Our port stop in Aruba on Celebrity Constellation started with an early morning excursion, meeting in the theater at 8:15 am. When our group number was called we went out to the port where we found someone with a sign for our excursion. The other excursions out there all left on busses. Ours walked down the port a ways, crossed a street, and went to a marina for boats much smaller than a cruise ship. A catamaran waited on the nearest dock. We saw sea life before we even got on the boat. A crab was crawling around on the dock. It went over the side once like it was going back into the water, but then it crawled back up and scuttled around on the dock some more. Bigger than a little beach crab, but nowhere near eating size.
Usually sail and snorkel excursions make a pretense of raising the sails and then proceed to their destination under engine power. They do often sail for real a bit on the way back. This one said the mainsail was broken so they’d just be putting up the jib (smaller front sail) and going under engine power. They did say they might use just the sail for a bit on the way back, but I don’t think they ever actually did. People generally book these excursions for the snorkeling anyway.
The boat went about 40 minutes up the coast of the island to an area where the shore was lined with hotels and resorts on sandy beaches. The first stop was near to shore in a fairly shallow area with some rocky structure on the bottom. There was a bit of small coral and some sea urchins in the rocks. The waters teemed with fish.
Upon entry right from the boat we landed in a giant school of tiny fish, each maybe an inch long. Later a school of striped sergeant majors showed up, something that used to be present in droves every time we went snorkeling, but that I hadn’t seen recently.
These fish were quite friendly. They came right up to people and swam all around them. We were literally swimming with the fishes, only in a good way.
There were also some other fish that tended to stay closer to the bottom. I even saw a lionfish hiding in the rocks, though it doesn’t belong there. They’re from the south pacific and Indian oceans and are a non-native invasive species without any predators to limit their numbers anywhere else.
There were several other boats nearby. One modeled after an old pirate ship and another identical to ours other than the name Rumba, while ours was called Fiesta. They said to be sure to get on the right one as they don’t go back to the same place.
The water in that area was fairly clear, but did have some sediment floating around in it. There was not much coral, but unfortunately a lot of the Caribbean is that way now since coral there is at over an 80% loss. Visitors to the region can help by not using chemical sunscreen or other products that harm coral. Reef safe sunscreen offers better sun protection to the user as well as not harming nature so that’s a win-win product.
Or you can go a step further and wear a full-body UV suit for snorkeling and other water sports, which not only eliminates the need for sunscreen in any areas covered by the suit, but also provides the best UV protection so the wearer can stay out longer without getting sunburned. It’s a win-win for both the wearer and the environment.
The boat had a slide on the back, which was optional as an entry for snorkeling, or just available to slide on for fun after coming back to the boat and removing the snorkel gear.
The second stop was in the same area as the first, but out deeper, over the wreck of a large world war 2 German ship. This ship was intentionally sunk by its own crew rather than hand it over to the Dutch. Once we got there I realized we had seen the same wreck before the last time we had a port stop in Aruba.
The snorkel boats stop right over the wreck, several of them at a time. There’s plenty of wreck left to snorkel over because it is far bigger than any of the snorkel boats are. You can only see a small portion of it at a time when snorkeling over it. The sunken ship stretches on for quite a distance. There’s some sea life growing on it. It has patches with tube sponges and small corals, but not as much life as expected for a wreck that has been there since the 1940’s. Fish like structure and there were fish swimming around it too, but not as many as there had been in the shallows.
The water over the wreck was darker since it was deeper, and also murkier than the water near the shore, but the wreck was still visible. The current was strong enough that the crew did not want anyone to use the back exit or slide that stop so nobody would get taken out to sea. Using the front one meant swimming against the current toward shore along the wreck going away from the boat, then the current would bring you right back so if anyone got tired they’d get back anyway.
The instructions were to stay to the front of the boat. I stayed in the area where they said to be. John didn’t pay attention when they gave the instructions and he went along the side and to the back of the boat, coming in the back entrance they had said was only for emergencies if someone got carried back there by the current. He said that area had the best stuff to see so apparently I missed out by staying in the area where we were told to go.
After we got back on the boat a flock of seagulls came to circle around it. On the way back to the dock they served rum punch and other drinks, which these sorts of excursions usually do. Their rum punch was considerably stronger than most.