Aruba:   is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the southern Caribbean Sea, located about 990 miles west of the main part of the Lesser Antilles and 18 miles north of the coast of Venezuela. It measures 20 miles long from its northwestern to its southeastern end and 6 miles across at its widest point.  Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba forms a group referred to as the ABC Islands. Collectively, Aruba and the other Dutch Islands in the Caribbean are often called the Dutch Caribbean.

Aruba is one of the four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands, Curaçao and Saint Maarten. The citizens of these countries all share a single nationality: Dutch. Aruba has no administrative subdivisions, but, for census purposes, is divided into eight regions. Its capital is Oranjestad.

The island has a bit of history. Aruba's first inhabitants were the Caquetio Indians from the Arawak tribe, who migrated there from Venezuela to escape attacks by the Caribs. Fragments of the earliest known Indian settlements date back to about 1000. Due to Aruba's mostly distant location from other Caribbean islands and strong currents in the sea which made canoe travel to the other islands difficult, the Caquetios remained more tied to South America than the Caribbean.

In 1636, Aruba was acquired by the Netherlands and remained under their control for nearly two centuries. In 1796, the town that was later named Oranjestad, was founded and became the island’s capital.  During the Napoleonic wars, the British Empire took control over the island, between 1799 and 1802, and between 1804 and 1816, before handing it back to the Dutch.

A 19th-century gold rush was followed by prosperity brought on by first the opening of a crude oil transshipment facility in 1924 and then in 1928 with the opening of an oil refinery. This was the Lago Oil and Transport Company a 100% owned subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey. 

The Lago refinery was located on the east end of the island and on the west end Royal Dutch Shell had a small refinery, the Eagle Refinery which closed soon after World War II. The last decades of the 20th century saw a boom in the tourism industry, which became Aruba's primary industry when the refinery closed in 1985.

In 1986, Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, under the Dutch crown. Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba's prerogative in 1990. Aruba has a mixture of people from South America, Europe, the Far East, and other islands of the Caribbean.

After a break in the coalition between the ruling Arubaanse Volkspartij (AVP) and the Organisashon Liberal Arubano (OLA), the election of July 1998 was pushed forward to December 1997. The results were unclear, with votes equally divided between the People's Electoral Movement Party (MEP), the AVP, and the OLA. After negotiations failed to unite the MEP and AVP, a new coalition between the AVP and OLA formed, which forced the MEP to be the opposition.

Its main business is Tourism though efforts for offshore drilling and natural gas deposits may change things economically.  When the ship leaves the dock you can see the drilling rigs off shore.  Most of ARUBA is in a political hiatus and confidential chats with locals (which is what a journalist does) indicated they feel about some of their politicians like we do in the US.

From the time you leave the ship and tour the local businesses adjacent to the pier, bring the attitude, they want to sell and you want to buy.  There are some great bargains for the local goods which made kids back home happy with hats , beads, trinkets, toys, t-shirts, flip flops and so forth. 

For the adults there are high end stores with all the brands of watches, diamonds, jewelry, bracelets and necklaces in every level of luxury heavily discounted.  NOTE:  I always make sure warranties and exact model comparisons are correct and up to date as some models never come to the states, some might be discontinued and for a myriad of reasons, I always invoke ‘Caveat Emptor’ or buyer beware and put forth restraint if it all sounds too good.  Most of what we saw was fairly priced, some exceptional bargains, and wished we had more time there.

My traveling partner did buy a watch on the ship after hers stopped,  and the Princess prices were as good or in one case better than on shore (10%) and definitely better than here in the states. (About 40% better)  Think of the ship as a floating retail hotel with shops and deals all the time.

I admit I went into shock as I drooled over one watch in the window, with a picture of John Travolta (His is an avid pilot and so am I) and an Breitling watch, sold in many stores I believe the Navtimer model he wears in the ad, but just down the block was a custom Navtimer Breitling in 18KT for a modest 42,000 dollars,  a true one of a kind.  I was quickly hurried off by my mate suffering from a depravity anxiety attack caused by looking at my wrist at my Citizen Pilot, the best watch I have ever had, it never needing batteries and only 500 dollars. 

We only spent the day in Aruba, beautiful beaches, nice shops, friendly people and the ship was getting ready to leave.