Getting there & away
The ABCs are part of cruise-ship itineraries that cover the Caribbean.
Cruise ships flock to Aruba; it’s not unusual to have more than 10, 000 passengers descend on the island in a single day. Curaçao has similar aims with new facilities under construction in Willemstad. Bonaire’s relationship with cruise ships is more complex. The port can’t handle many but the money is welcome. Many locals take a dim view, going so far as to blame cruise ships for spoiling Christmas in 2007 (visiting boats prevented freight barges from using the port in December, which meant that some items in stores ran out).
The ABCs are off the typical yachting routes and receive few boats.
All visitors need a passport and a return or onward ticket to enter the islands.
Aruba is the main entry point for the ABCs, with extensive service from North America and the Caribbean. However Bonaire and Curaçao are gaining nonstop flights from North America; all three have nonstop service from Europe.
Passengers flying to the US absolutely must take heed of their airline’s warning to check in three hours before flight time. Actually four hours might be better because all US-bound passengers clear customs and immigration before they leave Aruba. Most flights back to the US leave during a small timeslot in the afternoon and the US-staffed immigration facilities are not up to the task. If possible, try to avoid going home on a weekend when things are the worst. Once ensconced in the terminal, there are bookstores, places for internet access and fast food places just like the ones at home.
The following airlines serve Aruba from these cities (some services are seasonal) :
Tiara Air (297-588-4272; www.tiara-air.com) Punto Fijo
Bonaire’s Flamingo Airport (BON; 599-717-5600) is indeed painted pink and should be named for John Waters. It is immediately south of Kralendijk.
The following airlines serve Bonaire from these cities (some services are seasonal) :
American Eagle (599-717-3598; www.aa.com) San Juan
Delta (599-717-7474) Atlanta
Curaçao’s Hato International Airport (CUR; 599-9839-3201; www.curacao-airport.com) has a decent level of services and amenities for passengers after security. There are ATMs in the departure area. The departure tax is US$32, which may or may not be included in your airfare. For flights to Aruba and Bonaire, the fee is US$8.
The following airlines serve Curaçao from these cities (some services are seasonal) :
Avianca (599-9-839-1182; www.avianca.com) Bogota
Continental (800-231-0856; www.continental.com) Newark
Delta (800-221-1212) Atlanta
LIAT (888-844-5428; www.liat.com) Trinidad