Aruba, the smallest of the so-called ABC Islands, lies a mere 15 miles north of Venezuela. Like its sister islands, Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba has scant vegetation. Its landscape consists mainly of scruffy bits of foliage, including cacti and the curious wind-bent divi-divi trees, huge boulders and interesting caves. The chief attractions are the magnificent beaches, turquoise waters and spectacular marine life, which lure scores of visitors each year to the island. Palm Beach is said to be one of the ten best beaches in the world. Here a string of hotels with glitzy casinos, restaurants and exotic boutiques line several miles of white sand beach. The crystal-clear waters are ideal for swimming and all kinds of watersports. If you prefer to stay dry, you may enjoy Aruba's exotic underwater world on a submarine excursion.
Gold was discovered on the island in 1825, but by 1916 mining was no longer economical. In 1929 it was oil that brought prosperity to Aruba. A large refinery was built at the island's eastern end, employing at that time over 8,000 people. When the refinery was closed in 1985, Arubans were forced to look for other sources of income, concentrating their efforts on the development of tourism. Today, education, housing and health care are largely financed by an economy based on tourism. Recognizing this fact, the island's residents are sincere when they extend to visitors the greeting "Bonbini," the native Papiamento word for "Welcome."
Please Note: For your convenience, shore excursions offered for this port of call are available to reserve in advance at www.silversea.com until (DATE), as well as offered for purchase on board, unless otherwise noted in the description.
Going Ashore in Oranjestad
The ship is scheduled to dock at the Passenger Cruise Ship Terminal. It is an approximate 15-minute walk to the town center. Taxis are generally available at the pier.
The town center and Nassaustraat are full of duty-free shops, offering imported luxury items from all over the world. Embroidered linens and a wide variety of local handicrafts such as pottery and artwork are also popular buys. The local currency is the Aruban florin, but U.S. dollars are widely accepted.
Meals are generally of the beef and seafood variety, with prices ranging from moderate to expensive. There are plenty of restaurants serving anything from international cuisine to typical local fare.
One of the island's oldest buildings, it dates from 1796 and was used as the major fortress in the skirmishes between British and Curaçao troops. The fort's Historical Museum displays centuries' worth of Aruban relics and artifacts.
The park was laid out on the occasion of a visit by Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard in 1955. It features carefully tended gardens full of tropical flowers.
All beaches in Aruba are public and free. The best ones are found on the island's west coast where the majority of the resort hotels are located. Many of them offer water sports facilities.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Tour Office on board.