With water, water everywhere and a strategic location at the nexus of prime maritime trade routes (not to mention enviable deep-water harbors), Curaçao has enjoyed 500 hundred active years of seafaring history. Interwoven into the island's maritime narrative is its role as an 18th-century slave-trade hub, an early-20th-century shipbuilding heritage, and its tireless appeal as a cruise-ship port of call. At one time (1939) this was even the world's seventh busiest harbor. Today the island has the harbor facilities to welcome up to six cruise ships daily, including a mega pier that can handle the big boys.
The museum touches on each of these aspects of the island's maritime drama, and more, with sailing-ship models, antique maps, and multimedia exhibits. The museum itself is even laid out like a ship's interior, with portholes and a wooden gangplank. A great way to get a feel for the bustle and sweep of the Curaçao Harbor is on one of the museum's guided harbor tours in open-air water taxis; they’re offered every Wed and Sat at 2pm and include a guided museum tour upon return ($9 adults, $4.50 children 6–11, free ages 5 and younger).