Day 7 Aruba – The ship arrives at 7:00 and the tours start leaving at 7:30. There are 4 bus loads of passengers taking the "Best of Aruba" tour. I am supposed to meet Marilyn in the terminal building at the staging area for tours at 7:45. I'm there about 10 minutes early. I know she is up and about as we pass in the Windjammer a little after 7:00.
The first 3 buses leave, the fourth is loading and it is now 7:55. No Marilyn in sight. Sorry Marilyn, you are a big girl, I board the bus without you. The bus pulls away to begin our tour. It would be sad if she missed the bus, but I really hold out that we just missed each other. It was a last minute decision the afternoon before for her to even take this tour, and she specifically booked this one because I would be on it. I wonder what happened.
About an hour later at one of the tour stops, I see Marilyn walking across the parking lot. When she saw the buses were starting to load, she thought maybe she had missed me and got on the first bus before I even arrived.
The tour hasn't changed much since the last time I took a similar tour about 3 years ago. Like Bonaire and Curacao, much of the island is desert. The east shore is barren rock and is constantly being pounded by the heavy surf from the prevailing easterly winds, much of the vegetation is cactus and reminds me of the Arizona landscape. The large hotels tend to be on the west side of the island where the seas are calmer and the beaches are plentiful.
Our tour stops at the Aruba Aloe factory, actually I think every tour stops here. We are presented with a short tour, a sales pitch that reminds me of the snake oil salesmen seen in the wild west movies, and of course the opportunity to make a purchase. I decline as usual.
The weather remains unchanged, warm, sunny skies, and a constant breeze to provide some relief from the sun. My tour guide is good, and I get the impression from Marilyn that her tour guide was excellent.
Besides Adrienne and Steve there are another young diamond member couple that we see almost every night for drinks. Regina and Scott are on their honeymoon, having been married only a week of so. They auditioned and were selected for the Love and Marriage show. I didn't see the live show, but as usual it is played over and over on TV throughout the rest of the cruise. There are now 2000 people that know more about them than they ever thought they would divulge. Probably some things that I would find embarrassing to even write about, so I won't.
Dan, the Maitre D' leaves me a message as he promised. He assures me that when I arrive in the dining room at my reserved time of 5:45 I will be seated properly. I arrive and escorted to a table not far from where I was seated the night before. I sit down, and quickly evaluate the surroundings. The guests are different and we have a different waiter. Four of the guests have ordered, and two others are still reading a menu as I sit down.
Is this the way it is supposed to be? No. Is it as bad as the previous night? No. Is it slightly better. Yes.
We all introduce ourselves. The lasagna is excellent, and uncharacteristically I order one scoop of chocolate ice cream for desert.
During dinner I learn several of my table mates had overhead my conversation with the manager the previous night. (Dan, not me, chose to have our discussion in the middle of dining room.) I was thanked for speaking up as they had similar problems but were too timid to say anything.
I go to the theater 35 minutes before show time to hopefully get a choice of seats. Wrong again, there are just a few scattered seats around the theater. I decide to take advantage of being a Diamond Plus member and sit in the section usually reserved for us. Wrong again, another perk for being "Loyal to Royal" has been removed, at least on this ship. There is a section for suite guests, but not for any of the Crown and Anchor loyalty groups.
I find a seat in the last row of the balcony and enjoy an excellent headliner show. Jerry Goodspeed, a comedian and ventriloquist. For those of you that are not familiar with the routine, Each ship usually has a resident show that will play every week for years. The other nights are filled in by "headliners", acts that come on board for one show. They usually join the ship at one port, do a show, disembark at the next port and then go to another ship.
I don't have the ability to put captions with images, so I will just write a little bit here. The cactus is typical of much of the landscape in Aruba and the other islands. The lighthouse is in the process of being refurbished. It is a popular tourist attraction that has been closed for many years. There are two things that should be noted. First it is Sunday, and very few people are willing to work on Sundays in Aruba. Some shops are opened just for the tourists, but most local businesses are closed. Secondly note how the scaffold is being built. Each piece is handed man to man to the top of the tower. No cranes or bucket lifts for this job.