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Oranjestad Cruise Port Guide

When you hear the word “Aruba,” a few things immediately come to mind: turquoise, clear waters, year-round sunshine, and white sand beaches. And it’s true—Aruba lives up to the hype. It’s an unquestionable oasis, which you’ll quickly discover when you set off on a Southern Caribbean cruise. Some say Aruba is difficult to beat as far as paradise goes. The motto of Aruba is “one happy island,” and both locals and visitors make that motto come true every day of the year.

On cruises to Aruba, you’ll dock at the island’s capital and port city, Oranjestad. From there, the choices are endless. You could easily spend your entire time in Aruba on a beach or drinking a refreshing cocktail at any of the beachiest bars. However, on cruises that go to Aruba, you’ll discover more history and nature preservation efforts than you might expect, which you’ll experience on excursions to the Aruba Butterfly Farm, a trip to the National Archeological Museum, or at the Santa Cruz Donkey Sanctuary.

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Top Sights & Attractions for Cruises to Oranjestad

National Archeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum of Aruba gives visitors an understanding of life on the island long before European settlement. Come here to catch a glimpse of artifacts dating back to 2500 BC. The museum is housed in a restored colonial home that once belonged to a wealthy 20th century merchant.

Hooiberg

You’ll likely be able to see the Hooiberg volcanic formation from almost anywhere on the island of Aruba. When you’re ready, get up close and personal with the so-called “haystack,” which is over 500 feet tall. Climb the hundreds of restored steps to the summit of Hooiberg, which promises incredible, lush views of the entire island below you. It’s a great opportunity to hike and take unforgettable photos of the island’s beautiful landscape.

Eagle Beach

Eagle Beach and the surrounding resort area consistently ranks as one of the world’s best beaches, and it’s easy to see why. White sand, shady trees, and thatched umbrellas await, whether you want to sunbathe or dip in the ocean. Eagle Beach is also a leatherback turtle nesting area, so be aware that some parts of the beach may be closed to accommodate the nesting process.

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Top Things to Do in Oranjestad

See the Aruba Butterfly Farm

A unique habitat for thousands of butterflies, moths, and plants, the butterfly farm is a must-experience activity for nature lovers, kids, and families. A guided tour will walk you through the entire caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation. Informative and incredible, there aren’t many other butterfly farms quite like this.

Check out the Bon Bini Festival

On cruises to Aruba, don’t miss the chance to see the Bon Bini Festival, a weekly celebration that happens each Tuesday evening. It’s a great way to learn about Aruban cultural practices, including traditional dances, local art, and folklore.

See the Donkey Sanctuary

Venture beyond Oranjestad to the Santa Cruz Donkey Sanctuary, which is dedicated to saving the island’s donkeys and rehabilitating them. Donkey feedings are a fun activity you can do with the kids while educating them about how to treat precious animals.

Top Food and Drink Spots Near the Oranjestad Cruise Port

One of the top reasons people flock to Aruba is for its food scene, where fresh seafood rules the menu and is presented in interesting and delicious ways. Mahi-mahi, lionfish, and grouper are the most popular options. Aruban food is greatly influenced by flavors of the Caribbean as well as its earlier Dutch colonization. While you’re here on a cruise to Aruba, try keshi yena, a ball of cheese steamed or fried and stuffed with meat, or one of the many varieties of soups and stews. There’s cool island soup, which is a nectar of different fruit juices destined to cool you down on a hot day. Don’t forget to check out the fluffy pan bati, a sweet flatbread that is usually paired with something savory.

Culture & History of the Oranjestad Cruise Port

Cruises to Aruba have been a staple of the island’s economy for decades, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an Aruban who isn’t friendly to cruise passengers. Aruba’s climate is just one of the reasons it became so popular for tourism in recent years, since it’s beautiful, dry, and sunny almost year round. The first inhabitants of Aruba were a group called the Arawak, and in 1499, the Spanish arrived. Smuggling and piracy became common practices on the island. By the 1630s, the Dutch took control of Aruba. It took until 1986 for Aruba to gain its independence. The expansion into tourism happened as a way to rebuild the economy after the Aruban oil refinery closed down. Today, travel and tourism fuels the economy of the island. Official languages spoken in Aruba are Dutch and Papiamentu, a creole language that emerged from a blend of Portuguese, Dutch, and Spanish.

Oranjestad Port Facilities & Location

The port of Oranjestad is located on the southwestern part of the island of Aruba, and most cruises that go to Aruba will dock here. The port has standard amenities like ATMs, a souvenir shop, and a tourism information center. The port is conveniently close to shopping, restaurants, and the famous Aruba waterfront.

Transportation in Oranjestad

The port is centrally located near shops and restaurants, so it’s an easy transition to go from cruise ship to shopping. Here, you’ll find mostly strip malls and shopping centers like the Royal Plaza Shopping Center and the Renaissance Marketplace. Find a local store that sells Dutch chocolates and coffee to bring back as mementos from your time in Aruba.

Shopping Near the Oranjestad Cruise Port

The port is centrally located near shops and restaurants, so it’s an easy transition to go from cruise ship to shopping. Here, you’ll find mostly strip malls and shopping centers like the Royal Plaza Shopping Center and the Renaissance Marketplace. Find a local store that sells Dutch chocolates and coffee to bring back as mementos from your time in Aruba.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

The official currency of Aruba is the Aruban florin (Afl), but U.S. dollars are commonly accepted in most places. ATMs are prevalent on the island, and many hotels and restaurants will accept credit cards today, too. Tipping isn’t a very common practice in Aruba, but leaving 10% for your taxi driver and 15% for your server at a restaurant is polite. There may already be a service charge included in your restaurant bill.

 

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24-hour In-Room Dining

The capital of Aruba is made for walking. Browse the candy-colored townhouses, architectural details, and open-air patios that define this charming Dutch community. Gentle trade winds tame the Caribbean sun, shoo the infrequent rain, and maintain the perfect conditions for windsurfing and kiteboarding. When it’s beach time, dig your toes into the soft white sand and soak your skin in the warm Caribbean water. After lounging awhile, find spas, restaurants, and bars just steps away. Divers and snorkelers flock to cruise to Aruba for its vibrant coral reefs, neon tropical fish, and eerie old shipwrecks. With just a mask and snorkel, you can watch the fish dart in and out of Antilla, a major wreck. Board a catamaran for a peaceful day of sailing and snorkeling, recharging with a barbecue lunch at Pelican Pier on Palm Beach. Or, venture to De Palm Island for water sliding and banana boat riding. When it’s time to shop, browse Aruba’s boutiques and find the leading designers at Renaissance Mall. Uncover local crafts in the marketplace nearby. Both are close to the port. Aruba serves French fare with a Caribbean twist. Find everything from haute cuisine to casual food. Maybe even discover an ostrich burger on the menu. Of course, the fish doesn’t get any fresher. 


Tip from Travel + Leisure

Someky Joe's

Hungry diners go to open-air Smokey Joe’s for ribs—and lots of them. Sticky baby-back versions come four ways: original, Jamaican jerk, Joe’s dry rub, and Smokey’s signature. Also on the menu: fresh, locally caught fish and deep-fried Oreos for dessert.

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