Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Friday, May 1, 2015 – Willemstad, Curacao, NA – Mostly Sunny – 84F

Distance from Port Everglades to Willemstad: 1150 Nautical Miles

Background.  Curacao is an independent country in the southern Caribbean Sea – It is the C island in the ABC Islands (Aruba and Bonaire being the others).  It was discovered initially by the Spanish in 1499 and then settled by the Dutch in 1634 .  The name Curacao comes from “Cured”; Spanish sailors were cured of scurvy once they ate Vitamin C fruits on the island.  The island has a population of 160,000 with its capital, Willemstad.  Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is divided into two sections, Punda and Otrobanda connected by two bridges across Sint Anna Bay.  The Queen Juliana is a modern tall bridge (at 51 meters the tallest bridge in the Caribbean) and the Queen Emma, built in 1888, is a Pontoon Bridge.  The Queen Emma bridge is appropriately called the “Swinging Old Lady”.  The island is blanketed by Curacao WiFi so connecting to the internet is easy.  The ship is docked in Otrobanda at the Mathey Wharf Cruise Terminal.



20150501_ willemstad pilot (Small)

Local Pilot

Just outside the city, we spotted a hotel with an enormous infinity pool – must cost a fortune to stay there.

20150501_hmt willemstad approach (Small) 20150501_ hmt willemstad approach 1 (Small)

On Deck for the Approach

20150501_adventure ots willemstad (Small)

Approach to Willemstad

20150501_hotel infinity pool (Small)

Fancy Hotel and Pool

Also here today is the much bigger, Adventure of the Seas.  The Adventure is an old friend which carried us across the Atlantic a few years ago.  Still a very sleek looking ship.

20150501_adventure ots (Small)

Adventure of the Seas

20150501_ willemstad 2 (Small)   20150501_willemstad 1 (Small)


The ABC Islands are known for their winds and it was breezy as we approached Willemstad.  The seas were choppy but the pilot did a good job of smoothly bringing the ship alongside. 

As the Captain had predicted, the Pacific Princess arrived late in Willemstad at around 1 PM – it was announced that the ship would be leaving later than scheduled (around 8 PM) to give passengers more time to see the city and for the tours to be run in their entirety.

20150501_adv ots willemstad (Small)

Adventure of the Seas – Around the Bend

20150501_et willemstad (Small) 

20150501_et adv ots (Small)

Waiting to Disembark

The pier is on the Otrobanda section of Willemstad.  It is only a short walk down the hill into the city area.  Greeting us was a large square – Plasa Brion, named for Luis Brion, whose statue graces the plaza.  Luis Brion, Primer Almirante de la Gran Colombia (1782-1821), fought in the Venezuelan War of Independence.  There is an inscription on the side by Simon Bolivar – El Libertador.

20150501_statue main square (Small) 

Luis Brion Statue

We decided to walk a bit in Otrobanda but the we saw no other passengers and all of the shops were closed.  Our plans changed and we crossed the Queen Emma Bridge to Punda. 

20150501_et queen anne pontoon bridge (Small)

Crossing the Queen Emma Bridge (Ellen right side)

The far end of the bridge affords a wonderful view of the colonial style buildings of historic Willemstad.

20150501_ willemstad 3 (Small)

On this side of the bay, there were many more visitors (from both ships) but the shops were still mostly closed.  Only the bars and a few souvenir shops remained open. 

One of our goals was to visit the Curacao Synagogue – Mikve Israel-Emanuel – located on Columbusstrasse.  This synagogue is the first synagogue in the New World (ca. 1732),  We found it easily but it too was closed.  There was a plainclothes armed security guy standing across the street.  He told us (in what was an Israeli accent) that he was guarding the synagogue,  He also told us the synagogue was closed because it was “Labor Day” on the island – hence all of the closed stores.

This was our second unsuccessful attempt to visit Mikve Israel – Emanuel.

20150501_mikve israel-emanuel (Small)

Mikve Israel-Emanuel

Although most everything was closed, the bars and a few souvenir shops remained open.  One bar had an outdoor area and a group singing some local music.  I managed to capture part of their performance.

20150501_local musicians (Small)

Performers – Outdoor Bar

One place we thought might be open would be the Rif Fort and Renaissance Mall.  The mall is back on the Otrobanda side of the bridge.  Some shops were open but the main attraction was mall itself.  The shops were located on several levels reachable by stairs of elevator – it felt a little like a bunch of tree houses.

20150501_ Rift Harbor mall (Small)

Rif Fort Mall Courtyard from top floor

The mall had some ceramic cows on display – similar to past bovine statues in Chicago and Kusadasi.  Check out the strange light effects in the picture below – the lens was clean – a mystery.

20150501_hmt cow Rift Harbor mall (Small) 

In the Cow Seat

The top level of the mall incorporated the fort and had a nice view of the Caribbean.

20150501_et Rift Harbor mall (Small)

Ellen at the Mall with Ocean View

It was pretty warm and humid so we walked back up the hill to the ship. 

After dinner, we caught Alan Bursky’s Encore Show – again he had some funny bits (he stood on stage drinking coffee for a few minutes before speaker show demonstrating that people don’t really start work the minute they walk in the office).

Listened to David in the Casino Lounge before calling a day.

No comments:

Post a Comment