After a few days on a boat, the days tend to blur together. Is it day 4 or 5? Is it Monday or Tuesday? What time zone are we in? During our entire trek, I think we crossed three time zones.
After Aruba, there was a short hop down the coast to another one of the ABC islands – Curaçao (pronounced Cura-ssow). Another one of islands/countries that is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and gets a lot of its flavor of the Netherlands. Buildings, shops, language, and even the beer is the same as you would find on the streets of Belgium. We docked in Williamsport around 0700 in a narrow channel that is right across from downtown area. The only way across the inlet channel is either the big 185 foot tall Queen Juliana bridge (no foot traffic) or the Queen Emma pontoon bridge or a water taxi. The floating bridge is kinda interesting. It is basically a permanent pontoon swing bridge with a motorized control booth that will drive the bridge out of the way of incoming traffic. According to the literature on the island, they open that bridge up to 30 times a day.
|Queen Emma Bridge|
Curaçao is an interesting little island – lots of colorful homes/shops, oodles of places to buy stuff at a steep discount and tax free. A lot of people will hit the town and buy up all sorts of fashions, jewelry from several of the big name stores. We decided to take a hokey trolley tour of downtown to see the historic area. Very nice town, colorful buildings, forts, lots of history. After the tour, we wandered around town for a while checking out the shops, I found a local Italian place that served cold Lefe (Belgium) beer, I bought some cheesy refrigerator magnets, a few shirts, and a bottle of Curaçao – a very sweet blue orange liquor. Was an interesting stop over.
|Wedding cake house|
|The Governor's house - note the black dot halfway up on the left side of the house. |
It is a genuine British cannon ball embedded in the side of the house.
|The parental units|
Being a ME, I am always fascinated by mechanical stuff. Engines, cars, planes, boats, big boats always have some allure for me. The MS Zuiderdam is one big a%% boat. At over XXX tons and XXX feet long, I was curious to see how they were going to put out to see from the dock. We were nose in on a narrow channel and the Queen Juliana Bridge prevented us from going forward so I figured that they would use some tug boats to pull us away from shore and back us out to see. Au contraire. At 1600, our departure time, the Floating bridge opened up and we fired up the engines and put her in reverse. Now this class of cruiser does not have the typical shaft and propeller system. They have what is called Azipods. Basically it is an azimuth thruster or giant steerable electric motor underneath the ship that will drive or pull the ship in whatever direction they want to go. They can rotate turn the Azipod to have the ship back up and basically turn on a dime without any outside assistance. Now, I have some minor experience in backing up big rigs. I own a 30 foot trailer and can attest to the challenges in backing up a sizable trailer for some distance, but that pales in comparison to a 900+ foot, 12 story ship. I sat amazement (while enjoying my evening scotch) and watched maneuver this behemoth away from the dock and then back it out into the ocean. Once they were far enough off shore, they proceeded to turn the ship within its own foot print and then head off to our next port of call. Color me impressed.