Experience European Influence and History on Your Caribbean Vacation

by Sarah Fazendin

One of the best things about booking a cruise for your Caribbean vacation is the opportunity to explore a number of islands and port towns along the way. Many travelers are surprised to discover that there is an incredible amount of diversity between these islands, and each area has its own cultural history.

Take Curaçao for example, with its distinctly Dutch influence. This island is home to a number of World Heritage sites — places listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as holding special cultural or physical significance. Willemstad, Curaçao's colorful capital city, is one such site that you can explore on a Caribbean vacation.


Willemstad is a town that marries its past with its present in bright, beautiful ways. Nowhere is that more visible than in its architecture which, while being rooted in Dutch-style colonial design, boasts uniquely Caribbean pastels. A bustling place, there's no shortage of things to see and do while you're there. Book an excursion to take a walking tour of this beautiful Caribbean town.

Many travelers love visiting the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, a highlight of Willemstad. Up to 30 times a day, this bridge opens to allow large shipping boats into or out of the harbor. The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge swings from one end, resulting in the bridge moving entirely to one side of the waterway.

Hato Caves

A second World Heritage site not to miss on Curaçao is the Hato Caves, which were used as hiding places by escaped slaves during the early days of the slave trade. Long before that, the Amerindian Arawaks took shelter in the Hato Caves, leaving behind petroglyphs (cave drawings) that are estimated to be around 1,500 years old. Today, travelers can explore these caves, step back through time, and see the petroglyphs firsthand.

Curaçao is just one of the many cultural and historical ports of call you can explore on a Caribbean cruise.

Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao.
Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao, is a charming city influenced by European settlers.