Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook

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Oranjestad, Aruba

Oranjestad, Aruba

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View of Oranjestad from deck
View of Oranjestad from
deck
by Jennifer Marx

Baked by the tropical sun and just 17 miles from the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is noteworthy for soft, white sand beaches, reliably sunny, warm weather year-round, and its nice, warm welcome to tourists. Aruba is the quintessential “desert island.”

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ARUBA AMBIENCE

The island’s long southwest coast is blessed by gentle surf and broad, sandy beaches, and this is where most of the resorts and population reside. The rugged northeast shore is exposed to rough seas and is sparsely populated, home to a National Park that occupies 18% of the island’s area. Downtown Oranjestad (named for the Netherland’s House of Orange, not the citrus fruit) boasts colorful Dutch-Antillean buildings, whose masonry outlines borrow heavily from Dutch and Spanish Colonial influences, while sporting the color sense of the islands. The island is mostly flat, with the tallest hills topping off at barely 500 feet above the nearby sea.

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ARUBA HISTORY

It may be soothing to learn that Arubans consider aloe to be one of the islands first sources of wealth (produced for the past 100 years). “Soothing” may also be the word for the island’s history. No pirates or warfare, for the most part, mar its history. Near painless exchanges of control between Spain, the Netherlands, England, and back to the Netherlands, a brief gold rush in the 1800s, an easy transition from Dutch colonial rule after World War II, and eventual separation from the rest of the Netherland Antilles leave Aruba as an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The climate is too dry for most agriculture (although cactus does quite nicely), but its position just 17 miles from the South American mainland provides a safe haven for oil refineries. Most of the population still descends from the native Arawaks, a group that was nearly wiped out elsewhere.

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ARUBA FACTS

Size: 21 miles (33 km.) long by 6 miles (9 km.) wide (75 sq. mi./193 sq. kim.)
Climate: Dry Arid (Desert) Temperatures: 85°F (29°C) to 89°F (32°C)
Population: 100,000 Busy Season: November to March
Language: Dutch, Papiamento Money: Aruba Guilder (Florin) (1.79 AWG = $1 U.S.)
Time Zone: Atlantic (no DST) Transportation: Walking, taxis, cars
Phones: Dial 112 for police, 132 for Red Cross, 113 for tourist info
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Top Photo Slice: Aruba at Sunset (℗ 53341) Photo contributed by © Jennifer Marx



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