It is only about 130 km between Aruba and Curacao so we arrived at Willemstad, Curacao at about 8:00 AM on Monday, December 10.
We were moored at the outer cruise ship dock. As we walked towards the center of town we passed the welcome sign and information booth. The last time we were here, there was a large new development consisting of shops, condos and time-share units under construction along the shore. The construction is complete and the shops are occupied by high-end retailers including Tiffany’s, Swarovski Boutique, Furla, and BCBGMAXAZRIA.
There is a historical walking tour along the show with signs telling about Curacao. The first describes how when the Dutch took over Curacao from the Spanish in 1634 they converted it into a slave trading post. Slaves were transported from West Africa to Curacao where they remained in camps for 2 years where they learned skills that increased their market value. The second sign indicates that most of the population understand and speak Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento. The third sign indicates that the 142,000 inhabitants of Curacao come from over 40 different countries although most are now Dutch citizens.
The old fort that guarded the entrance to the channel to the inner harbor was decorated for Christmas. There was a colorful market along the inner harbor. A policeman on a Segway was patrolling the market ensuring that the vendors and their customers followed the rules.
We walked through the market along the edge of the inner harbor and over the Queen Emma pontoon bridge that spans St Anna Bay and joins the Punda and Otrobanda districts of Curacao. This bridge used to carry traffic between the two districts but when the Queen Juliana bridge (in the background) was opened in 1974, the Queen Emma bridge was converted to a pedestrian only bridge. We crossed the pontoon bridge to the Punda side and headed for a shop that sold tablecloths that Nancy remembered from our visit in 2007. Mary Ann and Nancy spent quite a while shopping in Mr Tablecloth.
Mr Tablecloth also sells place-mats, aprons, and other kitchen linens. The Queen Emma pontoon bridge can swing around a pivot on the Otrobanda end to allow ships to pass through. While we were there, it pivoted opened a small amount to allow a tugboat to head out of the inner harbor. We walked around for a while on the Punda side. This is the main shopping area of Willemstad with shops lining the streets.
There were lots of interesting items for sale in the shops here. Melissa seems rather taken with this brightly painted sculpture. One of the shops was selling ceramic Christmas tree ornaments. Mary Ann even managed to find a suitable bathing suit in one of the shops here. Near the Waaigat Channel there were street vendors and the market.
The market extends along the the Waaigat Channel. Since Curacao is only about 100 miles from the coast of Venezuela and has very little arable land, farmers from Venezuela bring fresh fruits, vegetables and fresh to the market every day. Looking towards the large inner harbor we see the Queen Juliana bridge that carries vehicular traffic across St Anna Bay. As we walked back to the ship with our purchases Mary Ann stopped in at a hair salon to get a quick trim. That evening our cabin steward created a towel rabbit for our cabin.