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  #1  
Old December 14th, 2011, 05:08 PM
MizzouMary MizzouMary is offline
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Default First Time Visit - Cost of Taxis, Hato Cave ??

Hello. We will be visiting Curacao on February 7th from 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM, arriving on the Crown Princess.

This will be our first visit to the island and have reserved the Hato Caves and Curacao Liqueur Distillery Tasting Tour through the cruiseline. It is a 3.5 hour tour for $59 per person. We would like something less expensive, but cannot find a reputable tour company to go with. I contacted Petertrips.com based on recommendations through Cruise Critic, but after some correspondence, he was not interested when he found out we were arriving late and only wanted a half-day tour for two people, so we gave up on that idea.

I have some questions regarding our tour for anyone who can help. Thank you!

Here's my questions and the description from the Princess website:

Are cameras allowed in the Hato Cave?

The description says "Upon your return, you have the option of remaining in town for independent sightseeing or shopping. You are then responsible for your return to the ship, which is a short walk or taxi ride away."

Does anyone know the distance back to the ship, and the cost for the taxi ride?

Are there any fun hangouts or bars where the bus drops the cruise passengers off in town before heading back to the ship? We would like to try some local beers.

Description from the Princess website:
Board your air-conditioned motorcoach for a scenic drive from the colorful sights of Willemstad to the Curacao Museum in Otrobanda. Founded in 1946, the museum, housed in a colonial-style building dating back to the 1800s, showcases contemporary and traditional art from both local and international artists. There is a lovely permanent collection that features antique furniture, maps and charts from the Caribbean region, pre-Columbian Indian artifacts, and mahogany woodwork that dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Special exhibits are installed regularly, so there is always something new to discover and the outside grounds are shaded and perfect for a stroll. Continue with a guided driving tour through the island's north countryside. This is a unique opportunity to see the area's stark landscape and dramatic salt marshes. Bright pink flamingos dot the monochromatic landscape and small traditional villages can be seen.

Arrive at Hato Caves where you'll join a knowledgeable guide for a walking tour through the dramatic underground grottos. Marvel at the imposing stalactites and stalagmites, which produce unusual shadows in the caves' eerie lighting. Your guide will point out the "Pirate's Head," the "Sea Turtle" and the "Giant." Within the caves you will find unexpected crystal-clear pools and waterfalls that form in the limestone's depths. The caves are also a haven for a colony of rarely seen long nose fruit bats. The cave was originally used as a hiding place for runaway slaves and prior to that as a shelter for island natives. It is possible to find cave drawings on the rock walls that date back over 1000 years. Outside of the caves you can see the famous Madonna statue. From underground to above ground, your tour continues as you cross the Queen Juliana Bridge. At 185 feet above sea level, it is one of the highest bridges in the Caribbean and affords magnificent panoramic views of the city and the harbor.

The next stop on your tour is Chobolobo, the Dutch colonial country estate where the famous Curacao liqueur is distilled. Created from the peel of the Valencia orange planted by the Spaniards when they discovered Curacao, Chobolobo has been producing Blue since 1946. But it almost wasn't so. The different climate and soil conditions changed this juicy fruit into a kind of bitter, almost inedible produce. It was not until decades later that someone discovered that the peels of this orange contained an essential oil with an extraordinarily pleasing fragrance. During your guided tour of the distillery you will gain a good understanding of the process and will have an opportunity to sample the liqueur and purchase bottles to take home. Upon your return, you have the option of remaining in town for independent sightseeing or shopping. You are then responsible for your return to the ship, which is a short walk or taxi ride away.
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  #2  
Old December 15th, 2011, 06:55 AM
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Isa65 Isa65 is offline
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Hi there, I will give you my personal opinion on this.

For a first time visit I would not visit the Hato Caves nor the Liquor factory. There are so many other great things to do/see, that I would leave those for when someone is here for the second, third time or maybe on a land vacation.

Scroll down on this forum and you'll find others who went with private drivers or different tours for the day.
Curacao drivers are very safe and trustworthy, so if you can't pre-book a tour, I would just ask one of the many drivers at the pier to give you a tour.
Personally I would take time to walk through the downtown area, see the great architecture, the synagogue, the floating market, then go over to the Kura Hulanda museum (much more impressive than the Curacao museum), take a tour to Boca Tabla and swim/snorkel at the Western side or have a beach day at Blue Bay, Avila Beach, Kontiki.

Whatever you decide, have a great cruise!
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  #3  
Old December 15th, 2011, 06:44 PM
MizzouMary MizzouMary is offline
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Thanks for the advice. We love the blue Curacao liquor, so we were really looking forward to the tour. However, we have lots of caves in Missouri, so that's not a big thrill for us. We would like to see the countryside and are more interested in scenery than museums.

My husband likes the comfort of booking a tour through the cruiseline, but we would go with a reputable company if they offered a comparable price.
I'm concerned about taking a taxi and not having the price pre-arranged ahead of time. There's just the two of us and I need to have leg room due to a disability.

We will not have a great deal of daylight time, maybe approx. 4 hours. I would love to go to Boca Tabla, but the park closes at 5, I believe? We plan to be on the beach on our other two island stops, so we're not really interested in spending the day snorkeling or swimming. We would like to take some photos of the flamingos, and some of the more beautiful beaches on the island though, and then spend some time around town shopping and checking out the sights before heading back to the ship for dinner.

Thanks again for your help!
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  #4  
Old December 15th, 2011, 08:00 PM
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Isa65 Isa65 is offline
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In that case then something like this would suit you better:

http://www.yellowadventures.com/shor...hlightTour.htm

http://www.curacao-actief.com/index.php?id=1187

Have a great cruise!
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  #5  
Old February 8th, 2012, 12:07 PM
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Quasar1011 Quasar1011 is offline
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How spectacular is the underwater lake at Hato Caves? I took my wife to Ruby Falls, an underwater waterfall in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and she quite liked it. She might like the sights up top on Curacao better though.
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Old February 8th, 2012, 02:28 PM
swigso swigso is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quasar1011 View Post
How spectacular is the underwater lake at Hato Caves? I took my wife to Ruby Falls, an underwater waterfall in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and she quite liked it. She might like the sights up top on Curacao better though.
You are the first person I have come across who has visited
RubyFalls.
They are spectacular and we also enjoyed Chattanooga .
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Old February 9th, 2012, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swigso View Post
You are the first person I have come across who has visited
RubyFalls.
They are spectacular and we also enjoyed Chattanooga .
Plus, I've been to Liverpool too- in 1981.

If it is an underground lake, it ought to have an underground boat ride. Further north in Tennessee, not far from Ruby Falls, is a place called "The Lost Sea", which is America's largest underground lake. Its website says you can take a boat tour. I've not been there. But it is why I am researching the Hato Caves.
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  #8  
Old March 18th, 2012, 06:19 PM
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cherylandtk cherylandtk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quasar1011 View Post
How spectacular is the underwater lake at Hato Caves?
LOL, it is more like an underground puddle than a lake. Quite small and would not qualify as even a pond except in a desert environment, and then it is a lake.
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