----- Aruba ---------------
A group of us set out on a 14 day cruise on Carnival that we actually got for only $911 including taxes! The price was amazing because it was in early November a quiet time in the cruise industry due to unreliable weather and tropical storms. After leaving Miami our first stop was Aruba, and from here we would travel up the chain of Caribbean islands on our eventual return home.
Our crew was definitely a non excursion crew. We did not want to be shuffled in with the masses to spend small pre-portioned amounts of time in several stops including tourist traps to buy cheap Chinese imported junk trinkets. Upon disembarking our ship the Carnival Glory we rented ATV's to traverse the island seeing everything from unique natural geological formations to tranquil beaches.
We weaved our way through Oranjestad, Aruba to reach the Ayo rock formations in the center of the island. The formations were actually really cool with walkways and hidden crevices among the rocks. Several paths would lead you around the area, but to venture off track was difficult due to the impenetrable cactus found everywhere. The site was quiet and lacking people so we really enjoyed our short stay here. Upon leaving the Ayo rock formations we headed to the opposite side of the island to some ancient gold smelting ruins and then onto the once spectacular natural bridge. Several years ago the bridge came collapsing into the sea after ages of constant erosion. It was in close proximity to the ruins so we decided to go. Upon our exploration we found a small cove perfect for swimming on the rough eastern coast of Aruba.
After finishing the eastern side of Aruba we ventured through the heat and dust to the Northwest side to go snorkeling at Malmok beach. The sea life was nice with many fishes, conches, various types of coral, etc. After a relaxing visit we headed back to Oranjestad to try local pan bati a local type of cornbread, which was pretty good! It was more crunchy then typical American cornbread. After eating and watching a guy taking a leak on a building in front of us (yikes) we walked though town to see the sights before returning to the ship. Really there wasn't too much to see in this town, but it was cool to see the Dutch architecture of the buildings.