Why go to Curacao?
Pretty pastel architecture and a famous floating bridge differentiate the island from others
If you're docked on a Sunday, you might find many shops and restaurants closed
Pleasant weather pairs with a rich history that brings authentic flavors to Curacao's downtown
Curacao Cruise Port Facilities?
Curacao's port facilities include ATMs, currency exchanges and port guides on site. Taxi stands are also available outside the port.
It's an easy walk from the port to Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (just like the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal) that features sidewalk cafes, funky museums and shops, and neat architectural touches like gables and arches.
Good to Know?
Though exceptions are often made when cruise ships are in town, shops and restaurants are generally closed on Sundays.
On Foot: Visitors to either terminal can take an easy stroll to the Queen Emma Bridge (known as the Swinging Old Lady by locals). This century-old pontoon bridge connects the two sides of the city and is a tourist attraction in its own right. It swings open (sometimes 30 times a day) to make way for ship traffic. If the bridge is open, you can take a free ride from one side to the other on a passenger ferry.
Taxis: Passengers should agree on a fare with the driver before the ride. You'll find taxi stands at both port locations. For sightseeing, the rate is about $20 per hour.
Buses: If you're traveling on the most common urban routes, you can hop a "collective" car or van. (Make sure it says "Bus" on the license plate.) You can pick up a "Buki di Bus" (bus schedules and routes) on the island. Fares vary but are generally around $2.
Renting a Car: Drive on the right-hand side of the road. No special permits are required, but you'll need a valid driver's license and an international credit card. Avis (800-331-1084) has operations at both piers with rates starting about $45 per day. Budget (800-527-7000) offers free pickup at either pier; rates begin at $35.
Trolley: A fun twist on the standard city tour, this 75-minute trolley ride takes in the main sites and begins at historic Fort Amsterdam. (You can't hop on and off.)
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The official currency is the Netherlands Antillean Florin, but nearly all vendors and shops take U.S. dollars. Several banks are located on the bustling street of Handelskade on the Punda side of town. Most have ATM's, and money exchanges are available at the port with currency exchanges. For the latest exchange rates, visit xe.com or oanda.com.
Expect to hear English, Spanish and Dutch spoken widely, as well as the local language of the ABC islands: Papiamento. (Bon bini means welcome.)
Where You're Docked?
Willemstad is split into two main districts by the Santa Anna Bay, a deep but narrow channel; Punda is on the east side, and Otrobanda, where cruise ships dock, is to the west. The port has two main docking spots. The Curacao Mega Pier is designed for large ships that can't fit under the city's famed Queen Juliana Bridge. The Mega Pier is located in West Willemstad, just a few minutes' walk into downtown. Smaller ships dock at the Curacao Cruise Terminal. Both are within walking distance of the Queen Emma Bridge, which connects the two sides of the city. (Punda, the side opposite the cruise docks, features the main shopping and business areas.)