Walking Tour of Willemstad, Curacao

cruise ship at the dock

Divina in Curacao

On a day that could turn from sun to rain and back in the blink of an eye, our shore excursion from the Divina of MSC Cruises in Curacao included a walking tour of nearby Willemstad after a visit to Hato Caves.  We had the free garbage bag-like rain ponchos from the ship this time, but they turned out to be more trouble than they were worth on this particular day.  Once removed from the packet they don’t fold up that small again, and by the time we decided we might need them and put them on the rain pretty well stopped.

Willemstad, Curacao

tour guide with the lollipop sign

Our guide for the walking tour, a Curacao native of Dutch descent, held up a “lollipop” sign with the number 4 while waiting for passengers to disembark.  At times along the journey she would hold this sign above her head to keep the group from getting lost in a crowd…or perhaps to discourage people from wandering off on their own or giving them a way back if they did.

historical buildings

it used to be a synagogue, but now is judge’s chambers

First we saw what appeared to be a church, but it is now the judges chambers for the adjoining courthouse.  It once housed a synagogue used when the Jewish population split into two factions, but they eventually rejoined.

row of colorful buildings

buildings in Curacao

Willemstad has numerous brightly colored buildings.  The old buildings are made of coral and sea sand so paint does not stick well because of the salt.  They constantly peel and need repainting often to stay looking nice.

cruise ship in Curacao

Holland America Maasdam and a local fishing

We couldn’t miss the Holland America ship Massdam dominating the waterfront view, docked in St. Anna Bay near the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge.  The much larger Divina we came on docked outside of the bay at a nearby cruise ship dock.


the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the western hemisphere

We passed the oldest Synagogue in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere, which is also a museum.   Many Spanish and Portuguese Jews fled to Curacao in the mid 1600’s following the Spanish Inquisition.

floating market

backside of the floating market

Our tour took us by the floating market where vendors from Venezuela set up a row of stalls by their small boats and sell fresh fruits and vegetables to the people of Willemstad.  Farming has historically never been profitable in Curacao’s arid soil.  Their current water supply comes from desalinization, so the water is quite expensive.  Rather than agriculture or even tourism, the island’s economy is based on oil.

fresh produce for sail right off the boats

vendor’s stalls at the floating market

We passed a number of street vendors around Willemstad, all seemed quite friendly and none aggressive like they are in some ports.

street vendor

street vendor in Willemstad, Curacao

On your own in Curacao -The town of Willemstad is just a short walk from the cruise ship dock.  Well for us it was.  The smaller Holland America ship Maasdam docked right in the center of town.

On the way back to the ship we saw a guy with a sign for Island tours. For $15 the 2-hour tour covers all the island highlights.

Right off the ship we found a booth selling all sorts of local jewelry made out of everything from pearls to corals to a variety of shells. We did not see anything nicer in town, though one booth near the pontoon bridge did have a small selection of larimar necklaces.

 copyright My Cruise Stories 2014

About LBcruiseshipblogger

MyCruiseStories blog tells stories about adventures in cruising on ships big and small. Things to do onboard and in port. Anything connected to cruising. Also food, travel, recipes, towel animals, and the occasional random blog.
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7 Responses to Walking Tour of Willemstad, Curacao

  1. aFrankAngle says:

    Our stop here was wonderful. With town being walking distance from our dock, we enjoyed the wonderful weather. As you noted, lots of color here … and we discovered an outstanding (and very reasonably priced) artisan on the street.

    In case you don’t know, I invite you, as well as your readers, to my blog party/celebration this weekend. Plenty of entertainment and a chance to meet potential new visitors.

  2. Another good thing about Curacao – it is beyond the hurricane-prone region and doesn’t get any.

    I’ve not heard of a blog party before and am a bit puzzled as to what that is.

  3. Until I read this post, I primarily thought of Curacao as a blue colored liqueur that, when mixed into a martini, tastes like Windex. But your post, further prompted by your colorful pictures, prompted me to learn more about this intriguing island on Wikipedia. Were you aware that prostitution there is legal? But, an even more intriguing factoid is this:

    “Beginning in early 2015, the Lynx rocketplane is expected to be flying suborbital space tourism flights and scientific research missions from a new spaceport on Curaçao.”

    Wow, if that’s true, that’s next year! But I guess there won’t be enough time for cruise ship passengers to take that tour. If anyone tried, the guide would surely need a paddle much larger than her lollipop sign for anyone inclined to wander off into space via rocketplane.

    • I’d forgotten all about the Curacao liqueur, but now that you mention it they did say something about people trying to grow oranges there, which didn’t work out and they came out with a basically inedible orangelike fruit, from which they use the peels to make the liqueur. It’s naturally colorless, but they dye it other colors, most often blue. They also have some with other flavors added.

      The rocket thing is news to me. Nobody mentioned it while we were there and you would think it would have been already under construction. I googled it and found one site saying it would be launching people in 2013, one that said 2014, and one that said it would cost nearly $100,000 for a ticket. Maybe things have not worked out for them so far as to actually getting it up and running. Your comment said 2015, so apparently they keep pushing the proposed launch date farther into the future.

  4. gwynnrogers says:

    You have fabulous pictures. Your tour sounded interesting. Have fun cruising!

  5. Chris says:

    Looks like a good place to go. If oil is thier main thing then maybe I will get lucky and go to work there some day. Trinidad is nice when I’m not stuck on a platform.

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