by Kevin Griffin – The Cruise People
Carnival Corporation & PLC has announced plans for a new $65 million two-berth cruise ship centre in the Dominican Republic. The new 30-acre Amber Cove Cruise Centre is being built at the Bay of Maimon, about fifteen miles west of Puerto Plata, and is due for completion in 2014. The new terminal is a joint project between Carnival and Báez & Ranick, a local ocean transportation, logistics and marine services group.
The project is designed to re-establish the Dominican Republic’s north coast as a popular cruise destination. The last cruise ship to call to Puerto Plata did so nearly thirty years ago now but the new facility is expected to host more than 250,000 cruise passengers in its first year of operation.
Carnival is expecting the new cruise hub to host up to 8,000 cruise ship passengers daily — vastly more than the 350,000 cruise passengers who visited the Dominican Republic in 2011. Last year saw a 1% decrease in passenger numbers to the country but Carnival is hoping its $65 million investment will reverse that trend. Puerto Plata was in the past the country’s second cruise destination after Santo Domingo.
As well as offering a gateway into the Dominican Republic, the cruise centre will include thirty acres of waterfront property and will feature a welcome centre, a variety of retail offerings, themed restaurants and bars and a water attraction. A transportation hub will allow visitors easy access by land and sea to the surrounding attractions. The news follows by two years the 2010 announcement of a $27 million terminal for Puerto Plata that did not involve cruise lines and was the subject of much criticism.
As Steven Stern says in his Stern’s Guide to the Cruise Vacation, “In Puerto Plata, there is little to do other than shop for amber in the local market, but if you feel adventurous, rent a horse at the dock and ride through the countryside to the beach.” Amber Cove is fifteen miles to the west of Puerto Plata.
A precedent for the Amber Cove project is Carnival’s own Mahogany Bay Cruise Centre in Roatan, Honduras, which it opened in 2009. Mahogany Bay has now hosted more than a million passengers, not only in Carnival ships but also in ships from Princess, Holland America, Seabourn, Costa and P&O, as well as non-group vessels. Another is Grand Turk Cruise Centre, which Carnival opened in the Turks and Caicos Islands in 2006. It will host 285 ships bringing 675,000 visitors this year. Carnival Corp & PLC seem to be building themselves a stable of these new ports in the Caribbean.