Last Updated: 16-MAR-2016

March 2014 - Florida - First sea days - Half Moon Cay, Bahamas - Aruba and Curacao

All photos were taken with a Canon PowerShot S100 12.1mp camera (orange date) or a Canon EOS-70D 20.2mp camera (white date)

For a detailed description of the Canon EOS-70D 20.2mp camera setup I am using, visit my Camera Page

Any video was shot with both cameras and converted with AWS Video Converter 8

Sunday - MAR 16 2014

Views from our room at Courtyard Fort Lauderdale Beach, 440 Seabreeze Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316 - We would definitely stay here again.

Cool corner room with floor to ceiling windows. The room cost was under $200 a night (govt rate).

On the beach watching the cruise ships depart from Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale

Monday - MAR 17 2014

Morning hotel room views from Courtyard Fort Lauderdale Beach

First look at our room 6025 on the Upper Verandah Deck

Various views of Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale

Departing Ft. Lauderdale thru the Port Everglades Inlet

Looking south on the Intercoastal waterway towards Miami.

The Fort Lauderdale Beach

Looking down the coast at Miami

Looking back at our hotel Marriott - Courtyard Fort Lauderdale Beach

The critter of the night

Tuesday - MAR 18 2014

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

We have been to Half Moon Cay 4 or 5 times. It is a beautiful stretch of 2.5 miles of crescent shaped beach. Little San Salvador Island, also known as Half Moon Cay, is one of about 700 islands that make up the archipelago of The Bahamas. It is located roughly halfway between Eleuthera and Cat Island. It is a private island, owned by Carnival Cruise Lines, which uses it as a port of call for the cruise ships it operates in the region. Prior to being owned by Carnival Corp, Little San Salvador was the private island of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Little San Salvador Island is located about 100 miles southeast of Nassau. Holland America Line purchased the island in December, 1996 for a price of $6 million USD. It has since developed 50 acres (200,000 m2) of the 2,400-acre (9.7 km2) island, with the stated goal of maintaining as much habitat as possible for wildlife. The island is also a significant nesting area for waterfowl. The island does not have deep water docking, requiring the use of tenders for cruise ship passengers to disembark and embark.

Today we lucked out as we are the only ship here.

View from ship. They only tender here as they have a protected harbor. Looks like the area behind Half Moon Cay, Bahamas is much higher.

Views from the beach

Tendering back to the ship

I guess a day at the beach pooped them all out

Interesting camera configuration on the ship. This watches down the side in the balcony area. Also has a IR illuminator matrix.

The critter of the night

Wednesday - MAR 19 2014

At sea day traveling the 838 nm from Half Moon Cay, Bahamas to Oranjestad, Aruba.


Mary looking for whales

Frigate Bird

We are close to the western coast of Haiti passing thru the Jamaica Channel and are traveling thru some of the fishing areas. Amazing amount of small ships 40 miles off the coast with sails made from quilts and the net rigs are made out of 2-liter soda bottles. Our ship would just pass right thru the netting. I am sure that this was the shipping channel.

Some did not even have sails.. People powered. Really did not feel bad disrupting the fishing operations as I doubt that these guys were very picky on what they would catch.

Looking at the SW coast of Haiti. Some of the towns along here are: Dame Marie, Grand Anse, Anse D'Hainault, Les Irois, and Tiburon. I am sure that they are wonderful places to visit.

You could see the deforestation in the mountains beyond the coast.

Fighting the afternoon crowds

The deck on this ship was interesting as you had an excellent vantage point above the stern. A great place to toss buns off to the birds & fish.

Various ship views

No green flash

I can never figure out why they do this when people are here. Why not on the port days ? Unless... Someone pooped in the pool...

Mary & Ken dinner time. Mary happy...

The evening critter

Thursday - MAR 20 2014

Oranjestad, Aruba

We arrived in Oranjestad, Aruba at 1 pm and we would not depart until 11 pm tonight. We have been to Aruba many times, and in fact as I type this on 1-MAR-2015 we are in the process of setting up a 10 day trip to Aruba later this spring.

Our plan was to walk around town and perhaps take a cab to a local beach.

We took a basic (free) digital camera class in the AM which was geared to a 75+ year old that has never had a digital camera before.

Ken looking at at various very expensive watches. This one was for Mary..

Coming around the west side of Aruba. Very windy

  • MOVIE - 22 meg 3/20 Mary drinking in the wind

    Docking at the port

    Mary eating cucumbers that were cut into interesting shapes. Very good

    A quick walk around town. It was 10 years ago on a cruise that we were exploring this area.

    License plates... Got one 10 years ago and put it on the front of my truck. Came out at work one day and the idiot cops wrote a parking ticket to that plate.. I assume some sucker in Aruba has a nice ticket to pay someday.

    Always impressed with Aruba as its clean and very well kept.

    Divi Aruba All-Inclusive Resort

    The classic beach photo

    The GPS program on the tablet

    Sunset time. Not that good

    This tree is famous - Not sure where we saw that but its living on Harbor Reef

    Looks like they are trying to stabilize this area

    Planes on approach into Queen Beatrix Aruba International Airport (TNCA/AUA)

    Watching the catamarans returning from the ship excursions

    I am sure that this is healthy - Chocolate Avalanche Cake - "boulders" of chocolate cake enhanced with fudge sauce - Yup, that will do it !

    The Lido Pool Party - 8:30pm to 10pm - Featured unlimited Mango Daiquiris for $18.95 (I could go for that right now)

    Night time views of the port of Oranjestad

    We were parked next to the Freewinds cruise ship - MV Freewinds is a cruise ship operated by International Shipping Partners and owned by San Donato Properties, which is a company affiliated with the Church of Scientology.

    Nighttime views of the port of Oranjestad and Aruba

    Ken on his throne

    Mary trying to eat her 19th dessert for the night

    The evening critter

    Friday - MAR 21 2014

    Willemstad (Curacao), Antilles

    We had a full day here. Arrived at 8am and will leave at 5 pm. We docked at "Mega Pier" Large Cruise Ship Terminal

    We took an Eco tour with Curacao-actief. Breath of Curacao Eco Jeep Tour was lots of fun and we saw the northwest coast. We were the only participants and the tour guide was able to adjust the tour to our desires. It was a lovely day, not overly hot. We liked that the ride was bumpy and truly off-road. Scenery was rugged views of the sea and coral, blow holes and tidal guts. We saw sea turtles swimming in a tidal gut and nobody else was there. We saw the magnificent Shete Boka National Park. We saw a lot for a half day tour (9-1) ($65 per person) and well worth it, as it turned out to be a private tour.

    All of these photos were taken with the Canon PowerShot S100 12.1mp camera (orange date) as I was worried to take the new camera on this day trip. I really wish I did as the telephoto abilities would have allowed us to take some interesting critter photographs.

    Mary trying to hold on. No seatbelts... Not for your average Holland America cruiser !

    Saying goodbye to the ship

    Interesting place and it's for sale

    View to the front

    Monument at Roundabout of Zegu (2001) by Yubi Kirindongo - The roundabout at Zegu has been decorated with a rusty piece of iron art and a giant leguana, painted silver. This intersection has had many traffic deaths.

    Interesting house made with hubcaps, Propane & welding tanks and lots of plastic soda bottle transport racks. This island is very much into recycling!

    Another colorful place

    USAF Forward Operation Location (FOL) Curacao is one of four FOL's operated by the US 12th Air Force as part a multinational counter-narcotics force. The primary mission of aircraft deployed to FOL Curacao is the aerial detection and monitoring of suspected air and maritime drug trafficking activities and supporting the apprehension of traffickers and seizure narcotics being smuggled in the region.

    Dirt road time

    The Trupial, or orange breasted oriole, is Curacao's national bird (Icterus icterus)

    I was really impressed with the wide open aspect of that part of Curacao. It looked like outback of Australia or west Texas vs. a small island in the southern Caribbean 45 miles off of the northern coast of Venezuela. Most of these islands have a protected and a wild side (coast) well, this was the wild side of Curacao.

    Coral & Cacti

    Windmills - Hato Vlakte electric windmill parc

    Wide open spaces

    Ranch with Goats. Tour guide said he has to pay these people to come thru here

    Slave protest stuff

    Highest point on Curacao - The Christoffelberg, also known as Mt Christoffel or Mt St Christoffel, named after the explorer Christopher Columbus, is the highest point on Curacao. The Christoffelberg is 372 meters(1,220 ft.) high and lies in the reserved wildlife park, Curacao Christoffelpark, which can be explored by car, bike, horse, or on foot using several trails that have been laid out for this purpose.

    Shete Boka National Park - Boka Tabla, Willemstad, Curacao

    Shete Boka Park, since 1994, 200 hectares.

    This is an area adjoining the Christoffelpark covering more than 10 kilometers of the rocky wave-exposed north coast of the island and with some 10 pocket beaches where 3 species of sea turtles are known to lay eggs. The most well-known and favorite inlet for visitors is Boka Tabla.

    Cool place - we took the jeep trails out to the blowholes and I am not sure which one we went to but I am guessing - boka pistol or Boca Tabla.

    The island's most common animals are right underfoot. Whiptail lizards, endemic to Curacao, can be found basking in the sun almost wherever you step. The slender brown ones (lagadishi) are the females and young, the larger blue green ones (blo-blo) the mature males of the same species. Geckos inhabit the scrubby trees, feeding on those ever present mosquitos. The male anole (toteki or kaku) boasts an impressive bright yellow and orange dewlap which he pompously fans to attract females and ward off attackers. One species of gecko, a translucent tan color, with bulging black eyes and splayed limbs, has suction feet which enable it to scale walls. It can sometimes be found scurrying across a ceiling or hanging, head down, inside a closet; though its appearance can give you quite a start, it is harmless (and eats those pesky mosquitos). Local lore has christened it pega pega ("sticky sticky"), because it is rumored to stick to your skin.

    The first blowhole

    Rugged coast

    Lots of waves and fun to watch

    Ken & Mary trying to not get wet

    So we went back to Shete Boka National Park - Boka Tabla, Willemstad, Curacao for our restroom and beer / soda break. Friendly place

    Mary getting her local snack

    On our way to the next place - boka bartol to see sea turtles

    Interesting sign about getting robbed. Not in many parts of the USA. Travel armed and shoot them if bothered !

    Curacao has the Brown-throated Parakeet Eupsittula pertinax and Rose-ringed Parakeet - Psittacula krameri, which is introduced. Hard to tell but this looks like the introduced one to me.

    Mary watching where we are going

    Another Cool blowhole

    The truck and the two tracks we were riding on. Remote place

    boka bartol area

    Old walls - The guide explained them to us that it had to do with taxes on property.

    Turtle's swimming in boka bartol and me wishing I had the good camera. We will come back here.

    Very arid

    Nice drop-off

    A bit rough back to the pavement

    Oil tank farm that we will see from the ship when we depart. Yes, critical infrastructure... I hope the patches and virus protection is up to date.. Inside joke !

    These are the flamingoes often found in this area near Willemstad. Curacao has a small but important colony of 200 to 300 individuals that arrived from Bonaire in the mid-1980s during a particularly rainy year. The Jan Kok salt ponds have received protection since 1999 due to their importance for the population. Curacao flamingos also regularly fly out to Venezuela where food is more plentiful.

    After lunch on the ship we headed back out to explore historic Willemstad. We walked across the Queen Emma pontoon bridge (built in 1888) and went to the floating fruit market. It is a colorful city and has lots of charm.

    Views from the Queen Emma pontoon bridge (built in 1888)

    You can see the Zuiderdam over the buildings

    Floating market (Willemstad, Curacao) - Trading boats from Venezuela offer their goods here

    This boat is from Pampatar which is a city on Isla Margarita, Nueva Esparta State, Venezuela

    Interesting way to protect your AC systems.. You would think up on a wall they would be safe. Not here I guess

    Mary on the Queen Emma pontoon bridge with the Zuiderdam in the background

    Back on the ship docked at Megapier. Various views of the port at Otrobanda, Willemstad, Curacao

    Denny's - Not where I would expect to see one

    Water tanks - And the hill in the background translated from Dutch - One of the three Brothers mountains to Piscadera Bay.

    Aqualectra. Water Refining Plant (Willemstad, Curacao) - Aqualectra is responsible for the production and distribution of electricity and drinking water for households and companies on the island of Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.

    Cool pool area - Piscina Benny Leito (Willemstad, Curacao)

    Renaissance Hotel Pool (Willemstad, Curacao)

    Stacks from The Isla Oil Refinery - Willemstad - Leased to the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA. The refinery produces 340,000 barrels of oil a day for shipment onwards to the US and South America.

    This was interesting.. Ship security escorted this guy off. I assume a employee. Perhaps he was fired

    Looking back at the Queen Emma pontoon bridge from the ship.

    Holiday Inn Hotel (Willemstad, Curacao)

    Curacao Marriott resort

    Tank farms

    We often saw a modified baby carriage in the dining room, with a terrier in it! Waiter said it was a companion animal. Holland America: With the exception of qualified service animals for guests with disabilities, animals or pets are not allowed on board our ships. If you plan to bring a service animal, you must call our Access & Compliance Department. You will need to provide health certificate documentation for the animal in your ports of call.

    Tonight’s critter

  • On to part 2 -- Sea day - Cartagena, Columbia - Panama Canal, Panama

  • Panama Canal Sunfarer cruise with Holland America - March 2014