The timing of our visit to Curaçao was tied up in the Presidents’ Holiday in the US. David’s dear cousin Elaine and her husband Andy had the first extended period without children at home in a very long time, and had arranged to fly down to Curaçao for several days vacation in the warm sunshine. We wanted to meet them there, and show off a bit of our island lifestyle.
Unfortunately, a blizzard hit the East Coast just as they were scheduled to take off. They tried many alternative routes, but couldn’t find one that would work. So they had to cancel their trip. We were disappointed, of course, but we can only imagine how much worse things were from their end. We certainly hope that there will be another opportunity to get together in the tropics, soon.
In Curaçao, the preferred anchorage for cruisers is a large bay called Spanish Waters. It’s a very friendly place, with lots of visiting boats as well as long-term liveaboards. One of the latter maintains a WiFi service at a nominal charge for the harbor, which is convenient (though not very fast). The only downside to Spanish Waters is that it is out of the way, quite some distance from the center of action in Willemstad. There is an inexpensive bus service, but the ride is at least 30 minutes each way, and the bus runs only once an hour or once each 90 minutes, depending on the time of day. So a trip into town is AT LEAST a half-day adventure.
Willemstad is a very picturesque town, very much oriented to the numerous cruise ship passengers that visit each day. The buildings are painted in bright colors, and they seem to find combinations so that adjacent buildings look good together. The town is divided by a waterway that leads to the commercial harbor. There is a pedestrian bridge (the Queen Emma Bridge) that floats on wooden pontoons. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When ships need to enter the harbor, the bridge swings aside to let them pass. This happens numerous times each day, and is fun to watch. There are free ferries that you can use to cross when the bridge is open.
Clearing in to Curaçao is something of an adventure. The people are very nice, but there is a lot of waiting and walking involved. You first visit Customs, where they laboriously hunt-and-peck all your details into their computer. Once that is done, you have to cross the pontoon bridge, and walk a fair distance to immigration. If a cruise ship is docked (normal), you have to pass through a security check to get there. In immigration, there is another bout of data entry. The final stop is just a few steps away at the Port Authority, where you pay a fee for anchoring. When we were there, they were having computer problems, and we had a long wait before we could give them our money.
We enjoyed the very large and well-supplied Grocery store on the island. The store provides a daily shuttle bus from Spanish Waters, which is very convenient for those of us without cars. They allow 80 minutes for shopping, which is a bit much, but there is free WiFi, so the wait isn’t so bad.
After several days of finding our way around, we headed back to Bonaire. An important part for our watermaker is being repaired by the factory, and it is due to arrive in Bonaire in a week or so.