CRUISING TO THE CARIBBEAN:
P&O Cruises' Azura towers above the surrounding buildings as she arrives at the Mega Pier in Willemstad.
Cruise ships calling in Curacao dock in Willemstad, the capital. There are three dedicated cruise ship piers, all located in the Otrabanda section of town. If there are more cruise ships calling than these piers can handle, ships sometimes berth at other piers in Willemstad.
First, there is the Mega Pier. This facility was constructed to accommodate ships to large to enter St. Anna's Bay but it is used for all sizes of ships. There is no cruise terminal building here. Rather, cruise passengers are greeted on shore by a number of tent kiosks, which are used for tourist information, tours and by local vendors. The surrounding area is nicely landscaped. Large paved sidewalks take cruisers through the Renaissance Plaza, an old fortress and on to the center of town. It is not a long walk.
Second, another pier has been added just beyond the original Mega Pier. Like the original Mega Pier, Mega Pier 2 includes a pier running parallel to the shore and an approach trestle linking the pier to the land. There are also four docking dolphins. It was designed to be able to accommodate even Oasis-class cruise ships.
Third, there is the Cruise Terminal Pier also called Mathey Wharf). This facility handles small to mid-size cruise ships. Located inside St. Anna Bay, the Queen Emma bridge must swing open in order to give the ships access to this facility. Since this facility is in the heart of town, it is a short walk to most of Willemstad's attractions.
Other piers that are used on occasion by cruise ships include Groote Wharf, which is also inside the Queen Emma bridge but on the Punda side of St. Anna Bay, and Nieuwe Werf, which is beyond the Queen Juliana bridge.
Above: Norwegian Breakaway, docked at the Mega Pier, is clearly visible from the Punda section.
Above: A taxi.
Willemstad is a very walkable town. Most things of interest to cruise passengers are within walking distance of the cruise ship piers. While there are some pedestrian only areas, there can also be a surprising amount of traffic.
Taxis usually gather around the entrances to the cruise ship piers. They will be marked "Taxi" and will have "TX" in their license plate number. Fares are negotiable and should be agreed upon before setting out on a journey.
There is also a bus service. However, many buses are actually shared vans. It is best to make sure that th van is going to or close to the destination that you desire.
Another popular way of getting around Willemstad is the Trolley Train which takes riders through Punda and
The main shopping area of Curacao is the Punda district of Willemstad. Many of the chain stores that are found in the mahor Caribbean ports have locations in Punda . In addition, there is a wide variety of local shops, restaurants and cafes. (right)
Otrabanda also has shopping. In Brion Plaza, local artisans and entrepaneurs set up stalls where they sell art, crafts and other items (middle right). In the Rif Fort and the Renaissance Mall are upscale shops including ultra-luxury shops with international names (below and below right).
Prices are generally fixed and not subject to negotiation. However, local vendors may bargain.
Cruise destination travel guide - Curacao - Curacao cruise port