Spring Break In Aruba: Part 1

This is a beautiful Aruban beach. Español: Est...
This is a beautiful Aruban beach. Español: Esta es una de las hermosas playas de Aruba. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I really don’t. And I know this is going to sound ungrateful.

We were fortunate to be able to travel to Aruba over April Break. We had high expectations: partly because my best friend has gone several times, and every time she comes home and says it was the most incredibly relaxing vacation. Ever. Our travel agent recently sent her family to Aruba in February, and they came back raving. My husband has a friend with a timeshare there. He loves it. We’ve heard people say: “Arubans are the nicest people in the world.” For goodness sakes, folks call Aruba “The Happy Island.”

This vacation was supposed to be awesome-sauce.

That said, it became clear Aruba was not going to be our dream vacation when we arrived at our hotel and stood in line forever while the girl behind the desk chewed her lip and made concerned faces.

“Someone cancelled your reservation,” said the girl at the front desk. “And we’re totally booked.”


“Okay,” I said, trying to stay calm. We’d only been up since 4:30 AM and taken three airplanes to arrive at the packed island. It was Easter vacation for many people, and clearly the hotel staff was slammed.

“I’m trying to find you another room.”

“I’d prefer a room away from the elevators,” I said. “We specifically requested that…”

“You’re going to have to be satisfied with what we have,” she sniped. “And we don’t have any roll-away cots left.” The clerk looked at my son.

I looked at my husband.

“You’ll have to sleep together in one bed, yah?” the unapologetic clerk said.

At nearly thirteen-years-old, Tech Support is nearly as tall as I am. He is all elbows and knees. Plus he’s squirmy.


“How did this happen?” I asked.

The girl shrugged.

I am sure we will look back at this and find it all incredibly funny, but maybe not. Because there is more.

Tell me about a vacation disaster. Please.

Tweet this Twit @rasjacobson

58 thoughts on “Spring Break In Aruba: Part 1

  1. Ahhh you’re kidding! Okay. Well. You’re amongst friends here. I shudder at the mere memory of The Vacation From Hell. (a.k.a., Jamaica, Spring 2010.) “It never rain all day, mon,” it began…

  2. I was on a cruise from NY to Nova Scotia once, and the ship once went aground outside Boston. I was on CNN standing on a tug boat while they evacuated us off in the rain. And would you believe it was the White Star Line… the company that owned Titanic. 😉

    1. You were evacuated from a cruise. Okay, I’m starting to think I shouldn’t post part II where I complain about the noisy birds… 😉 Have you ever blogged about that? If not, want to share a #LessonLearned from that one here!

  3. Oh, girl, there are sooooo many for us. And yet we keep buying into the whole “vacation” thing. The worst one for us, by far, was our trip to Hawaii a few years ago. Everything was going so well until it was time to head to the airport to go home. We had a few hours between check-out time and when the flight was scheduled to leave so we decided to stop off and do some last minute shopping. We returned to our car and started to drive away. I asked for one of the kids to hand me my laptop. Where is it? They asked. Right there next to you, I calmly responded. No, it’s not here, Mom. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Someone had cut the lock out of our rental car and stolen our laptop cases and our GPS system. Of course I had put our keys for our car at home AND all six of our passports in my laptop case. Which someone probably bought the next month on Ebay. Mahala my ass.

    1. Holy crap, Dawn! But the vacation was great up until then. no? I mean… you HAD to love Hawaii, until that, no? It’s amazing. Jean-Paul Satre had it right when he declared: “L’enfer, c’est les autres” (Hell is the others). It is amazing how the certain people can ruin your trip. You are making me feel like I can post Part II again.

      1. Renee, for me the best part about Hawaii was the food. It was phenomenal. Honestly, though, it’s a hell of a long way to go for a beach and some palm trees! I found Puerto Rico to be just as lovely and oh so much closer!

  4. ugh. That is terrible! Most of my bad vacation experiences involve a vomiting and feverish child that bawls for 12 hours straight on the road. I have learned to approach each vacation with super low expectations. I also have lightning fast reflexes when it comes to catching vomit in a cup.

    1. You are spot on with the lowering of expectations thing. I had heard such great stuff from so many sources: how could it live up to the hype? Aruba was like a smart, hot guy with a really small penis. Aruba didn’t stand a chance. 😉

  5. Oh boy. I’m scared to read what come’s next.

    I haven’t been on a vacation in more than a dozen years, but I do have to travel for work a couple times a year. One disasterous trip included food poisoning, a migraine, a lost bag, and then the realization my flight home was accidentally booked for a MONTH after when I was supposed to leave–the next day.

    Every trip since has paled in comparison to that one, thank goodness 😉

  6. I LOVED Aruba! We went to Ft. Lauderdale to visit Danny’s parents and they laughed when I brought a huge suitcase. Kelly was only 4 months old and I packed everything. We drove to Key West and it was freezing! I had been talked out of bringing all of our warm clothes and we had to shop when we got there!

    1. Sooz! I know you said you LOVED Aruba! I was dying when I re-read those comments, and people had guessed where we were! Our trip sucked.

      Wait until Part II.

      You ain’t seen nothing yet! B-b-baby you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. 😉

  7. I was on two cruises in my life. Both terrible experiences. One was to Asia – loved every second off the ship. On board not so much. Paid extra to use the private jaccuzzi in the spa and was asked “Do you belong here?” We showed the attendant our passes and said yes. She looked at the pass and said “That doesn’t mean you BELONG here.” I felt like I was the wrong race or religion in a private club in 1955. I thought a massage would be nice. The first was a woman with a gross rash over her hands and arms. I would not let her touch me. The woman who did the massage used what felt like hair brushes all over my back. I told her I didn’t like it. She just responded, “This is how we do it,” and continued.

    Second cruise was the Bahamas. Royal Carribbean. Felt like I paid to be treated like $@*%! Put in a room on the bottom floor that reaked of smoke. I waited 5 hours to speak with a customer service person. They refused to change my room – and told me it was not possible that it smelled like smoke because the sign on the door said “no smoking”. Finally a guy came down and steamed the carpet. It helped a little – not much. He said people smoke in the rooms all the time. So much for honesty in the customer service department.

    Went to ask for a band-aid and was told I had to pay for it out of the machine.

    Had my breafast (yogurt) removed from the table in front of me after only one bite.

    Had the room attendant hang a towel-animal from the ceiling with my prescription sunglasses hanging over the tile floor. When I wrote to Royal Carribbean to complain – the response I got (after 6 weeks) just said “We are proud of our customer services and we hope you’ll come on another cruise.” No apology.

    I still find it hard to believe when I hear people raving about the outstanding customer service on cruise ships.

    I will never be going on another cruise. Never.

    1. Larisa: It’s awesome that you don’t even sound the least bit bitter about these experiences. 😉

      It’s funny; we have had very positive cruise experiences — but we are all cruised out having conquered all of the Caribbean. We did more cruising when Tech was younger. Those rooms are so small. That boy would be all up in my grill all the time.

      1. I still don’t undersand anyone who says they were “treated like royalty” on a cruise ship. I would understand one bad experience, but it was basically the same issue on two different cruises. Bad customer service. Rude employees. I could live with small cabins. We had a window on both ships, which was nice. It was the cruise line employees who made both experiences unpleasant. Since it was two different cruise lines (Azteca & Royal Carribbean), I’m not optimistic for any of the other ones. Definately not trying Costa!! My parents have had good experiences cruising, so maybe they just don’t like me. 🙁

        I am trying to picture you all sharing one bed. All I can envision is the scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with the two sets of grandparents sleeping toe-to-toe. From your FB photos it does look like you had a good time on the beach…hugging trees & stuff.

        1. LOL! Willy Wonka, indeed! Awesome analogy. Wish I thought of it.

          Meanwhile, those trees were not on the beach. They were across the street from a mall. It was dark, so the pictures came out kind of cool.

          And did you notice how many pictures Hubby is in? 😉

  8. Gah!! I cannot wait for part 2! I love your description of the sniping clerk . . . and the thought of sharing a bed with tech support is making he giggle (forgive me!)! Great descriptions hun. Wow–worst vacation ever? When Madeline was a toddler, and Jim was a one-year old, and I was pregnant with Ben, we drove out to Deep Creek, MD for a week-vacation in a rented house on the water. Unpacked. Bought groceries. And then we tried to tuck the kids into bed, but Maddie was coughing . . . and coughing. We had brought the nebulizer with us just in case so we kept hooking her up . . . and then I started coughing . . . and coughing. We figured out that the basement was covered in black mold, and so the next morning, after trying and failing to find a replacement house, we re-packed and drove ALL the way back home. And when we got home, Maddie crashed her bigwheel and cut her forehead. Sigh. I have a lump in my throat just thinking about it! I STILL cannot laugh about this, and it was seven years ago. It was six years before we tried to take another vacation. We suffered from Vacation PTSD I guess.

    1. I totally believe it is possible to have PTSD after a traumatic vacation. Luckily, this was not that. But it was not a great vacation. That clerk was soooo mean! I really think the happy Arubans had maxed out on Americans by mid-April. I think I’m done with the Caribbean. *wipes hands*

  9. Renee- I`ll just go ahead and tell you now- start working on your letter to the company that booked the vacation. And the hotel. Tell them how miserable all of you were, how much money you spent, and if possible, use their tag line (“Happiest Place On Earth” for Disney as an example) and how they didn`t live up to it. Wait to send it until it sounds like statement of facts (which it should be) and not a rant and personal attack on everyone in Aruba at the time. Then send it to every Executive in an envelop labeled “Personal and Confidential”. See what happens. I always do this when I`ve been wronged as a consumer. At least half the time I get my money back. Senior Executives don`t like to get letters containing examples of unhappy customers, being mistreated by company employess, who don`t understand the corporate mission. You might want to mention how many blog followers and Facebook friends you have. I like to twist the knife.

    1. Hi Emily. Honestly, when I look up and read about Lisha (who had to be evacuated from her ship) and Larisa (who had two terrible cruises) and Abby (with her food poisoning and her lost luggage and her migraine), and Annie (stuck on the road in the car with a barfing child), I have to say our trip was not really a disaster. I think the hotel was simply over-booked, which — while unpleasant — was hardly the end of the world.

      The fact that we didn’t have the greatest time means we won’t recommend the place as a destination to our friends or loved ones. I try to save my litigious writing powers for when there really have been wrongs that involve theft, negligence or safety. I remember reading one of your comments (somewhere) that indicated you are really good at writing these types of letters and getting results. Good for you, girl.

      If there was nothing else, we were together and it was consistently warm. 😉

  10. Sorry to hear about the room situation on your dream vacation to Aruba. When I was in 6th grade my parents took my sister and I to Ft. Myers during the month of Feb. After taking a late flight on a new airline (Piedmont?) that is no longer in existence we arrived at our condo at midnight/1 am. There was supposed to be a key waiting for us. But, it wasn’t; and of course no one was available at the manager’s office at that time of the morning. So, we slept in the car. We weren’t able to get into our condo until later that morning (10/11 am). Most of that vacation was also overcast and chilly. Lesson learned: Don’t expect Florida to be a tropical paradise in Feb.

    1. Such a good point. Florida weather can be very iffy. Frankly, everything is iffy these days. As I type to you now, there are 3 inches of snow outside. And it’s still coming down! It’s the end of April in a year where we had NO winter. Whassup with the world? Isn’t April supposed to go out like a lamb?

      I can’t believe you had to sleep in the car. That sounds dreadful.

      1. Watched the weather forecast with interest for you part of the country. I feel for you. Got any good photos of Aruba to keep in front of you? Sleeping in a car is never a good thing for me. But, I read one of your comment replies about being together as a family. I suppose that element of that Florida trip made all the lock out bearable.

  11. Other than having to pee on a few people’s legs, I’ve had pretty low key vacations. Sincerely hoping they found you a cot in a room far, far away from an elevator!

  12. Vacation from hell? Let’s see which one…ahhh, yes.

    My father-in-law had just purchased a fully furnished condo in Branson, Missouri and immediately offered that we should spend some time there. The in-laws jetted off to a tour of Ireland and we drove to Branson. Upon arrival at the condo offices at 6 p.m. on a Sunday evening, the gentleman there made a cursory search and indicated that they had no keys waiting for us. We asked him to make sure and he quickly glanced around and affirmed his original statement. We retreated to the car and luckily had the phone number of the realtor involved with the condo purchase. Being Sunday evening, we could only leave a message. Thirty minutes into our discussion of Plan B for alternate lodging, the realtor called and indicated that the keys had to be at the office. We went back and asked for the keys again. Voila! Look what happens when you actually look for them. Keys in hand we drove to the condo.

    Upon entering the condo, we were pleasantly surprised to find truly nice furnishings and decorations as we had been told to expect (you’d have to know my father-in-law to understand that “nice” has a much lower standard for him.) We were unpleasantly surprised to find no electricity, water, sheets, pillows and towels. Did I mention this was during the heat of summer?

    After giving additional consideration to Plan B, we opted to drive to the local Walmart to acquire gallons of bottled water, ice, flashlights, candles, sheets, pillows, towels and additional supplies for our indoor camping experience.

    Waking the next morning, we determined that, although the kitchen was completely equipped, starting a small fire for cooking the food that we’d brought with us was not in our best interest. So, off to a local restaurant for the first of several meals that the wife swore her father would be buying us. After breakfast, we stopped at the condo offices to find out how we might establish proper, civilized services such as water and electricity in the condo. We were given two addresses and headed off. For the water service, everything went well until they asked for my father-in-law’s Social Security number. Sure, just call him, right? No, he’s in Ireland, remember? Luckily, after 45 minutes and many phone calls, we were able to employ alternate legal methods to acquire this information. Mission accomplished, sort of. Water in maybe a day or two. Off to the electric company address which was miles out of town. Of course it was the wrong electric company and we were directed to another address back in town. Finally, second mission accomplished and power was promised the same day!

    We didn’t bother with trying to get the cable service established and made do with various strange devices attached to the TV antenna connection to watch the two or three local channels that were available. I’ll wager that you didn’t know that an electric iron could also serve as an antenna.

    We did get to spend several days of real relaxation doing touristy stuff so it wasn’t a total disaster. Never did go back again and the condo has since been sold but it was a vacation that will never be forgotten.

    1. Holy crow, Brian! That all sounds like a nightmare. No sheets. No electricity. No towels. No water! I hope you laugh about this now. It’s ridiculous.

      My family once took a vacation where we wandered around trying to find the “Nepa Hut.” I swear, we needed a map. When we found our place, our toilet promptly overflowed. You know, after someone had …um…used it. I guess I should be grateful that we didn’t have sewage issues in Aruba.

      At least, not in our hotel. Stay tuned.

  13. Last year, I had a similar travel experience. I traveled from VA to NC to see an NBA game with a friend and two of my brothers. We got a cheap hotel room off Expedia. It had two beds. My brothers were cool with sharing a bed. I was going to let my buddy have the other bed, while I’d use a cot.

    Before we left for NC, I called the hotel to ask if they had roll-out cots. They said yes. When we arrived at the hotel, I confirmed this again with the front desk attendant. He told me that they did, but it was currently in use. He assured me it would be ready in time for us to use that night. We needed to leave to get to the basketball game, so I tried to make him understand the importance of the cot being placed in our room while we were gone. He unequivocally agreed. I felt no reason to doubt this would occur.

    At midnight, we returned to find no cot in our room. I figured it was an oversight that would be easily remedied. I walked down to the front desk to calmly ask the front desk attendant for our cot. This time, it was a different man. He was a small, Indian man, who apparently owned the place. He looked confused about my request, unaware that I’d spoken to anyone else, and rudely/shortly told me they had not available cots. I was somewhat shocked at how little he cared. In my “shockedness,” I asked if I could at least have some extra covers so I could make up a bed on the floor. He quickly and firmly replied, “No. We have none. Will that be all?”

    I wanted to come across the counter, but I was so tired, I just went back to my room and made do with what was available.

    I later wrote an email to the hotel upper management and got most of my room fee refunded.

    It’s crazy how customer service has taken a nosedive!

  14. Oh my word. I can’t imagine how it can be worse than that. I shudder to hear part 2!

    However, my vacation disaster may have you beat: I never get to take one. Hence, the disaster.

  15. Any trip where I have to be stuffed into a tiny airline seat from Anchorage to DFW is a bad trip. Particularly after spending 13 days in Alaska and Yukon with temperatures in the upper 90s and no air conditioning most places.

    Hmmm . . . compared to some of your commenters, I guess I’ve never had a really bad vacation, Renee.

    1. Part 2 is now up. And you will see that we had the last row of the airplane. That’s right. The row that doesn’t recline. And where you get to smell the potty. Mmmmm.

      You are such a grateful person, I’ll bet you could turn chicken-shit into chicken cordon bleu!

  16. I’m pretty go-with-the-flow, but I got a raging case of pink-eye on a cruise to the bahamas once. I wanted to look all cutesy on my trip but I ended up with ointment in my eyes from the ship’s clinic and wearing my dorky glasses! The bright sunlight was also painful. I spent a lot of time in the dimly-lit casino. I’m also pretty sure people slightly grossed out by my goopy eyes!
    Hopefully, in Part 2 your trip will get better!

  17. Ugh. Something similar happened to us when we landed in Malta (from Bahrain), but we were childless. I started to sob. Uncontrollably. Then we were upgraded and had a great vacation. Sorry yours didn’t turn out so well…

    1. Upgraded? I’m sorry, what? You were upgraded? No one offered us a free glass of tea let an upgrade of any kind. There was nothing else available on the island. We were stuck and they knew it. Part 2 is up. And you should know, we told everyone we were from Canada. You’ll see why.

  18. I feel so bad for you guys! I’ve been to Aruba, and sorry to report loved it.

    So travel disaster for you: Also on Easter weekend several years ago, our flight got canceled and I spent the whole day in a Puerto Rican airport, then was flown into Tennessee and had to sleep in the airport. That wasn’t so fun.

    And let’s not forget last year when I didn’t get my passport until literally 2 DAYS before my flight left!

    I guess that doesn’t compare. I’d have done what Leanne did: when in crisis, use tears. May not be fair, but it is a power play. hehe

    1. Sleeping in the airport. We’ve had to do that once when we had a really long layover and then the flight didn’t go. The three of us all huddled together and covered ourselves with dirty sweatshirts. I was soooo tired, someone could have taken my purse and I would have never known.

      I find crying is more effective when I am alone. 😉

  19. A bad time in Aruba? I didn’t think that was possible! Well…I’m sure it would happen if I went. I think just about every vacation I’ve had someone was sick, or had an ear infection on the plane…etc. But wow, that sucks, Renee. I can’t imagine it getting worst in your next post.

    1. You know, I didn’t even mention it on either blog, but my husband had a “preexisting cold” which made him hork loogies by day and snore at night. Good times.

      We should probably not go on vacation together.

      Or maybe we should. We could just write. And laugh. 😉

  20. ahhhh, Renee! I’m so sorry about the vacation in paradise/hell! How about the disaster vacation that never happened because of missing a flight connection during the other busy time to fly: February break. At least I came up with tips of how to spend 13 hours in an airport with three children under 10: Stuck in the airport with kids? here’s what to do?

  21. Sucks!
    Vacation horror story…
    Well. There was the time my husband just couldn’t come last minute on a trip to Panama becuase his company was being sold and he had to fight for his job.
    And the next holiday we planned, well…he fell off the roof and almost killed himself about a month before that. Let’s just say, four broken ribs, two broken arms and a ton of stiches are NOT that fun in St. Lucia.

    BUT…we all did manage to get a holiday this last year. In one piece. 🙂

  22. Appalling service. Aruba’s off the list.
    As for me – my rosy-tinted amnesia means I can’t remember any really bad holiday I organised. There was that holiday spell in Hell/Hel which as you’d expect was rather challenging, but even that had it’s plus points. (Mainly escaping in one piece.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop