Think big. Think super-spec. Think pretty much every convenience and refinement that caravanning offers, including an automatic levelling system. The new Aruba is surely Britain’s most spec-laden six-berth. Named after an island in the Caribbean, the Aruba offers accommodation as luxurious as the images that its name conjures. It’s also practical, with snag-resistant upholstery designed to be pet-friendly and stain resistant.
The Buccaneer Aruba - Explore a high-spec, six-berth caravan in which space and versatility are key attractions
Explore a high-spec, six-berth caravan in which space and versatility are key attractions
Words by Val Chapman
Photos by John Chapman
Last year the eight-foot-wide 840 layout was invented by the Erwin Hymer Group, which produces four brands including Buccaneer. The design appeared in the Elddis Avanté and Compass Casita ranges and quickly proved to be popular among buyers.
For 2019, buyers have another option. This extraordinary six-berth layout is now in the flagship Buccaneer portfolio, which means it has Alde heating, a water tank and E&P's self-levelling system, plus many more goodies than the Elddis and Compass caravans.
The Aruba's layout includes a double bed at the rear, a wide, U-shaped dining area opposite the kitchen, long parallel lounge seating and a shower room every bit as spacious as you'd expect to find across the back of a layout – but this one is alongside the bed. It's a configuration that's made possible by the extra width; the Aruba and the 840s are 19 cm wider than standard models.
Our review begins by lowering the corner steadies with the touch of a button on a panel beside the door (there's also a handset).
E&P's Levelsystem has gigantic jacking points under the axles. These descend first, in response to a gyroscopic sensor, then the front jacking points lower, followed by the rear. The system is designed to level a caravan on a gradient of up to eight per cent. It barely takes two minutes. The Levelsystem is unique as a standard feature to Buccaneer caravans.
With the set-up done automatically, we begin to explore the Aruba's spaciousness and its sophisticated level of specification.
This is the Erwin Hymer Group's highest-spec six-berth by a long way. It's easy to picture family dining around the table in the centre, the hub of the Aruba's activities. Four or more can sit here. Call it the dining room, if you wish, or the breakfast room – or the media area; there are two mains sockets set into the base of the rear section of this seating for charging and powering needs.
So, one generation dining in the centre and the other in the lounge, perhaps? Space and versatility are key to this layout's appeal.
The shower room is 2.14m long and 83cm wide. Two cabinets, one on the offside wall and the other under the fruit-bowl-style basin, are big enough for all necessities. Towel provision is first-rate, with three hooks plus a pull-out towel rail in the shower; this provides rails for four towels. That's in addition to the large, chrome heated towel ladder.
The shower cubicle, lined with pale grey-green gloss 'tiles', measures a respectable 65cm x 80cm.
The double bed is 1.9m long and 1.24m wide. There's a curtain rail fitted; if you favour privacy you can make your bedroom look extra cosy simultaneously. Two mains sockets, 12-volt and aerial points plus two USB ports are on the wall at the foot of the bed; there's no TV bracket, though, but a quick question to your dealer will surely provide that.
This is a lovely, cosy bedroom, with the bed in its own alcove. That means you climb into it from the foot end, though, which we don't see as a problem.
The dining area transforms into a second double bed, measuring 1.28m x 1.85m. A frame at each end of the U-shaped seating extends by means of hinged sections. The table's substantial mono pod base is telescopic; it descends to the level of the seating frame. Extra upholstery sections complete the mattress. During our review it took us only about three minutes to construct.
In the lounge, you can use the settees as single beds; they're 1.8m long, or you can make a double, which measures 2.2m x 1.43m.
The bed rises smoothly, supported on two gas-filled struts. Reaching inside the far end of the space looks, initially, to be a little difficult – but we quickly found out it 's easy to crawl inside to retrieve anything that might have found its way to the rear while you're towing.
Importantly, there's an exterior hatch to access outdoors stuff, including folding chairs.
To access the space under the U-shaped seating area you need to remove the upholstery; not difficult but slightly inconvenient.
Drop-down, full-length doors enable you to get into the under-lounge spaces; there's an exterior hatch to the nearside bed box.
The wardrobe rail is 38cm wide, which isn't a lot for the needs of six, but space for folded clothing is enormous; not many caravans have nine top lockers like the Aruba! In addition, there are three drawers under the wardrobe plus four drawers in the central-front lounge unit.
The free-standing table is easy to extract from the wardrobe, but we wonder how many times it would be used, given that four can eat at the central table and two more at the 75cm x 68cm pull-out table at the centre-front. So, three dining options and lots of space! Easily an A rating here, then.
Lounging deserves the same score, there is so much space in both areas — space in which to nestle into not two, but four corners (two at the front and two in the dining area) and sprawl out to relax.
Connections for a television are at the front nearside corner, so you can put your TV on the front central unit or behind it, on the 22cm-deep windowsill.
The long skylight (surrounded by tiny spotlights set into a frame) plus the sunroof ensure a light and airy aspect.
Feeding six can be a task in a caravan, even for an organised cook. How easy it is depends on surface space and on the amount of storage space. The Aruba earns a tick beside both of those criteria.
Its surface stretches a useful 1.09m when you hinge the 29cm x 40cm extension up into place. The extension comes partly across the doorway but during our review day we discovered this is no problem; there is easily enough space to walk around it.
Importantly, when you are putting food onto six plates, these can go on the dining table; it's a superbly designed kitchen-diner.
We love the deep rectangular sink (31 cm x 50cm). We also love the design of the hob, with a large hotplate in a raised section so that any size of pan can be used here. The team also likes the cast iron (yes, really!) pan trivet that is easy to remove when you want to clean the steel hob base.
There is a small brickbat to aim, though, not at Buccaneer but at the maker of the cooker, Thetford. Whenever the glass hob lid is raised, a fan automatically switches on. Its purpose is to keep the knobs cool when the grill is being used, but it's noisy. Perhaps it would have been better to have the fan coming on only when the grill is being used.
As for storage, there are three deep drawers, each 37cm wide, plus a cabinet, just over 90cm deep and 37cm wide, containing two pull-out metal basket-style shelves, plus space beneath.
Factor in the gorgeously smart white-fronted top lockers (with refined concealed catches) and you can regard the Aruba's kitchen as easily meeting the storage needs of six appetites.
And the fine touches? There's an extractor fan. Lighting rims the surface and there's more lighting concealed at the top of the splashback. Plus, the Aruba has one of the slimmest, neatest taps we've ever seen.
As you'd naturally expect, Buccaneers have ATC to stop any fishtailing. Equally, as you'd expect, these big twin-axle luxuriant tourers have well- balanced, dependable towing characteristics.
We've towed several with our beefy Rexton and always found them to be enjoyable and smooth on the road, although at this MTPLM you will need a hefty towcar.
Think big. Think super-spec. Think pretty much every convenience and refinement that caravanning offers, including an automatic levelling system. The new Aruba is surely Britain's most spec-laden six-berth.
Named after an island in the Caribbean, the Aruba offers accommodation as luxurious as the images that its name conjures. It's also practical, with snag-resistant upholstery designed to be pet-friendly and stain resistant.
The trend-setter 840 layout, now in extreme posh and prestige guise, will appeal to families who seek the best and to couples who want a caravan with three 'rooms' – a bedroom, a dining-kitchen and a lounge. An flat on wheels, then.