Oranjestad – Aruba Gem of the Caribbean


If they travel often enough, eventually vacationers will stumble upon cities they find truly remarkable even though they happened to visit them almost by accident. For big fans of cruising, it’s not unusual to find themselves in the most amazing places because a particular port-of-call happened to be on their cruise itinerary. A destination perhaps that is a complete mystery to them.

The Caribbean has become a favorite destination of savvy travelers over the past few decades. When Caribbean cruises first began, ships would set sail out of Miami or Fort Lauderdale. The cruises from those ports most often took passengers to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. In those early years most cruise ship itineraries included the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, the Florida Keys, and Cozumel, Mexico. For some time, the most Southerly ports visited by the cruise set were in and around St.Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

It was years later when the cruise set became more aware of the stunning, white-sand beaches of the Southern-most Caribbean and the history and culture that was such an integral part of the area. Destinations like Bonaire, Columbia, Venezuela, and Panama were quite new to them and have since become their favorite cruise ship port s-of-call.

Then there is that gem of an island called Aruba that soon became an all-time favorite travel destination for the sand and sun lovers of the traveling set.

The capital city of Oranjestad was first founded in 1796 and is a Kingdom of the Netherlands. Oranjestad or “Orange Town” was named after William of Orange-Nassau who at the time was first heir to the Dutch House of Orange. Today it boasts a population of nearly 30,000 mainly English speaking citizens. Actually, Papiamento is the original language of this port city that began as a fort and shortly there-after became the capital of Aruba.

Aruba has become a major cruise-ship destination. It’s not unusual at all to find four or five luxury cruise ships at anchor in Oranjestad at any given time. It is most likely the easiest city to navigate one may ever come across. Once passengers dis-embark from their ship, they are virtually just steps from downtown Oranjestad. If they prefer to stay in the bustling commercial area of the city, they won’t even require a taxi as the port is central to just about every convenience including casinos, restaurants,  shopping, and local attractions.

However, for those who do choose to venture out of town, some of the  Caribbeans most stunning beaches await. Visitors will be amazed that finding some of the world’s most highly rated beaches are as simple as a 20-minute ride away on a city bus for a total cost of $1. Snow-white  powdery sand, a brilliant sun-drenched sky, and crystal water in a myriad of blues and greens are the order of the day in and around Oranjestad. The really special thing about the beaches is that they seem to go on and on forever as they virtually “ring” the island of Aruba.

On the way out of the Oranjestad downtown core, you will see even more Vegas-style casinos along the highway. Among all it’s other attractions, Aruba is also a gambling Mecca and home to some very famous bars and nightclubs that have been enjoyed by locals and seafaring visitors for decades. Clubs often  proudly display what many of their international guests have left behind when they staggered back to their ship and set sail for ports unknown. Currency from every country imaginable adorns the walls of most bars. There are also hats, shirts, tools, socks, wigs, false teeth, and artificial limbs on display that most likely all have a story to tell if only they could talk.

For a fabulous holiday it’s really hard to beat Oranjestad, Aruba if you are a fan of great food, first class casinos and entertainment, and some of the finest beaches in the world.

You might plan it as a one-day stop on a cruise-ship itinerary, or perhaps stay right on the beach at one of the first class, all-inclusive resorts that will provide you with a week or two of unbeatable tun in the sun.

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