The Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba is a popular cruise destination, offering tropical beaches, pristine waters, and exciting adventures. What goes best with sun, sand and sea? Eating, of course! A multi-cultural blend of delectable flavors, Aruba cuisine takes influence from Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, South American and Caribbean dishes. So, on your next cruise to the Caribbean, tell your taste buds to get ready for a serious onslaught of tasty sensations.
1. Keshi Yena
Dutch-influenced food is often heavily centered on cheese, and that’s basically what keshi yena stands for. If that’s making your mouth water already, wait until you bite into one of these cheese balls, stuffed with spicy meat and coated in Gouda or Edam cheese. Best of all, you’ll find different variations to try; stuffed with prunes, raisins, cashews, and more. So, if you need one, you’ll have an excuse to sample them all.
2. Fried Plantain
Fried plantain is a popular food in Aruba, mainly served as a side to an array of dishes. A rich sweetness enhances a salty harvest from the ocean, so it’s the perfect accompaniment to seafood feasts. It’s so tasty, though, that you can order it as a main dish to thoroughly enjoy the crispy, caramelized flavor.
3. Cabrito Stoba
When you’re really hungry, you can’t go wrong with local favorite, cabrito stoba. It’s an Aruban goat stew in a tomato-based gravy, served with hearty potatoes, onions, garlic, hot pepper, nutmeg, and sometimes a hint of curry. If you don’t like goat, there’s a beef stew called carni stoba, which is a great alternative.
4. Sopi Mondongo
If you feel like you need a bit of a health kick after enjoying the cocktails on deck last night, order a bowl of sopi mondongo. It’s a traditional tripe or bone marrow soup known for its nourishing qualities, served with bell peppers, potatoes, West Indian pumpkin, celery, and more for a serious nutrient boost.
When you’re shopping for souvenirs, there’s nothing better than a tasty snack to keep you going. Cala is basically a snack made of black-eyed peas, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they don’t pack a flavorsome punch. They’re fried with batter and the result is a crispy, golden ball that’s the perfect bite-size to pop in your mouth.
6. Bolita di Keshi
When you’re on a cruise with the kids, you might be wondering what to eat in Aruba, especially if the little ones are fussy. However, you’ll see local children munching on delicious fried cheese balls, called bolita di keshi, so you don’t have to worry about finding a delicious snack that’s perfect for children after you’re off the ship!
7. Cool Island Soup
On a hot day, what could be better than the flavors of lime juice, apricot nectar, cantaloupe, papaya and pineapple? Mixed with sparkling water or even a splash of sparkling wine, cool island soup is readily available across the island to cool you down in the tropical heat.
Funchi, a simple cornmeal staple, is very similar to polenta. It’s served as a side dish to most meals throughout Aruba. However, it often comes with a delectable twist: it’s fried and topped with rich, melted cheese or slathered in creamy butter.
9. Pan Bati
Another side dish you simply must try is pan bati. It’s a slightly sweet, fluffy flatbread that resembles a pancake. Locals eat it with savory dishes like soups and stews, or on its own, as it simply melts in your mouth.
10. Bolo Borracho
For dessert in Aruba, get ready for your first taste of “tipsy rum cake.” Bolo borracho is a decadent cake made with splashes of white rum, then sprinkled with rum again once it’s cooked. As if that’s not delicious enough, it’s coated in whipped cream, sprinkles and maraschino cherries.
For those with a sweet tooth, you’re never far from satisfaction in Aruba. Cocada is a coconut candy you can buy everywhere and pop in your bag for late-night sugar cravings. Traditionally served on coconut shells, they’re made with fresh, grated coconut, brown sugar and lime juice .
Fans of creme caramel or flan will love Aruba’s version, called kesio. The sweet, gooey sauce and moist cake is served in bakeries and restaurants as the perfect finish to an island feast.
13. Papaya Hot Sauce
Finally, papaya hot sauce is a tangy dance of flavors you’re likely to find accompanying most food in Aruba. Try it with an array of dishes, including meat and seafood. Best of all, it’s the perfect size to take a bottle back on board your Carnival cruise, so you can treat your friends at home to a spicy taste of the Caribbean.
Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options may vary by ship and destination.