Unfortunately for everyone involved, the medical evacuation of the lady that fell in the spa back in Princess Cays resulted in a delay that the captain and crew were unable to overcome. This delay in arrival resulted in our scheduled shore excursion being canceled.
This was a huge bummer for us, because we were particularly looking forward to this one – a three-hour hike in Christoffel National Park, far away from the touristy areas. Curacao, due to its somewhat sheltered location in the Caribbean, does not get hit by hurricanes and is also – surprisingly – a desert islands. In the national parks and wild spaces on the islands, there are tall cacti like you would expect to see in Arizona, mixed in with the lush greenery of a Caribbean isle. And there are orchids growing, and iguanas crawling around… cool! Definitely sounds like my kind of place, but alas, it was not to be.
So, needless to say, we were very bummed. We tried to console ourselves by walking around Willemstad, but it was fairly touristy. Despite walking around for several hours, including away from the tourist strip, we still hadn’t seen very much of the real Curacao.
We did, however, see some architecture and streets that were very reminiscent of Amsterdam, and that was really neat to see, especially with the Caribbean influence mixed in.
Speaking of mixed in, looking at the street signs, restaurant menus, etc. was fun because the official language, Papiamento, is a creole of some African languages, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, Amerindian, and English (the languages of various conquerors, colonizers, slaves, and natives). It was really interesting, especially given some passing knowledge of Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch. Some things I read seemed exactly like Spanish if it were written with Dutch spelling (Ks instead of Cs, and double As here and there). I would love to have had an opportunity to hear it more, and to learn more about it. Apparently, Aruba’s language is a similar creole, but not quite the same and is called Papiamentu. Fascinating!
Since our one shore excursion was canceled, we elected to take another we had our eye on and had hoped to squeeze in after the hike. A sunset cruise, out on a catamaran, with delicious rum punch. Sweet, sweet consolation.
It was a really great little side trip. First we took a bus through some back roads to avoid rush hour traffic (our glimpse of the true Curacao!). Then we got on to a catamaran with 60 or so others. We cruised around a large bay (Caracas Baai), with views of opulent homes, resorts, and Caracasbaai National Park, and a tour guide to tell us all about it. Oh, and copious amounts of rum punch.
Then we headed a ways out into the ocean to see to catch the sunset.
We didn’t see the famous optical illusion known as the green flash, though I did see something on my camera viewfinder while shooting, but it doesn’t show up in the video, so it must have been an optical illusion only for my camera’s visual display.
To console us (no one was really upset), we got more rum punch and some delicious banana liqueur that is affectionately called the green flash. It was quite tasty, and it would have been nice to get our hands on some to take home.
The tour guide was really great, the other people on the excursion were fun and friendly (it seems boats and booze attracts the fun crowd, hah), and the rum punch flowed freely. The hubs and I had a wonderful time. I would definitely recommend this shore excursion from a Princess Southern Caribbean cruise (even though I still lament the loss of the hiking excursion). It was truly a wonderful and relaxing time.
After the cruise ended and we were bussed back to the Mega Pier area, we still had a couple hours before we had to be on board (departure was 9pm), but we were pretty beat, so after we did a little bit of souvenir shopping, we called it a night. Perhaps one day we’ll get to come back and see more of the authentic side of Curacao – to meet more locals, hike in Christoffel National Park, visit the many beautiful beaches, and maybe also to check out the Curacao Distillery!