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Cruises to Curacao

1,404 Reviews
4 Awards
Curacao (Photo:Sorin Colac/Shutterstock)

About Curacao

The brightly hued island of Curacao, 42 miles east of Aruba, is part of the ABC chain of islands, which also includes Aruba and Bonaire. Legend says that an early governor suffered from migraines and mandated the pastel-colored houses, now a trademark of the Southern Caribbean island, because white paint aggravated his condition. Whatever the reason, there's something wonderful about approaching by cruise ship and spotting buildings in shades like cotton-candy pink and deep, ocean-blue.



Curacao was discovered by Spaniards in 1499 and was taken over in 1634 by the Dutch, who settled its capital city, Willemstad, as a naval base. The city drew Dutch and Jewish merchants (old Jewish neighborhoods -- like Scharloo, north of Willemstad -- still exist), and there's still a distinctly Dutch feel in the centuries-old buildings that line the waterfront in all those fantastic colors.



Willemstad, where cruise ships dock, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with waterfront shops and cafes. It's walkable and always warm, but never stiflingly hot, thanks to constant, breezy trade winds. The city is split into two districts -- one on each side of a narrow but deep channel, traversable by a landmark floating pedestrian bridge. Beyond Willemstad, Curacao is rife with opportunities to dive and swim, with more than 35 uncrowded beaches.

  • More about Curacao

  • Why go to Curacao?

  • Curacao Cruise Port Facilities?

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Nautica
Nautica

20 Night
World CruiseDetails

364 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Dec 3, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Dawn
Norwegian Dawn

14 Night
Southern Caribbean - TampaDetails

2,912 Reviews
Leaving:Tampa
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Feb 26, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Epic
Norwegian Epic

7 Night
Southern Caribbean - San JuanDetails

4,248 Reviews
Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Mar 12, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Rhapsody of the Seas
Rhapsody of the Seas

11 Night
Southern Caribbean Island HopDetails

1,485 Reviews
Leaving:Barbados
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Feb 5, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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11 Night
Southern Caribbean - MiamiDetails

2,351 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Southern Caribbean - San JuanDetails

4,248 Reviews
Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Southern Caribbean - San JuanDetails

4,248 Reviews
Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Panama Canal - MiamiDetails

364 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Apr 15, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Southern Caribbean SeafarerDetails

64 Reviews
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Feb 15, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
San Juan To Galveston CruiseDetails

1,457 Reviews
Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Apr 30, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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11 Night
Panama Canal-panama CityDetails

2,523 Reviews
Leaving:Panama City
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Feb 6, 2023
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Cruise Critic Favorite

8 Night
Southern Caribbean CruiseDetails

2,021 Reviews
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Feb 18, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Southern CaribbeanDetails

210 Reviews
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

8 Night
8 Nt Southern Caribbean & Perfect DayDetails

2,021 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Sep 23, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Panama Canal-panama CityDetails

2,304 Reviews
Leaving:Panama City
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Feb 22, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Curacao

Why go to Curacao?

Pros:

Pretty pastel architecture and a famous floating bridge differentiate the island from others

Cons:

If you're docked on a Sunday, you might find many shops and restaurants closed

Bottom Line:

Pleasant weather pairs with a rich history that brings authentic flavors to Curacao's downtown

Curacao Cruise Port Facilities?

Curacao's port facilities include ATMs, currency exchanges and port guides on site. Taxi stands are also available outside the port.

It's an easy walk from the port to Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (just like the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal) that features sidewalk cafes, funky museums and shops, and neat architectural touches like gables and arches.

Good to Know?

Though exceptions are often made when cruise ships are in town, shops and restaurants are generally closed on Sundays.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Visitors to either terminal can take an easy stroll to the Queen Emma Bridge (known as the Swinging Old Lady by locals). This century-old pontoon bridge connects the two sides of the city and is a tourist attraction in its own right. It swings open (sometimes 30 times a day) to make way for ship traffic. If the bridge is open, you can take a free ride from one side to the other on a passenger ferry.

Taxis: Passengers should agree on a fare with the driver before the ride. You'll find taxi stands at both port locations. For sightseeing, the rate is about $20 per hour.

Buses: If you're traveling on the most common urban routes, you can hop a "collective" car or van. (Make sure it says "Bus" on the license plate.) You can pick up a "Buki di Bus" (bus schedules and routes) on the island. Fares vary but are generally around $2.

Renting a Car: Drive on the right-hand side of the road. No special permits are required, but you'll need a valid driver's license and an international credit card. Avis (800-331-1084) has operations at both piers with rates starting about $45 per day. Budget (800-527-7000) offers free pickup at either pier; rates begin at $35.

Trolley: A fun twist on the standard city tour, this 75-minute trolley ride takes in the main sites and begins at historic Fort Amsterdam. (You can't hop on and off.)

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The official currency is the Netherlands Antillean Florin, but nearly all vendors and shops take U.S. dollars. Several banks are located on the bustling street of Handelskade on the Punda side of town. Most have ATM's, and money exchanges are available at the port with currency exchanges. For the latest exchange rates, visit xe.com or oanda.com.

Language?

Expect to hear English, Spanish and Dutch spoken widely, as well as the local language of the ABC islands: Papiamento. (Bon bini means welcome.)

Where You're Docked?

Willemstad is split into two main districts by the Santa Anna Bay, a deep but narrow channel; Punda is on the east side, and Otrobanda, where cruise ships dock, is to the west. The port has two main docking spots. The Curacao Mega Pier is designed for large ships that can't fit under the city's famed Queen Juliana Bridge. The Mega Pier is located in West Willemstad, just a few minutes' walk into downtown. Smaller ships dock at the Curacao Cruise Terminal. Both are within walking distance of the Queen Emma Bridge, which connects the two sides of the city. (Punda, the side opposite the cruise docks, features the main shopping and business areas.)


Curacao Cruise Reviews
Curacao was a great experience. The Highlights/Beach day was a great effort. Read More
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Goldminer1
Enjoyed the Curacao Distillery and Alo farm tourRead More
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dgh1
We booked a shore excursion : City Highlights and Beach. The tour was disappointing. We sat on the left side of the bus--all sites that you want to see are on the right side. I thought we would see more of the colorRead More
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Holly1a
We have been to Curacao before and wanted to see more of the island. I booked a private tour with Gone Caribe Tours. It was the best tour. Joseph was our tour guide and took us to two beautiful beaches were we snoRead More
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granddutchess

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