I have ruminated about whether to cruise to the ABC Islands or visit them individually. I want to see as much as I can, but also have time to explore. A cruise seems great. However, I feel that I might miss too much since I would only be in port for a small portion of each day. Torn, I decided to do some research.
What are the ABC Islands?
The ABC islands are Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, which are Dutch settled islands in the Caribbean. They lie near the Venezuelan coast and are also known as the “Leeward” islands.
Each island is famous for something different. Aruba is famous for its beaches. Bonaire is famous for first-rate scuba diving. Curacao is famous for its nightlife. All are considered the sunniest islands in the Caribbean.
Cruising the ABC Islands
Many cruise lines have itineraries that include stops at all three islands. The cruises lines range from Seabourn to Pullmantour and almost every mainstream line in between. Almost all leave these ports before 10 pm, which means passengers need to be on board by 8:30 pm or 9:30 pm.
For 2017, only one cruise line offers a notable exception to that schedule. On 14-night Caribbean sailings, the Celebrity Eclipse has an overnight stay in Aruba.
All beaches in Aruba are public. According to CondeNast Traveler, Palm Beach in Aruba is one of the 20 most beautiful beaches in the world. While the beach is free, if you are not staying at a hotel an umbrella and a chair will cost you about $45 USD. Be aware that 8 hotels line this beach. Therefore, if you are visiting for a day, it’s best to see if one of the hotels gives day passes. The hotels that surround this beach are Aruba Marriott, Bricknell Bay Beach Club, Divi Aruba Phoenix, Hilton Aruba, Holiday Inn Resort Aruba, Hyatt Regency Aruba, The Mill Resorts and Suites, Ritz Carlton Aruba. To get from the cruise dock to the beach, you will need to take a taxi or a bus.
Bonaire Scuba Diving
Famed as one of the best Caribbean dive destinations, Bonaire hosts amazing coral reefs and long forgotten shipwrecks. This is also one of the best places in the world to gain an initial scuba diving certification. Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean have shore excursions to introduce you to scuba diving while letting you enjoy the marine park. The highlights of such an excursion in Bonaire are as follows:
• Dive Training: Learn the fundamentals of scuba from a trained dive instructor, then practice in shallow open water.
• Marine Park Dive: Explore Bonaire’s exceptional reef habitats on a guided dive from shore, in shallow, waters.
• Caribbean Sea Life: See magnificently-hued tropical fish and other marine life in a protected coral reef environment
Curacao Night Life
Friday and Sunday night are the time to really enjoy Curaçao’s nightlife. It’s lively and unique mix of jazz lounges, salsa clubs, and casinos, are what makes this island popular. There is even a site called curacao party guide to help you plan your party time. Unfortunately, taking a cruise to this island will leave that unexplored due to early boarding times.
Although I am an avid cruiser, it just doesn’t make sense for me to take a cruise that stops at these three islands. Bonaire is out because I don’t dive and ships leave Curacao too early to explore the nightlife. I would only truly enjoy Aruba. So, I decided to just travel to Aruba and stay at a hotel on Palm Beach.
In August, I will update you on that trip.