Monday, December 12, 2016

12-11-16 Aruba (7am - 4:30):

I was excited and apprehensive about Aruba.  I've heard alot about it being a great vacation spot, but we've never been there.  It doesn't have the reputation for snorkeling that the other ABC islands have, but I had printed off a map with a couple spots listed as snorkel areas, so we decided to check at the information center in the port shops and see what they say about snorkeling from shore.  Especially since the destination guide on the ship said there was no shore snorkeling on Aruba.
The view from our verandah from where we were docked in Aruba.  I was amazed that there was a tree growing in the ocean. 

The view of Oranjestad from the other side of the ship.
 The guy at the info desk within the large port shopping area was very helpful.  Most of them are, but he went over and above the norm.  He even assured us that taking the public bus was the way to go instead of taking a taxi.  I had read that the bus didn't run on Sunday.  I guess you can't believe everything you read.  And I liked seeing the Christmas decorations!  I'm very much missing Christmas decorations this year.  I thought the ship would be decorated for Christmas, but it's not.  We also didn't put any Christmas decorations up in our apartment.
 The walk to the bus station wasn't bad at all.  It was only about a block down from the port.  Right next to Pizza Hut.  Yep, Aruba has all the comforts of home---Pizza Hut, Wendy's, Hard Rock Cafe, ... .  We eventually figured out that the schedule they have up where the buses load is not accurate on weekends!  We did have to wait about 30 minutes, but the fare was only $5 round trip!
 nice big clean bus.  We packed it full to standing room only.
 one of the riders said the bus pass included free admission to the Butterfly farm.  We didn't get off here, but some people did.
 the town area near the resort area.
 I think I agree with this sign.
 bet that would be a fun tour on the double decker bus.
 more Christmas decorations.
 TGI Fridays!
Most people got off in the resort area of town, but we rode on to the northern coast.  The ride was about 30 minutes but I enjoyed seeing the sites.  This looked like a nice place to live!

 The information guy mentioned between Catalina and Arashi was the best place to snorkel, so we got off at Catalina.  He also mentioned to walk up past 4 houses, then go in past the yellow house.  But I was mesmerized by the water and easy entrance here and quickly made my way into the water right here.
 The catamarans are usually an indication that snorkeling is going on there.  That actually happened to be just past the yellow house.  No problem, we could easily snorkel up to there!
 another view of the gorgeous waters of Aruba!!!!
 almost immediately we ran into a HUGE school of tiny fish.  There had to be billions of fish
 The school went on for as far as I could see.
 There were actually a couple different kinds of fish.
it almost looked like fur
 I was mesmerized!
 Eventually I got through the school of fish and continued on towards the catamarans.
There were a few snorkelers from the catamarans in the water there.  Wonder if they were on a HAL excursion?!  Bet they paid more then $5!
 Saw lots of fish.  First French angelfish I saw this cruise.
sergeant major
Beautiful house
 looking towards Arashi
 large snapper
 school of tangs
typical topography here.
 lots of pelicans on the rocks---thus the white all over the rocks.
 tried to get a better picture of the eel, but it went under the rock and didn't come back out.
 pudding wife wrasse---love that name
a juvenile french angelfish
 looking out to sea and towards more snorkelers.
Heading back in the direction where we got in.  Despite the sky in most of these pictures, we had a couple episodes of heavy rain while we were snorkeling.  After the Bonaire drenching, I did learn to put my towel in a plastic bag!
another kind of snapper
 part of a school of parrotfish
in the section where the catamarans were there were lots of sea biscuit shells on the bottom.  I considered diving down and getting one, but didn't.
 porcupine puffer
another sea biscuit and a butterflyfish
 scrawled filefish
 swimming back through the huge school of tiny bait fish.  Note the 2 large jacks.  The tiny fish didn't scatter for us, but sure did for them!
bunch of juvenile fish near shore.
 the bus was running every 30 minutes (the schedule had said every 60 minutes, but that might be for M-F).  We only had to wait about 5 minutes.  Nice views of the ocean on the way back.
 another catamaran --- more snorkeling?
 lots of umbrellas and chairs along the way.
 There was even a sunken boat here.  Bet the snorkeling would be interesting there, too.
 The resort area.
 another resort.
 a beach in the resort area (palm beach).
 and another
 and another
 and another
 and ... .
back in the town of Oranjestad across from the bus station.
 next to the bus station in Oranjestad.
 the little building to the left is where the bus tickets are sold.
 this might be interesting!
 and one happy tourist!
Back on board, I took up my spot on the empty 11th level walking track area and took pictures as we departed Aruba.
This was my first time ever to Aruba and I really liked it---as well as Curacao and  Bonaire.  I do hope we can make it back to these islands for a land vacation!
one of the sea birds 
 Views the other way from our ship.
 This looked rather inviting!

 We were even treated to a rainbow as we sailed away.
 The show in the World Stage tonight was ABBA FAB.  Knowing they were from the 70s, I looked forward to hearing some stuff from my high school days.  Surprisingly enough, we only recognized a couple songs!  And one of those was from the more recent movie Mamma Mia.  But it was free entertainment and not bad.

 Afterwards we listened to music in a bar for a bit.  Missed the movie on the big screen tonight---Jason Bourne.
 And here was our little buddy waiting for us in our room.

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