Curacao was our next port of call after Aruba and, like I had done on Aruba, I researched on the net for a tour company. I wanted something that would let the four of us, all seniors, see a lot of the island.
I ended up contacting Curacao Active initially about their 4-hour excursion and heard back quite promptly from Jeffrey Berend, the General Manager. After describing who we were (four, quite pale, senior Canadians!) and what we were interested in, he suggested hiring a guide for the day. He mentioned that the tour we had first thought of was in an open-air, Toyota Land Cruiser-style vehicle with passengers sitting sideways in the back. (I would have been fine with that but my other family members might have found things a bit too hot, bumpy etc.) So, we ended up with a small Nissan-style van with AC and a seven-hour tour for, I guess, about $60 more in the total cost!
I was glad that we did that. We were now free to see some points of interest that were not on the four-hour tour. Mr. Berend was very quick to respond to me about any questions I had. Payment was through credit card and I received a receipt. The next email gave me detailed information about how to meet the driver - in our case, Alan Vinck - and even a photo of him plus contact numbers.
Alan turned out to be a retired businessman who does 3 or 4 tours weekly. He had, as one would expect, an intimate knowledge of the island. Starting off, he showed us the older areas of Willemstad before heading off to the coastal regions. He helped plan our route based on several points of interest that we had including the Hato caves.
I'll digress for a moment to say that we all enjoyed the caves. Other than a fairly longish stone stairway up to the entrance, the Caves are very accessible: well-marked and lit pathways with an accompanying and knowledgable guide. For those who might feel a bit timid about the caves, I can assure you there is nothing scary, no tight spaces etc.
We went next to the west end of the island - a drive of about 45 minutes - to Christoffel Park. Beautiful scenery and right on the water.
Throughout the trip, Alan carried on a steady - but not intrusive - dialogue about what we were looking at, the history of the island etc. Happy to answer questions, he gave us a good insight into the people and the culture of Curacao.
We stopped for a late lunch out in the south-west end and then headed back to the ship terminal nearly seven hours later, a bit tired but definitely not bored. All agreed that this had been an enjoyable tour.
I don't really have any negatives. One thing, though: if you get to Curacao on a Sunday as we did, there are not a lot of places open, stores are generally closed.
Full marks to Jeffrey for quick, business-like responses to questions. And, as I have mentioned, we were very happy with our guide, Alan.
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