Submitted By: Susan Gerle

Cruising has become a safe way of traveling, especially when there is so much unrest in the world right now. Here is a compariso between 2 islands in the Dutch Antilles; Curacao and Aruba.

Curacao wants to be a major tourist island, yet when we arrived by ship, the dock was no more than 50 metres long. As we looked to the right over the town we viewed a lovely seaside-walking path. The town buildings are nicely painted in the true Dutch tradition.

Then our eyes moved left to a baseball park with busted, broken down, unpainted fences all in very poor condition. We continued looking to the left and noticed even more; 2 swimming pools surrounded with broken fencing and badly in need of paint. Straight ahead, there was no less than 15 smokestacks, owned by the local oil refinery, all spewing huge amounts of black toxins. It certainly didn’t create a beautiful horizon.

If Curacao expects to attract more tourists it needs to do much more to enhance the first impression it makes on new visitors. As we drove around the island, streets were lined with poorly maintained houses, badly painted and in disrepair. Broken down abandoned vehicles were everywhere.

I found it sad, considering Caracao is part of the Dutch Antilles. Holland is so well kept and orderly. It made me wonder what happened here. Granted, Curacao became independent from Holland long before Aruba. The island definitely lags far behind the other islands. Aruba separated years later and has done much better.

Curacao has no oil of it’s own so refines oil brought in from Venezuela. While I guess this provides work for some, it appears the Government has no idea how much tourism it drives away. The stores in Curacao only remain open later into the afternoon if a cruise ship is at the dock. Otherwise they close around noon hour and don’t open again until evening. The people remain somewhat indifferent to those visiting the island indicating they have not yet grasped what tourism can do for an island that literally has nothing else to offer.

I would not recommend Curacao, with a clear conscience, as a vacation destination at this time. It has a long way to go before even coming close to what Aruba has become.

Aruba, also a part of the Dutch Antilles, exemplifies what is expected in such an island. In contrast to Curacao, Aruba is well maintained, brightly painted, and therefore prosperous. It is by far the more desirable destination of the two islands. The island has only 120,000 inhabitants but they are friendly, engaging, and polite. It is well kept and well managed and is by far the easy choice between the two.

Even though the island also has an oil refinery, it is at the distant end of the island and not an eyesore. The pollution is well controlled and does not affect the rest of the island. Aruba also has building restrictions in place and maintenance standards similar to Holland.

This article was written with a special thank-you to “the Old Geezer.”