – now a typical Caribbean Shopping Area (no rain).  In a few minutes, we were back on the QM2 for some badly needed ice teas.

The dress tonight is Semi-Formal and we got to dinner at 6:30 PM.  Again, we had a good meal (some kind of Salmon, where the waiter had to remove the skin for us and an up and coming fan favorite – Cesar Salad).  Crepes Suzette for dessert topped off the meal.

Christmas events dominated the evening so we spent most of the evening in the Chart Room reading and listening to the harpist.

The Headliners tonight are “Graffiti Classics” – a zany string quartet [girl violin [London]; girl viola [Spain]; guy violin [Romania]; lead guy bass [Ireland]).  They danced, played, and did some slapstick that turned out to be very entertaining.  You never know.

As we headed back to our room, the QM2 is very long so I took pictures of Deck 5 looking Aft and Forward (see below).  It is about 350 steps from one end to the other.

   2011-12-24 16.56.46 Deck 5 Aft (Small)

Looking Aft

2011-12-24 16.57.01 Deck 5 Fwd (Small)

Looking Forward

Tomorrow – a nice day at sea.

Pedometer: 12370 Steps; 5.86 miles; 606 calories

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