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Thread: My recent trip to Aruba (July 11-16)

  1. #1
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    My recent trip to Aruba (July 11-16)

    Hey all! Sorry it took so long to get our trip onto here. I had to dig out from missed work first (priorities!). Apologize if this is long but hopefully you get some good info out of this.

    So overall, the trip to Aruba was amazing. Very, very few tourists there. Our flight there only had 130 people on it. However, everywhere we went, the Aruban people were extremely happy to have us back. Some even thanked us profusely for making the journey there amid all of the COVID issues.

    So my family and I live in Southern Maryland. We opted to get the COVID test complete prior to travelling because we didn't want to even have the possibility of getting quarantined for 14 days. We found a hospital in Frederick, MD, (about an 30 minutes north of DC) that gave free tests with no need for a referral and said they would have the tests back in 1-2 days when we called the week before. Well fast forward to our 72 hour window opening where we got in line and they informed us it would be 7-10 days because of the uptick. We still got the test done on the off chance we would get the results back in time. However, as soon as we got home, we completed the E-D card and purchased the insurance and the airport conducted test.

    Our itinerary had us flying from Dulles to Newark on 11 July, staying overnight, and then catching the daily United flight to Aruba the next morning. Flying out of Dulles was interesting. 90% of the airport was empty. While travelling from the parking garage to the terminal, we went through what had to be a half mile long hallway and saw no one. We didn't see anyone until we got up to the ticketing and check-in counter. It looked like one of those apocalypse movies where everyone has vanished. We have United Club access so we spent a couple of hours there. Only one in the whole airport was open (they have 4 or 5 normally) and they only served prepackaged snacks like crackers and cookies. Alcohol was still available. Our flight to Newark was uneventful. There were maybe 20 people onboard. Landed and went to our hotel off-site and went to bed as we had to get up early the next day to check-in.

    At Newark, all United international flights had to check in at one section on the far left of the terminal. There, agents checked your E-D approval printouts and passports and helped to get your luggage checked. Newark was much more busy but not to the point where security was backed up. Got through security in maybe 5 minutes. Unfortunately, only one United Club is open and it's only for guest assistance. No food or beverage. Most of the restaurants on the airside are closed although there are enough places to grab something to take onto the plane. Once at the gate, agents announced that we would need to show for each member the E-D approval printout, the insurance confirmation printout, and the COVID test registration or results printout. We didn't realize that there was a insurance confirmation printout as it comes on the 2nd page of the PDF attached to the confirmation email. Fortunately, they allow screenshots on your phone. Naturally for us, about 5 minutes before we're about to board, we get a phone call from the hospital saying our COVID tests came back negative. That was good news but unfortunately we weren't able to upload them as we had already paid for the airport COVID tests and we were inside the 12 hour departure window.

    PLEASE - PLEASE - PLEASE don't be the couple that when at the initial check-in go "Oh we need what to board the flight?" They were literally sitting there on their laptop trying to get their E-D card filled out. When we got to the gate, the gate agent was trying to help them get the insurance and test request filled out and paid. They were trying to bribe her to let them on the plane without them. She's like I'm not getting fired and having United get fined for your stupidity.

    The flight down was also uneventful. For United, they hand out a snack bag that has two snacks and a small bottle of water in it. They also have beverage service during the flight and handed out plenty of water. You must wear a mask during the flight unless you're eating or drinking and through the airport until you get to your hotel or property.

    Upon arrival in Aruba, the customs and immigration process is pretty much the same. At the top of the escalator prior to immigration, someone checks your paperwork - United had us fill out paper copies of the ED Form and immigration form in case their system was down. Immigration and passport checking is done only by person. No automated checks. After immigration, we went downstairs to pick up our luggage. This is where things are different. At this point you are questioned by a health department person who checks your ED printout. They then direct you to a luggage screening/xray for customs. After you come out of there, you get in line for the COVID testing. We asked the woman can we show you our screenshots of our negative tests that we got just before boarding instead of taking them again. She said that would be fine and checked the paperwork. We then were directed to individuals who conducted a temp check and asked a few health questions. All in all we were through the airport from deplaning to walking out the door to get our rental car in about 20 minutes. Everything is very efficient and well planned. The Aruban government purposely had US arrivals spaced 45 minutes apart so that there wouldn't be lines at the airport.

    Once we arrived at our hotel (Hilton), the front desk asked to see our negative test results and then we were checked in. The hotel was pretty vacant. Not completely positive but of the three buildings they have, we think they had everyone in the main one.

    Driving around Aruba, a lot of stores are still closed or only open on weekends. We didn't realize that as we were going to stop by Zeerovers on Tuesday but found out when we walked in that they're only open Friday-Sunday. Flying Fishbone was also closed the entire week. The beaches were vacant as was the hotel pool. We went to the gold mill on the north coast and had the entire place to ourselves. The buildings by Natural Bridge were closed up and very few people were around. Lots of the restaurants and shops in Noord and along Palm Beach weren't open. I imagine more will be opening up as more people start to visit but make sure you double check before you leave.

    Finally, as we departed on Wednesday, our flight had maybe 15-20 people on it. We definitely got some top notch service because the attendants had maybe 4 people each to take care of!

    That's our trip in a nutshell. We were blown away by how happy the residents were to have visitors back on the island.

    I hope this is ok to add here but to see some of the videos we shot during our Aruba trip, please visit our blog - https://ourthriftyadventures.com. There's two recent posts about Travel During COVID-19 and Kid Friendly Things to Do In Aruba that will show what I wrote about here. We appreciate in advance for anyone who visits!

    If anyone has any questions, please let me know and I will do my best to answer as quickly as possible. Thanks for reading for so long and I hope you enjoyed it!

    Eric
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  2. #2
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    Hello Eric, thank you for taking the time to post your report. Very helpful info.
    Great news about not having to test again. Do you know if you will get a refund on the pre-pay for testing, since you didn't have to get the tests done upon arrival.
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    Senior Member ArubaAce's Avatar
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    I was just saying to myself how I was dying for a trip report. I read a lot of positives such as how well organize they are in Aruba with the airport, screening, how grateful the people were in receiving visitors. It would be nice to start a thread of current restaurants that are opened. If I were to go I could not make my usual restaurant list without finding out what is opened or not. Overall I think with few people at airports, plane, beaches, this is a once in life time trip to have the beach to yourself. I'm feeling a little more positive about going in September and as the day gets closer, I will have to work on pulling some strings to get tested and results within the time frame. However, a lot can change from here to September. Thank You so much for posting your trip.




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  4. #4
    Aruba since 1979
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    thank you so much Eric!!

    we have all been aching for a trip report!!

    thanks



    ​In a world where you can be anything, be kind!
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    We're going to inquire about it. I tried at the airport but they were understandably busy. Most of the health ministry is there every day dealing with incoming flights.

    Quote Originally Posted by CanadaGal View Post
    Hello Eric, thank you for taking the time to post your report. Very helpful info.
    Great news about not having to test again. Do you know if you will get a refund on the pre-pay for testing, since you didn't have to get the tests done upon arrival.
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  6. #6
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    Okay. Thank you. I am thinking this could end up being our situation when we visit Aruba. We may get the results while in flight or just before boarding!

    Quote Originally Posted by hildo99 View Post
    We're going to inquire about it. I tried at the airport but they were understandably busy. Most of the health ministry is there every day dealing with incoming flights.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Pegmeister's Avatar
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    Really appreciate your trip report. It gives us a feel for what it’s like in Aruba right now.

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    Senior Member robin's Avatar
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    Thank-you so much. I do have a question. Are they screening all luggage after you pick it up or just your carryons?

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    Super Moderator WaltVB's Avatar
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    Eric, thanks so much for the detailed report on your experiences going to and from Aruba. The crowd here was getting restless and you have seemed to calm them somewhat. Thanks again!

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    Senior Member cpjones's Avatar
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    Wow! Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us!
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