Goodby Adventure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Aruba
Last Adventure of the Seas in Aruba

Above picture was taken in a few minutes before 8 AM, on Tuesday, April 20. The weather indicative of this visit. Thick clouds and a rainy day awaited Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas for its last visit.

Ships come and go, but this ship has been the most loyal ship to Aruba for over a decade and will be missed. Apart from its loyalty it was also on of the biggest to visit with a capacity of 3100 passengers.

Other ships from Royal Caribbean continue to stop in Aruba but these have a different itinerary and are about 35% smaller.

KLM’s back, others to follow

After an absence of almost a year, French-Dutch airline Air France-KLM decided to resume flights between Amsterdam – Aruba. This, for Aruba, iconic airline partner stopped flights to Aruba last year after more than 70 years of faithful service. Officials triumphantly welcomed the inaugural flight and it was given the traditional welcome water gun salute by the airport.

The official reason for the stopping the flights was the “economy”. Curiously, KLM kept flying to the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean not too far from here. Why not Aruba? Short answer: politics. The current government seems to be friendlier [read: made concessions] in comparison to the previous one.

On a related note, there are rumors about other airlines expanding/starting service to Aruba. Local airport officials, together with local tourism officials are making continuous efforts to attract new airlines to Aruba.

Lastly, recently United Airlines and Continental Airlines announced a merger which is expected to be finalized later this year. What effects is this going to have to flights from Aruba? Currently Continental has a daily flight from Newark, New Jersey. United Airlines has a seasonal flight from Chicago and Washington DC. I don’t expect to see much change in after the merger is complete.

Additional Improvements Airport Aruba

Airport Aruba Arrivals
Airport Aruba continues to improve the facilities. Such facilities as food & retail are being developed right now. This will further enhance the quality of service. Not only passengers will be able to use the new facilities, also visitors, users and employees.

On a related note, Aruba airport officials released figures about the first quarter and it indicated a slight drop in general arrivals. The drop comes from Venezuelan travelers as their government set new restrictions to acquire foreign money, thus making traveling more difficult. Arrivals from elsewhere, especially North America continues strong.

Aruba airport continues to make contact with airlines from North/South America and Europe to further diversify the flow of passengers. I hope they manage to get new clients. Meanwhile, I’ll throw out a couple of dream pairs just for the fun of it: Los Angeles – Aruba, London – Aruba and Frankfurt – Aruba.

Pictures: Red Sail Sports Rumba Catamaran

Red Sail Sports Rumba
Sunset sail on Rumba

One of the more popular activities in Aruba must be doing a sunset sail along Palm Beach and Eagle Beach area on a catamaran. Yesterday I took a trip on Red Sail Sports’ Rumba catamaran, which left from a pier, located between Occidental Grand and Hyatt Regency.

After signing the typical release waiver and a short wait at the pier, we started boarding around 5:30 pm. Soon after the last person boarded, the crew started with the brief introduction and instructions about the sail. Quickly after wards the captain started the engine and we left the pier. After a few minutes the engines were turned off and the captain switched over to the sail.

On-board there was some music – the sail started with Bob Marley – and lots of drinks. There was an open bar where people mostly drank liquor. However, it’s perfectly fine to just drink non-alcoholic as well. Mid-sail the crew put out snacks. All was included with the trip. Around 7:30 pm the catamaran came back to pier. I would highly recommend this trip.

Red Sail Sports Rumba
People watching the sunset on Rumba

Red Sail Sports
Red Sail Sports Rumba

Red Sail Sports
People watching the sunset on Rumba

Red Sail Sports Rumba
Sunset sail on Rumba with seagulls

Red Sail Sports Rumba
Sun is almost setting on Rumba

Red Sail Sports Rumba
Sunset sail on Rumba with people taking pictures

Red Sail Sports
Sunset sail on Red Sail Sports’ Rumba

New: AirTran Coming to Aruba

Airtran Boeing 737-800
AirTran’s coming to Aruba [image by airtran.com]

A couple of years ago low fare airline JetBlue Airways appeared onto the scene with flights from New York City, going head-to-head against American Airlines. JetBlue is the only low fare airline from the US – American Airlines has become more competitive with better fares between Aruba and New York City – to have flights to Aruba. Until now. Today AirTran Airways submitted papers to the Department of Transportation with the petition to start scheduled flights to Aruba.

The routes AirTran plans to start are Orlando – Aruba – Orlando and Atlanta – Aruba – Atlanta. US Department of Transportation and Aruba Department of Tourism and Transport needs to give the green light. I don’t expect any objections from neither department. Especially in Aruba officials welcome such information.

Flights from Orlando International Airport to Aruba are brand new. Currently there is no airlines servicing this route. If I’m not mistaken Air Aruba has covered this route back in the 90s. Not only is this route handy for tourists, locals might appreciate this option, especially in the summer to go on vacation to one of Orlando’s many theme parks. Furthermore – depending on the frequency – this flight might help Aruba airport become a mini-hub for regional travelers wanting to go to Orlando.

On the other side, flights from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport aren’t new. In fact Delta Airlines covers this route with multiple weekly flights. This is going to be a very interesting one. AirTran is going head-to-head with Delta. This rivalry will surely benefit travelers from California, Texas and Georgia wanting to travel to Aruba. Delta isn’t going to take this laying down, you can count on that. Recently Delta Airlines announced increase in flights to Aruba. To be continued.

American Airlines/Carnival Cruises To Resume Service To Aruba

American Airlines Carnival Cruises Returning to Aruba
American Airlines and Carnival Cruises returning to Aruba

Reportedly American Eagles – owned by American Airlines – and Carnival Cruises have both shown interest in restarting routes to Aruba, canceled in the past. American Eagle flew from San Juan, Puerto Rico non-stop to Aruba, while Carnival Cruises included Aruba as a port of call on its very popular Southern Caribbean itinerary, with home port in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

American Eagle reportedly had two major reasons for stopping San Juan – Aruba. Firstly, the giant air carrier was upset about the incentives given by Aruba airport to rival JetBlue with their inaugural flight New York City – Aruba a few years ago. American claims that they are the oldest American airline serving the island for over four decades without incentives. Additionally they we’re disappointed about the major delays the San Juan-flights had to endure due to the Central Air Control in Hato, Curacao.

Carnival Cruises on the other side approached the island government and ask for incentives to keep coming to Aruba, due to the rising oil costs. In that time oil prices were hovering near record highs. Local officials declined to grant any incentives, where after Carnival Cruises decided to kick Aruba out of its Southern Caribbean itineraries. Carnival still offers Southern Caribbean cruises, mostly to Eastern Caribbean islands.

This issue has been very much politicized due to the involvement of local political parties. Next month on September 25th Aruba goes to the polling booth to elect representatives for a period of four years. Recently a delegation of the main opposition party traveled to South Florida and allegedly met with high officials from both American and Carnival. Party officials claim they’ve reached some sort of an understanding with both companies to restart service to Aruba. Neither company has issued an official statement with about this issue. I don’t expect them to issue any statement about this matter either.

The loss in revenue and traffic has been relatively significant. It took the island quite some time to recover from the loss of Carnival Cruises for example. The ship Carnival Destiny was a steady visitor every Friday. Did they deserve incentives? I’m not too sure about that. Other cruise lines probably would have asked too. I think this island has to have a transparent policy on these matters and make sure to be as competitive as St. Maarten and Barbados, to mention a few.

Mega-yacht Double Haven in Aruba

Double Haven Yacht in Aruba
Double Haven docked in Renaissance Marina

Last week mega-yacht “Double Haven” docked in down town Aruba. This yacht isn’t a stranger to Aruba it has been here before on several occasions.

A quick search around the internet shows that the owner of this ship and entourage are avid travelers. It’s been everywhere around the world. The last spotted location was in Florida. Another debate is who the owner is. If you know, please let me know.

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