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Published: June 13th 2017
Geo: 15.4338, -61.3531
Friday 03/04/09 Curacao - The Dutch Antilles Temps Air 32°C Sea 27°C
Our berth once again is ideally placed being right alongside the Rif Fort and the entrance to the harbour of Willemstad the islands capital, making for an easy trip back and forth to the ship (probably laden with shopping)
We're off for an early start as we'd booked an excursion on a semi submersible at 09:00. after a brief tour and introduction to the island we boarded the vessel, 2 people complained they didn't know they would be going on a boat, so after a lot of moaning one was left shore side, (give me strength) and then we realised that another 2 of the passengers weren't able to walk un aided so it took the combined efforts of the crew and some passengers to finally get them seated on the vessel. I in my stupidity didn't think for a second that they would expect to be going below once we got to the reef; I sat this because we've used these semi submersibles before and you have to negotiate a narrow spiral staircase down to the viewing seats situated in rows of two below the
water line. Oh no they were going below; we ended up with one of them in the row in front and one in the row behind, which left us with absolutely no possibility of getting to the emergency exits in the unlikely event that we needed to.
This isn't the first time that passenger safety has been severely compromised by the thoughtlessness of some of the disabled passengers who think they have a right to do any excursion they wish regardless of the suitability of the activity level required by each individual. This is then compounded by the inability of the ships tour organisers and the representatives of the appropriate company to decline to accept passengers whose unfortunate disability constitutes a hazard for either themselves or their fellow passengers (sorry if you find that a little hard faced but nobody's safety should be compromised in this way, whether it's caused by a genuine medical condition, over exuberance, or lack of control due to drink / drugs)
After a trip around the reef we made the obligatory trip to the Chobolobo liqueur factory where the famous blue Curacao liqueur is produced, I knew there were different colours but didn't
know they're all the same, the only difference being the colour, so it can be used to produce different effects in various cocktails.
We spent the afternoon wandering around the capital, as the Queen Emma Bridge (affectionately known locally as "The Swinging old Lady"😉 had been opened to allow passage of a tanker we caught the free ferry across to the other side. The bridge is in fact a floating bridge on pontoons and is powered by a diesel engine; it's mounted on a small turntable at one end and so when it's opened the whole bridge swings from the turntable through 90°. The many ships pass by so close to the Plaza Hotel that it's the only hotel in the world insured for damage caused by marine collision!
Once on the other side we took in the local flee & floating markets, and Fort Plein, before making our way back to the bridge, this time we waited for it to close before walking across it, making our way to Rif Fort and the many little shop, bars, and cafes now housed within its walls.
The ship was late sailing and it wasn't until later we learnt that a
fellow passenger had died whilst snorkelling in a local bay. The ships departure delayed whilst his poor wife left the ship having been placed in a local hotel, supported by specialist P&O staff whilst waiting for their daughters to fly out to be with their mother. Curacao, such a beautiful place will forever bring back such terrible memories for that family, what a sad and tragic end to their holiday.
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