A Roller Coaster Ride to Remember

Tales of the High Seas: Journey Aboard the Norwegian Prima

November 5, 2022

Have you been counting my sea days as I’ve been rolling out this story?  Storm Lisa meant that I was getting five sea days in a row before seeing a port, instead of one sea day followed by a visit to Cozumel.  The Captain, Kevin Bellido, and the Cruise Director Simon were very apologetic about us having so many sea days in a row.  Frankly, there is so much to do on this ship, I did not find it to be a problem at all.  I scheduled myself to not be bored on this solo trip.

Port of Aruba
Oranjestad, Aruba

My original plan was to book an NCL excursion and use my shore excursion credit as part of my “Free at Sea” promotion.  However, whenever I looked there was nothing that really appealed to me.  At times there were only four excursions available.  Finally, I bit the bullet at booked AGW Tours thru Viator/Trip Advisor.  It was the Natural Pool, Caves, and Baby Beach Aruba Beach Adventure.  You see Aruba’s most compelling natural attractions.  You go off-road.  A professional driver does the driving for a 4-hour adventure.  It includes swimming/snorkeling, a National Park visit, plus you get close to nature and a taste of action.

In the morning we docked in Oranjestad, Aruba only to be greeted by pouring rain.  The terminal had FREE wi-fi!  I checked out the terminal, did some social media posting, and then returned to the ship for breakfast at the Seaside Café.  I basically hung out at the terminal during the late morning/early afternoon taking advantage of the wi-fi.  I scheduled my tour for the 2 o’clock time slot.  Rain comes and goes in the Caribbean.  I did my fair share of praying.

Leaving the ship
Seaside Cafe Breakfast

Viator had us meet for our excursion outside the Diamonds International building which I could spot high up on the top pool deck of my ship, no problem.  By the time 1:30 pm rolled around the skies had cleared.  It was a perfect sunny day in the mid-80’s.  There is a God!  A variety of independent tours meet there.  Eventually I was whisked off in a minivan with about 20 other people to AGW headquarters. 

Arikok National Park
Pools of Aruba

Once we arrived, we signed a waiver, watched a safety video, and then were split off into two groups.  The other group was doing an ATV exploration.  In my jeep it was just a couple from the UK, Ian and Shirley and me.  Three adventurers in a jeep.  Shirley was up front next to Patrick, our driver/guide.  Ian and I were in the back.  This was the most jostling experience I have ever had.  I mean that literally.  I am not exaggerating.  Three adventurers in a jeep had the roller coaster ride of their life.  Shirley, Ian, and I jumped into that jeep and it was the most wild ride I’ve ever ridden.  Ian and I were like rag dolls in the back seat.

We found that Aruba was mostly a desert.  Cacti were everywhere.  All types of cacti. Shirley suffers from motion sickness, but she seemed to do ok and had no issues.  I had the time of my life.  Aruba Patrick gave us all tons of attention and was a thoroughly entertaining and informative guide.  Arikok National Park admission was included in this trip, and we got our fill.  It was a fantastic journey and I highly recommend it.  The caves were going to close at 4 pm.  We made sure that was our first stop.  This way we arrived before they could kick us out.  There were several cave destinations on this trip.  Not only did we see all types of rock formations, stalactites and stalagmites but graffiti dating back centuries.  Literally they would list the dates on the graffiti, so we would see the year 1635 or what have you.  It was thrilling.  Patrick was kind enough to offer to take pictures for each of us.  I think that was the advantage of having just three of us on this tour.  We got all the attention and service you could want.

Windy day at Arikok
Lots to Explore

Aruba Patrick (there will be another Patrick in my story) had us stop for a treat.  We stopped at a creek where we dipped our feet in.  There, we were treated to a fish sauna.  All sorts of fish came to feed on our dead skin.  The tiny fish, I really didn’t feel, but the larger fish with their big lips definitely tickled me. We were not alone. We ran into others for the fish sauna.  Unbelievable!  A free fish sauna in the middle of Aruba!  The fish eating my skin were so ticklish, I could not stop laughing.

At Baby Beach, there was shallow water.  Shirley and I tried our luck at snorkeling.  I saw a few fish, and it got myself acclimated to the breathing patterns needed when you go snorkeling without worrying about treading water/swimming out in deep waters. It reminded me of my breathing patterns while working out. Shirley wanted a snorkeling buddy, and I was happy to oblige.  We had great fun as we explored Aruba’s waters.  The beach was lovely and I would go back again on my own for a future visit.

Aruba Patrick insisted that you haven’t been to Aruba until you visit a sight at the very northern most tip of the island.  Off he whisked us to a lighthouse.  We were game to seeing all that we could see, and he knew when our all-aboard time was. Aruba was a ton of cacti and desert.

After that pit stop, he went to explore more of the island and pointed out a variety of hotels and casinos where we could stay for longer visits, should we choose.  We saw some incredible properties that had private access to their own beaches.  The hotels that we investigated ran the gamut in amenities and prices.  It was interesting to see, and our ship was not too far away.

I highly recommend AGW Tours.  This was an outstanding tour and I highly recommend it.  I would have been cranky, if I had to navigate the treacherous pathways of Arikok National Park, or worse – stuck.  I’m glad I had an experienced jeep driver to do all of the heavy lifting.  Aruba Patrick was so informative and personable he made this tour for me, incredibly special.

I didn’t have much time. I needed to change, and I had a show to get to. I opted to have dinner at Indulge Food Hall. I ordered the chicken tikka masala and the garlic naan bread. Tamara, the Indian food eatery, was the best complimentary meal on my entire trip. It was incredibly flavorful and not too spicy for my bland palate. You can not have dinner without dessert, so I enjoyed some cookies and cream ice cream from the ice cream station. One extremely memorable aspect of this dinner was how quickly I wolfed this dinner down. I wish I could have devoted more time to really appreciate it.

DISASTER in the evening.  I don’t know what I did.  But I definitely did something.  My phone no longer responded to any commands.  It was totally useless.  You don’t realize how much you are dependent on a phone during a cruise vacation until you no longer have access to one.  Everything involving a ship means dealing with an app.  Plus, I had organized all of these group activities and we had no way to communicate with each other.  The only way we could communicate was by calling each others’ staterooms.  It was quite a bit of stress built into my life.  The upside is I was going to be spending two days in Miami in between the two cruises.  I could go to my phone store there and get a resolution.  But I do NOT recommend being without a phone in the 21st century.

Tonight, I was treated to a trio of singers who presented a tribute to the music of Elton John. The act was called, This ONE’s for you. They were the BEST entertainment aboard the ship. They were supposed to join us on the ship when we arrived in Cozumel. Logistics department pulled through and got them onto the ship just in time to do the show for this evening. I can not recommend them highly enough. I saw them in the Prima Theater at 9:30 pm. It was not hokey or corney, it was very well done. They each had wonderful voices and didn’t try to mimic Elton’s voice. It was just clear that they had a passion towards his music. Interspersed with the music were little snippets of anecdotes and you got to learn a little about the members of the group. All you saw were the three singers. I imagine they were singing along to a click track. The only thing that could have improved the show, in my opinion, would be to add a live band.

I have completely forgotten about my recommendations that make my cruise better.  I guess I got caught up in my story that it slipped my mind.  Today’s recommendation is Magic Candle Company Air Fresheners.  They are easily packable.  Think of those things that hang from your rear-view mirror of your car.  Back in the day, they were in the shape of an evergreen tree frequently.  They come in a variety of scents.  I had one hanging in my bathroom to prevent unwanted smells.  They are plenty strong, but not overpowering.  I liked it so much, I brought it out to my stateroom and the smell filled the room.  I even have one hanging in my bathroom here at home, as we speak.  They come in different fragrances.  I selected the one inspired by Disney Cruise Line for my Prima voyage and African Lodge for my MSC Seashore cruise.  The African Lodge is still going strong in my bathroom today.

NEXT:  An absolutely Perfect Day in Curacao

Published by destinationdouglas

Independent Travel Advisor Extraordinaire! Enhance your travel dreams with concierge service. Specializing in cruising with Virgin Voyages, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Sojourn, Princess, MSC, Cunard, and AmaWaterways with Reach for the Magic Destinations. Adventure Awaits!

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