Somehow I’d always had the image of Caribbean Islands being lush with vegetation and subject to tropical rain by the bucketload. Aruba was a surprise then, as it is quite arid and depends on its desalination plant for nearly all of its water. Once part of the Netherland Antilles, Aruba is one of the four autonomous constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten.
We chose to take a short tour of the island, finishing with a sail on the Jolly Pirates schooner to Malmok Bay where we snorkelled over the wreck of the SS Antilla, a German cargo ship that was scuttled there by its crew during WW2, rather than have it captured by the allies.
I had snorkelled many times in Australia and in Fiji, but never over a wreck, so that was exciting. The wreck has become an artificial reef, attracting many varieties of fish and coral. After two other bouts of snorkelling, the crew of the Jolly Pirates encouraged those who were game to try their hand at swinging on a rope out from the ship and dropping into the sea. Hubby had a couple of goes – the second one simply because I wanted another photo of him.
On our return to the Oranjestad harbour where the Celebrity Eclipse was berthed, we decided to trawl the local shops and found free WiFi at Starbucks in one of the malls. We had been off the grid for several days, so spent an hour or so sipping our iced coffees and catching up with the world out there!
It would have been good to have had more time to see other parts of the island as we really only saw the South West coast and the Renaissance Resort Casino and Mall.
Before we went on the cruise I consulted Tom’s Port Guides which are a wealth of information on various places he has been cruising and includes a feature on Aruba. If you ever want a full guide to a port city with maps and suggestions on places to visit you must check his website.