Spending your day in Curacao

Located just north of South America, Curacao is part of the “ABC” islands, which also include Aruba and Bonaire. These islands have become popular cruise stops because they offer a variety of options for day visitors. Among other things, these islands have some of the best scuba and snorkeling options in the Caribbean.

I’ve been to Curacao a few times now and have a few suggestions on how you can spend your day on the island without scheduling an excursion.

    1. Willemstad, the capital of Curacao and the place where your cruise ship docks, has a very walkable downtown located very close to the pier. You can walk over the Queen Emma bridge, a floating bridge that occasionally opens to let ships through. Important note! The bridge sometimes stays open for quite a while, so when you hear the horn sound, it’s important to hustle to the other side if you don’t want to be trapped on the bridge for an indeterminate amount of time.
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      You’ll find plenty of places in Willemstad to sit down for lunch or a beer. It’s easy and very safe to walk around downtown and look at the brightly colored buildings. In Willemstad you can also find the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, built in 1732. (There’s also a fantastic place to get a Mojito right across from the synagogue!)

      On many of our visits to Curacao, we’ve walked around the downtown area quite happy for a couple of hours, then returned to the ship. If you have a late departure, you can even come out again to get dinner – just remember to watch the time and don’t get caught on the wrong side of the bridge if you’re cutting it close to being back in time for all-aboard!

    2. Another option for your day in Curacao is to buy a day pass for the pool/beach area at the Renaissance Rif Fort Hotel, located right next to the cruise pier. This amazing spot is where I took the picture that I use for all of my Nerdy Traveler web/social media header pics.
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      For $20 per person, you get a day pass to the infinity pool (which you see in the picture). It has a small man-made beach, and you also get chairs, an umbrella, and a towel. There’s a bar and restaurant on-site, and while the prices are slightly high, you have to remember that you’re in a tourist location – they’re not really above the norm for that kind of context.  Photo Jan 15, 1 42 58 PM

The Renaissance is a lovely hotel and even has a casino if you get tired of being out in the sunshine! To buy a day pass for the Renaissance pool, look for the entrance that looks like this. Go in through the door marked “Carnival Casino” and you’ll see a front desk for the hotel. They’ll be able to show you where to go up the stairs to the pool area, where you can buy your day pass. This hotel is very close to where the cruise ship docks, so if you want to go back to your cabin on the ship after you swim to shower up and change, it’s super easy to do so!

 

3. Are you the kind of person that wants to spend as much time on the beach during your cruise stop? Well, Curacao’s got something for you, too! Once you get off the ship, follow the signs to the taxis and find a driver to take you to Kokomo Beach. I spent a day here recently and it was fantastic!

The beach at Kokomo is fairly large and is packed with lounge chairs, which you can rent for $5 for the day. Pick one and sit down, and an employee will come by to collect your money. There’s a smaller bar as well as a large bar and restaurant where you can have a tasty lunch. When your taxi driver drops you off, you can ask for him to come back to pick you up at whatever time you’d like to go back to the ship.

I really liked Kokomo because it had so much shade – in addition to the restaurant, there were lots of couches and chairs in the shade. Swimming was great, and even though the entry was a little rocky, you could avoid the rocks by climbing down a ladder at the end of the pier.

Are you a beach person? A pool person? A wander-around-downtown person?
Whichever you are — Curacao has something for you!

Summer Caribbean cruise deals!

Thursday, June 14, 2018 — Normally, we think of summer as a high season for cruises: Kids are out of school, families are taking vacations together — even college professors like me have some time to take off and enjoy a cruise.

A busy season for cruising wouldn’t often be one in which you could get a deal – but with increasing capacity (more cruise ships with more cabins), there are still some summer deals to be found. If you have some flexibility in the next two months and want to head off on a week-long Caribbean cruise, here are two examples of some great deals going on right now – contact me if you’d like to hear more!

  • Celebrity Equinox 7-day sailings out of Miami on 7/14/18, 7/28/18, and 8/18/18, with a base cruise fare of only $799 per person (does not include taxes or fees) for a balcony room. This is a great deal on one of Celebrity’s Solstice-Class ships with July sailings to the Western Caribbean (Key West, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman) and an August sailing to the Eastern Caribbean (San Juan, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten). Prices are only available through Monday, 6/18/18.
  • Norwegian Getaway 7-day sailings out of Miami to the Western Caribbean ports of Roatan, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and NCL’s private island Harvest Caye in Belize. These sailings are similarly priced but include NCL’s signatures perks including a free drinks package, free specialty dining, free wifi, and credits toward shore excursions. Deeply discounted rates without the perks are also available with prices for inside cabins as low as $650 including taxes and fees – wow! Included sailings for this sale are on 7/22/18, 7/29/18, 8/5/18, 8/12/18, 8/19/18, and 8/26/18. Prices are only available through Thursday, 6/21/18. 

As is always the case with last-minute deals like these, you have to act fast – prices and availability are limited. Contact me ASAP or email jessalynn@thenerdytraveler.com and include your phone number so I can give you a call and discuss these great deals with you. 🙂 I’d be on one of these sailings myself if my schedule for the next two months wasn’t already so booked up!

Announcing the Nerdy Traveler 2018 Tourism Recovery Tour!

As a frequent cruiser for many years, I was heartsick to see the damage done to the islands of the Caribbean by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. While I’ve made some donations to various organizations that have been helping with cleanup, I’ve been thinking for a while that I wanted to do something more to help these places as they recover.

Tourism is a major industry for the Caribbean, as it is for the Florida Keys, which were also devastated by Hurricane Irma. If I can be nerdy for a minute, I was shocked to read that economists have estimated that a 1% drop in tourism can lead to a decline of over $200 million in GDP for the Caribbean.

I’m not going to be able to make up for that drop by myself, of course, but I’d like to do my part to help the Keys and the Caribbean by doing what I do best: Traveling to these places, spending my tourist dollars, and of course – writing about them for the blog!

So, on February 19th, I’m going to head down to the Florida Keys for a few days of exploring — and contributing to the local economy. I’ve been to Key West several times on cruise ships, and while I’ll certainly spend some of my time (and money) there as well, I’m excited to finally explore the middle and upper parts of the Keys – and to help give back to some of the small business owners in the hardest-hit areas.

Then, I’ll head back up to Fort Lauderdale to board the February 25th sailing of Celebrity Silhouette, which makes stops in San Juan, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten – three of the islands that have been hardest hit by the hurricanes. I’m pleased to be sailing on Celebrity, whose parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, played a huge role in helping these islands’ recovery, both in the immediate aftermath of the storms and by bring passengers back in the long term.

(My hubby has graciously agreed to escape the somewhat-chilly North Carolina winters to accompany me on this mission. Am I a lucky gal, or what? 🙂

You can read more here about how you can get involved in my trip. And of course, look for a bunch of blog posts coming at the end of February so you can follow along with my journey!