Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Disney Fantasy - Day 4

July 1, 2017

Today we arrive in our first port, Oranjestad - the capitol of the Dutch island of Aruba.

Today we order room service breakfast and I go out on the verandah just as the pilot boat approaches our ship to drop off the port pilot who will oversee the docking of the Fantasy.

I watch as we approach the pier and eventually we get tied up and are secure ... soon the gangways will open and people will start going ashore.

We have an early excursion this morning, and are just waiting for Brooke to be ready. Today is one of two excursions this cruise during which she will be coming with us so that Iris and Jason can go off on a non-toddler friendly excursion. They will be taking an ATV tour of the island, while we will be taking a more family friendly bus tour of the natural wonders of Aruba.

After a short bit of complaining about leaving mommy, we head to the Walt Disney Theater where we check in and soon our group heads down to Deck 1 to leave the ship. Since Brooke is not in our stateroom, Iris has had to file a document giving us permission to take her off the ship. Since this is the first time this cruise that we are doing so, as we check off the boat, we will see for sure if the paperwork has properly been entered into the system. Happily, the computer does not think it has a kidnapping in progress, and we leave the ship and head to our bus.

Getting from the pier itself takes a while as it is a very busy area. Like most Caribbean islands, there is a lot of color to be seen here. These trolleys' destinations are designated by their color ... and they are free to all.

As we get out of the port area itself, we begin to see a big difference between this island and other Caribbean islands that we have visited. Rather than being filled with lush greenery, Aruba is a dry island, only getting approximately 20 inches of rain in an entire year. The prominent feature wherever you look are cacti.

Our first stop on the tour was the site of what used to be Natural Bridge. It was a formation of coral limestone which had been cut by years of pounding surf and was one of the longest spans of this type in the world. It collapsed in the early morning in 2005. This was before tourists starting arriving, so no one was hurt. People still come to the site to see the smaller Baby Bridge which still is intact.

By the time we reached Natural Bridge, Brooke was truly enjoying both the bus trip and the sights. However, shortly after we re-boarded the bus, and were still waiting for a few more people to get on, I noticed a number of ATV's coming to the parking lot. Right away I wondered if this was the group that Iris and Jason were with. I soon had my answer - yes it was. Brooke had been looking out the window, and the last thing I wanted now was for her to see either of them and want to go to them. I quickly distracted her and disaster was averted!

Our next stop included some rock formations that the original inhabitants had used as shelter. In many cases they had left behind cave wall images such as these.

Although my foot was better, this had been the longest and most difficult walk I had to make so far on this trip (but it wouldn't stay that way for long) so although it was downhill and our bus met us at the bottom so we didn't have to walk back up - I was happy to get back on the bus. Happily, the weather had been cooperating and it wasn't as hot as some past days spent in the Caribbean over the years.

Back on the bus, we soon passed a traditional island style cemetery. All of the crypts were above ground, but the latest occupants only get to be the main occupant for five years. After that the bones are taken apart and condensed to take up less room and moved to another area down below within the structure - supposedly with other family members - to make room for its next occupant. (We would see this again on Curaçao.)

Our final stop on this tour was a butterfly farm. Brooke was duly fascinated by all of the butterflies flying right around her.

Now it was time to head back to the Fantasy. Upon arrival we headed up to Deck 11 and had some lunch, then headed back to the room to wait for Iris and Jason. Once they came back it was time to head to the Rainforest Room for a needed soak in the hot tub, an invigorating drenching in one of the specialty showers, and then a rest on a heated stone lounge. Ahhhhhh ....

One of the things I enjoyed during the cruise were the talks by Jason Hudak, an editor at Pixar on many films, including Cars 3. Today's talk was on the art of editing itself.

Tonight's dinner would be in the last of the three themed restaurants - Enchanted Garden.

Tomorrow we put in to Curaçao and all five of us will be going on the same excursion.

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