When it comes to travel planning these days, there is one thing that has become more and more difficult to predict: The weather. While some time ago, November had been the perfect month for any Caribbean getaway, in 2016 the hurricane season did finally come to an end that month with Otto. A category 3 storm that formed in the southwestern Caribbean Sea close to Nicaragua and which strength very much impacted our highly anticipated visit to the last of the ABC-islands, Aruba.
We left the ship the morning of our arrival into Oranjestad shortly after Koningsdam had docked at the pier. While we enjoyed our breakfast up in the Lido Buffet, the dark low hanging clouds were struck on a regular base by bright strokes of lightning. And it was pouring.
I had placed a reservation with Hertz the other day for a rental car, so we could explore the island just the way we had done on Bonaire a few days ago. But while we were waiting for the shuttle service at the pier´s main gate, one thing was already absolutely clear: There would be no romantic beach stay as the water that came raining down already reached my ankles.
After about an hour and calling Hertz twice, the driver finally showed up in a large pick-up van. The water was so high that it almost reached the substructure of this enormous car. Thinking about that I had simply reserved a miniature car, I did not have the best feeling on driving around in that nutshell with the water that high.
So while the car fought its way over Oranjestad´s main street towards the airport, we realized how many smaller cars suddenly broke down right on the street as their motors must have become wet.
It was way too dangerous to take any risk of getting stuck somewhere on the island in the mud. So we spontaneously decided to cancel the rental and asked the driver to drop us off at the only place that was open at this early time of day: The mall at the Renaissance hotel.
There was free WiFi, so we first checked on the weather outlook for the rest of the day. But as we found out that there was a tropical storm (which later would become Hurricane Otto) developing near the coast of Central America, it was clear that our excursion of Aruba was finished at this time.
Soaked and disappointed it was time to warm up with a large cup of coffee at the Starbucks branch inside the mall. Tons of other adventurers and locals had gathered here to escape the floods and to check the news for any information about it. Shops were already flooded and the heavy rain had also damaged a few roofs.
I do not know if you can imagine how sad I was that day. I had planned to visit here for so many years and just the date that we finally made it, it was all ruined at once. The worst thing about it was that we made this cruise with a Dutch couple (who we had met the year before on our Panama Canal-crossing) where she is originally from Aruba. It would have been such an exciting day to explore the island with a Native. But apparently, it was not meant to be.
After a little stroll through the water, we decided to return back to the ship. Still hoping that the clouds would suddenly break open and letting the sun dry the land. Silly thought, I know, but it helped to make the best out of the rest of the day.
But what was even worse than our ruined Aruba adventure was the fact that the flood must have hit the people living here even more than I could ever complain about. While we sipped bubbly in the comfort of our luxurious hideaway, other´s homes surely had suffered severe damage. Particularly those living in the more rural areas of the island. This is something no one of us should forget when being on vacation. As bad as a holiday day that went wrong can be, the locals have way more things to deal with!
I will be back Aruba! Got you on the wrong foot.
By the way, if you are looking to visit the ABC Islands with Holland America Line´s MS Koningsdam, click here for a few itinerary ideas!