Willemstad is a Southern Caribbean cruise port and the capital city of Curacao (Leeward Islands, Dutch Antiles) - an island country, one of the overseas territories of The Netherlands (Holland). Cruise port's namesake is the Rhine riverport in North Brabant (Holland) Willemstad.
Curacao Island is the largest of the ABC Duch islands in the Leeward Antilles group (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao). The other "Dutch Antilles" islands are in the Lesser Antilles - Sint Maarten (the southern part of Saint Martin island), Saba Island and Sint Eustatius Island. Curacao has a total area approx 444 km2 (171 ml2) and population around 150,000.
The historic downtown is designated UNESCO Site and consists of 4 quarters. Punda and Otrobanda are separated by Sint Anna Bay (an inlet leading into Schottegat / natural harbour). Scharloo and Pietermaai Smal are across from each other on the smaller Waaigat harbour. In Willemstad is the Curacao Synagogue - Americas' oldest synagogue (Jewish house of worship). Curacao's economy is largely based on tourism. The city also has several large casinos. Country's standard of living is among Caribbean's highest.
Cruise port's high season is in the summer, when it handles around 1/4 of all ship calls. In 2018, port's passenger shipping traffic increased 16% (over 2017) following the inauguration in 2017 of the second cruise ship pier. In early-2018, to both piers were added more mooring dolphins to allow docking of world's largest passenger liners.
In early-July 2018 was announced that the islands Curacao and Aruba (Willemstad-Oranjestad) will be connected with regularly scheduled fast-ferry service by the end of 2018. The ferryboat has capacity around 800 passengers and 300 cars. The fast-ferry company also invested in port facilities.
For season 2019, Curacao Ports announced nearly 800,000 cruise tourists are expected to visit the country.
Damen Shiprepair Curacao
In 2017, Curacao's government leased the Willemstad shipyard to Damen Group (Dutch corporation) via Damen Shiprepair Curacao (DSCu). On April 30, 2018, the shipyard received 2 floating docks delivered by the heavy-lift vessel Xin Guang Hua (DWT 98,000 tons).
- The larger floating dock "C-Dock" (length 230 m, width 45 m) has capacity to handle Panamax-vessels (oil tankers, container ships and other large vessels).
- The smaller floating dock "D-Dock" (length 108 m, width 23 m) can serve tugboats and offshore support- and anchor handling vessels.
- Both docks were unloaded in Santa Anna Bay, then floated-off alongside the shiprepair quay.
In late-October 2018, D-Dock (previously docked inside C Dock) was floated-out and moored quayside. It became operational in November. On November 2, 2018, DSCu commissioned the large floating dock. After the final tests, C-Dock was submerged. With the help of local pilots and tugboats, there was docked a 63,400 DWT bulkcarrier, thus putting C-Dock into service.
Willemstad cruise terminal
Port Willemstad has two cruise piers – "Mega Pier" and "Curaco Cruise Ship Terminal". Both are located in the city's Otrobanda quarter. The two large piers have capacity to berth, respectively, Freedom-class (GT 160,000) and Oasis-class (GT 225,000) mega-liners. At St Annabay Wharves dock smaller-sized ships.
The new Mega Pier has capacity to accommodate largest cruise ships entering Santa Anna Bay. The bay is narrow, but deepwater. The channel splits the town in two quarters - Otrobanda (west) and Punda (east). Mega Pier is within easy walking distance from downtown - through Renaisaance Mall and Rif Fort. Punda is across (through Queen Emma Bridge).
Smaller vessels dock at the older pier Curaco Cruise Ship Terminal (located inside Santa Anna Bay). Both piers are within walking distance from the city's main tourist attractions. At both terminals are available taxis (be sure to negotiate the rate). Public transportation service includes the ”Buki di Bus” and trolleys.
Willemstad tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Queen Emma Bridge: the bridge that connects Point Side (Punda) and Other Side (Otrobanda). The bridge is also known as “The Swinging Old Lady.”
- Christoffel National Park: located at West Point. The National Park houses Boca Grandi. Those are Indian caves with paintings of Mount Christoffel and the Arawak Indians. The highest point in Curacao is the Mount Christoffel, 1292-ft.
- Curacao Sea Aquarium: it houses the Dolphin Academy.
- Fort Amsterdam: located at Punda Side in Willemstad.
- Fort Nassau: the fort was built to defend the city and the St. Anna Bay. There is also a restaurant that overlooks at the water.
- The Floating Market: the floating market is a fleet of mini boats. They come from Venezuela and sell fresh fruits and fish. It is located in Punda Side, a block from the Queen Juliana Bridge.
- Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue: western hemisphere’s oldest synagogue.
- Museum Kura Hulanda: anthropological museum where you can discover the culture of the island and the chronicles of trading African slaves.
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