Carnival creates a gem of a destination on the sparkling Dominican Republic coast.
Amber Cove is one of the hottest cruise ship destinations in the Caribbean — and it’s not just because of the great weather. It’s in the heart of the breathtaking Amber Coast in the northern region of the Dominican Republic, and is just five miles from the bustling historic beach town of Puerto Plata.
When Amber Cove welcomed its first Carnival Victory guests in the fall of 2015, a cruise ship hadn’t called at Puerto Plata since the 1980s. The $85 million cruise center is now able to introduce 8,000 visitors daily to this very special part of the Dominican Republic, with two berths and facilities covering 30 acres.
“This is a very exciting development,” says Francisco Javier, tourism director of the Dominican Republic. “The new port gives cruise passengers an opportunity to see another part of the Dominican Republic, our Amber Coast, which hasn’t been available as part of cruise itineraries in nearly thirty years.”
The use of “amber” in the name of the new port is appropriate, since the region’s amber mines are among the richest in the world. Dominican Republic amber is 90 percent more clear than other amber and ten times more insects than the Baltic variety. Amber is fossilized tree resin, and insects are often caught in it when it’s secreted; the more insects in the amber, the more valuable the gem. The hit 1993 movie Jurassic Park, the original tale of modern-day dinosaurs created from ancient DNA found in insects trapped in amber,was partially filmed in the Dominican Republic.
Plenty to Do at This Port
Situated in a stunning coastal inlet, with a lush tropical landscape, towering mountains and more than two dozen waterfalls as a backdrop, the port proper features dramatic architecture and design elements that echo the region’s colonial past. Cobblestone streets and plazas lead to everything an arriving guest could want, including a welcome center, a shore excursions pier and transportation hub and convenient recreation areas such as a large pool with slides and other water features, a selection of water sports and three different cabana rental options. A vibrant marketplace offers locally sourced crafts and souvenirs — plus amber sales, of course — and visitors can enjoy lively themed restaurants and bars.
“We are constantly looking for new ways for our guests to enjoy their cruise experience and it is always exciting to add new destinations to our itineraries — especially in the Caribbean, where many of our passengers have been before,” says Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation. “Because Amber Cove is easily accessible, it gives our guests a convenient gateway to the Puerto Plata region.”
Shore excursions out of Amber Cove are ranked as some of the best in the Caribbean. Dozens of options include dolphin tours; snorkeling; swimming in a natural river pool; horseback riding on the beach; cross-country adventures in 4×4 Terracross buggies; coffee plantation visits featuring traditional Dominican dishes and local fruit and rum; and speedboat trips to appropriately named Paradise Island, one of the area’s top snorkeling and scuba diving destinations.
Nearby Ocean World, one of the region’s largest marine adventure parks, also offers a range of opportunities to experience and interact with marine life, including dolphin and stingray encounters, a sea lion show and snorkeling with sharks. Going from the underwater world to the mountains, visitors can take cable car rides to the peak of Mount Isabel de Torres — literally reaching new heights in the Dominican Republic.
Touring nearby Puerto Plata also has been very popular with Amber Cove visitors. The historic city was founded as the village of La Isabella in the late-1490s by Christopher Columbus and his brother, Bartolomé, and is the site of Fort San Felipe, the first fort built by European settlers in the New World. Puerto Plata is home to many artist studios, rum and cigar factories, the Amber Museum and the Malecón, a three-mile-long beachfront boardwalk with even more restaurants, bars and shopping.
Many cruise memories have already been made in and near Amber Cove. To start making some of your own, contact your onboard shore-excursion specialist.
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.