Amber Cove Cruise Port
The Amber Cove terminal was built by Carnival Cruise lines in the Bay of Maimon.
Puerto Plata Tour
We skipped the Carnival excursions and poolside activities to book with Iguana Mama Adventure Tours. The independent contractors are not allowed to pick up guest in the terminal, so we had a little walk to the highway to meet with our tour guides. Just our luck, we were the only people booked. Christmas Day and my Mom’s birthday turned into a personalized experience.
Isabel De Torres National Park
Our first stop was the Teleferico Puerto Plata Cable Car. With this being a very last minute vacation, I did not have time to research everything. I just knew the cable car would take us to the Jesus statue.
My Mom defiantly said, “I’m not getting on that.” I told her it was like a tram I rode in Gatlinburg and we were only going “there,” as I pointed at the trees. Little did I know, I would be the one having to do breathing exercises to avoid getting sick. I had to look down as we went up a half mile (800 meters).
I heard three versions of why Christopher Columbus named the city Puerto Plata, or City of Silver: the clouds, the glow of the water at sunset, and the shimmer from the trees in the mountain.
The view from the summit was worth the fright I experienced. We walked the park and learned about wild life and flora. What looked like cats, the Dominicans called pumas.
The photographers at the base of the statue are pros at getting the best photos. They only ask that you buy something from the gift shop inside the dome that used to be a grass covered look out for one of the dictators. I was happy to buy some trinkets to support their hustle. The vendors threw in some free stuff too. That seemed to be the norm every time I purchased souvenirs.
Macorix House of Rum
Fort San Felipe
The oldest structure in Puerto Plata is Fort San Felipe due to most of the city being destroyed by wars in the 1860’s against the Spanish. It was built between 1564-1577 to guard the seaport from pirates.
Kaffe Restaurant Bistro
Walking into Kaffe was like being greeted at family member’s home. It smelled fresh, the server was very welcoming, and the ambiance was just immaculate. Keep in mind that the host opened four hours early to accommodate us on Christmas Day.
The all inclusive tour included admission prices, drinks and our choice of lunch. I went with the Dominican fried chicken, rice & beans and passion fruit with rum. Delish!
Paseo de Doña Blanca
We did some sightseeing nearby at Umbrella Street and Parque Central.
I had the opportunity to learn more about making cigars at the Espigon Cigar Factory.
After a sample of Mama Juana, my Mom and I got a major surprise. The cigar makers told us to sit down. We hear music and out walks this beauty to dance with us. My Mom thought she was taking a video, but I ended up with still shots. We danced all over the shop. It was so much fun!
Puerto Plata is the second most visited city next to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. I experienced so much hospitality as a traveler when I know everyone wanted to be at home with their loved ones for Christmas. I am grateful for their kindness. The Dominican Republic is a place I would return for a 5-7 day visit to see more of the country.
I was in awe over the lush terrain. Puerto Plata was the cleanest Caribbean city I have visited. This may be due to hurricanes rarely hitting the Dominican Republic and rebuilding taking place less often.
I highly recommend Iguana Tours for first time visitors. We sang “Feliz Navidad” along with “Happy Birthday” on the way back to Amber Cove. They sent us walking back to the ship with a cup of “Dominican Gasoline” and Coke. Muy Bueno!