Date of Trip: June 2008
This trip was summer vacation for dh, dd and I. We had been to the Tamarijn once previously over Christmas and New Year’s 2008 with our entire family (parents, grandparent etc.) totaling 10 of us. We had a terrific time and thought the resort was just perfect thus were looking forward to returning.
Unfortunately for dh, this was to be a “working vacation”. He is able to work via laptop, mostly during hours as he chooses, but an internet connection is a necessity. Dh was required to work a single day during our previous trip to the Tamarijn and he was very satisfied with the connection. It is wireless, however there is a charge of $50 per week. This trip, with a bigger workload though, he was a little nervous about avoiding unforeseen disaster, we figured he would have the ability to work and there would be no problems. More on that shortly.
Our Delta flight was a half hour late departing in Atlanta, traffic volume in Atlanta. I had the window seat and was able to count a minimum of 12 planes ahead of us. Hartsfield recently completed construction of their fifth runway and are now contemplating a sixth. Gosh, it cannot come quick enough. Standard Delta two trips with the drink cart, a choice of free crackers or a pack of cookies etc. and the new EATS menu, food for purchase http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/inflight_services/food/#ffp. We knew what to expect so brought along our own delicious home roasted beef sandwiches as well as some snacks. If anything, eating makes a long flight seem to go faster. Unfortunately we did not make up any time during the flight so arrived a half hour late. Lucky for us, we received our luggage relatively quickly and were off to the Tamarijn via Taxi.
We had asked our wonderful travel agent at MCM Tours to request a room in the 1300 for us, the same building as we had last time. Upon check in we were given room 1211 on the first floor. That was fine; we had a nice room, on the corner like our last one which makes the patio a “little” more private. We were longing to jump in the ocean and dinner reservations which we had made on the way in were not until 9 p.m. so we would have plenty of time to unpack after a swim, snack and happy hour. I dug out the bathing suits while dh got out the laptop to make sure he had an internet connection. He did not. Initially he took it better than I thought, but soon panic began to set in.
Seeing the situation and knowing dh, I knew it was best to leave him to solve the situation and best to get out from under foot. Dd and I headed to Pizza per Tutti for a drink and a snack. While there I got a soda to bring back to the room for dh. By this point he had spoken to the front desk who said they would call their I.T. person. He was not “on” property. To the Tamarijn’s credit, within 45 minutes he had arrived and increased the power for the Wi-Fi to the room. Unfortunately it was not enough and the internet was still sporadic with a very poor signal. Dh walked to the front desk and asked them if they had a room in the 1300 building because it is closest to the “access point” and they had one room. They were a little hesitant in giving us room 1319, warning us we would be directly next to the Pizza Bar, Pizza per Tutti. Another reason we think the Tamarijn was hesitant was because it is a handicapped room with a handheld shower, no tub, just walk-in stall but it is big. The bathroom overall was larger than the “standard” bathroom. They gave dh the keys to see the room; especially the bathroom and he came and got dd to check it out with us.
It was fine with us. A happy dh/Daddy is a happy vacationer. He went back to tell the front desk we would change rooms. The bell men were busy with check-ins so we very easily and gladly, took our wheeled luggage and carry-on to our new room. Oh how thankful I was that we had not unpacked. Later when we began unpacking dh insisted that he lost his black belt when we changed rooms. LOL, when we arrived home 12 nights later that black belt was hanging right in his closet where he left it. Waking at 3:30 a.m. he never realized he had put on his brown belt instead. We had a good laugh!
As it turned out in the end, being next to Pizza per Tutti was no problem whatsoever. If anything of course it was convenient to beverage and snacks. Dd spent most of her time at the pool so easy for dh and I to check up on her. People have asked me since if the room was noisy because of the bar and it was not. At night you could hear the recorded music from the bar through the bathroom window, once you left the bath that was about it and certainly never kept us awake. Our room 1319 also had a door to the adjoining room 1317 and we never heard a sound through the walls. Even during our previous visit to the Tamarijn we never heard a peep through the walls.
It was wonderful being back at the Tamarijn and we finally began to settle in. Dh’s “girlfriend” Iris the concierge recognized all three of us from Christmas, and Igmar from the activities staff remembered, or at least said he did 🙂 dd. Just a mention that the activities/kids club staff were all the same individuals as were there at Christmas time. I like to think that is a good sign of not only happy employees, but ones who are doing their job satisfactorily. Definitely the conclusion we had come to in December! Our first night’s dinner was to be at Paparazzi at 9 pm. The Red Parrot only had 9:30 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. LOL, we don’t even eat that early at home, never mind on vacation. Since they did not have a decent time for the next night either, we made a reservation for Saturday, our third night, outside at the Red Parrot at 7:30 p.m. We had wanted to try appetizer night at the Promenade anyway; Dh did not have to be available for work early evening as he does Sunday through Thursday until 8 p.m. so we planned on that for our second night. Lucky for us, sunset in June is not until about 7:10 p.m. so we were finally able to make it into the ocean for a swim. The beach in front of the 1300 building was just as rocky as it was at Christmas, but this time there was enough sand to be able to pick our way through the rocks into the water. There was seaweed in the where the water washed onto the beach most days of our trip, but you could at least get past it. More important, the water was nice and warm.
Enough said about the Tamarijn. In our minds, for the money and an oceanfront, clean room, all you can drink and decent food, there really is no better bargain on the island. There is really not much more to be said about the hotel itself and amenities which I did not already say here http://www.independenttraveler.com/tripreports/tripreports.cfm?ID=1510. Really the only things I can add are that breakfast at the Tamarijn now offered baked tomatoes most morning (just one of my favorites which I do not get at home) and at lunch they have “wrap of the day” which rotates with different fillings. They were delicious and a nice “cold” alternative to all of the “hot” dishes offered on the buffet. Also now the activities staff offers afternoon bingo poolside every afternoon Monday through Friday beginning at 3 p.m. Prizes varied between bottles of wine and champagne and t-shirts. If you didn’t care for your prizes, a polite smile and you could do some “dealing. I won a bottle of wine and gave it to my friend. During the week she won 2 bottles of wine and then traded all three bottles for four t-shirts 🙂
Each morning dh awoke early and was out on the beach under the palapa outside our room by 6 a.m. He worked for about an hour and a half. By then I was more or less awake and we would head off to breakfast. The breakfast buffet at the Cunucu Terrace was every bit as good as we had remembered it. The rest of the days when we did not have an activity planned was spent relaxing on the beach.
Friday night was our much awaited dinner at the Promenade. The food was excellent, the service was awful. There were 3 tables of 8 people each and they received all the attention in the world. After two rounds of appetizers we sat for 35 minutes. Dh went and spoke to the hostess and they began serving us again, but he said he would never go back. Since then he has back tracked just slightly and says now he would think about going back but would only for an ala carte dinner. We shall see.
This trip to Aruba, we had decided to take dd to see the Natural Pool. Dh and I had driven there twice previously on our own via 4 x 4. Dh hated driving there and did not want to do it again. He is allergic to horses so that was out. The new Tom Cars looked cool on the Aruba Off-Road website so we decided we would give that a shot. The day before we left for Aruba they emailed a confirmation and substituted Baby Beach for the Natural Pool. The reason we booked the tour was for the Natural Pool, so we cancelled.
We then booked an ATV tour with Rancho Daimari. By chance when a kind person on the Aruba bulletin board heard we had changed our plans to an ATV tour, he instead recommended Kini Kini Tours http://www.kinikini.com/kk/servlet/Home. Dh cancelled Rancho Daimari and called Kini Kini and booked a private ATV tour.
We awoke early Saturday morning to give ourselves enough time for breakfast. While dd and I were finishing up dh went to the concierge to make a dinner reservation. He got confused and saw the van for Daimari and went over and talked to the driver. The driver said, yes he was there to pick us up and if we were not all there within 5 minutes he was leaving without us. HE was 20 minutes early and even if we were “really” booked with them, I don’t like being threatened when he was early. Dh ran and got us at the buffet, we high tailed back to the room for a last potty stop and to pick up our backpack and we were off. When I saw the van I immediately knew dh had gotten confused and Daimari’s driver took advantage of this. We were later told by others that this is a common practice for Daimari. They see tourists at resort lobbies waiting for pick ups and they try to grab them for their tours instead. Shame on them!
I went straight up to the driver and told him that we had cancelled and there was no way we were going ANYWHERE with him and his attitude. So dd and I sit down to await our pick up from Kini Kini and lo and behold there is their driver recognizable by his “Kini Kini” t-shirt sitting on the bench across from us. We went over and introduced ourselves and he helped us into the van and we were off. A short ride down to the high rise hotels we picked up a couple who were taking a jeep tour.
Our driver Ray took us to Kini Kini’s office. It was a house and we were instructed to walk through the house to the back and there was the office! This office is actually in the home of the owners Eloy and his wife Christine. We indeed felt as if we were being welcomed into their home. Our credit card information was processed and we were then taken to the ATV’s for orientation and safety as well as fitting for our helmets. Eloy and Ray made us feel very comfortable and gave us a good run through before our butts even hit the seats. If the ATV’s were not new, they were “like” new. During our stop at the Natural Bridge, a rider on a rented ATV from another company admired our ATV’s saying, “We got the good ones.”
I rode single and our 12 yo dd rode on the back of the ATV with dh. Following our guide Ray, we were off to visit the sites. I have to say dh and I had never rode ATV’s previously and were slightly nervous given the prospect of riding some local roads prior to heading “off road” once past the tip of the island and the California Lighthouse. Our worries were for nothing. By the time we left the lighthouse we were of course off road and I know I personally was feeling very comfortable driving. Ray allowed us to drive at a speed comfortable to us, leading accordingly and offering up insight and history at each stop.
Our sites visited included: California Lighthouse, Wish Garden, Alto Vista Chapel, “Baby” Natural Bridge, Bushiribana Ruins, the Natural Bridge and Natural Pool. We have been to all the above sites previously and again, took the tour for access to the Natural Pool. We did give up the stop at the Ayo Rock Formations in order to be able to spend additional time at the Natural Pool. Our guide Ray was very happy to oblige. Dd was happy to be able to take a swim, cool off and rinse off some of the dirt.
On the back of his ATV, Ray carried a cooler with water as well as strapped our backpack carrying digital camera, video camera and towel and was happy to allow us as much time as necessary at each stop for photos and video.
I do have to say after visiting the Natural Pool twice previously by 4 x 4, getting there by ATV, was by far the easiest and quickest way in which to get there once we were “off road”. It was still a little “hairy”, as it was in a 4 x 4, but by following our guide Ray, we knew exactly where on the path to follow. I might add I was grateful the brakes worked! Never once did I fear for my life though. Imo it is more dangerous swimming in the Natural Pool than getting there via ATV. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough, especially as a way to see the Natural Pool. This was one of the best excursions we have ever taken on the island in the 13 years that we have been visiting.
Also, as many times as we have been over on the “other” side of the island, there were a couple of new things Ray showed us: 1. “Baby” Natural Bridge, always been there, we just drove by it, 2. the coolest blow hole you have ever seen, 3. Been to Alto Vista what about 15 times ? and never knew there was the Peace Labyrinth there. Dd and her friends took their turn through the Labyrinth when we stopped there later in the week.
Was there a downside? Dirty as anything. Riding behind our guide Ray, and then my dh, I literally know now where the expression, “eat my dust” comes from. Remembering how green the island was at Christmas, it was immediately noticeable that it was now so totally opposite. Brown as brown as can be. No significant rain since February, by June the island had become very very dry and DUSTY. As a side note, as I will mention later, the island did see significant rain June 24 and 25. In 17 visits I have never seen the island as dry as it was. If you prepare beforehand and wear junky clothes (think throw away) and shoes as we did, this will not be an issue. My t-shirt from that day just went into the trash; no amount of bleach was ever going to get out all of that dust.
Dd complained about everything under the sun during the ride, but this was her chance to see and swim in the Natural Pool. If you asked her now I think she would say she liked it but will tell you that she did not like the dirt and the dust. For dh and myself it was a unique experience and an opportunity to see Aruba from a different perspective.
While I went back to the Tamarijn to shower and cool off, dh and dd went to the grocery store to purchase Red Bull or something similar to combat my “lack of caffeine” headaches. A nice surprise was the addition of a 12 pack of Amstel Bright. They got a ride back from the supermarket by golf cart that was down at that end of the resort so by the time I showered, suntan lotioned up and put on a bathing suit they were back. We went to the buffet for a late lunch and then dh and I hit the ocean and dd caught up with her new found friend at the pool. Later on we joined dd’s friend’s parents for happy hour at Pizza per Tutti while the kids frolicked in the pool. We had met them for the first time the day before after meeting originally through my website. Similar in ages, coming from NJ, the four adults had something in common and the girls are close in age and clicked as well. Overall, made a nice vacation even nicer.
Dragged dd out of the pool at 6:30 p.m. after her four hour swim interrupted only by a break for pizza and refills on soda. Cutting it close we made dinner at the Red Parrot by 7:30 p.m. Golf carts between the Divi and Tamarijn for the most part seemed much more readily available than they were at Christmas. One of my favorite things to do in Aruba, eat dinner outdoors with my favorite honey, under the stars listening to the palm fronds rustling in the wind above. The delicious food was just a bonus.
We had decided that since the following night was Father’s Day we are going to a place called Pinchos just south of Oranjestad. It is out over the water and was supposed to be very romantic. That was spent as many others would be, lounging on the beach. C. spent part of the day at the pool and a good part of the afternoon sleeping. Too much play and not enough shut eye had finally caught up with her. Dh made up for his early mornings by dozing on the beach some afternoons as well. Dinner that night at Pinchos was a disaster. I must be getting old. We were seated at one of the couches with real low tables which made for very uncomfortable eating. To make matters so much worse, there was an open air Christian Revival going on nearby with a rock band and lots of praise the lords and hallelujah. The restaurant was directly downwind so it was just that much louder and may as well have been right next door. It lasted from the time we got there until we left. Not the restaurants fault. If the food had been stellar we might give it another shot, but my steak at the Red Parrot was just as good and the seating much more comfortable.
Monday morning we, along with our new found friends and their two daughters set off for our “Sail, Snorkel and Swim” with Jolly Pirates. It was a nice day and the kids especially had fun. Most of our boat was filled with a family attending a wedding in Aruba and they were lively of spirit but not rowdy or drunken. We did the normal snorkel stops of Arashi and Malmok. Unfortunately there was a great deal of moss like seaweed, part of nature, but just kind of creeped me out swimming amongst green blobs.
There was less seaweed while we snorkeled the Antilla wreck but of course for anyone who has never been, there was a current, winds and waves. Dd wanted to see it, and I wanted her to see it so I went off with her holding hands to see the top of the wreck. Visibility in my mind is never terrific in Aruba and this day was no different. Dd was able to see the outline of one of the cargo holds and the mast from somewhere in the depths to where it sticks out of the water. That was about it. We were out of there. Dh and I have dived the Antilla over 20 times and still have to say that it is a much much more worthy dive than a snorkel. For starters, when you dive the wreck, you are able to see not only more fish but the abundant sponges which have grown all over the wreck.
After the Antilla it was back to the coastline along Malmok where we dropped anchor and lunch plates were handed out. Food included: a chicken skewer and a couple of ribs, a roll, pasta salad, Cole slaw and watermelon. Following lunch it was time for the infamous rope swing! Dh took her turn about 4 times and our friend took a couple of turns as well. Before we knew it was time to sail back to Palm Beach. En-route, one of the “mates” Javier led the revelers in some dancing. Everyone had a blast.
We took this excursion mostly for the kids and decided next year we will switch off and go on Tranquilo again. Better snorkeling, I love sailing and just an overall relaxing day. It is just a different type of experience. I went over to the Divi to have my nail polish changed late that afternoon and at $7 by far one of the best bargains on the island. My nail salon at home here in the states charges $6! In a comedy of errors, I ended up having to go back and forth between the Tam and Divi twice because the beauty salon only took cash, no credit cards, and no room charges. Now I know. It took me longer to wait for the golf cart back and forth than it did to have my nails done, but after having already taken my shower, I wasn’t about to get all sweaty again. The two women at the salon were very nice and I would not hesitate to go back again.
Tuesday and Wednesday were days of doing nothing and lounging around. Dh and I always wanted to take the helicopter tour, but had a tough time justifying the expense. This year we decide to bite the bullet and in lieu of exchanging gifts for our wedding anniversary, do the helicopter tour instead. Thursday morning was our helicopter tour of the island. There is only one operator on the island, Aruba Heli Tours http://www.arubahelitours.com/ We decided to reserve the first tour of the day at 10 a.m. in order to have the rest of the day at the beach.
Christian was our pilot and tour guide. We felt it was well worth the extra money for the island tour versus the beach tour. The island tour begins at the helipad at the marina in Oranjestad. We headed north and saw Druif, Eagle, Palm Beach, Malmok, Arashi and beyond. We out over the wreck of the Antilla for a very unique view. From there it was on around the lighthouse and Tierra del Sol Country Club with all of it’s palatial homes, flying along the northeast coast all the way up to the Aruba Drag Raceway Park.
Christian then took us back towards the west coast with a view of the refinery, heading back northward over the barrier islands towards to Oranjestad over Savaneta and past the airport, finally land back in Oranjestad. The color of the water during this portion of the flight was just as breathtaking as it is over Palm Beach. The tour was well worth the money even if only a once in a lifetime experience.
Through 17 visits to Aruba, this ranks in the top 3 excursions we have taken. The other 2 being Tranquilo and the Kini Kini ATV tour.
Our new friends had asked us to suggest an island tour. They were not sure if they were up to the ATV tour or just wanted to
drive around by car or 4 x 4. Dh and I have done the round about the island tour for other friends and family, so now gladly offered one more time. Planning on splitting the cost of the rental it ended up they insisted on paying for the rental so dh insisted on paying for the fuel- diesel. I don’t remember how much, but not cheap.
Dh had called around to get prices. We usually use Royal Car Rental and they had nothing available. We had a bad experience with Hertz in the past and even though they were at the Tamarijn we were hesitant to use them. It did not matter because they too had no SUV available. Dh found a rental with Amigo Car Rental http://www.amigocar.com/ They offered free pick up and drop off at the hotel. Only downside unlike Royal who brings the vehicle to you and allows you to do the paperwork there at the hotel, the men had to go back to their office to do the paperwork.
We ended up with a newly new Hyundai Santa Fe with front wheel drive. We were not going to the Natural Pool so it was not an issue. So the morning of our island tour the four adults and 3 kids poured in and up we the coast we went. They had already seen the high rises along Palm Beach, so we stopped at the Fisherman’s huts and watched the kite surfers from Aruba Active Vacations http://www.aruba-active-vacations.com/. Next stop was the opposite view that they had from Jolly Pirates at Boca Catalina beach. Then we were off through Malmok and on to the California Lighthouse. As first visitors our friends, I suppose many first time visitors are, at the drastic difference between the two coastlines of Aruba.
Once we left the lighthouse and were off road we headed down with the ultimate goal of reaching the Natural Bridge with stops at Alto Vista, “Baby” Natural Bridge and Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins. Following that we headed down towards the south end of the island for views of Baby Beach and Rodgers Beach. By then we were getting hungry for some lunch and one of the girls was a little car sick. We headed back to the Tamarijn.
Friday night for our anniversary, a friend as well as my parents, had recommended Passions on the beach at the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort.
When we arrived we were immediately greeted by Diana the hostess/maitre d’ and everything from the food to the service, it was nothing less than perfect and a wonderful evening. Our table was closest to the water with torches and a lantern on the table. I can imagine how nice it would be at sunset, however since we can view that from the comfort of our patio, and like to eat later, dining under the stars with the Aruban tradewinds are just delightful in my book!
Dd had Caesar Salad with shrimp and a seafood sampler platter with Caribbean lobster tail, shrimp, grouper and mahi-mahi. I had a filet mignon and dh had grilled grouper and shrimp with a creamy spicy sauce. For an appetizer he had goat cheese with prosciutto, arugula and honey dressing, I had a crab salad. Everything was delicious! If anyone has that recipe for the crab salad you just pass it on to me
Dessert was amazing …a sampler with full size portions of cheese cake, tiramisu, raspberry mousse, key lime pie and chocolate cake. We practically rolled back to the Tamarijn.
Another dinner off of the Tamarijn with a not so happy ending was at Gasparito. For 13 years this had been our favorite restaurant. Before we began staying at the Tamarijn, we would eat here at least twice during our stay. Dh and I both agree, no need to go back.
They have a new menu with all of the most popular “old” items, BUT it seems that some of the recipes have changed? I had the Mussel soup and it was TOTALLY different, it tasted awful and I did not finish it. Jerry had the fish soup and said it tasted like dishwater. Believe me he is not THAT fussy. He ate a piece of swordfish at the Tamarijn our first night of vacation which he said was on the dry side and I did not hear about it until this night, almost at the end of our vacation.
For entrees they are pushing half of this and half of that. Jerry had half chicken keshi yena and half goat stew. Goat stew was not as good as he remembered. For dessert we have the apple and pear strudel, one of our FOREVER favorites. Again another dish totally changed.
The last straw for Jerry came when the bill arrived. He gave the waitress his American Express card and she very snottily told him that they did not accept it and just about threw the card back at him! For the money the dinner cost we could easily have gone back to Passions and had a much better meal. None of the old servers we knew were there either. Places change, people change and we will just move on.
We usually use the same taxi driver, Bully, throughout our entire trip. During our stay in Aruba he was off island on vacation with his family. He is honest, dependable and knowledgeable about the island. We have been using him for over two years now. This trip without Bully, our experiences with the 8 random taxi drivers we used, were, with the exception of 2 drivers, disgraceful to the Aruban people and very disheartening for us. In every instance but two, the drivers tried to overcharge us. With no increase in fares since 2002, paying a 12% tax and not being able to pass it on, and the high price of gas, we were faced with a large percentage of drivers with the attitude “let’s screw the tourists”. Not to say that there are not other honest taxi drivers, but we met 6 out of 8 who were NOT. Loving Aruba and her people as much as we do, we were very saddened by their behavior to say the least. Having traveled to Aruba before, at least we know some of their unjustified, in my opinion, reasoning in this situation. I cannot imagine a first time visitor to the island who knows what the fares are “supposed” to be, being charged whatever fare the driver makes up. The Aruban government sets the taxi fares; they need to give these drivers a raise. Hopefully the raise in fares will once again make the drivers honest. Again, to their credit, we did have two very nice and honest drivers, one a woman on Father’s Day night and another nice gentleman the night we went to the Promenade.
Our worst “taxi” incident came outside the Holiday Inn returning back to the Tamarijn from Palm Beach following our day aboard the Jolly Pirates. We walked outside of the lobby at the Holiday Inn and there were 4 taxi drivers seated on benches hanging out. Since our friends were with us we were 7 people total and needed 2 taxis anyway, so this was perfect. Dh asked them what the fare was to the Tamarijn and they eyed up one another and one of the drivers said “$10”. Knowing what we were up against, before we even left the Tamarijn in the morning, dh confirmed with our favorite concierge Iris that the fair should be $8. Dh politely but forcefully asked to see their fare sheet where it showed the fare was $10. Well don’t you know all of a sudden they acted like they could even barely understand English. Dh did not back down and again asked to see it in writing. Finally one of the drivers got up and went to his taxi to get the fare sheet. He came back with it, but then walked away from us to be by himself to eye up the chart. He then came over to us saying indeed it was $10, still not showing us the chart. Dh told all 4 drivers point blank that we would pay the $10, since obviously we had no choice, but we were also going to take the taxi’s numbers and report the drivers to the Aruba Tourism Authority. Well gosh, don’t you know, all of a sudden the taxi driver who had the sheet in his hand, stumbles over to me and points to Oranjestad ($10). Yeah, right, we told them all right from the start that we were all going to the Tamarijn! They do not even come close to sounding alike and I have only been to Oranjestad twice in the past 5 years. SO, clarifying that we were going to the Tamarijn, I showed the driver it was $8. Normally we would have paid him the $8 for the fare and a $2 tip for a total of $10 anyway. Needless to say, we did not tip him and he only got his $8 so he lost out for his foolish behavior. Our friends also did not tip their driver and would have under better circumstances.
Our final taxi ride of our Aruba vacation began with Bully picking us up to take us to the Tamarijn at 12:15 p.m. He had returned home to the island the day before and called us first thing that morning to confirm our pick up.
For those who have been to Aruba before and know how it can happen, it seemed to be partly cloudy to the north towards Eagle and Palm Beaches, but mostly cloudy over the Tamarijn so leaving was not as bad. We arrived at the airport and who do we run into curbside but Eloy from Kini Kini! Bully introduced us and we once again thank him for the great ATV excursion.
Once inside, Delta’s line was short so we were able to get through all the security checks, US Customs and Immigrations and arrive at the gate within 45 minutes. Not bad. Passed the time in the usual way, eating, reading, last minute rest room stop and then we had a gate change. Our plane had not yet arrived from Atlanta so they were juggling space for it when it finally did arrive. A second gate change later, the Delta plane from Atlanta finally arrived. By this time the skies over the airport had opened up and it was raining harder than I have EVER seen it rain in 17 visits to the island. And it rained and rained, at least an inch that hour.
Another thing you do not know unless you have been to Aruba before and it has rained, as happened to us once when we arrived during a heavy downpour, NOTHING happens on the ground in Aruba at the airport when it is raining! They will not refuel the plane, nor will they load or unload luggage. So we waited, and then we waited some more. At 3:20 p.m., our departure time, Delta personnel finally made the announcement that our flight would be late in departing due to the late arrival of our plane and the rain. We would departing at 4:20 instead of 3:20 p.m. as scheduled.
The rain finally lightened up a bit and they began unloading the luggage for the Atlanta passengers who had just arrived and were surely standing around downstairs wondering what the heck had happened to their luggage. It made us at least appreciate that we could SEE what was going on, knew the reason for the delay and were able to be seated. The poor folks who had just arrived, more than likely hot, tired, hungry and eager to head to their hotel did not have seats and more than likely had no clue as to why they were waiting over 50 minutes and had yet to see one piece of luggage come out onto the belt.
We finally boarded our flight which needless to say was FULL. Once aboard we sat, and and sat as we could hear our luggage being loaded. Lucky for us we did not have to catch a connection in Atlanta, but felt sorry for those who did. Surprisingly we did not hear any grumbling. At about 5 p.m. we left our home away from home among finally brightening skies and light drizzle. We later found out that that weather continued like that with heavy showers on through the next day.
Arrival back in ATL after an uneventful flight at 8:40 p.m. made for a very long day. We knew that we would be delayed in leaving ATL since we had to make a claim for one piece of our luggage which was damaged on the flight to Aruba. No sense reporting it in AUA since the employees there are only contracted and have virtually no power over such things. After waiting 25 minutes in a very long line filled with tons of folks with lost luggage at Delta’s Baggage Claim Center, dh was told the crack in our hard plastic luggage was “minor” and they would not repair it. Dh was given a phone number to further pursue the “issue”.
As a follow up, dh did phone the number Delta gave him and it went through to their call center in India. He got no where with them. He then called the local Atlanta customer service phone number for Delta and spoke to someone proficient in English who said without question our damaged luggage should have been taken care of. He offered a check for the replacement value of $100 which was about $29 less than what it was worth, so we gladly accepted. The suitcase had survived three roundtrip flights already so we were coming out way ahead.
Now we are home waiting for the plane tickets to go on sale for next June when hopefully the airfare will be affordable that we will be able to return to Aruba for the 18th time.