Dominican Republic

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

We started our day with a 6:30 room service breakfast. We had another independent tour scheduled that I found through the same Shore Excursions website as the Curacao tour. We’ve been to the Dominican Republic once before but went snorkeling that day. Today we were taking an island tour.

The name of our tour today: Explore the Best of Puerto Plata. The description of the tour: On this Puerto Plata shore excursion, you will ascend to 2,555 feet above sea-level to the summit of Mount Isabel de Torres.

Mount Isabela is Puerto Plata’s most impressive geographic feature towering above the city, which will delight you with panoramic views of Puerto Plata from its flat-topped peak. Once at the top, you will have the opportunity to explore the beautiful gardens, see a representation of a typical countryside house or “casa tipica,” take photos of the Christ the Redeemer Statue (a smaller version of the one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), and enjoy the views of Puerto Plata and the Atlantic Ocean.

After your time at the summit, you will take the cable car ride down the mountain for amazing views and then meet your transportation for the drive through the city to Fort San Felipe, home to a historic Spanish fortress built in 1577 to protect the city of Puerto Plata from pirates and other enemies. Here at Puerto Plata’s oldest surviving structure, you will enjoy a fully narrated tour around the grounds of the fort. It is located on a hill at the Puntilla Del Malecon, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean; its strategic location protected the entrance to the city’s seaport. The construction of the fort was commissioned by King Felipe II of Spain in 1564, and it was completed in 1577 by Don Rengifo de Angulo, the fort’s mayor.

Next, you will make your way to Parque Independencia where your guide will provide you with interesting information regarding the Victorian architecture. The Parque de la Independencia was the first park in the city and its origin lies in four public squares at the intersection of two then newly opened large boulevards, Santafesino and Argentino, the four-part plaza was named Independencia. You will enter the Cathedral as well as have some free time in the Victorian square before returning to your cruise ship.

Please Note: The order of tour may vary depending upon ship’s arrival time. A van or bus descent from the Mt. Isabela summit may be substituted for the cable car in the event of high winds or poor weather conditions.

Walked off the ship at 8:00 just before Carnival Mardi Gras pulled in next to our ship. Once a ship docks, any other ship has to stop allowing people off until the cables are secured to ensure that nobody gets hurt if a cable snaps.

The brochure made it sound that the walk from the port to the meeting point would be brief. It was not. There were a number of tour operators, but it took a while to find ours. I was getting discouraged. We finally found him at the end of the long vendor line. He brought us to the van where another couple was already seated. The other passengers eventually came trickling in (each talking about the long walk). We left on the tour at 9:15.

Our guide’s name was Alex. He was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

In the town of Puerto Plata, the streets were very narrow, and the traffic was crazy. Horns blaring. Motorbikes were zipping everywhere – most with nobody wearing helmets. Alex says the locals don’t get into accidents – the tourists who rent motorbikes for the day usually do.

Our first stop was Mount Isabela. The gardens were lovely.

The next stop was the Christ the Reedemer statue. The views from the top were very hazy. Alex cautioned us not to accept an offer from someone who said he/she would take our picture in front of the statue. We would not get our camera back until we paid a generous “tip.”

We were able to ride the cable car down from the mountain, but we had a 30-minute wait until a car was available in order for us to all to ride down as a group.

We went to Fort San Felipe by the ocean. There were a number of vendors here and Chuck bought me a delicate pale blue necklace and earrings.

We worked our way back to the town and stopped at Independence Park. The Catholic Church here was two centuries old.

Two streets off of the park were very interesting – The Umbrella Street and the Pink Street.

There were more vendors here, and you could get your photo taken with monkeys, parrots, and donkeys. With 5 ships in port today, I hope all the vendors did well.

On our way back to the port, we passed the Neptune statue who watches over the island.

I enjoyed the tour but again the van seating was very tight. There was a lot of walking that you had to do, and the heat and humidity were just draining. Alex did provide bottled water and we drank a lot of it. I had also brought our cooling towels to wear around our necks (or on your head). Once they start getting warm, you can snap them, and they get cool again. I don’t know the chemistry behind it, but I am just glad they work.

Once we were back on board, we decided to eat a late lunch in the Grand Dutch Cafe. We each had the hot ham and cheese sandwich and some Dutch pea soup. The food here is complimentary but the alcoholic drinks, coffees and the sodas have a charge. Many people come here for the excellent desserts. They serve hot Dutch appetizers like bitterballen each day beginning at 4:30.

Chuck’s ear had been bothering him for a couple of days. He decided to pay a visit to the ship’s doctor. Luckily, there was no infection. But his ear canal was swollen, and his ear had fluid in it. He was given some drops and pain meds. No swimming for a few days. We need to get him some of those wax ear plugs. The visit cost was applied to our onboard account, and I’ll submit the bill for reimbursement to our travel insurance company when we return home.

Travel Trivia

Amber Cove, (Puerto Plata), Dominican Republic

Amber Cove is the Carnival Cruise line cruise terminal in the Puerto Plata (Silver Port) province. Contains shops, restaurants, and activities.

Puerto Plata is the largest city on the northern seaboard and is considered the birthplace of tourism in the Dominican Republic.

Christopher Columbus, in his first trip, called the mountain Monte de Plata, observing that since the top is frequently foggy it had a silver-like appearance, hence the name of the town.

The city was designed by the brothers Christopher and Bartolomé Columbus, in 1496.

In 1863, during the Dominican Restoration War, the city was razed completely. Beginning in 1865, the current Puerto Plata began to be built. This explains the Victorian style of much of its current architecture.

In 1996, Birgenair Flight 301 crashed near Puerto Plata, killing all 189 people on board.

Huascar Ynoa (b. 1998), pitcher for the Atlanta Braves was born in Puerto Plata province.

*Trivia provided by Wikipedia

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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