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Curacao: Free...dom to Relax- Trip Report

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

Good morning from Curacao! Was such a peaceful morning pulling into port in Curacao this morning. Spent sometime on deck watching the sunrise and the ship pull into port before I headed for some breakfast.

Sunrise over Curacao

Headed to Windjammer around 730ish. Selection of food was about the same as yesterday. Windammer was not that busy. Seems like lots of late risers on this ship.

Got into port around 730-745 and by 815 or so it was time to get off the ship. The plan for today- Explorer. I had a reservation at Budget rental car for 830. The location was at the Renaissance Hotel right by port. After the many photo ops in front of the Freedom we made our way to the hotel.

What a great ship. Freedom is one to remember.

Got there on time to find no attendant only another couple waiting to rent a car. After some discussion with the couple about where the attendant was, I realized that only one attendant was responsible for checking people in, checking the car out, and getting us on our way. After an hour we were finally on our way. 1 hr down of time on the island and had not even got out of the port yet.Then once we got into the car I realized we had less then a quarter tank of gas. YIPPIE!!!!

1st stop after getting the car- Hato Caves.

So after having to deal with super slow service at Budget Rental Car. I would not recommend them if you have limited time on the island. This was the beginning of a whole lot of learning experiences and what were we thinking moments. This was also the beginning of the first disappointing moment with RCCL that we have had, but I will explain that later.

So we headed out on our journey. I had upgraded my cellphone to an international data plan for work. But it also came in handy to have GPS, if I had turned it on. It only took until the Hato Caves for me to realize this. But we made it there no problem. We paid for our tickets $18 for two and were provided a guided tour of the caves. This was definately worth it. Had about a 45 minute tour of the caves and learned a little on the way. Like the keep components to stalagmites and stalactites are water, limestone, CO2 and time. If you go there remember this there is a quiz. Had a great time going through the caves and seeing the wildlife around there.

After the caves, it was off to the North Shore and Shete Boka. If you noticed, I never mentioned getting gas. Well that was because I missed the gas station.......twice. So now that GPS worked thanks to turning on the data. I could find a gas station. Problem was...I already was heading to Shete Boka and the closest gas station was behind us. So backwards we go. After a 15 minute detour we found the gas station and low and behold there was an open spot. Woohoo an open spot. Lots of other cars lined up though. So like any smart American driver, I pulled up to the pumps, got out and stood there with a dumb look on my face trying to figure the pump out. So after pushing some random buttons, I realized I needed to prepay. So I dropped a $20 and away I went. So as I pumped the gas, my brother stood by and watched. Apparently my big bro didn't think I was capable of fueling my car without him. So as the pump quickly went past 20 he stops the pump and points out we went over the amount. I start it back up and explain the pump will automatically stop and the pump is in Curacao's currency, the Antillian Guilder. So once the pump stopped. We were set. Go back into the car and got heckled by my DW and sister in law for pulling into the pumps backwards. Apparently there is a right and wrong way to fuel a car. Who knew. So off the Shete Boka. 

The journey to Shete Boka was pretty easy. Not a lot of traffic and very few roads. But also not a lot of signs either. Had my brother google speed limits since signs for them were pretty scarce. Then just travel with the flow of the few cars that were there.

Arrived at Shete Boka and up to the entrance gate. It cost $10 to get in person and we purchased the map for a $1. Although that was quite the adventure. So as my brother attempted to speak with the lady about the park. She told him the map cost a coin and held up the coin and asked if he had one. He said no. She said it would be $1 then. He tried to confirm that he could by the coin for $1, but wanted to know where to get the map. After a minute or so, we finally got him to realize he was holding the map and needed to give her a dollar. We paid and were finally in the park.

We visited 3 of the four locations in the park. Words cannot describe the views so here are some photos.

Also found this sign rather funny:

So after leaving Shete Boka it was off to the beach. The plan was to go to Playa Knip. As we got into the car, my brother and I both realized we had less the 20% battery on our phone and GPS was eating a lot of it. Lesson #2- bring a battery pack or car charger so you don't run out of battery life on your phone. So off we went to find the beach. If I haven't mentioned, the street signs are not very good. So after a few wrong turns, a dying GPS, I started to get lots of laughter and do you know where you are going and stop for directions from the back seat. I assured everyone it was under control. A short time later, there it was Playa Knip or was it. The sign said Playa Kenepa Grandi beach. Well who cares, it was a beach. Beggars cant be choosers.

Spend the next hour or so swimming, relaxing and snorkeling. Realized everything at the beach cost money including the bathroom. But it was worth it. Grabbed a bite to eat from the snack shack there. Had a burger and fries with two waters that the wife and I share for $10. Not bad at all.

After the beach it was off to find the Flamingos. By this time GPS was almost completely nonexistent so I had to use my keen sense of direction to get there and after a few more wrong turns there we were the flamingos. Everybody say Ohhhh Ahhhhh.

Then it was time to head back into Otrabanda for some shopping and to return the car by 5 pm. I had already got into the car and everyone else tried to pile in. Not once, not twice, but three times they set the alarm off. To make matters worse the local police were sitting just up the road. After finally getting the alarm to shut off, a local walks by and says "Ahh the sounds of Curacao."

So after everyone loaded back up, we took off for Otrabanda. A few minor navagational errors again and some traffic got us back into Otrabanda before 430. So after dropping the car off at Budget we were off to do some shopping. Thus is where some frustration comes in with RCCL. Prior to the sailing we booked the Mystery Dinner. Rather then putting it on a night or at a time allowed you full opportunity to enjoy the island, it was on this night at 615. We had 1hr and 45 minutes to shop, get ready, and get to the On Air Lounge. While we could have skipped some of the stuff to give our self more, it would have been nice to have the extra 1hr in the port area versus having to rush.

So we walked the port are to Queen Emma's Bridge, saw it open up and Coast Guard ship come through and then headed back to the ship. The area was nicely decorated for Christmas, I just wish we had been able to see the other side of the port.

So after quickly getting back on the ship and cleaning up we made it to the Mystery Dinner. So the dinner started in the On Air Lounge with the introduction of the characters. We were then whisked away for supper at Giovanni's Table. Menu options were limited but did not disappoint. Was worth the money just for the food. Had the Filet and the soup of the day.

So as the evening went on, the characters tried to rationalize what happened to their classmate or should I say our classmate. We listened, took mental notes, and enjoyed the company of the people around us. But by the end of supper, I had an excruciatingly pain headache and just wanted it over. After all it had been 4 hrs by the time it was all said and done. So as the night went on our table asked the waiter who he thought did it. He gave his opinion on the killer, which turned out to be correct. Made some at the table upset when the killer was revealed. For those wondering, I did get it correct so at least I can save some face there. I also told our group why before the revealed it which was also correct. Enough bragging. 

Biggest disappointment with this dinner was it was way to long. It did not need to last 4 hrs and would be nice to be on a different night beside one when were are in port until 8 pm.

Due to the headache, it was straight to bed to prepare for Aruba.

Lessons learned from Curacao

#1- Make sure GPS is working

#2- Drive the correct way through the gas pumps

#3- Don't get lost

#4- Bring an extra battery pack with or charger

#5- Avoid renting from Budget. They operate on island time and live slow.

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