Willemstad (Curaçao)
Cruise Port Must Know, See and Do

Panoramic Photo of Curaçao

Overview and Basics
for Cruise Travelers to Curaçao
- Docking, Piers, Terminals and Attractions in Willemstad

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Curaçao and its cruise port in Willemstad - the capital - is an island with a rare charm, stunning colonial architecture, very comfortable to explore on your own as safety is something you don't need to be concerned with, impeccably clean and kept. The local population is friendly (but not pushy) inviting the cruise traveler to discover the many natural wonders and rich cultural past of this Dutch Island.

Panoramic Photo of Waterfront in Curaçao

Willemstad's Waterfront

Photo © IQCruising.com

Where Cruise Ships Dock in Curaçao

Willemstad is one of the main highlights of Curaçao. At walking distance from where cruise ships dock, the city's unique colonial architecture has a number of attractions to explore on foot and on your own - landmarks like the floating Queen Emma Bridge and Fort Amsterdam; religious sites like the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue or Saint Ana Catholic Church; and museums such as Kura Hulanda and the Maritime Museum. Like most Caribbean islands it is also a shopping paradise and with great places to savor local cuisine.

Photo of Queen Wilhelmina Bridge in Curaçao

Queen Wilhelmina Bridge in Curaçao

Photo © IQCruising.com

With so much to explore in the capital of Curaçao, the cruise traveler who doesn't venture beyond Willemstad will be missing a lot. The pristine beaches and coral reefs with spectacular water visibility are an invitation to enjoy a relaxed day sun basking or in more active pursuits - snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing or fishing - in beaches like the famous Blue Bay. Other attractions out of Willemstad should also be considered - like the Aquarium or the Hato Caves. It is also easy to combine any of these attractions with some time in the sun as both Kontiki and Mambo Beaches are close to the cruise piers.

Photo of Taxi Stand, Mega Pier, in Curaçao

Taxi Stand - Mega Pier

Photo © IQCruising.com

As mentioned, Willemstad is at walking distance, but if the cruise traveler wishes to explore other attractions (besides the excursions offered onboard, with independent tour operators online or at the pier) there are taxis (around $40.00 per hour for up to 4 people) and car rentals (Punda Services - Budget Rent at Renaissance Resort). The Public Buses are limited - and not as good as services in Aruba (another other Dutch island close by) - but there are Electrical wheelchairs for rent next to the Mega Pier.

Docking in Willemstad

Cruise Ships dock at one of two terminals (Mega Pier Cruise-Terminal and Mathey Wharf) relatively close to each other, both at walking distance to the main attractions of Willemstad and with all major amenities and services.

Panoramic Photo of Willemstad in Curaçao

Willemstad and its Piers

Photo by Curaçao Ports Authority

If only one cruise ship is in port, the Mega Pier is where she will dock regardless of the size or the length of the stay - the Mega Pier is the one on the left in the picture above.

Photo of Tourist Information in Curaçao

Tourist Information at Mega Pier

Photo © IQCruising.com

Cruise travelers will find most services and amenities are in the open air terminal next to the Mega Pier - information booth, restrooms, a taxi stand, an independent-tour-operator stand, a couple of places with refreshments and, naturally and inevitably, souvenirs shops. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available at the terminal but one other service available at the Mega Pier Terminal must be highlighted - a Wheelchair and ECV Rental, ideal for those with mobility difficulties.

Photo of Rif Fort Mall in Curaçao

Rif Fort Mall in Curaçao

Photo © IQCruising.com

The Mega Pier Terminal is a bit farther away from the landmarks of Willemstad but the walk is both pleasant and appealing as you pass along the way through the Renaissance Resort with two famous and connecting malls. On the first one, you will find high-end shops like Adolfo Dominguez, Tiffany & Co, Breitling, Paul & Shark, Hilfiger, Nautica, Mango or Guess and a Starbucks (Free Wi-Fi). The second Mall occupies the area of the 19th century waterfront Rif Fort - along with shops there are services like the Atlantis Adventures (Tours including a Trolley Train), the Budget Car Rental, an ATM, a few cafés, bars, ice cream shops and a couple of good restaurants.

Photo of Brion Square in Curaçao

Brion Square, Willemstad, in Curaçao

Photo © IQCruising.com

Once outside the Rif Fort area, the cruise traveler will be at around 600 feet (200 meters) from Brion Square and the floating Queen Emma Bridge - a major landmark of Willemstad.

Photo of Queen Emma Bridge in Curaçao

Queen Emma Bridge

Photo © IQCruising.com

The Mathey Wharf is the other possible docking pier. With capacity for as many as 4 ships, this terminal occupies the old wharves of Otrabanda and Punda next to Queen Juliana Bridge across the St. Anna Bay.

Photo of Ships at Mathey Wharf in Curaçao

Ships at Mathey Wharf

Photo Curaçao Ports Authority

At the Mathey Wharf the cruise traveler will also find an Information Booth, Restrooms, a Taxi stand, a stand for independent tour operators, and souvenirs shops. Once outside, a left turn will take you pass the wonderful building of the Gouverneur De Rouville Restaurant to Brion Square and the floating Queen Emma Bridge pedestrian cross to Punda - a historical neighborhood of Willemstad where major landmarks are found.

Photo of Gouverneur De Rouville Restaurant in Curaçao

Gouverneur De Rouville Restaurant in Curaçao

Photo © IQCruising.com

Main Attractions in Willemstad

It is impossible to resist the multiple photo opportunities when crossing Queen Emma Bridge with its great sights of the waterfront with its colorful Dutch colonial buildings, the Queen Juliana Bridge, the Fort Amsterdam and endless ocean views.

Photo of Shopping Street in Willemstad, Curaçao

Shopping Street in Willemstad

Photo © IQCruising.com

Once in Punda the Editor recommends a visit to the old Fort and in particular to the Fort Church Museum (open in the morning only until 1:30 pm - entrance US$5.00). This is also the place to hop on the Trolley Train if you wish to sightsee (seating) the major landmarks of Willemstad (slightly over 1 hour, US$25.00).

Photo of Fort Church Museum in Curaçao

Fort Church Museum in Curaçao

Photo © IQCruising.com

The main street next to the fort is Breedestraat with many of the duty-free shops Willemstad is known for - Penha, Diamonds International, Effy or Cariloha. Walking along Breedestraat, you will see narrow streets leading into a busy area with more shops - you will feel tempted to explore this area and if bargain-duty-free hunting is your plan that's the place to go. But a little farther east a very nice tree lined open area - Koningin Wilhelminapark (Queen Wilhelmina Park) - is a good place to enjoy a rest on a shaded café.

Photo of Plein Café Wilhelmina in Curaçao

Plein Café Wilhelmina

Photo © IQCruising.com

Walking inland from Koningin Wilhelminapark, along Columbusstraat (Columbus Street), will take you to the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue - a unique Jewish Cultural Historical Museum. A bit farther, by the waterfront, the Floating Market is on the northern edge of this area - around 300 meters (900 feet) from the Koningin Wilhelminapark - and a sight not to be missed. From the Floating Market, you can view a typical Dutch bridge - Queen Wilhelmina Bridge - and you should cross it to visit the Curacao Maritime Museum and have a close look at the beautiful Villa Maria next door.

Photo of Mikvé Israel Emanuel Synagogue in Curaçao

Mikvé Israel Emanuel Synagogue in Curaçao

Photo © IQCruising.com

The area between the Floating Market and Koningin Wilhelminapark is an irregular grid of narrow streets and small squares lined with shops, cafés, and restaurants that are a delight to explore. It is bordered on the West side by a scenic waterfront with a series of places to enjoy lunch, a quick bite or just a drink - Iguana Café is a famous spot, and one of the Editor's favorite, to enjoy a rest and catch up with emails as it offers Free Wi-Fi.

Photo of Iguana Café in Curaçao

Iguana Café in Curaçao

Photo © IQCruising.com

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