Last updated: 08:30 PM ET, Thu September 03 2015

Dispatch: Amber Cove, 'The Future of Puerto Plata'

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Theresa Norton | September 01, 2015

Dispatch: Amber Cove, 'The Future of Puerto Plata'

PHOTO: Amber Cove features seven overwater cabanas. (All photos by Theresa Norton Masek)

Carnival Corp.’s new $85 million Amber Cove development near Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, is more than just another cruise facility.

It’s essentially creating a new cruise destination in a place that hasn’t seen regularly scheduled ship calls in three decades.

“We’ve waited almost 30 years for a project like this,” said Julio Almonte, vice minister of tourism for Puerto Plata. “The future of Puerto Plata is here in Amber Cove.”

Amber Cove is scheduled to welcome its first ship, the Carnival Victory, on Oct. 6. It will be followed by 140 ship calls by eight Carnival Corp. brands for an expected total of 350,000 cruise passengers in 2016.

The Dominican Republic and Puerto Plata are rolling out the red carpet. I’m currently here with a delegation of travel writers from North America, and tourism officials honored us with an official declaration and a party on the plaza in front of city hall with music, dancers, speeches and stilt walkers. There’s no doubt they appreciate us spreading the word and will welcome cruisers with warm hospitality.

The point is not to keep the cruise passengers captive in Amber Cove, it’s to funnel them into the Dominican experience. “The idea for Amber Cove is to introduce a new destination to cruising,” said David Candib, the senior Carnival Corp. executive who oversaw the development of Amber Cove in partnership with the Rannik family of Grupo B&R.

PHOTO: David Candib, the Carnival Corp. executive who oversaw the development of Amber Cove.

Visitors to Amber Cove can select from 42 shore excursions, including ATV outings, dolphin encounters, surfing lessons, and even VIP experiences for small groups.

In fact, officials expect almost 100 percent of cruise passengers visiting Amber Cove to disembark and explore since it’s essentially a new destination for cruisers. Of those, Carnival predicts 60 to 70 percent of passengers will book a shore excursion, almost double than in many cruise destinations, said Amilcar Cascais, vice president-tour operations for Carnival Cruise Line.

The 25-acre Amber Cove development includes six acres reclaimed from the sea. Located on a beautiful, mountain-ringed bay, the development includes a pier that can dock two of the largest cruise ships at the same time. A smaller pier will make it easy for passengers to board boats for shore excursions.

Shops, located in structures built using local architecture styles, will be operated by local vendors and craftspeople as well as well-known retailers such as Diamonds International. There will be eateries, one featuring Dominican cuisine, and several bars, including one called 360 that is perched atop a granite hill.

There’s a big pool with a swim-up bar and two waterslides that start on the granite face. Overhead are two ziplines right next to each other, so people can race as they glide over the swimming pool.

Three kinds of cabanas are available for rent. Seven are overwater, four are built on the granite hill, and three are closer to the pool.

PHOTO: Dominican Republic tourism officials honored visiting travel writers with a lively party on the plaza in Puerto Plata.

There is no beach at Amber Cove as there is at other Carnival-built destinations such as Grand Turk and Mahogany Bay in Honduras. Passengers who want to loll in the sand will have to buy a shore excursion to shuttle them to beaches.

Overall, Amber Cove will inject new life into the Dominican Republic tourism industry. And the locals will welcome it with open arms.

For more information on Amber Cove, visit

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