When the cruise port opened this Dominican Republic port in October 2015, it was the first time the town just outside Puerto Plata had seen cruise ships for nearly 30 years. Carnival Corp. spent $85 million developing a 30-acre cruise complex on the Dominican Republic's north coast, set on a beautiful blue bay with lush hills as the backdrop.
What We Love
Sense of Place: The complex is designed to look like a Dominican town, with a Spanish fort and colonial- and Victorian-style buildings. You can also buy such island goods as chocolate, rum, and cigars, eat local food, and hear Dominican music.
Puerto Plata: Within a 15-minute drive of Amber Cove, you can experience the life of a Dominican city with a historic fort, museums, and a cultural scene, as well as a long, public beach.
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The Surrounds: Above the city are ruggedly beautiful hills, views of green valleys, and tiny villages you can visit on well-curated shore excursions.
Lots of Action: At the center of the complex is a massive pool with water slides and zip line overhead. A hilltop bar is the place to take in views — though you can also spring for a private poolside, hilltop, or bay-view cabana.
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Who It's Best For
Families: There are activities right at the pier to entertain kids (including a splash area), along with eateries and shops. An excellent aquarium down the road, where you can swim with dolphins, is another highlight.
Culture Vultures: You've got the city of Puerto Plata and surrounding countryside to explore. You can dance meringue, meet locals, and learn about the region.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
There's No Beach: As pretty as the bay setting is at Amber Cove, you won't find access to get into the water. If you want to lie on sand and dip your feet in the sea, you'll have to take a cab or book a shore excursion.
Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.