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Monday, August 04, 2008

PANAMA CANAL CRUISE--PORT #1 ARUBA


By the time we reach Aruba, the first port on our Panama Canal cruise aboard Princess’ Coral Princess, we are two days at sea, relaxing and enjoying the out-of-our-ordinary environment. Because we arrived in Florida two days before the cruise’s sailing date, we do feel we’ve been away from home quite a while, and we have shifted easily into cruise mode. Laid back and relaxed.

We are traveling with friends Sue and Marty, and that’s great. On a cruise it’s so easy to be together and also to follow our own whims. All four of us are in cruise mode. We’re using “Anytime Dining” rather than a set dinner hour, and it seems to be working just fine. This is definitely a cruise for Third Agers like us. I am told (by the grandmother of some) that there are only ten kids aboard. Works for us. There also is no trouble finding deck chairs; a lot of Third Agers are in the shadier parts of the deck. The pool is great. People are in and out of it and the three surrounding hot tubs, and there’s always conversation. We haven’t gone to the pool with the retractable roof yet because the weather has been too spectacular.

In the evening, we’ve gone to the 10:15 shows, and we haven’t had trouble finding seats. The ship winds down after that. That’s also Third Age. On the other hand, at the first “formal night,” there were a lot of gowns and tuxedos. That’s also Third Age. I think the formal nights are lovely, and I’m looking forward to the next two formal nights.

Early this morning we docked in Aruba. Sue and Marty are off on a shore tour. Rob and I are heading off to see Oranjestad.

Aruba is an interesting island because it’s only 19.6 miles long and 6 miles wide. That's only about 74 square miles. It boasts a population of 105,600 but 30,600 live in Oranjestad. While it does not have the tropical rain forests found on other Caribbean islands, and really very few places of interest to visit, it is known for its beautiful beaches and its excellent scuba and snorkeling. We have friends who visit every year and love it.

Rob and I spent our time ashore just walking around, popping into a few shops, visiting Queen Wilhelmina Park with its beautiful flowers and palm trees, and then heading to the beach where colorful boats sat lined up in a row in front of a thatched hut for picnickers. There we also photographed iguanas—those big lizards that under normal circumstances would scare me to death. They were all over the rocks near the water’s edge.

Our stroll through Oranjestad took us past colorful homes and government buildings. Greens and oranges dominate, and the colors add a happy tone to the island. We also visited Fort Zoutman, or what remains of it. I did some shopping—not for the diamonds, etc. that are offered, but for a new Del Sol shirt and some Del Sol nail polish. I love those shirts that change color in the sun, and I have something Del Sol from many of the places we visit. They’re pure fun, and frankly I am not the kind of tourist ports of call crave, although I’m sorry I forgot to get some Aruba Aloe (as we passed stands I thought they were selling sunscreen) because aloe is a major industry of the island. I like to have things that reflect what I’ve actually seen. Rob and I would like to come back to stay for a weeks’ beach vacation.


Here's a little of what we saw in Oranjestad.




Click to play Oranjestad, Aruba
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Back on the ship we have lunch and then to the pool. Life is good.

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