Carnival Cruise Lines today announced the first ship calls to its Amber Cove (near Puerto Plata) development in the Dominican Republic for several Caribbean itineraries, beginning with Carnival Victory on October 6, 2015. Carnival intends to make 37 calls with eight ships between October 2015 and April 2016. Itineraries with planned calls at Amber Cove will originate in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, and Charleston, S.C.
“Amber Cove is destined to become a cornerstone in creating new itineraries from several U.S. home ports,” said Terry Thornton, Carnival’s senior vice president of itinerary planning. “It will provide an unmatched combination of ‘fun in the sun’ activities and eco-tourism opportunities along with unique sightseeing, dining and cultural experiences to create a lifetime of wonderful vacation memories for our guests,” he added.
Puerto Plata, on the Dominican Republic’s northern coast (also called the Amber Coast) has long been a land-based vacation favorite, with visitors from North America and Europe arriving via air at at a modern international airport. The city is one of the oldest European settlements in the Americas, with some establishment accounts placing settlement in 1502, while others place it as early as 1494. Shore excursions will be available to local area attractions including Ocean World and Paradise Island, an offshore islet popular with snorkelers. Guests can also visit the colonial-era town of Puerto Plata to sample local coffee and rum.
To accommodate the influx of guests, Carnival Cruise Lines parent company Carnival Corp. is constructing a new pier and tourist village which will have typical cruise port facilities with design elements that pay homage to the area’s colonial past. The tourist facilities will include restaurants, retail, bars, a staging area for shore excursions, and private beach bungalows which can be reserved by shipboard guests. A Carnival spokesperson explained that the the facilities are typically used by other cruise line operators in addition to Carnival, adding that the developments serve as an opportunity for destinations to receive additional visitors, and for the cruise industry to offer more diverse itineraries. The pier will be capable of docking two post-Panamax size cruise ships simultaneously. Carnival Corp has previously been involved in shore side developments in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; Roatan, Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico; and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. Carnival is developing an additional company-owned port in Ile de la tortue (Tortuga), Haiti.
Privately constructed cruise centers in the Caribbean aren’t a new concept. Royal Caribbean has long operated a private beach at Labadee, Haiti, and Disney Cruise Lines operates a similar location in The Bahamas known as Castaway Cay. Ports of call closer to the U.S. Mainland are often preferable for cruise lines, allowing for longer port days and requiring less fuel for the voyage. Closer ports of call also allow for greater reliability in making all planned stops on the cruise itinerary in the case of departure delays at any of the scheduled ports.
Carnival Corp is the world’s largest operator of cruise lines, including Princess, Cunard, Holland America and Seabourn. The company’s eponymous Carnival brand will have 25 ships in operation by 2016.