The Cruise

World cruise on the Dawn Princess starting in Sydney on May 21, 2010 and sailing west around the world for 104 days.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dawn Princess World Cruise 2010 - Sunday August 1, 2010

Day 72 Curaçao (pronounced cure-a-sow as in - improving the health of a sick pig)
This island in the Netherlands Antilles would have to be another highlight of the cruise. In 1634 the Dutch West India Company claimed Curaçao and in 1915 the Royal Dutch Shell Company built one of the world’s largest refineries to process crude oil from Venezuela. The island looks prosperous and very European. The locals all have to learn four languages in primary school: Dutch, English, Spanish and
the local language Papiamento which is a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, Hebrew and a little Arabic. The ship docks right next to the town so one can just walk off the ship, across the bridge into the Punda. In fact, the ship is so close to one hotel, that it is the only hotel in the world that has to take out insurance against a ship crashing into it. Venezuela is only 40 miles away from Curaçao and the Venezuelans come across by ship with fruit and vegetables and fish, which they sell at the colourful, floating market. Spanish is the only language spoken by the vendors at the floating market. The Punda is the oldest district of Willemstadt, which is the capital of Curaçao. It is the most beautiful city with Dutch style houses, all painted vibrant colours. The houses are made of limestone, which is then cemented over and painted. The story goes that an early governor of the island complained that the white houses when they reflected the glare of the sun, caused him to get headaches. For this reason he decreed that everyone had to paint his house some colour other than white. It was only after he died that they discovered that he owned the paint factory. Whatever the reason, these Dutch style houses painted vibrant red, green, yellow or blue look fantastic and have been the cause of listing Willemstadt as a World Heritage site. Linking the Punda to the Otrobanda is the Queen Emma pontoon bridge. Instead of going under the bridge when a boat or tanker wants to pass, the bridge opens up sideways. The bridge floats on pontoons, and is the only one of its type in the world. It was fun to stand on it as it opened and closed. When this foot - bridge was first built there was a toll to cross it, but to compensate the poor locals, there was a rule that if you were barefoot you did not pay the toll. The more wealthy Dutch used to take their shoes off and carry them to avoid paying the toll. We went to the Hato Caves, which are in the north of the island near the International Airport. These limestone caves are huge and one does not need to bend to walk through them. Massive stalactites and stalagmites can be found throughout these caves, as well as large ponds of fresh water. Evidently, slaves who escaped used to hide out in these caves. They traded water for food with the local Indians. You can still see the black ceilings in the caves from where the escaped slaves cooked their food. Shopping is
also very good in Willemstadt. I think I got carried away with the bright colours of the houses and bought a bright orange dress and a vibrant green dress as well as a pair of striped multicolour shoes. We had a coffee in the morning, overlooking the inner harbour and watched the pontoon bridge opening and closing. The coffee was fantastic, as I do not think much of the coffee on the ship. In the afternoon, Bill and I spent a couple of hours at the Carnival Renaissance hotel, which was a short walk from the ship. This hotel had a marvelous sand based, salt-water swimming pool, which was adjacent to the harbour. The pool would have been about 75 metres by 20 metres. We swam and relaxed on lounges under umbrellas on the beach adjacent to the pool while Bill drank a beer and I had a most wonderful pina colada. (Barbara)

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