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Tips, advice and things you need to know when going on a cruise to Aruba

Aruba's official motto is 'One Happy Island' and it is certainly hard not to get swept up in the feel-good atmosphere of this most scenic of Caribbean hot spots. Even the beautiful beaches that surround the island form the shape of a smile matched only by the smile on the faces of those lucky enough to be relaxing on these pristine strips of sand. Known as something of a playground for the rich, the island exudes a wealthy panache and there are no end of smart boutiques and upmarket restaurants to visit should you feel the urge to spend some serious money during a cruise call in Aruba.

Welcome to the Happy Island

Cruise visitors are made to feel very welcome here and language problems are rarely an issue, as most locals are happy to speak English, although Spanish and Dutch are the main official languages here. Papiamento, a native language, is also spoken here and is pleasing - if indecipherable - to the ear. The island has an interesting heritage and the legacy of inhabitation by Arawark Indians before Spanish and Dutch settlement, has led to some interesting traditions and cultures. There are some beautiful colonial buildings to be seen in Aruba, but for most visitors, it really is all about sun and sea. Located just 20 miles north from Venezuela, the island enjoys a year-round warm, sunny climate and with no real rainy season, there is never a bad time to visit Aruba. 

Shore Excursions in Aruba

Aruba is often referred to as the 'Theme Park of the Caribbean' and a trip here is more likely to be about having fun and relaxing than taking in great cultural sights. Diving is a hugely popular past time on the island and those with diving experience can take some deep plunges into clear azure waters that are simply teeming with some of the most colourful marine life imaginable. Snorkelling is another fun way to get up close and personal with some weird and wonderful sea creatures and is a popular pursuit for family visitors to the island. Divers can check with their cruise companies to see if dive trips are laid on as a shore excursion in Aruba. If they don't come as part of the package, fear not - there are any number of tourist agencies offering trips out to the warm waters. There are bountiful dive sites here, so those looking to take a dive are unlikely to be disappointed. There are also some excellent golf courses to be found on Aruba, as well as any number of casinos and plenty of lively bars.

Docking in Aruba

Cruise liners dock in Oranjestad, the capital city of Aruba, which is well equipped to deal with tourists' needs; cash-points, an information centre and souvenir stalls can all be found right at the terminal. There are many bars, restaurants and shops to be found within a few minutes walk of the docks, but it's a taxi ride to the beaches. Depending on the type of cruise holiday you have booked, you may be offered shore excursions ranging from 'party bus' trips taking in Champagne on the beach followed by stops at numerous bars, to snorkelling tours and 4X4 trips around the island, taking in highlights such as natural pools, beaches and even an abandoned gold mine.

Post by Tony, a UK based blogger working with cruise.co.uk

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