Southern Caribbean Cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse
1/8/17 to 1/22/17

Due to the length of the review, it is in 2 parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top of each page.

Page 1 – Embarkation, Ship, Dining, Entertainment, Activities; Ports of Call:  Oranjestad, Aruba 
Page 2 -  Ports of Call:  Kralendijk, Bonaire; Willemstad, Curacao; Bridgetown, Barbados; Castries, St. Lucia; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Disembarkation; Recap

 

Preface

I had booked this cruise almost two years early, since we had an onboard booking that was expiring and needed to be applied to a cruise to retain the benefits.  I chose this itinerary, since it was one that had always appealed to me and included several ports that we had not been to.   I didn’t know if we would actually keep the booking or move it to another cruise; but I had plenty of time before I had to make that decision.
 
We have a group of friends that are called the Martini Mates.  The original Martini Mates were formed in 2005, on the Celebrity Infinity while on a re-positioning cruise from Vancouver to San Francisco.  On that roll call, one of the discussion topics was favorite drinks.  Everyone decided to meet in the Martini Bar each evening before dinner.  We did meet there every night, hence the name.  Not everyone liked martinis; but we liked each other.   Over the years, we have added more members.  But we only add them when the original members are on a cruise together and agree on who we want to invite.  When I mentioned that I had booked this cruise, several couples wanted to join us.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t get everyone; but there were ten Martini Mates on this cruise; which made it an even better cruise for us.

Embarkation

Since we live just 50 miles north of Miami, we can drive our car to the port.  Unfortunately, the only safe parking near the port is the expensive Port of Miami parking lots, which charge $20 per day.   We have found that parking at the Embassy Suites near the Miami Airport is a much better option.  The normal rate there is $7.99 per day. We book it through an online site, www.simpleairportparking.com.   We regularly receive promotions from them that offer an additional 10% off, which makes it even more reasonable.  The Embassy Suites Hotel has two shuttle bus trips scheduled in the morning to take cruisers to the port.  There is a charge of $10 per person for this.  We had called the hotel a few days before the cruise to book our seats on the earlier of the two vans.

Once at the terminal, we proceeded quickly through security and check in.  We were onboard before noon and ready for lunch in the buffet.  I continue to be impressed with the efficient embarkation process with Celebrity.  It just can’t be easier or faster.

Around 1:00 PM, we were able to go to our cabins.  The only activity that we had scheduled for the day was a sailaway get together with the people we had met on our www.cruisecritic.com roll call.  It was at the Sunset Bar on deck 15 at the back of the ship; which is the normal place for Cruise Critic group sailaway gatherings.   We were a bit concerned about it, since a cold front had moved through the previous day, and Miami was not having its normal warm sunny weather.  But, even though a bit cooler than normal, it was most pleasant in the sunshine and a good time was had by all.

   

Since I lived in the Philadelphia area for several years, I got a big kick out of this couple’s t-shirts.  I have always been a fan of these two Philadelphia food treats.

I enjoy cruising out of Miami, since there is a lot to see while moving out to sea.  It is just a pretty area.

   

   

   

The yacht, Fountainhead, was docked close to the Eclipse.  The 288-foot yacht, which is the 48th largest in the world, is owned by Mark Cuban.  A tour guide on a tour after the cruise, told us the yacht cost $377,000,000.  It is hard to believe that this yacht costs half as much as the 1,040-foot long Celebrity Eclipse we were cruising on.  It must have a lot of options added to it.

Ship

I normally like to put photos of the ship’s public areas in our reviews; but since we did a complete review of the Eclipse public areas in 2013 on a Baltic cruise and an update for modifications in a 2016 Iceland cruise review, I am not going to include it again for this review.  If you want to see what the ship looks like, you can click HERE to go to the Baltic review page; and HERE to go to the updates shown in the Iceland review. 

 

Cabin
Since we had booked the cruise well in advance, we were able to get one of our favorite hump cabins.  This time we had 8257, which we also had on last year’s Iceland cruise on this ship; and three other times on the Eclipse and Silhouette.   Its location is perfect in that it is close to the midship elevators.  This is important on the Solstice Class ships, since there is no aft elevator.  Cabins near the back of the ship require much more walking to get to different areas of the ship.  Cabin 8257 also has a balcony that is 3 times larger than the standard balcony, because it is on the edge of the hump. 

The cabin is nicely arranged and relatively roomy for a non-suite cruise ship cabin.  The air conditioning worked quite well and we were able to leave it on the same setting for most of the cruise; which is quite unusual.  We had plenty of storage space and the luggage fit nicely under the beds.  The desk has two US plugs and one European two post plug.

   

   

   

By moving the chair out of the way, we were able to put Carol's TravelScoot under the desk.  It worked out very well, since it didn't get in the way at all.

The bathroom is adequately sized and there is plenty of storage space.

   

   

With the cabin veranda being about 3 times the size of a standard veranda, it is a real benefit on a Caribbean cruise.

   

The view down to the water is pretty much unobstructed.  The view to the front and back of the ship is also nice.

   

We also had a very good cabin attendant named Imade from Indonesia.  As has been the case on the last three Celebrity cruises, he did all the work on his own without the aid of an assistant.

Dining (Link to Menus)

I have included copies of the menus for the lounges and specialty restaurants at the Menus link just above and at the top of each page of the review.  Even though I just did them from my previous two months earlier, I was surprised at how much some of them changed.  Since the main dining room menus are the same as I have included on the last several reviews, they are not included.  They can be seen on previous reviews.

Main Dining Room
We normally book early fixed seating in the main dining room for dinner; but this time we booked Select dining so we could eat later.  Eight of our group were able to get Select dining, but Mary and Mike were not able to, so they weren’t able to sit with us each night. 

The first evening we set up our dining at 8:00 PM for each night.  We would have preferred to eat a bit earlier; but with the evening shows being at 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM, 8:00 PM would allow us to see the shows and get to dinner on time.  It did work out really well.  It also gave us more than enough time, so that we didn’t have to rush to get ready after tours, and we had plenty of time to enjoy drinks before the shows.

We lucked out with getting an outstanding wait staff, John from Serbia and Luis from Honduras.  They quickly learned what we liked and brought our tea and other regular requests without being asked.  John’s entrée recommendations were always spot on.  On a few of the times I didn’t take one of his recommendations, I was disappointed.

   
John                                                      Luis

We were able to sit at the same table every evening, except for one night when someone before us took too long to leave the table.  The Restaurant Hostess, Oksana from the Ukraine, was such a pleasure to see each evening.  She always welcomed us with a smile and kept us appraised of when our table would be available.   The sommelier, Koray from Turkey, was also quite good.  He was always happy and regularly came by to refill glasses.  The table did like his wine recommendations.

   
Oksana                                                   Koray

Unfortunately, the food wasn’t as consistently good as the service.  The steak and prime rib were unusually thin on this cruise.  They did taste OK, but because it was so thin, it was either too rare or well done, not the medium rare we prefer.  I always like to get lamb dishes on a cruise.  They didn’t have rack of lamb.  One night I ordered lamb chops, they tasted like they had been sitting around too long.  I took one bite and ordered something else.  They were at room temperature, very dry and tasted strange.  I was concerned about getting ill from them, but I didn’t.

Too many dishes had carrots and green beans for their vegetables.  This can get quite old very quickly.  Interesting vegetables make a meal so much better.  I usually like to get escargot for an appetizer a few nights.  The first time I ordered it, they came out barely warmed.  After that disappointment, I didn’t order them again.  They had been great on our previous two cruises a few months ago, so hopefully it was a one-off.

We haven’t been thrilled with the dessert menus for a while.   We ended up ordering the everyday dessert items like apple pie or ice cream most nights.  The fruit and cheese plates were also a good option.  However, the chocolate lava cake is always good when it is available.

 

Sushi on Five
We aren’t big sushi eaters.  I do like some of it; but Carol normally doesn’t like it, so we had not previously gone to this restaurant.  The pricing is ala cart, which can run into a pretty large bill if you get a lot of items.  One of the couples in our group had purchased the specialty dining package of four meals.  They were able to use the package at Sushi on Five and get whatever they wanted, which they were thrilled with.

We received an invitation for lunch at the Captain’s Table one day.  We were quite surprised, because we hadn’t seen a Captain’s Table in the main dining room for several cruises.  We found out that they are still doing one per cruise for lunch and one for dinner at the specialty restaurants.  Our lunch was to be in Sushi on Five.  We hoped that Carol would be able to find something to order.

We would be having lunch with Captain Leonardos Palaiokrassas and Chief Engineer Manolis Voulgaris.  We knew Manolis from an engine room tour we had taken on the Reflection a few years earlier, so we were looking forward to spending more time with him and Captain Leo.  There were two other couples that joined us at the table.  When the waiter brought us the menus and told us about some of the items, Carol and I were at a loss as to what to order.  The items he highlighted sounded great, even to Carol.   Manolis offered to order a nice food selection for the table, since he was very familiar with the menu and what people liked.  When the food began arriving, we were blown away with how good everything was.  It was, by far the best meal we had during the entire cruise.  Carol absolutely loved it.  Of course, it was enhanced by the enjoyable conversation with our hosts.  Both of them were a pleasure to be with.  We look forward to cruising with both of them again.

Below are some of the food items that we had for lunch.  I didn’t recall the names for all the items; but will include those that I think I remember.  If you see something wrong, please email me, so I can correct it.

   
Lobster Ramen (half order)                                         Homade Lobster & Shrimp Wonton

   
           Edamame                                                           Chicken Ginger Syoza

   
Scallop and Shrimp Dynamite                                                  Assorted Sashimi    

   
Alaskan California                                                               ? 

   
Spicy Tuna & Shrimp Tempura                                             Rainbow Roll     

   
Spicy Tuna                                                             Yuzu Sorbet

   
    Mochi Ice Cream                                                      Carmalized Ginger Bread


Matchamisu

 

Oceanview Buffet
The buffet breakfast options were normally very good; but the premade scrambled eggs just weren’t that good, so I went to the made to order egg station, which was great.  I always went to the buffet for breakfast and Carol normally went to Café al Bacio.  With the premium coffee being a perk of being Elite Plus, Café al Bacio was a great place to go. 

Most days we went to the buffet for lunch.  There was always a good selection of options.  I particularly enjoyed the Indian and Asian options, along with the salad bar.  The pasta station and pizza were always popular and dependably good.

We went to the buffet one evening for dinner, since we had to eat earlier to go to evening activities while we overnighted in Curacao.  We were disappointed in the items offered that night.  The main dining room had a much better selection.  We didn’t go away hungry from the buffet; but it reinforced our choice to eat in the main dining room, rather than the buffet.


Mast Grill
We visited the Mast Grill several times for lunch, since the hamburgers and hot dogs were very good.  Sometimes we would take them into buffet to eat, since the tables near the grill were full.  Plus, we could get a salad at the buffet to eat with the hamburgers.  We have always been able to count on the Mast Grill for decent food.

 

Entertainment

Since we had been on the Eclipse eight months before this cruise, we had already seen the new production shows that started last year.  We were not too thrilled with two of them, but were looking forward to the individual performers.  The Cruise Director, Eddie Jenkins from Wales, was just delightful.  He was humorous and provided us with enough information, without wasting a lot of time.  He did a great job with various activities he was involved in around the ship, and took time to talk with the passengers.  I hope we are fortunate enough to have him as CD on future cruises.

   


Performers –
Eddie told us that he had gotten a great selection of performers for our cruise.  He certainly did!  Most of them were just outstanding and we looked forward to each evening’s shows.

Wayne Cotter – Wayne is a well-known comedian who hosted the Comic Strip Live TV show for several years.  He was hilarious and kept the audience laughing though the whole show.  He also did a late night show the next night, but I missed it.

       

Eh440 – This a cappella group from Toronto was awesome.  It was composed of three guys and two girls, all with incredibly good voices.  It is not a normal a cappella group, since one of the guys is a beatboxer.  When I got home, I had to look them up online and found their website, www.eh440.com .  They have several of their music videos on the site.  They got a very long standing ovation.  Great show!

   

       

   

   

Pete Matthews – Pete is called a comedy juggler from the UK.  I wasn’t too excited about seeing a juggler; but since he was supposed to be funny, I went to the show.  I was glad I did.  He made the juggling pretty enjoyable with the comedy included.  He was hilarious at times and was quite a character.  I liked him so much, I even went to the Liar’s Club show that he was supposed to be a part of the next evening.  Unfortunately, it seemed like Pete was quite drunk.  He had even brought several glasses of wine with him on the stage.  He had apparently been at the bar for a while before the show.  It was very embarrassing to see a talented entertainer making an ass of himself and being obnoxious with the audience.  I left early in the show, as did others.  It was quite a shame.  I hope he can control himself on future cruises, since his first show was so good.

   

       

Jason Bishop – Jason is a talented illusionist.  For the most part his show was quite entertaining, however he used a table in three different tricks to make his assistant disappear during the show.  They were done in different ways, but the table was obviously where she was disappearing into.  I guess that he could only bring so much equipment with him on a traveling show.   He did do several amazing feats and I did enjoy his show.

   

For one of his tricks, he picked one of our Martini Mates from the audience, Danny.  He chose Danny because he had $1 bill.  Jason took the bill, tore it up, then brought it back together as a $20.  He gave Danny the $20 and let him go back to his seat.  Danny really enjoyed the show!

   

Inna Tolstova – Unfortunately, since this show was on the night we were in Curacao, I didn’t get to see this singer’s performance.  I was told that she was quite good.  Hopefully, we will catch her on another cruise.

Liam Ryder – This singer and pianist has appeared on the Tonight Show.  He played a great variety of music from rock to classical.  He was even able to play sitting on the floor, playing the piano backwards.  He did a great job and the audience loved him.

   

   

Sean O’Shea – This was a different type of singing show.  Sean is an impressionist singer.  He sang various artists songs including Neil Diamond and Elton John.  He had to dress up like Elvis for his songs.  It was a good show, but he was probably my least favorite entertainer of the cruise.

       

Jeri Sager – Jeri is a Broadway singer.  She performed songs from some of the roles she has played, as well as other well-known music.  She is an excellent singer.  I really enjoyed her song selection and was sorry when the show ended.  I could have listened to her for a lot longer.

       

David Gudice – David is a Billy Joel tribute singer.  I have not enjoyed the few tribute singers I have seen in recent years on cruises.  I guess that they try too hard to look and act like the singer they are portraying.  David didn’t seem to be trying to be Billy Joel, just sing his songs.  I didn’t think he sounded much like Billy, but I enjoyed the show.

   

Ed Regine – This comedian has been around for a long time and has appeared on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show twelve times, Last Comic Standing, Evening at the Improv and many other shows.  I don’t remember seeing him before; but the jokes seemed very familiar.  Unlike the other comedy shows on the ship, he was only getting polite laughter rather than big laughs.  It was a shame, since he is obviously a very seasoned comedian.  He could use some new material.

       

Not Really 3 Tenors – The show on the last night on board is usually a mixture of previously seen acts and production show singers.  Since I wasn’t expecting much, I didn’t bring my camera with telephoto lens, like I do with most shows.  I should have brought it, because this act was great.  I was able to take some shots with my iPhone during and after the show that turned out OK.  They were outstanding singers. They mixed some comedy in with the music, which made the show even more enjoyable.  The audience loved them and couldn’t clap enough for the great show they provided.  It was the best last night show we have been to.  Here is a link to their page on a talent agency website:  http://www.williamclare.com/artist-categories/variety-vocalists/not-really-3-tenors

   

       

Production Shows –
When we saw these shows on our Iceland cruise last year, I was excited to see what Celebrity had created for their new show series.  We had seen their old shows many times.  We couldn’t have been more disappointed in shows Topper and Chandelier.  The silly and difficult to understand story lines made the shows drag and distracted from the talents of the production cast in my opinion.

Topper –   I skipped this show, since I was so disappointed in it the first time I saw it.  Perhaps they have changed the show up some, since I did hear some good comments about it.  I guess that I will have to check it out again next time it is available.

Chandelier – Because I had heard some good things about Topper, I decided to see Chandelier again.  It seemed to be a bit clearer about what was going on; but perhaps it was because I had seen it before.  I still didn’t care for it.

Rock City -  I enjoyed Rock City last year and looked forward to seeing it again.  It doesn’t have a silly story, just good music and dancing.  They sing a lot of the well-known rock music, so the audience was really getting into it.  The gymnastics were also enjoyable in this show.  I hope when they replace shows in the future, they are more like this one than the other two.

   

       

   

       

   

   

   

 

Activities
Cruise Critic Connections Party (www.cruisecritic.com) - We have been on the website www.cruisecritic.com for 16 years.  It has provided us with so much valuable information that has helped us so much.  By joining what is called a roll call on Cruise Critic, we can meet other people that will be cruising on the same cruise as us.  This is very helpful in setting up private tours with other people; plus, it allows us to meet people before the cruise that we have become friends with during and after the cruise.  Celebrity sets up what is called a Connections Party, where those that have signed up for the party are able to meet others from the roll call.  Normally the Cruise Director and other staff members attend and sometimes even the Captain. 

We had a large roll call with about 140 members on it.  We were looking forward to meeting a lot of the people who we had been communicating with for many months.  For some reason, a lot of the people didn’t receive invitations to the Connections Party, including us.  We have been to enough of them to assume that it would occur on the first sea day, which was the second day of the cruise, so I called guest relations.  It turned out to be at 9:15 AM on the second sea day of the cruise in the Sky Lounge.  Since we had two sea days in a row, it was probably a better time for it than the previous day.  We had a good size group, but we heard from many of them that missed the party because they hadn’t gotten an invitation.

   

   

Cruise Director Eddie hosted the party.  We had seen Eddie during our 2014 Panama Canal cruise, when one of our friends, Sheri, danced with him in the Dancing with the Officers contest.  They were happy to see each other again.

   

We were most pleased that Captain Leo was attending.  He has a great personality and he welcomed us to the cruise.  He is the type of Captain that likes to mingle with the guests.  He is very friendly and can be seen talking with guests all around the ship.  We really enjoyed him.

   

In addition to other officers that came with the Captain, we were thrilled to see Chief Engineer Manolis Voulgaris.  This was the first time we had seen him since he gave us a tour of the Celebrity Reflection engine room in 2013.  We really enjoyed the time we spent with him back then.  He is very friendly and just a great guy, so it was like seeing an old friend.  I took a photo of Manolis with Carol.

   

Then we took a photo of all of the Martini Mates with the Hotel Director, Captain and Chief Engineer. 

Carol really took a shine to Hotel Director Mario.

It was a most enjoyable Connections Party.  I wish everyone had been able to attend.

 

Beyond the Podium Speakers – 
I always enjoy going to the lecturers on a cruise.  They can help you to learn about things that happened in the ports on the itinerary or other interesting topics.  We had some excellent speakers on this cruise, who gave talks on the 5 sea days.  Unfortunately, the speaker’s venue was the small Celebrity Central studio, rather than the theater, which caused a lot people to have to stand or be turned away from the talks.  Below are the two speakers that I went to regularly.

Doctor David Plourd –   Dr. Dave, as he was referred to, was a most enjoyable speaker.  He was a Dr. of Obstetrics that loved the seas, so he got a degree in marine sciences.  He has been diving and snorkeling for thirty years.  He talks about oceans and sea life showing photos and videos from his adventures.  His explanations and tales of his adventures are captivating; plus, he throws in enough humor to keep the presentations lively.  He had presentations on water, coral reefs, sea turtles, dolphins and whales.  His talks were so popular, people would squeeze into the room anywhere they could fit.  It looked very uncomfortable for those that didn’t arrive early.  Doctor Dave went on several of the ship’s snorkel excursions.  I am sure those that were on those tours enjoyed having him along to point out things and explain what they were seeing.

Gid Pool – Gid is a comedian, who got into comedy eleven years ago, when he was 61 years old.  Jane Pauley had done a segment on the Today show about how he started his comedy career late in life.  He had interesting talks about how he got started, the history of standup comedy, Robin Williams and how comedians do what they do.  He had good presentations and most of them were standing room only.

 

Ports of Call

Oranjestad, Aruba
We thought that this visit to Aruba would be our second visit; since we were supposed to have stopped there on a March 2016 cruise on the Oceania Riviera.  Since the Riviera had a Norovirus outbreak, Aruba wouldn’t allow us to dock there.  It was most disappointing; but less so, since I knew we would get to visit there on this cruise.
We were welcomed to Aruba with calm waters and a sunrise that painted the clouds in lovely shades of yellow.  It was starting off to be a great day.

   

We had a tour booked with the same guide we had booked last year, that we had to cancel since the ship couldn’t dock.  We were using Cerry with Private Island Tour Aruba (www.pitaruba.com).  He was waiting right outside the terminal gate for us.  We were quite pleased with Cerry’s tour.  He provided us with lots of good info about Aurba and showed us everything we hoped to see and more; plus, he was a very pleasant guy.

We were taking the tour with our friends from England, Paul and Gail.  They are members of our Martini Mate Group.  In 2016, we had spent several days with them at their home in Leeds, England and they toured us all over the beautiful Yorkshire area before our Iceland cruise.  We had also toured with them on our recent Holy Land cruise, so touring with them was becoming a most enjoyable regular thing.

For this tour, Carol brought her TravelScoot, since we thought that there would be some places that would require a lot of walking.  Cerry’s SUV had plenty of room for us to put it in the back without having to totally collapse it.  We just took off the seat, like we do in our personal SUV.

Our first stop was at the California Lighthouse.  It celebrated it’s 100-year anniversary in 2016.  It was named California, after the steamship, California, that wrecked nearby in 1891.  The lighthouse had been undergoing renovations during 2016, with scaffolding covering it.  Apparently, the renovations had just recently been completed.  We took turns getting photos in front of the lighthouse.  This is one with Gail and Carol.

   

We continued the tour, passing by the flat barren landscape on one side of the road and beautiful beaches on the other.

   

Cerry took us into one of the more exclusive housing developments on the island, to show us the large homes that were being built there.  It was an impressive development.

   

Continuing our drive, we got a nice view of the lighthouse and an old shipwreck near the beach.

   

Cerry took us to the Hyatt Hotel on Palm Beach.  He thought we would enjoy it; plus, we could go down to the beach.  He was right!  This was a gorgeous resort.  We were most impressed.

   

In addition to the Koi pond, they also had black swans swimming around.

The beach was just what you would expect, with gorgeous white sand. 

   

After leaving the Hyatt, Cerry stopped at Eagle Beach to show us a beach without a resort surrounding it.  We had been experiencing a lot of wind, ever since we left Miami; and Aruba was getting it also.  The Aruba beaches are not on the windward side of the island; but this day they were getting the winds and the waves were really crashing in.

   

Our next stop was at Saint Ann’s Catholic Church.  The original church was built there in 1776; but the current one has been there since 1914.  The church was closed, so we couldn’t see the interior; but the most interesting area was the cemetery and mausoleum.  It was decorated with so many flowers.

   

   

We then drove to a different part of the island.  The terrain was covered with cactus.  We came to a large water tank.  Since Aruba doesn’t have any lakes or rivers, and doesn’t get much rain, most of the water comes from desalinization plants.  Needless to say, water is expensive in Aruba.

   

Our next stop was at the small Alta Vista Chapel, which is also known as the Pilgrim’s Church.  The current church was built in 1952; but the original church was built in 1750.  It was where the conversion of Aruban Indians to Christianity began.  The quaint church is surrounded by concrete pews.

   

The interior is small, since the building is only 50’ X 16’, the same size as the original structure.  Above the altar is a brightly colored Virgin Mary statue.

   

From the parking lot, we walked over to an area with huge cactus plants.  They appeared much larger when standing next to them, than when viewed from the car speeding past them.  I was glad that Paul took the below photo.

   

Cerry asked us to choose which of several attractions to go to next.  We decided to go to the Phillips Animal Garden, (www.philipsanimalgarden.com).  It is a non-profit organization that rescues animals on Aruba and the region.  We didn’t know what to expect, but it was much nicer than we expected.  When we purchased our $10 tickets, they gave each of us a bag with some of feed and carrots to feed the animals with.   They told us to only feed animals with 4 legs and not to feed the monkeys.

We were surprised at how many different types of animals they had.  They were all aware that the guests had food.  They would rush up to the fences to welcome us and impress us to give them something to eat.

   

   

   

Gail was being nice to one of the camels, when the camel decided to grab the whole bag from her and swallow it.  The photo shows him grabbing it; but I was too surprised to take a photo of him trying to eat it in the plastic bag.  He did chew and swallow the whole thing.

   

The monkeys were particularly cute.  One of the smaller ones liked to hold our fingers.

   

We were only there about 45 minutes and we could have stayed longer, since we didn’t get to spend much time looking at the birds, snakes and other species at the park.

Our next destination was the Aruba Natural Bridge.  To get there, we had to drive for almost ten minutes along a very rough pitted dirt road.  The original bridge that was 100 feet long and 25 feet high collapsed in 2005.  As we drove to the parking lot, we didn't realize that we were looking at the collapsed bridge. 

   

Below is a picture of the original bridge that is on the wall of the gift shop.

The remains aren’t much to look at.  The bridges were originally caves, where the roofs collapsed.  Eventually it all collapses.

   

Fortunately for this tourist attraction site, there is a smaller natural bridge right next to the original one. I am not sure that I would walk out on it, like some people were doing. 

   

The area itself is rather pretty with the waves crashing along the rocky shoreline.  I was able to take a photo of Paul and Gail nearby.

   

Our next stop was at the Ayo Rock Formations.  These large rocks really stand out in this flat land of cactus. 

There is a walking path through the rocks, but Paul and I didn’t go that far into it.  We did get to see the hollow rock that had a gate on it to keep people out of it.

   

   

After seeing the rocks, we headed back to the port.  When Cerry dropped us off, he told us about some things we could do in Oranjestad, as well as restaurants to go to.  For a four-hour tour, we had seen a lot of Aruba.  Cerry did a good job for us.  Passing through the terminal to get back to the Eclipse for lunch, we got a kick out of the Christmas decorations.

After lunch, I came back into town, which was close to the ship.  The main thing I wanted to do was to ride the free downtown trolley, to see some of the sights.  The bright blue trolley was easy to find.  I climbed on and went to the upper riding area.

   

We passed by the Archeologic Museum, as well as many other brightly colored buildings.  It was a slow ride with several stops along the tree lined tracks.  It took about 30 minutes to complete the full route; but since I was just enjoying the views, I was glad I did it.

   

   

   

After exiting the trolley, I decided to walk around a bit.  The town is quite pretty, with many brightly colored ornately decorated buildings.  This one building really got my attention.  It was an assortment of many designs.

   

I noticed several blue horse statues while going around the city. I read that there are eight of them.  They were installed in 2015 for an outdoor art project.  They were a tribute to Paarden Baai. In English, this means Horses Bay, which was the city’s original name in the 17th century when selling horses to Europeans was a major industry. 

After walking around and seeing everything I could, I returned to our cabin.  I was able to take some photos of the dock area and town.  It had been a most enjoyable day. 

   

 

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