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suggestions/tips, we just returned.


M in MN

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In each port you’ll find local venders right at the port announcing they have island tours available. These folks are sanctioned by the local port authority and have ID. You’ll find they offer small van/bus tours that cover the major points of interest for the island [ranging from 2 - 3 hours]. The cost is significantly less than the equivalent ship tour. We took 2 of these and were very pleased. All cities have places to rent snorkeling equipment, so you can take a taxi or bus to the best snorkeling area and do it yourself. Some tours are best arranged by RCCL, but are costly. Downtown areas consist mainly of high priced tourist stores selling jewelry, watches, cameras, liquor, tobacco, nick nacks, clothes, tourist trinkets and dishes.

 

The water temperature at all the islands ranges from 80-82 degrees; after 50 minutes of snorkeling in we started to feel chilled.

 

Oranjestad, Aruba:

Weather: warm and not so humid. It was mostly flat with lots of cactus and dividiv trees. Aruba is nice, cleaner and the transportation system is organized. Here all beach shore is public property, even if private homes or hotels are on it. The best free map we saw was in the back of Aruba Experience which is a tourist booklet.

 

The bus runs every 20 minutes and costs US $1.15 or $2.00 for round trip w/ a transfer. The bus terminal is across the street from the pier on the main drag, L.G. Smith Boulevard. If you want to see the 25 min. movie, Aruba Panorama, just walk 2 blocks down to the pink Renaissance Marina Hotel’s Crystal theater [inside the casino area, cost $5.00, shown on-the-hour between 11 & 5].

 

We had booked, paid and confirmed a tour with De Palm but they screwed up and didn’t run the tour and had no space to put us on a substitute. They told us to come back tomorrow!!

 

We returned to the port and found private operators giving the same land 2 hr. tour for $10.00!! Winston Simon [5’5”, 50 year old black male with small oval sunglasses and a straw hat] stands in the walk promoting the tour [Preketchie Tours was printed on the white 20 passenger air conditioned bus, but not on him]. Tours times: 9, 11, 2:00. We took the tour and were satisfied. The driver, Big Mac, had a touch of humor as he pointed out everything. We saw the Ayo rocks, natural bridge, gold mine ruins, Arashi beach, Calif. Lighthouse and homes of the well-to-do and typical residents. Along the way to these, he pointed out all sorts of things. A couple got off the tour at Arashi beach to go snorkeling. They took the bus back to the port. I realized I had left my camera on the tour bus. When we returned to town, I talked to Simon and he arranged to get it from Big Mac and put it in the Port authority office. J

 

We got off at the Aruba Grand Hotel and walked along the north side fence to Palm beach area to rent snorkel equipment [$12.50]. You must have a credit card, but can pay the bill in cash. Do not snorkel at Palm beach, per other passengers it was very poor snorkeling. We went back out to the road and caught a bus that said hotels and flashed Malmok after that. Most buses stop at the end of the hotel row and the bus that goes to Malmok only comes every 35-40 minutes. It drops you off at a dirt circle, which is Malmok. Just head north down the road for 2 blocks and you’ll see ArashiBeach grass huts to your left and all the catamarans in the water. There are no facilities, we put $ and papers in a ziplock baggie and tucked it in my swim suit. Our clothes, towels, and glasses were fine on the beach. Snorkeling is best done before 1:00pm. When finished, walk back down to dirt turn-around at Malmok and hop the bus back to the bus station. Admission to the Butterfly farm is $12.00; it is right next door to the Aruba Grand hotel.

 

Internet café: Walk straight to L.G. Smith Blvd, turn right and go 1/5th of the block and look right for Inter Transfer. They have pay phones and internet; the latter is $1. per 15 minutes.

 

 

 

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Do you know if there are any good maps on-line?

 

Do you have to go to the bus station to get info on the bus routes and fees?

 

Why in snorkeling best in the morning? We have horseback riding scheduled for the morning so we won't get to the beach until sometime in the afternoon.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I bought the Aruba map from Caribbean on line, and got it in about 3-4 days. It's 9.95 plus a couple dollars shipping, but it's a good map. Not a paper map, but more or less a "plastic" type of map that won't get water-logged and fall apart. Also, is very detailed as far as roads and attractions are concerned. Am now in the process of trying to rent a jeep and put the map to very good use. Looking forward to the Aruba venture. I think almost more so than the stop at the Canal. Less than 3 weeks now.

 

Happy Sailing, everyone. Mike&Nancy!!

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I bought the Aruba map from Caribbean on line, and got it in about 3-4 days. It's 9.95 plus a couple dollars shipping, but it's a good map. Not a paper map, but more or less a "plastic" type of map that won't get water-logged and fall apart. Also, is very detailed as far as roads and attractions are concerned. Am now in the process of trying to rent a jeep and put the map to very good use. Looking forward to the Aruba venture. I think almost more so than the stop at the Canal. Less than 3 weeks now.

 

Happy Sailing, everyone. Mike&Nancy!!

 

Are you sailing on Feb 4? We leave the 25th on the Brilliance to the Canal... Please, Please, Please - be SURE to post when you get back. Not many people from the Brilliance sailings seem to be on the boards recently...

 

Let me know what shore excursions you are planning. My family is doing the horseback riding in Aruba in the morning ( I cannot go - allergies!). Then we are planning to head to the beach in the afternoon. If you go to the beach let me know where you went and how it was! We are still planning for the other ports. Are you staying on the ship at the Canal? We are definitely having trouble decinding what to do there...

 

Also we are curious about the food on the BOS. Seems to be lots of negative posts on the food recently... Any other tips or news will be greatly appreciated! Have a fantastic cruise!

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We'll certainly try to post after we return. Nance loves to talk about her cruise. We don't have a whole lot of excursions planned anywhere on the trip. The only one we've actually scheduled is in Grand Cayman to do the sting-ray run again. I love that one. As far as Aruba, we were just gonna rent a jeep and take a tour of the island and stop when and where we wanted. And, yes, I believe we're going to stay on the ship while in Gatun Lake and ride it back out thru the locks both ways. We have an aft cabin right on the port side, so should get a good show from there. Hopefully the food is better than what has been reported, but neither of us are really "food freaks". In fact, I find some of the food that they offer up just not to my liking at all. I'm pretty much a burger and a beer guy. So, will try and sample a few things on there and let ya know. Have a good cruise. Mike!!

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Thanks for your help for suggestions and tips in Aruba .

We will be in Aruba in April 2005 on our way to the Panama Canal doing the full transit on Radiance of the Seas .

I have been to Aruba only once before and this time I would like to do a tour and take in the Natural Bridge .

The private tour operators at the pier sounds like a good idea and a lot less expensive than the cruise ship tours .

Thanks

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Hi Laurie,

 

Nope, we have not been on the Brilliance before. And we haven't been to the Panama Canal either. We have been to Aruba and to Grand Cayman, but never to Costa Rica. We are really looking forward to the 10 night sailing since we have only done 7 nights before this cruise. How about you?

 

Did you see the post on the Roll Call board? Looks like it has been around for quite some time but I just recently found it. You might want to check in there too!

 

Who is sailing with you? We are a family of 4 with 2 teens, age 13 and 15. We are part of a small group of about 30 people sailing together...

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We are booked on Brilliance for March so pls post when you return. We booked excursions today. in Panama Canal we are doing the aerial tram & in Costa Rica the Tortuguero Canals. In Aruba we are going on a catamaran &then to Palm Beach. Having dinner at El Gaucho as we heard food on board that particular night (Carinb Night) is not so great. A ques I have is, are these natural wonders worth it--the bridge, ruins of goldmine ,, divi divi etc--seems it would be very crowded with tourists like us all wanting a photo!

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