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pezgirl

Excursion Help Needed Southern Caribbean

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Since everyone has been so helpful already on these boards, I thought I would reach out about shore excursions. My husband and I (leaving kids at home/with grandparents/sleepaway camp 🙂 ) will be on the 7 night Southern Caribbean leaving San Juan on July 28. We stop at Oranjestad, Aruba; Willemstad, Curacao; Kralendijk, Bonaire; and Philipsburg, St Maarten.  We need some advice on what to do at each port.  Are there any RCL sponsored excursions that people have done that they loved? Is it possible at any of these ports to just explore easily on our own. Anything we shouldn't miss.  We may just briefly get off in St. Maarten as we were there two years ago.  We don't want to spend a ton of money on excursions but also don't want to miss things.  Any advice is welcome.  Thank you as always.

 

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@pezgirl  My husband and I did the Snuba excursion in December 2018 in St Maarten with RC and loved it.  This time we are thinking about exploring non RC excursions and currently are looking to @lauraodonnell86's suggestion of caribbeanpaddling.com to kayak to Pinel Island from the Sint Martin (french side).  The ABC islands are on our bucket list so enjoy!  Curacao seems neat from the pictures I've seen.  Enjoy and have a great time!  If you search Southern Caribbean or any of those cities/countries in the boards, you will find a lot of great suggestions posted by others.

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@pezgirl Oh goodness! I guess I will get up on my stand now. Hahaha!! These are some of the best islands you will ever visit!! Apologize now if this is a little long....

First of all, like @CruisinUpinLife said, I would highly recommend going to Pinel Island. Below I have attached another page where I talked more in depth about it and added some pictures. 

Curacao, we absolutely love this island. We have been twice and are going back in December. I have attached a map of the area below from https://cruisecrocodile.com/cruise-port-information/willemstad-curacao/#curacao-cruiseport. The blue bus on the right hand side of the picture shows where you need to pick up the city bus. I'm not sure about the blue bus on the middle/left side of the picture because we haven't taken it from that location. 

image.png

Both times we visited, we walked from the cruise ship through town to the city bus and rode that for $2 a person to Mambo Beach. Mambo Beach is a wonderful, relaxing beach. There is an entry fee of $3.50 per person and the chairs are also a small fee but I can't remember exactly what it is. I believe $3 or $4 per person. When you are ready to leave, there are city buses waiting right there. Note: the city buses are small and the public transport bus is big. The public bus is $1 per person but it takes a while for them to fill it up so we went with the city bus. The walk from the cruise port to the city bus is about 25 mins depending on how fast/slow you walk. We use it as a good time to take in the beautiful, colorful buildings along the way! I added the map so you can use that to navigate from the cruise ship, across the pedestrian bridge, to the left along the water, and then a right which will take you to the public transportation area. The first time we did it, we had to ask a few people along the way but everyone was very friendly and helpful. There is a taxi stand closer to the cruise ship but if I remember right, a taxi is $40 to Mambo Beach. 

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Since we are usually there later at night, we love eating dinner on the island. We have gone to Perla Del Mar twice now and it's amazing. It is a Steak and Seafood restaurant. It is located in the Waterfront Arches which is to the right of the pedestrian bridge. There are 5-6 restaurants all on the water and I would recommend eating dinner there! We never feel unsafe walking around after dark. I attached a picture of the view from our table at Perla Del Mar! As you walk back to the ship you will walk through Rif Fort which is an awesome little places with bars and restaurants that all lit up at night with live music sometimes. 

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Aruba - it is only about a 5-10 min walk to get to the city bus stand. You can buy a round trip ticket to Eagle or Palm Beach for $5 per person. Great deal! We prefer Eagle over Palm because it is a bit quieter and not as busy. I will warn you that the chairs and drinks are going to be expensive but we just plopped our towels in the sand fo freeeee 😄 

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We were in Aruba late in January so we decided to get cleaned up after the beach and head to dinner on the island! To the right from the cruise ship, we walked for about 15 mins along the road (on a nice sidewalk) and ended up at The West Deck. I would recommend to make a reservation because they were quite busy! It is right on the water and had amazing food! 

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It was a beautiful walk back to the ship and is a really nice area. No feeling unsafe at all here either after dark! 

Bonaire - the place we want to live eventually! We have fallen in love with Bonaire and actually stopped in and spoke with a realtor in January to see what it would look like to move here in the future! We took a taxi to Coco Beach in January because we didn't have any other plans. It was $2.50 a person each way. We just put our towels in the sand because we wanted to be in the water most of the day and we brought our snorkeling gear because there is some of the best snorkeling here in Bonaire! I would recommend bringing water shoes as the beaches here are quite rocky. 

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After hitting the beach, we were ready for a drink on the boardwalk near the ship! We love visiting Karels Beach Bar which is just a 5 min walk to the left as you get off the ship. It is over the water and offer beer, coffee, and a limited food menu. 

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Well, sorry again about the length of this post but as you can see, I am passionate about these islands and helping people have a great time without breaking the bank! I hope I have given you some good options! Let me know if you have any questions or need any further clarification!

 

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In Bonaire, do something snorkel or scuba related. Our son and daughter-in-law did the "Discover Scuba Diving" excursion and raved about it.

For something low-key in Aruba, I loved the Butterfly Farm. Great for adults and little ones. Eagle Beach was also quite nice.

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This was all so helpful.  In Aruba, we are going to just take the bus to Eagle beach. In Curacao, we are just going to explore the nearby area. In Bonnaire, my husband is going to go scuba diving (the two tank dive) and I am going to do one of the basic sightseeing tours. On St. Maarten, we are going to kayak to Pinel Island.  Thank you again everyone. 

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Last year in Curacao, my family went on the 'full day of beaches with snorkeling and port pickup'. I reserved this tour through Viator and we had a great time although it was a long day. We saw several different beautiful beaches and parts of the island we would not otherwise have seen. The driver of the air-conditioned van was knowledgeable and provided lots of details. We had our own snorkeling gear, although it was available. The group was small, about 8 total.

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On 6/26/2019 at 11:24 AM, lauraodonnell86 said:

@pezgirl Oh goodness! I guess I will get up on my stand now. Hahaha!! These are some of the best islands you will ever visit!! Apologize now if this is a little long....

First of all, like @CruisinUpinLife said, I would highly recommend going to Pinel Island. Below I have attached another page where I talked more in depth about it and added some pictures. 

Curacao, we absolutely love this island. We have been twice and are going back in December. I have attached a map of the area below from https://cruisecrocodile.com/cruise-port-information/willemstad-curacao/#curacao-cruiseport. The blue bus on the right hand side of the picture shows where you need to pick up the city bus. I'm not sure about the blue bus on the middle/left side of the picture because we haven't taken it from that location. 

image.png

Both times we visited, we walked from the cruise ship through town to the city bus and rode that for $2 a person to Mambo Beach. Mambo Beach is a wonderful, relaxing beach. There is an entry fee of $3.50 per person and the chairs are also a small fee but I can't remember exactly what it is. I believe $3 or $4 per person. When you are ready to leave, there are city buses waiting right there. Note: the city buses are small and the public transport bus is big. The public bus is $1 per person but it takes a while for them to fill it up so we went with the city bus. The walk from the cruise port to the city bus is about 25 mins depending on how fast/slow you walk. We use it as a good time to take in the beautiful, colorful buildings along the way! I added the map so you can use that to navigate from the cruise ship, across the pedestrian bridge, to the left along the water, and then a right which will take you to the public transportation area. The first time we did it, we had to ask a few people along the way but everyone was very friendly and helpful. There is a taxi stand closer to the cruise ship but if I remember right, a taxi is $40 to Mambo Beach. 

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Since we are usually there later at night, we love eating dinner on the island. We have gone to Perla Del Mar twice now and it's amazing. It is a Steak and Seafood restaurant. It is located in the Waterfront Arches which is to the right of the pedestrian bridge. There are 5-6 restaurants all on the water and I would recommend eating dinner there! We never feel unsafe walking around after dark. I attached a picture of the view from our table at Perla Del Mar! As you walk back to the ship you will walk through Rif Fort which is an awesome little places with bars and restaurants that all lit up at night with live music sometimes. 

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Aruba - it is only about a 5-10 min walk to get to the city bus stand. You can buy a round trip ticket to Eagle or Palm Beach for $5 per person. Great deal! We prefer Eagle over Palm because it is a bit quieter and not as busy. I will warn you that the chairs and drinks are going to be expensive but we just plopped our towels in the sand fo freeeee 😄 

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We were in Aruba late in January so we decided to get cleaned up after the beach and head to dinner on the island! To the right from the cruise ship, we walked for about 15 mins along the road (on a nice sidewalk) and ended up at The West Deck. I would recommend to make a reservation because they were quite busy! It is right on the water and had amazing food! 

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It was a beautiful walk back to the ship and is a really nice area. No feeling unsafe at all here either after dark! 

Bonaire - the place we want to live eventually! We have fallen in love with Bonaire and actually stopped in and spoke with a realtor in January to see what it would look like to move here in the future! We took a taxi to Coco Beach in January because we didn't have any other plans. It was $2.50 a person each way. We just put our towels in the sand because we wanted to be in the water most of the day and we brought our snorkeling gear because there is some of the best snorkeling here in Bonaire! I would recommend bringing water shoes as the beaches here are quite rocky. 

tB5Z3u47ZBYe15_tG8XTIRHyV0isJxaHP5rIOkYjhs_JSiiGO8STJHQMl3lLjjUB6Z29NjYuh0pAdpMOxvuKWeIwZdjkyYjm1rxPKv8HtdyHyPv53tuvopsz9qqK5xn_OMs9Ojd7Degt3stwYwUAjUgKsB-OoxFmhyWsExvvOUbhmVP0RdHTA8u6lSP03RU49LFBnvQnBOlbbb1g7rp9ehBo0V3eear2gZDpnncidGoIrKhgLDwkppS5OQPuaG8DYr2dQySLrF449Pssv3JkyXewmpbgos37mUnmygPQWHaAiwwLVeO8fO8puwdfitaXulvSLen0E8kCsBtfiVLyACMWgPn2tsK9Q34TJg9BhQUTmiXD_24PQyJMC5Y4DbA0jwswndaALGc2PdspCRu2JzGFyXojiKWY00hKQDUA03Zu7u5IKY-czTiWVkhY1F5ZmOu0XDKJrp7yb092ifRZfaZd5eXdSJoIP4TnNashwTNgafmiWv8iFUSXk_xjvhb5iaaGraVtlg0lZrLIeuukvetp0rSP0Q0_JZju9bIfArlHTXPYHWPxTfbxt51ds6kSsdyJavrpj13UEegAaWkLS2hPP1r2gyCcTRziX66KHTI6GWUIi0cEkZiooj5nlrrXDxnocV6HC65XcIy8lQvQZzMlMFH4VTiy=w2008-h1506-no

After hitting the beach, we were ready for a drink on the boardwalk near the ship! We love visiting Karels Beach Bar which is just a 5 min walk to the left as you get off the ship. It is over the water and offer beer, coffee, and a limited food menu. 

kOz2A5oze8uSwBXg-Dr-urYQgTloaGyqHV_9YSjEvNcnteCmjKZT3xqvlQWi9TER7EF8-IHxbMnyfFg8NHoooLbbX0G01e_xA8MOC6OzaAwEXouQLnsROPkiGuLoMbUBWux4lBH7yUICOpGoqPR33FWhox8YdG99oVdaSbVMIATJriqPyuKPrqGj6_Xx2MG_D4REu2HOgNOrOU7T2sn-Sq5HOR2WJk_JAZCJjf_FjJxYDz64qn2narBdAKpcIg83zloymuJAVWwRxOK1Xi_lGhptskpdhVF4CgPhRgrJQriL17MQbm7QRufuSka4yiTP7rNsEuJ51DHAqs2ttgoERhv3zH2x2XHF3h7Wqky91WCIZ4hvFjUxrkt9nRNj5OCbATRXhxqn_hAD004ydyMmSg4XLag-CJTQmOSDHG-2BySn5GQGA0Fsw8dJoxzSoFRVcF3sLe8KOgo8KyciP-6p8NE8aOoBYYL9CutYJL5yo73dHnhYgfLcFQfIZMXZvG7QNdNDzh1rGhLUNRHbXjznAbf9lb5Lk2luSXAzguuoOYnXeLFK64DwN18e63K0qUEqKvfWEpolDQW_HdEV7xjNw0Tb7Zpn_KMMumN0PzOM5T9EpjdfMPnIjy2-HrJeyQTzq3H34yB3aq1kZQX-i8Tu4GjzpzVtMaKs=w2008-h1506-no

Well, sorry again about the length of this post but as you can see, I am passionate about these islands and helping people have a great time without breaking the bank! I hope I have given you some good options! Let me know if you have any questions or need any further clarification!

 

@lauraodonnell86, these are great suggestions however none of the pics are showing up for me.  😞 Also, you reference a restaurant Perla Del Mar.  Is that in Curacao?  TIA!

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42 minutes ago, lauraodonnell86 said:

@Lovestotravel I'm sorry the pictures aren't showing up for you! I'm not sure why! Hopefully they are showing up for others. Yes, Perla Del Mar is in Curacao. It is delicious! 

I can't see the pictures either.   

I can't wait to meet you in December, I think we are going to get along great.  We want to retire in Aruba, so we'll be neighbors!! We can do periscoper meet-ups, LOL!  We haven't been to Bonaire yet, both times in the area our stops were only in Aruba & Curacao.  Bonaire is definitely on our list for one day.  

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1 hour ago, KathyC said:

I can't see the pictures either.   

I can't wait to meet you in December, I think we are going to get along great.  We want to retire in Aruba, so we'll be neighbors!! We can do periscoper meet-ups, LOL!  We haven't been to Bonaire yet, both times in the area our stops were only in Aruba & Curacao.  Bonaire is definitely on our list for one day.  

Bummer! I wonder if I attach them differently if they will show up? Let me know if you can see this picture in Aruba on our walk to the restaurant!

I can't wait to meet you either! It's gonna be such a wonderful time! I'm bringing my sister along to witness the craziness 🙂 We would love to live in the warmth no matter where it is 😄 

Aruba.jpg

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1 hour ago, lauraodonnell86 said:

Bummer! I wonder if I attach them differently if they will show up? Let me know if you can see this picture in Aruba on our walk to the restaurant!

I can't wait to meet you either! It's gonna be such a wonderful time! I'm bringing my sister along to witness the craziness 🙂 We would love to live in the warmth no matter where it is 😄 

Aruba.jpg

Yes, I can see this pic. Gorgeous!!  

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On 7/1/2019 at 3:08 PM, pezgirl said:

In Bonnaire, my husband is going to go scuba diving (the two tank dive)

I was in Bonaire two years ago and had signed up for that excursion. Due to my age, I was rejected. I believe the age restriction was 60 or 65 years old. If that restriction still exists and he can't do the excursion I would recommend VIP Diving, that's who I dove with and they were excellent! Here's there website: https://vipdiving.com/  They picked me up and returned me to the cruise ship. In fact, I would strongly recommend VIP Diving over the RC excursion, less expensive and not as crowded as the RC excursion. When I dove, there was myself and one other fellow plus the guide, Eric. He was great! :27_sunglasses:

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Does anyone have any recommendations re: how seasoned one must be to snorkel?  And I mean snorkel, not scuba dive.  I am an average swimmer, but have only snorkeled once in my 43 years of life.  Is that going to be a problem with any excursions that do snorkeling?  

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7 minutes ago, Lovestotravel said:

Does anyone have any recommendations re: how seasoned one must be to snorkel?  And I mean snorkel, not scuba dive.  I am an average swimmer, but have only snorkeled once in my 43 years of life.  Is that going to be a problem with any excursions that do snorkeling?  

Lots of beginner snorkelers.  Just tell the excursion people if you aren't comfortable or don't remember.  Most excursion operators make you wear a snorkel vest and salt water is buoyant.  It's basically floating once you used to breathing through the snorkel.  

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4 hours ago, lauraodonnell86 said:

Bummer! I wonder if I attach them differently if they will show up? Let me know if you can see this picture in Aruba on our walk to the restaurant!

I can't wait to meet you either! It's gonna be such a wonderful time! I'm bringing my sister along to witness the craziness 🙂 We would love to live in the warmth no matter where it is 😄 

 

That picture showed up fine, the other ones missing appear to be on a google site that doesn't allow linking to them. 

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3 minutes ago, twangster said:

Lots of beginner snorkelers.  Just tell the excursion people if you aren't comfortable or don't remember.  Most excursion operators make you wear a snorkel vest and salt water is buoyant.  It's basically floating once you used to breathing through the snorkel.  

Great to know!  We want to snorkel in several ports, so I was hoping it wouldn't be a problem!

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Thanks @twangster. I will go ahead and post them on here so that @Lovestotravel, @pezgirl, and @KathyC can see them! 🙂 

In order of the attachments:

The West Deck in Aruba -- on our walk to The West Deck in Aruba -- Palm Beach in Aruba -- Karel's Beach Bar in Bonaire -- Coco Beach in Bonaire -- view from our table at Perla Del Mar in Curacao -- Mambo Beach in Curacao

Hopefully that works!

 

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