Willemstad

Narrow alleys and weird houses 
The Christoffel National Park  
The threatening Fort Beekenburg

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Willemstad

Conquering the ancient citadel

Curaçao knows how to satisfy every passenger travelling on board an MSC cruise ship. During your holiday on Curaçao, you can explore the Hato Caves, full of stalactites and stalagmites and incisions over 1500 years old, or decide to go on an excursion to Christoffel National Park, where you will see the local flora and fauna, typical of the Caribbean Sea.


For those wishing to admire underwater life, there is the Seaquarium, where you can also make friends with sea lions. Lovers of shopping will find Punda, at the tip of Willemstad, an ideal destination. This part of the city is a historic commercial centre. Its shops and storehouses span all the way to the coast. Here, the houses and workshops form narrow alleys, which today are only open to pedestrian traffic. Between one purchase and another, you may come across scenes of rare intensity, perfect for being immortalized with a photograph.

A short distance away, the most important of the eight fortresses of Curaçao, Fort Amsterdam, protects this part of Willemstad. It was built in 1635 to defend the entrance into the port and given its name when Curaçao was under the administration of the Dutch West India Company. To this day, a cannon ball fired by the troops of Captain Bligh can be seen embedded in the southwestern portion of the wall, confirming the fortresses active military past. Today, the fort is the seat of the governor, and houses a protestant church and a museum.

To remain on the same theme, a visit to Fort Beekenburg, constructed in 1703 in Caracas Bay to defend the interior of the bay and the “Spanish waters” is recommended. In spite of being actively used in the 19th century to defend against the French, the British and the pirates, this fort is one of the best-preserved forts in the Caribbean

Must see place in Willemstad

Discover our excursions

13 results found

  • Caves & City Center (2.5 hrs)

    CITY TOUR

    CRC22

    Two of Curaçao's main highlights await the pleasure of your company on a tour that will take you to see both the fascinating underground world of the Hato Caves and, returning to ground level, the wonders of Willemstad's picture-perfect city centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lying just a short drive to the north of Willemstad, the Hato Caves deliver an otherworldly experience of stalagmites, stalactites, limestone formations and, if you're lucky, sightings of long-nosed fruit bats. Returning to the sunshine, you'll then move on to Willemstad to begin your walk through the city centre and its numerous historical buildings. En route to Fort Amsterdam, you'll pass the floating market and colourful quayside houses before crossing the Queen Emma pontoon bridge to reach the other side of Willemstad city. Should the passage of ships down St. Anna Bay force the bridge to open in the middle, you'll take a ferry instead. The 19th-century Riffort stronghold, now an up-market shopping mall, is your last city highlight on this guided stroll back to your ship. If you prefer, you can equally linger a little longer and then make your own way back to the ship when you're good and ready. Please note: the order in which the tour runs may vary. As high temperatures are likely to prevail, guests are recommended to wear a hat. The tour involves some walking at the Hato Caves and in the city centre, for which guests should be suitably fit.
      • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

        Difficulty Level
        Moderate

      • Duration
        2:30 h

      • Adults$42.00Price per person

      • Children$39.00Price per person

    • Curacao Highlights & Aquarium (3 hrs)

      CITY TOUR

      CRC20

      Capture the feel of quintessential Curaçao - including a taste of the famous liqueur - on a leisurely tour of unspoiled landscapes, historical and modern architecture as well as glimpses of dolphins in the Caribbean Sea. To start with, a scenic drive will take you past an exclusive villa area en route to a photo stop at a vantage point that affords glorious views of Table Mountain and the Spanish Water yacht marina. You'll then continue on to Landhuis Chobolobo, the sunshine yellow mansion that is home to the world-famous Curaçao liqueur. Your visit to the old distillery will show you how the distillation process works and, of course, offer you an opportunity to sample the flavoursome spirit yourself. The final leg of this entertaining tour will see you head for the Curaçao Sea Aquarium, where a fascinating array of aquatic wildlife typically found in local waters awaits you. Check out the sea lions, turtles, sharks and flamingos - to name but a few. A scenic drive through the picturesque city centre of Willemstad then returns you to the ship. Please note: guests must be at least 18 years of age to drink alcohol.
      • Tasting included

      • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

        Difficulty Level
        Easy

      • Duration
        3 h

      • Adults$62.00Price per person

      • Children$59.00Price per person

    • Discover Curacao (3.5 hrs)

      CITY TOUR

      CRC28

      Dishing up some of Curaçao's best highlights for your all-round entertainment, this mainly coach-based tour begins with a look at the island's enchanting countryside, passing salt flats and flamingos as you head for your first stop: the incredible Hato Caves with their fabulous stalagmites, stalactites, limestone formations and seemingly bottomless pools of crystal-clear water. Leaving the breathtaking caverns behind, you'll then make your way to Willemstad's historical Otrobanda district to pay the Curaçao Museum a visit. In addition to works of modern art, the museum also hosts exhibits that illustrate how life was lived on the island during the mid-19th century and affords superb views of Punda, Willemstad's other historical district, Otrobanda and St. Anna Bay. Next up is the beautiful, canary-yellow Chobolobo Mansion, home to the factory where the famous Curaçao liqueur is made. After a chance to find out how the distillation process works and a taste of Blue Curaçao, you'll finish your tour with a narrated drive through the picturesque Punda district in the centre of town. At this point, you can either remain in the city or stay on the coach for the brief return drive to your ship. Please note: as 50 steps will have to be ascended/descended at the Hato Caves, guests are recommended to wear comfortable, flat shoes.
        • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

          Difficulty Level
          Moderate

        • Duration
          3:30 h

        • Adults$49.00Price per person

        • Children$49.00Price per person

      • Panoramic Curacao (2.5 hrs)

        CITY TOUR

        CRC29

        Curaçao's capital of Willemstad has much to offer visitors: pastel-hued colonial architecture, fabulous views of Caracas Bay and St. Anna Bay, the Spanish Water yacht marina, the magnificent Table Mountain and the distillery where the famous Curaçao liqueur is made. All of these highlights await you on this panoramic drive through Willemstad, with a first stop scheduled at Caracas Bay to take photos of the 18th-century Dutch-built Fort Beekenburg, the sea and the adjacent beach. A visit to a local handicraft shop for a chance to browse and enjoy island views is next, after which you'll move on through one of the island's exclusive residential areas to reach Chobolobo Mansion. Painted a rich sunshine yellow, the building reflects one of the colours in which the famous Curaçao liqueur is available and is also the place where it is made. Find out how the spirit is distilled, try some for yourself and then prepare for a pleasant return drive through parts of the city centre that have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
        • Tasting included

        • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

          Difficulty Level
          Moderate

        • Duration
          2:30 h

        • Adults$35.00Price per person

        • Children$32.00Price per person

      • Authentic Curacao (2.5 hrs)

        CULTURE AND HISTORY

        CRC21

        Spend a couple of hours off the ship on a mainly coach-based exploration of Curaçao from a historical, botanical, and herbal perspective. Your fully narrated outing begins in Willemstad with a drive to Riffort, a 19th-century fort that now provides space for a swanky shopping mall. You'll be able to catch great views of the Queen Emma pontoon bridge, old colonial merchant mansions and Fort Amsterdam from your coach en route to the greener outskirts of Willemstad and the Aloe Vera Plantation. After learning a little about these health-promoting plants at the farm, you'll get to try some fresh aloe juice and have time to browse the shop for aloe products. From botanical to herbal: get set for the Den Paradera historical herb garden created by Dinah Veeris as a means of healing herself of a medical condition. As part of your guided tour around the garden, you'll get a valuable lesson in the curative powers of various trees and numerous herbs. A healthy botanical refreshment will be served to end your walk, after which you'll begin to head back to the ship, passing brightly-coloured old labourer houses and other estate buildings that are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Please note: the order in which the tour runs may vary due to traffic congestion.
        • Drink included

        • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

          Difficulty Level
          Easy

        • Duration
          2:30 h

        • Adults$49.00Price per person

        • Children$49.00Price per person

      • Downtown Walking Tour & Maritime Museum (2.5 hrs)

        CULTURE AND HISTORY

        CRC26

        Give yourself a chance to stretch your legs and get some gentle exercise off the ship on a leisurely outing that teams a stroll through Willemstad's wonderful pastel-coloured city centre with a visit to Curaçao's Maritime Museum. After meeting your guide at the pier, you'll first head for the 5-star Kura Hulanda Resort Hotel, a complex made up of 18th- and 19th-century colonial-style buildings that lend the place a charming historical feel. You'll then cross St. Anna Bay either via the Queen Emma pontoon bridge or by ferry to reach the 17th-century Fort Amsterdam, now the Governor's Palace, before passing the floating market en route to another market where a brief stop will be made. The nautical side of Curaçao's history will then demand your attention when you reach Curaçao's Maritime Museum, which is housed in an early 18th-century building. The museum's exhibits serve to chart the island's 500-year maritime history with a whole array of artefacts, including old maps, navigation equipment and ship models, but also using modern audio-visual technology. At the end of your visit, you can choose either to remain in town or to walk straight back to the ship. Please note: the order in which the tour runs may vary.
        • Tasting included

        • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

          Difficulty Level
          Moderate

        • Duration
          2:30 h

        • Adults$32.00Price per person

        • Children$32.00Price per person

      • Dolphin Encounter (3 hrs)

        NATURAL WONDERS

        CRC19

        For a meet & greet moment you're likely never to forget, why not spend a few hours off the ship making the acquaintance of some highly intelligent and playful marine mammals: dolphins? Suitable for all ages and perfectly safe, the tour begins with a short drive to the dolphin centre, where you'll then take to the shallow water and step onto a platform to begin your incredible and fully guided encounter with one of the world's most popular creatures. Informed about dolphin anatomy, behaviour and conservation by the friendly staff, you'll get to touch, hug and even plant a kiss on your new pals. Best of all, it's not even necessary to be able to swim, since your dolphin experience takes place with the underwater platform providing your feet with firm support throughout. If time permits, you'll then move on to pay the Sea Aquarium Park a visit before heading back to the pier and your ship. Please note: the dolphin-encounter programme lasts for about 20 minutes. Children under 8 years of age must be accompanied by a paying adult. Guests will need to descend stairs to reach the platform in the water; assistance can be provided by the on-site trainers. As personal photography and video recordings are not possible during your time in the water, professional photographers are on hand to capture your special magic moment on film; photos are available for purchase after the programme. The centre also provides public changing rooms, showers and lockers.
          • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

            Difficulty Level
            Easy

          • Duration
            3 h

          • Adults$142.00Price per person

          • Children$129.00Price per person

        • Dolphin Swim (3 hrs)

          NATURAL WONDERS

          CRC18

          If you've ever wondered what it would be like to spend some quality time with dolphins in their own aquatic environment, you need wonder no more since this tour gives you a unique opportunity to do just that. A short drive will first see you reach the dolphin centre, where you will then be able to take part in the exciting, yet safe adventure of swimming with these adorable marine mammals. As you swim in the natural lagoon, the dolphins will join and interact with you - even permitting you gently stroke them. Also look forward to trying your hand at giving them various hand signals; getting it right will let you hear a dolphin song, get a kiss or wave, see them spin, take you for a dorsal ride and much more. Time permitting, you'll also have a chance to visit the fascinating Sea Aquarium Park before you begin your return journey to the pier and your ship. Please note: the swimming-with-dolphins programme lasts for about 30 minutes and is suitable only for guests experienced in using flippers since arms will not be free for swimming while in the water. Life jackets are available and must be worn by children less than 57 inches in height. Guests must be at least 8 years of age and a minimum of 51 inches in height to take part in the programme. The dolphin lagoon is about 18 ft. in depth. The dolphin swim is not suitable for pregnant women. All guests will be required to sign a waiver; parents must sign on behalf of children under the age of 18. As personal photography and video recordings are not possible during your time in the water, professional photographers and cameramen are on hand to capture your special moment on film; photos and videos will be available for purchase after your swim. The centre also provides public changing rooms, showers and lockers.
            • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

              Difficulty Level
              Moderate

            • Duration
              3 h

            • Adults$202.00Price per person

            • Children$182.00Price per person

          • Rainforest Mystery and Sightseeing (3 hrs)

            NATURAL WONDERS

            CRC25

            The first of the three distinct legs making up this entertaining 3-hour tour will see you board a coach en route to the "L'Aldea Rainforest Mystery”, a fully guided and narrated experience that combines a Latin American wildlife trail with Mesoamerican moments presented in the form of replica Inca, Mayan and Aztec sculptures, carvings and frescos. The park's multi-hued inhabitants - including colourful parrots, sinuous snakes, nimble frogs and troupes of sure-footed monkeys - make for some fabulous photos before you move on to the Aloe Vera Plantation on the outskirts of Willemstad city. After a guided look around the plantation and learning about the plant's healing properties, you'll move on to the last leg of the tour: Willemstad city centre. Your drive back to the ship will take you down Scharlooweg, a former uptown residential area once built for the merchant elite, for enjoyable views of beautifully restored mansions, which feature on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
            • Drink included

            • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

              Difficulty Level
              Moderate

            • Duration
              3 h

            • Adults$55.00Price per person

            • Children$52.00Price per person

          • Country Drive (3.5 hrs)

            SCENIC ROUTE

            CRC02

            Give yourself a chance to explore Curaçao on a drive through the island's beautiful countryside, passing by old plantation homes and labourer housing to reach your first stop, the wonderful Boka Tabla, part of the Shete Boka National Park, for amazing views of the surf thundering onto the shore. You'll then move on to the Tula Museum, which is located in a lovely late 17th- to early 18th-century plantation house that was restored once in 1830 and then again in 2005. The building affords magnificent panoramas of the hills and sea in the distance as well as of the plantation grounds themselves. Your interactive guided tour of the museum will then acquaint you with the way people used to live on the island during the days of slavery. To wrap up your scenic tour, a photo stop will be made at Curaçao's most spectacular tropical beach, a place where soft white sand meets the azure blue of the Caribbean Sea to yield fabulous snapshot moments by the score. The leisurely drive back to your ship then brings the tour to a close. Please note: the order in which the tour runs may vary.
              • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

                Difficulty Level
                Moderate

              • Duration
                3:30 h

              • Adults$49.00Price per person

              • Children$49.00Price per person

            • Sea & See Island Tour (2.5 hrs)

              SCENIC ROUTE

              CRC14

              Giving you an opportunity to explore the island of Curaçao from and underwater and overland perspective, this tour begins with you boarding an air-conditioned semi-submarine - the Seaworld Explorer - to submerge to a depth of several hundred feet and then delight in the colourful spectacle that awaits you, including a dramatic moment when the sub passes over a sudden vertiginous drop. Large windows guarantee panoramic views of aquatic wildlife such as yellowtail snappers, sergeant majors, parrotfish, queen angelfish and colonies of coral. After surfacing and returning to dry land, you'll board a coach to be taken to an elevated vantage point for splendid views of Willemstad, followed by a drive to the Chobolobo Liqueur Factory where the world-famous Curaçao liqueur is made. You'll get to enjoy a taste of the spirit, which is made with the dried peel of the lahara citrus fruit, before moving on for a drive through Willemstad's historical Punda district, during which time your friendly guide will point out major landmarks. The tour ends with your return to the ship, but you can equally choose to remain in town and make your own way back. Please note: the semi-submarine pier is accessible via a ramp or approx. 6 steps; the semi-submarine itself is accessible via a ramp; the hull of the semi-submarine is accessible via approx. 5 steps. Guests must be capable of using steps without assistance.
                • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

                  Difficulty Level
                  Moderate

                • Duration
                  2:30 h

                • Adults$62.00Price per person

                • Children$59.00Price per person

              • Willemstad Trolley Train Tour (1.5 hrs)

                SCENIC ROUTE

                CRC10

                Colourful and quaint are two attributes that aptly describe both your mode of transport on this tour, a trolley train, and the city you'll be exploring, Curaçao's capital of Willemstad. After taking a taxi to cross the Queen Juliana Suspension Bridge to reach the historical Punda district, you'll then board the open-sided trolley train for a breezy and fully narrated ride through Willemstad's attractive streets with their distinctive Dutch colonial architecture. Enjoy listening to interesting city facts as you make your way past the Queen Emma pontoon bridge and the floating vegetable and wet fish market. A photo stop will be made at the central historical archives, which are housed in the fittingly nicknamed Bolo di Bruid (wedding-cake) mansion, and then again at Pietermaai Cathedral. Back on the trolley train, you'll then continue on past Queen Wilhelmina Park and the 17th-century Waterfort Arches before paying Fort Amsterdam, also built in the 17th century, and the co-located Protestant Church a visit. A taxi will take you back to the ship, but if you prefer to remain in town, you can return to the ship at your own pace. Please note: the tour includes taxi transfers to and from Fort Amsterdam, the trolley-train terminus. Guests choosing to remain in town after the trolley-train ride will be responsible for making their own way back to the ship, which is an approx. 15-minute walk from the town centre. Any taxi transfer fees (approx. US$10 for 1 to 4 passengers) will be payable as an additional expense not covered by the price of the tour. Guests may be able to enter the Cathedral for an inside viewing provided no Mass is being read at the time of the visit.
                  • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

                    Difficulty Level
                    Moderate

                  • Duration
                    1:30 h

                  • Adults$42.00Price per person

                  • Children$39.00Price per person

                • Beach Express (3.5 hrs)

                  SEA & SUN

                  CRC11

                  Take some time out from your ship and embark on a drive-by taste of island life with the added extra of time to spend on one of Curaçao's stunning beaches. Your sightseeing tour en route to sun, sea and sand begins when you board a unique, hand-painted bus to travel to the island's pristine west coast and its unspoiled beaches. The fully narrated drive will take you past historical plantation houses, scenic mountains, wildlife, salt flats and pretty pink flamingos before you arrive at the beautiful cove to relax and enjoy the amazing surroundings. The azure waters of the Caribbean Sea are perfect for swimming or snorkelling among the reef dwellers, while the soft sand is an open invitation to stretch out under palm tree and work on your tan. This laid-back outing to one of Curaçao's very best beaches is ideal for all age groups and is sure to provide bags of fun. A chance to savour further glorious views then awaits you on your return journey to the ship.
                    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

                      Difficulty Level
                      Easy

                    • Duration
                      3:30 h

                    • Adults$52.00Price per person

                    • Children$49.00Price per person

                  The excursions in the program above are intended to provide MSC Guests with an idea of the different tours that can be arranged in each port of call; this program is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise.
                  Shore excursions programs and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.

                   

                  Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

                  Curaçao

                  Salt lakes and luxuriant cactuses
                  Salt lakes and luxuriant cactuses

                  One should not miss the opportunity to visit the most singular of the Caribbean islands: Curaçao, with its cactus plants and evergreens outlining landscapes reminiscent of African savannas, and its salt lakes where flamingos come to rest.


                  The underwater environment is similar to that of the other islands in the Caribbean Sea and there is also an interesting coral reef. One can visit the project for the protection and artificial enhancement of the reef in front of the beach of Porto Marie. Like on the other so-called ABC” islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao) the language spoken here is papiamento. Listening to this fascinating creole language, which is a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch plus idioms of African and Arawake origin, is an experience in itself. A cruise to Curaçao means entering a world that mixes colonial, Spanish and Dutch flavours.

                  The many historical buildings in Willemstad have led to UNESCO including the town amongst the world heritage sites under its protection: it is the place outside Holland with the greatest concentration of Dutch architecture of the 19th century. Interesting tours will take you to the various colonial mansions and to the so-called kas di pal’i maishi, the old dwellings for the slaves which are reminiscent of West African villages.