Caribbean Cruise 2014:
Day 7 - Curaçao


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Caribbean Cruise 2014: [Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale] [Day 2 - Half Moon Cay] [Day 3 - Turks & Caicos] [Day 4 - Dominican Republic] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Bonaire] [Day 7 - Curaçao] [Day 8 - Aruba] [Day 9 - At Sea] [Day 10 - At Sea] [Day 11 - Ft. Lauderdale]

Thursday, March 6, 2014: We were getting towel animals every day, but we only photographed a few. Here's a koala from the night before.

It was another beautiful day in the Caribbean, and Curaçao welcomed us.
It was windy and the waves were rough in front of the ship, ...
... but the water was pretty and there were dozens of cornetfish to enjoy from the edge of the pier.
Our shore excursion today was a tour to the other side of the island where we'd get some time at a beach. This brightly colored bus would be our transportation.
Here's a Curaçao license plate featuring their famous colorful waterfront. We'd be seeing it very soon.
Our tour guide was a delightful woman named Melissa. She gave us all kinds of information about the island, its history and culture, and told us that we needed to look up Curaçao's famous stuffed cheese recipe, keshi yená, made with gouda. Someday, we'll try it, we promise, Melissa.
We passed Rif Fort, an old fort converted to an upscale retail and entertainment complex. The walk from the ship to town took us through this establishment several times.
There it is! The famous waterfront and the Queen Emma pontoon bridge. Our photo through a bus window didn't turn out so well, but we took dozens more later in the day.
And now, for the architectural portion of our tour. Curaçao has many old homes built in a distinctive style and painted bright colors. Many of them have a story to tell, but we're just going to show you pictures of them. Green house, ..
... grey house, ...
... aqua house, ...
... purple house, ...
... blue house, ...
... tan house, ...
... and red house. These last two houses contain well-preserved columns in the shapes of humans, with male figures on the tan house and female figures on this red house right next door.
Here's a Catholic school, ...
... and here's the Santa Familia church.
We passed several above-ground cemeteries.
It was just a few days after Fat Tuesday, and evidence of the recent parade was still visible, with chairs, benches, and temporary stands still lining the parade route.
Here's a mosque, ...
... and here's a public school.
We stopped for a few minutes in front of this body of water, Saliña Sint Michiel, so both sides of the bus could get some photos of ...
... the wildlife here. Can't see it? Well, then lets zoom way in so you can see ...
... the big flock of flamingoes who hang out here. Several of the islands we visited on this trip boast flamingo populations so it was nice to get to see some.
We reached our destination of Blue Bay Curaçao Golf & Beach Resort.
It's a very large multi-use resort with luxury homes and rental properties.
We were there to visit the beach, which is right this way.
Oh yeah. It was a large, fairly empty beach, with a protected cove and rocky edges.
We grabbed a pair of beach chairs and a small table, and set up shop at the edge of the beach. Here's our view.
But enough of that -- let's get in the water and look at some fish! First up: a stoplight parrotfish and a blue tang.
This is the best photo we got of a cowfish in each of our three sightings on the trip. They are cute little things!
This beauty is a palometa.
Here's a little puzzle for you. Sure, there are some adorable blue fish and some rocks, but can you see the other three much larger fish? Look carefully. They're all there.
Debbie spotted this guy first, visible on the far right in the above photo. He's a spotted scorpionfish, and he sat completely still. It took a minute to even realize that he wasn't just part of the rock.
Then Tom saw this one, in the lower center of the photo above. He didn't blend in as well, but it still wasn't obvious that he wasn't some coral or something.
We came back to this site later and Debbie spotted the third one, visible in the far left of the photo above. They were so much fun to look at.
Here are a cornetfish and a parrotfish.
We decided to swim across the outer part of the lagoon where the water was significantly deeper. We were rewarded for our efforts quickly when Debbie spotted this octopus on the ocean floor, surrounded by several large fish. That's him right in the center of this photo.
Here he is swimming away, with his head first and tentacles out straight. To see him, look closely right in the center of this photo. His head is pointed up and slightly toward the right.
Here's another photo with his tentacles spread out like a white cape. We watched him for quite a while as he moved from coral to coral to eat. His fish friends followed him everywhere and made it easy to find him since they formed a circle of sorts.
These are Christmas tree worms on brain coral.
Here's a handsome ocean surgeonfish.
Here's a French grunt.
We found one more spotted scorpionfish, this one even better camoflaged than the previous ones.
This is one of several bearded fireworms we saw moving along the sand.
We were leaving the water when Debbie mentioned to a pair of snorkelers entering the water where we had seen the scorpionfish and the octopus. The gentleman told us that he had spotted an eel, so we went back into the water to see it. We found it easily and were stunned to see a lionfish there as well. A lionfish!
A lionfish!!! This was the first time we'd ever seen these fascinating creatures outside of an aquarium. We took lots of photos, but here's the best one.
So, our low expectation snorkeling trip turned out to be absolutely amazing. Later, we heard other passengers say that their snorkeling excursion was cancelled due to high waves, so we felt especially lucky to have gone to a calm, protected cove. Next, we got cleaned up and headed to the resort's restaurant.
Diet Coke is even better than rum punch after a morning's snorkel.
We selected a couple of sandwiches from the very Dutch menu. Debbie got a ham and cheese sandwich, ...
... and Tom had pastrami. Do not fear -- we ate these with knives and forks and did not attempt to pick them up and eat them with our hands like Americans.
This was one of several brightly colored birds we watched during our meal.
All too soon, it was time to get back on the bright bus and resume our tour.
This photo shows some of the large cactus found on the island.
Here's the Curaçao Hilton.
This is a lagoon surrounded by mangroves.
As we pulled into the port area, we passed this colorful guy along with several of his less-colorful friends.
Back on the ship, we quickly showered and cleaned our gear, then took the outside elevator back down so we could explore Curaçao on our own.
First order of business: photograph Orchy.
It's a 15 minute walk to town from where we were docked, but the way is beautifully decorated.
Lizard!
We walked through Rif Fort and went up to the second floor where ...
... a window through the wall provided this view of the waterfront.
We arrived at Queen Emma Bridge while it was being opened for boats to pass through. Anyone still on the bridge when this happens has to wait until the bridge is put back into place.
Once the bridge was reconnected on the other side, the gates on both sides opened and it was open season again.
We got the iconic shot of the waterfront, this time accented with pretty blue skies and white clouds.
The alarm went off shortly before we made it to the other side, so we hurried off the bridge and watched as people either did or did not make it off in time.
Here's the town of Willemstad. Let's explore!
Pretty! We had seen a photo of this online but forgot to look for it, so it was very convenient that we ran into it right away (it's a block or two down on the left as you walk down the main street leading from the Queen Emma bridge). No, we didn't add Orchy to the scene but we considered it.
We did add Orchy here. Can you find him? Arrrrrr, it might be too hard.
Here's a Curaçao McDonald's. We peered inside and didn't see anything special on the menu other than a Chicken Big Mac, which swaps the beef patties for McChicken patties.
It didn't take long to finish our circle tour of town, emerging on the end of the waterfront and facing our nemesis, Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas, which had the best mooring location in town.
Here's the view looking toward the Queen Emma Bridge from the edge of the waterfront, ...
... and here's the exact opposite view, including Orchy.
We crossed the bridge again, ...
... passed by this great mosaic on a snack shop, ...
... and walked through Rif Fort again. This time, we stopped and bought some small bottles of Curaçao, the alcohol invented here on the island.
It was hard to get Tom past Cheesem, a store devoted to various sizes of Gouda cheese wheels, but we managed. After deciding not to wait in line forever for some ice cream back at Rif Fort, we knew we were headed straight for the free ice cream on our ship.
Back in our cabin, we photographed the tiny Curaçao bottles. We still don't know why the red one has a non-matching label, but it's fine. Really. Doesn't bother us one bit.
The Vision of the Seas (or as Tom calls every Royal Caribbean ship: "Noun of the Seas") needed two little helpers to get her out of town. Weak.
Soon, it was time for dinner, so Debbie got this shot of the small circular area where our table for two (#315) was located. Although the Noordam is a Vista class ship, it is the only one of her four sister ships that has this extra area.
We sipped on the drink of the day while Tom performed tech support for our daughter via the weak cellular signal we were getting from town.
Tonight's entree selection for both of us was pad thai with soft-shell crab, the first time each of us had tried soft-shell crab. Tom liked it but Debbie was a little freaked out by the added crunch.
We took a short walk along the promenade deck (pronounced "promen-aid" by the bored elevator voice that announces each floor). Dusk was falling and lights were coming up on shore.
We had a nice view of the gorgeous infinity pool at Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino overlooking the water.
We had chosen to eat in the formal dining room instead of attending the Caribbean barbecue being served up on deck, so we went to see what we had missed. This way to the food!
Everything being grilled sure smelled good. It included pork ribs, beef short ribs, jerk chicken, and mahi mahi.
Here's the fresh fruit display ...
... and the amazing array of salads, including several seafood salads that tempted already full stomachs.
It sure looks like fun -- maybe next time!
Next, we headed toward the front of the ship ...
... to see the Willemstad city lights.
In the distance, we could see the Queen Emma Bridge beautifully lit up. We went back to our cabin because we were exhausted and deserved a quiet night in, but realized that we owed it to Future Debbie and Future Tom to get on our feet and make the 15 minute walk into town again.
So, off we went, past the murals outside of the stadium, ...
... and through Rif Fort once again, where the ship's crew could be found using the free wireless to connect with friends and family back home.
There's the Queen Emma Bridge all lit up and pretty, ...
... and here she is off to the side to let some boats through.
The waterfront buildings were specially lit up at night.
We got on the bridge just long enough to get a photo of it.
Here's the square right behind the bridge where we sat on the bench for a while soaking up the ambience in the pleasant night air.

Then we walked back to our beautiful ship.

Day 8 >


Caribbean Cruise 2014: [Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale] [Day 2 - Half Moon Cay] [Day 3 - Turks & Caicos] [Day 4 - Dominican Republic] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Bonaire] [Day 7 - Curaçao] [Day 8 - Aruba] [Day 9 - At Sea] [Day 10 - At Sea] [Day 11 - Ft. Lauderdale]

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