Why choose a cruise to Willemstad?
Willemstad cruise port serves the colourful and historic capital city of Curacao in the Leeward Islands, Dutch Antilles; an island country revered for its choice of more than 35 beautiful and mainly uncrowded beaches. Situated on an island 40 miles long, a wide variety of adventures await you. Explore the island’s rich history dating to 1499 with the arrival of the Arawaks, discover outstanding natural scenery off the beaten track at Shete Boka Park or relax on one of the 38 mainly secluded white-sand beaches.
A guide to Willemstad’s hotspots
Willemstad was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997 and offers visitors a wide choice of museums and attractions that perfectly paint a vivid picture of the rich culture and history of the island of Curacao and its people.
Known as the Caribbean centre of trade, tourism, banking and for its also petroleum storage and refining, the island has a rich history, spanning back to the original discovery by Spaniards back in 1499. The island was taken over by the Dutch in 1634 and was then a naval base.
Lining the waterfront on your arrival is a delightful cityscape of pastel-coloured colonial buildings. A cosmopolitan city, you’ll find a wide selection of cafes to enjoy authentic Curacao food; a flavoursome blend of Dutch and Indonesian cuisine, including filling stews. Keshi yena is widely considered the island’s signature dish – a hearty portion of cheese filled with spicy meat.
The characterful city is split in two halves accessible by a floating pedestrian bridge over Sint Anna Bay. To the east side you’ll find Punda, the oldest part of the capital with its charming streets and alleys, buzzing with life and rich in colour, here you’ll find some of best shopping on the island and also a growing art scene located in Windstraat; better known as the Art Alley. To the west you’ll find Otrobanda, where the main shopping street is Breedestraat.
While in Willemstad keep an eye out for Curacao liqueur and handmade crafts including ceramics and wooden boxes. The Floating Market offers fresh wares from Venezuelan vendors – you’ll find melons, papaya and other tropical fruits on sale.
Exploring Willemstad on foot, Fort Amsterdam offers visitors a glimpse at the rich colours of Dutch colonial architecture; this modified fort now houses government offices. Museums are plenty here, make sure you plan your time well with so much to see. Museum Kura Hulanda is a 19th-century merchant’s house and slave quarters documenting the history of slavery, slave trade and abolition. Steam for Oil is a working exhibit of the oil refinery that plays a major part of Curacao’s economy and makes for a fascinating visit.
Gallery Alma Blou is located in the 17th-century plantation house Landhuis Habaai, a co-operative gallery with a large collection of local artists’ works on display. And for those who admire art deco, make sure you pay a visit to the Saint Tropez Ocean Club or Miami Building in the Scharloo district.
Cruise lines that sail to the port of Willemstad
The best time to visit Willemstad
With its tropical climes, average temperatures vary very little, with Willemstad and Curacao being hot all year round with a low chance of rain. The warmest months are July, August and September with temperatures peaking in the hottest month, September, at around 33˚C. The rainy season is generally October to February, with intermittent downpours. August is the month with the most sunshine, at just under 10 hours per day. Curacao is at very low risk of hurricanes as the island is part of the ABC islands situated the southern Caribbean, on the outskirts of the hurricane belt.
Did you know?
- Isla is Curacao’s oil refinery which began its operations in 1918 and has a huge 320,000-barrel-a-day capacity
- Curacao’s souvenir is the ChiChi, a voluptuous lady of the island whose name translates to ‘big sister’
- Curacao has Dutch, Papiamentu and English as its official languages.