Having been to Aruba before we elected not to take an excursion. For those of you that have traveled the Caribbean before, Aruba offers little. The shopping is better in St. Thomas, the diving is better in the Caymans, and the scenery is better in the Virgin Islands.
Since we had already taken this cruise several years ago aboard the Coral Princess, we had visited all the ports. We elected not to avail ourselves of the cruise lines excursions at their inflated rates. Grab a cab instead, and get a local tour guide. You'll learn more, see more, and save money. Plus you won't have to spend the obligatory 30 minutes plus at the stores owned by the cruise line as they try and fleece you for overpriced "bargains".
The canal is the reason for this trip. By all means get off the ship and tour the canal. The excursions to take are those that allow you to tour the canal's facilities, and see the countryside. Pricey but worth it.
Due to high surf, the port was closed and we were unable to stop at this port of call. We have been to Costa Rica several times, and the best things to see here are the rain forest and the banana plantation.