Caribbean Cruise 2014:
Day 8 - Aruba


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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]

Friday, March 7, 2014: Once again, we found ourselves facing out to see when we were moored in Aruba. Princess Cruises' Coral Princess joined us shortly after we arrived.

From our cabin, we had a view of a very shallow reef just offshore.
It had poles all around the part that was completely above water. Not sure why.
The Atlantis submarine went by, but zoom out a bit, ...
... and you'll see that it was being towed.
After signing waivers in the cruise port terminal, we waited outside for a while as other tours departed.
Two of these buses left while we waited, and each time, the passengers shook plastic maracas at us as the bus honked its musical horn.
We could see our boat being prepped right across the street from us.
Finally, it was our turn to go and we found a nice place inside with our snorkeling buddy, Edward. It was our third snorkeling excursion we had been on with him. He appeared to be independently wealthy since he had been as many places as we had, and had additional vacations scheduled for May and June. So much envy.
The sails went up and we were on our way.
We passed the Coral Princess, ...
... the Freewinds (more on this later), ...
... and Oceania Cruises' Riviera.
Winds were strong and we moved quickly along the coast, past endless white sand beaches and large resorts.
We passed one random windmill, which probably wasn't completely unexpected on a Dutch island.
There was kite surfing going on near the shore.
We were headed to a spot somewhere up ahead.
On our left, we passed a boat that had stopped to snorkel, ...
... and the Atlantis once again, apparently moving under its own power. We learned later on that this was the location of the German freighter, Antilla, which we'd be visiting later on.
We stopped just off shore near Aruba's famous California Lighthouse.
While the crew worked through some difficulties with anchoring, we watched the antics of the pelicans.
Mmmm. It's lunchtime for this guy.
Soon, we were allowed in the water. We snorkeled for about 25 minutes, but our camera wasn't on for the first 15 minutes, so we missed some shots. Here's a gathering of French grunts and smallmouth grunts.
Here's a juvenile clown wrasse on the left and two tiny unidentified fish on the right.
Here's an adorable yellow goatfish.
Here are more French grunts giving cover to the orange guy hiding behind the rock.
This extremely shy guy is a squirrelfish.
Here's a lovely banded butterflyfish.
Here were hundreds of baby somethings, either just hatched or just about to.
This gorgeous French angelfish was at least 15 inches tall. He was not at all concerned by the person trying to photograph him as he swam along.
Just before getting out of the water, we saw this spotfin butterflyfish.
Our next destination was further offshore and we joined the many boats already there.
Our captain spent a few minutes explaining what we'd be seeing at this site: the deliberately shipwrecked German freighter, the SS Antilla.
It was a mob scene in the water, but we still enjoyed all the things we saw. We swam toward the front of the wreck and this was the first major stuff we saw.
This scrawled filefish followed us around for a short time.
Here's the very front of the wreck. You're looking at the side of the boat on the left, and the top of the boat on the right, as the boat lays on its side.
Here are some boaty things, long since taken over by creatures of the sea. We had gotten little stings when snorkeling in Bonaire, but this location was the worst, with Debbie getting a particularly nasty attack on her hand. They feel like little shots but fortunately, the sensation fades and is gone in a half hour.
Soon, we were on our way again and enjoying the Aruba coastline. Kite surfing had been replaced with parasailing.
We had cups of rum punch, as is traditional after a successful snorkeling excursion.
We stood on the front of the catamaran and enjoyed the sunny day and the incredibly clear water. It was either very shallow or very clear because we could see to the ocean floor.
We headed to the big corner ...
... and took a photo of a possible location for a future visit someday.
Both a helicopter and a military boat appeared to be doing a search of some sort. We hope they found what they were looking for.
Back to port, ...
... where we passed yet another collection of containers that did not contain Maersk.
Here's the single bush that is thriving on the tiny patch of reef behind our ship.
Speaking of which, here's a shot where you can see our cabin. We were on the deck just below the Lido restaurant and pool deck, about halfway between the elevator shaft and the place where the ship widens.
We saw a magnificent frigatebird flying overhead. We love these birds.
Around the Noordam, ...
... and back to the harbor.
From here, we took a look at the restaurants available for lunch and made our selection.
You know the drill by now. We showered, washed our suits and snorkeling equipment, and made our way back to the port.
We were docked at the farthest location from town. Again.
So, we walked to where the Coral Princess and the Freewinds were docked. Yes, that's the Freewinds right there behind the colorful bus and the vehicle with the giant banana on top. Our guess that it was a ferry of some sort turned out to be very, very wrong. On our return, we learned that the Freewinds is a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology. It is used for training and conferences and such. Look it up.
Here's our emergency photo of Orchy in case we didn't get a better one. We didn't. Good thing we got this one.
So, we walked and walked and made it to the first populated street outside of the cruise ship port.
We got a photo of an Aruba license plate, which was a pretty big disappointment after seeing how excellent Curaçao's and Bonaire's were. Aruba does have an excellent tagline though: One Happy Island.
We walked to the Paddock, ...
... and got a seat in the sun, ...
... changing to a table in the shade as soon as one became available.
We each started with a delicious bowl of seafood chowder, ...
... followed up with shrimp skewers for Tom and fossilized fried calamari for Debbie, which must have been in the fryer for several hours. The mashed potato scoop on the left was very tasty, served cold, and seemed to have either cooked carrots or sweet potatoes mixed in.
We made the long roundabout walk back to the ship, passing abandoned buildings that looked like they had taken a beating a couple of years ago.
At sailout, the reef behind us was at low tide so quite a bit more of it was above water.
We went up on deck to say farewell to Oranjestad and Aruba.
We watched planes take off and arrive at the airport as other people's vacations ended and started.
We looked down in envy at the cabins in the back of the ship. It would be very cool to have one of these someday.
One of Tom's favorite channels on the in-cabin television is the map channel. We could see where were had been and where we were going, ...

... in particular, the odd route that we had taken between the ABC islands. We could also see how very close we were to Venezuela and South America.

Day 9 >


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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