Hurricane Katia Moving Westward

Hurricane season started slowly this year, but it’s been steaming up. As of today there are three systems that formed and all three seems to eye the mainland USA. In below image you can see two nameless systems and tropical storm Katia. System #1 has 80% chance to form into a major storm and system #2, 50% chance.

New storm Lee

The only system that seems to threaten the Caribbean right now is system #1 (storm Lee), however that one seems to move into the Gulf of Mexico on its way to the state of Louisiana, among others. None of the systems are a threat to Aruba at this point.

Hurricane Katia
Hurricane Katia [image by Storm Pulse]

2011 Hurricane Season has been relatively calm for the southern Caribbean. In fact there hasn’t been a threat down here. Quiet the contrary in the US. My thoughts go out to the people who lost family and friends because of Irene.

Update

Update 1: Today (September 2) National Hurricane Center in Miami upgrade system #1 to storm Lee. Hurricane Katia’s projected path has been updated and seems now to be headed to the east coast. It’s still too early to exactly pin point if and when hurricane Katia will make landfall.

Pictures: Construction Alhambra Shopping Bazaar and Casino

The renovation work at Alhambra continues at a blazing fast speed. The whole shopping area structure was razed, leaving only the casino and sandwich shop Subway standing. The parking area has been paved on the southern part. Currently the parking area on the eastern part being constructed.

The casino building is also being renovated right now. The outside is getting a mostly cosmetic work. Needless to say that the inside also needs a renovation badly.  The developer  reiterated that the casino would remain open throughout the whole process.

Alhambra Casino
South side of Alhambra Casino

Things are certainly looking up for the whole development there. The new development, construction and re-construction fits perfectly with the other properties of Divi Resorts, which are also under renovation. In the combination of photos you can see the current progress.

Alhambra Casino
Alhambra Casino parking

Alhambra Casino
Side access of the parking at Alhambra Casino

Alhambra Casino
Alhambra Casino parking

Alhambra Casino
Eastern (main entrance) Alhambra Casino

Alhambra Casino
View where Dunkin Donuts used to be

Alhambra Casino
Framing of shopping area being removed

Alhambra Casino
Subway, last building standing

Acqua Condominium Latest

Construction at trouble-filled development Acqua Condominium continues. It was only last month that they had to deal with another issue regarding pay of some workers with a sub-contractor. The issue seems resolved as the construction appears to be ongoing.

There’s a wall around the whole construction effort preventing me of an inside look, so I decided to take a peek from neighboring Palm Beach Plaza mall. From this angle I got a decent view of recent work.

Acqua Aruba
Facade of ongoing construction work at Acqua (stucco work on the southern tower visible in picture finished)

What I saw didn’t really impress much. I mean, people are working and the development of the construction ongoing but nothing more. Currently they are pouring concrete of adjacent towers, which is not visible in the combination of pictures. Work in progress.

Acqua Aruba
Construction at Acqua

De Palm Tours Acquires Atlantis Adventures

In a news conference local giant tour operator De Palm Tours announced the acquisition of Atlantis Adventures. Atlantis offers submarine and semi-submarine excursions. Additionally they offers shore services to cruise lines. Officials from both companies announced that that the transaction was finalized on February 1, 2011 (almost two weeks ago), without offering details about the sum involved. This transaction was rumored for some time and comes as no surprise. Atlantis was purchased back in the 90s for $4 million by the – now – former owners.

De Palm Tours claims it won’t effect the operation of neither company as both companies will continue to operate separately. On the short term perhaps but not on the long term. I believe this acquisition makes a lot of sense. Now De Palm Tours has a better filled portfolio of products and services. Whether or not this deal will be beneficial to the customers has yet to be seen.


De Palm Tours Acquires Atlantis

I see some issues down the road, however. De Palm Tours has now become more powerful in the shore excursion scene, beware cruise ships. I foresee a cut in positions in the future. For example, some of these excursions are executed with two staff (De Palm Tour bus driver and Atlantis tour guide) which now could be done by just the driver alone. Lastly, just a few months ago Atlantis partnered with another company – in direct competition to De Palm Tours – to launch a bus tour operation that now has an uncertain future. Acquisitions are very uncommon in Aruba, only deep pocketed companies (or have good connections to local banks) are able to do this and there aren’t too many of them.

Pictures: Alhambra Bazaar and Casino Renovations

Several weeks ago I took notice of the construction at Alhambra Casino. This aging facility located at Punta Bravo also features a shopping center. This property has a distinctive Arabian theme which really stood out. Alhambra is owned by Divi Resorts.

A quick view outside shows a revamped parking area and ongoing, be it minor, renovation activity. Is it really so minor? That’s what I thought at least. After I received a tip from a reader I decided to take a closer look and saw how this renovation included taring down of large parts of the building.

Alhambra Renovation
New pavement for the parking lot at Alhambra

Currently the only part of the building standing is the Casino (which is going to be renovated as well) and Subway. All other shops (including Dunkin’ Donuts) had to make room for the renovation. In the combination of pictures you can appreciate the work that’s being done currently.

Update: The casino is expected to remain open throughout the renovation.

Alhambra Renovation
Front view of the casino with new parking lot

Alhambra Renovation
Middle square of the mall, with the casino in the background

Alhambra Renovation
A view to Casa del Mar, from Alhambra Bazaar

Alhambra Renovation
Steel framing visible at Alhambra

Alhambra Renovation
No more shopping at Alhambra (for now)

Alhambra Renovation
Destruction of old building

Off topic: Aruba Gasoline Price Surge

Note: This post is not linked directly to tourism.

In Aruba gasoline prices changes once a month and tomorrow it’s increasing. This is the forth consecutive month with an increase and there’s no end in sight. Compared to last month the price increased with almost 5%. With $4.48 per gallon ($1.18 per liter) this is the highest levels the prices of gas has been in over two years. In October 2008 gasoline was at an all-time high with $5.55 per gallon.

The most upsetting part is how the prices are established. All stakeholders come together once a month (minus consumer groups) and they set the price. It’s done in a way that no one (beside the little group that comes together) really has slightest idea of how it’s established. I see no signs of this changing either. Do you smell the inflation? For more information visit ArubaGasoline.com.

Aruba Gas
Gasoline this month: $4.48 per gallon

Do you wonder how it is elsewhere? Below there’s a quick list with some prices to compare, for your reading pleasure.

Prices are in US dollar per gallon (US dollar per liter in bracket):

  1. Netherlands $8.14 ($2.15)
  2. Aruba $4.48 ($1.18)
  3. Canada [daily average] $4.28 ($1.13)
  4. Jamaica $3.90 ($1.03)
  5. USA [daily average] $3.07 ($0.81)
  6. Trinidad & Tobago $2.27 ($0.60)
  7. Venezuela $0.09 ($0.34)

First: Disney Wonder in Aruba

2011 starts on a positive note for sure. Today a new cruise ship is going to dock in town for the first time: Disney Wonder. This Disney-themed ship is going to be in Aruba today from 6 AM to 5 PM.

Disney Wonder accommodates 2,400 passengers, along with 945 cast and crew. Obviously this ship has a cast to entertain the kids and parents that go on this ship. Disney ships look like cartoons from both outside and inside.


Disney Wonder [image by Disney]

Apart from Disney Wonder, today there are three other ships in town: AIDAvita, Statendam and Ocean Dream. If you are staying in Aruba and want to avoid all the people, as always, I suggest you skip town today.