Within Walking Distance
You can easily see Willemstad’s historic center and natural harbor by pink trolley or on foot from your Carnival cruise to Curaçao. Be sure to watch the Queen Emma pontoon bridge in action. A man actually drives it to the side of the harbor every so often to allow ships and boats to pass through the channel. Fort Amsterdam, site of the Governor’s Palace and the 1769 Dutch Reformed church, guards the waterfront. The church still has a British cannonball embedded in it. A few minutes’ walk from the pontoon bridge is the Floating Market, where scores of fishing boats arrive from Venezuela, Colombia, and neighboring West Indian islands, to sell tropical fruits, vegetables, and handicrafts alongside the canal.
Dating back to 1651, the Jewish congregation in the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue is the oldest in the New World. The sand floor inside symbolizes the Jews’ years of wandering in the desert. The Museum Kurá Hulanda is one of the most riveting as it presents a chronicle of the slave trade and origins of man. Both are among the stops made on the Downtown Walking Tour & Kurá Hulanda Museum excursion. If your Carnival Curaçao cruise sails during Carnival (between New Year’s and March), make it a point to catch one of 20 different festive parades and colorful street parties in Willemsted.
Beyond the Port Area
Iguanas, donkeys, wild goats, and many species of birds thrive on the island and shore excursion Ostrich Farm & Sightseeing will help you see many of them. The Curaçao Sea Aquarium displays more than 400 marine species and the Dolphin Encounter excursion gives you the opportunity to get up-close and personal with these magnificent animals. Several shore excursions; Sea & See Curaçao, Curaçao Highlights, and Curaçao Sightseeing & Sea Aqaurium, offer you an opportunity to visit the scenic harbor, local artist, museums as well as the Curaçao Liqueur Distillery, where you’ll learn how the dried Curaçaon orange peel is transformed into blue Curaçao liqueur.
Beaches In Curaçao
The Curaçao Sea Aquarium has the island’s only full-facility, white-sand, palm-shaded beach and the Beach Fun By Boat can take you there. Blauwbaai (Blue Bay), just north of town, is the largest and most frequented beach on Curaçao. At the top of the island, Westpunt is known for its gigantic cliffs and the Sunday divers who plunge off them.
Shopping in Curaçao
Curaçao is a shopper’s paradise, with more than 100 stores in old Dutch houses lining Heerenstraat, Breedestraat, and other streets in the five-block Punda district. The island is famous for its 5-lb. “wheelers” of Gouda and Edam cheese. You’ll find good buys on French perfumes, Dutch blue Delft souvenirs, finely woven Italian silks, intricate lacework, jewelry, and Swiss watches. Look for island-made rum and liqueurs, especially Curaçao liqueur, with its distinctive blue hue. Street vendors hawk carvings and flamboyant paintings from Haiti and the Dominican Republic at main plazas.