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Dominica Cruise Port Profile

Dominica is a wet island famous for rainforests.
Dominica is a wet island famous for rainforests.
The Dominica cruise port of Roseau is modest by Caribbean standards, but it also is a gateway to one of the region's best eco tourism islands.

Dominica is unlike almost any other island that mainstream cruise lines visit. It is dense with rainforests, waterfalls, and fresh fruit. For an idea of what to expect, watch the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, which was filmed in part on the island.

Rainforest covers two thirds of this 464-square-mile island, nicknamed “The Nature Island”. The island is home to more than 1,200 different plant species and only 70,000 people.

Cruisers visiting the island for only a day should plan on activities much different than most Caribbean islands.

Most cruise lines dock at the Roseau Cruise Ship Berth. Visitors will walk off the ships and right into the tourism district. They will find a small district than other major ports.

Quick Tips

  • Hiking is the most popular attraction on this wet, eco tourism island.
  • Beaches are rarer than most islands and often rocky.
  • Dominica is one of the wettest islands in the Caribbean.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Trafalgar Falls Dominica
Trafalgar Falls; © Dominica Tourism Authority
Cruise passengers may find that the port of Roseau has a small but decent tourism district. Otherwise, the city has few major attractions. The big attractions on this wet and rainy island are the rivers and waterfalls.

Still, cruise visitors can take a guided city tour for less than $50 per person. One worthy attraction in the city is the Dominica Botanic Gardens. Anyone who doesn’t take a guided city tour can walk there from the docks. The gardens are less than 10 minutes away by foot along King George V Street from the cruise terminal.

The botanical gardens stretch over 40 acres and display more than 50 types of plants and trees. Some cruise shore excursions include the gardens as part of a city tour for about $50 per person.

Outside of Roseau, the most popular shore excursions on the island are hiking, swimming and river tubing. Most of the hikes travel through the rainforest and have levels of difficulty by category.

Quite a few excursions combine hikes with waterfall viewing. The typical waterfall hike will cost about $75 per person.

Tubing on the Layou River is a way for the whole family to enjoy Dominica’s beautiful scenery. Several companies and guides offer river tubing. Visitors can hire them through their cruise line or directly right along the cruise port. The cost is about $50 to $75 per person depending on the sailing date and other factors.

Guides are available for a hike to Boiling Lake, reportedly the largest boiling lake in the world. This six- to eight-hour round trip takes visitors to a water-filled crater, said to reach 197 degrees fahrenheit. Because of the length of the trip, visitors should expect to pay around $125 per person.

Dominica river tubing; © Dominica Tourism Authority
Dominica’s national parks are all worth visiting. Morne Diablotin National Park offers the highest point on the island, rising more than 5,000 feet above sea level. The Cabrits National Park is an old fort of the Royal Navy in the Caribbean.

Visiting national sites cost $5 each or $12 for a week-long pass. One excursion operator listed a trip to Morne Diablotin plus the Boiling Lake for $175 per person.

The Rainforest Tram offers a view of the rainforest without the strenuous hiking. Ziplining is also available along the Layou, Dominica’s longest river.

The cruise port is the starting point for many other day trips and excursions, from biking to canoeing to horseback riding.

Passengers can finish the day with an ice cream or freshly picked vegetables from Roseau’s main market.

Beaches Near the Cruise Port

Dominica is a great place to go for ecotourism adventures such as hiking and whitewater rafting. It isn’t the place to go for beaches because they are mostly rocky from past volcanic activity.

Cruise lines and tour operators offer few beach excursions. Still, one of the better options is the black sand Mero Beach in the village of Mero. It is 12 miles north of the Roseau cruise port. Cruise visitors will need a taxi, rental car or excursion bus to get there.

A few excursions that take visitors only to Mero Beach usually cost less than $50. Otherwise, a few excursions include Mero Beach along with other stops such as Salton Waterfalls, the sulphur springs at Wotten Waven and the baths at Ti Kwen Glo Cho. The cost for such a guided, multi-stop tour will range around $125 to $150.

Shopping / Restaurants

Shopping and dining in Roseau take a back seat to the natural attractions.

The heart of downtown Roseau is just yards away from the cruise port. Roseau is said to offer the best fruit and vegetable market in the Caribbean.

The city has a modest tourist district with shops, art and craft stands, and restaurants. Several restaurants offer Creole cuisine, including Pearl’s Restaurant on 50 King George V Street (767-448-8707), and La Robe Creole, located on Victoria Street (767-448-2896).

On my last visit, I walked from the tourist district to the other side of the city and back again. I saw few tourists outside of the tourist district.

Getting Around / Transportation

Taxis line up along the port, offering rides to travelers. Taxis offer a tour of the island and will usually charge $150. Most excursion operators arrive and leave from there as well.

Taxis have H, HA or HB starting the registration numbers on the license plates. Bus service is available from private minibus operators.

Just steps past the taxis are car rentals for cruisers who want to explore the island independently. Cars drive on the left side of the road because of the island’s British colonial history. A note of caution: the roads in Dominica are often narrow and difficult to navigate. Excursion buses are a safer and better option.

Weather / Best Times to Go

Dominica is a rainforest island because it receives a great deal of rain throughout the year. It is one of the wettest islands in the Caribbean. All the more reason to go during the spring dry season, which isn’t that dry by Caribbean standards.

The island’s average high temperature stays within a narrow range throughout the year. It ranges from the low 80s Fahrenheit in the winter to the mid 80s in the summer.

The island has a rainforest climate, and receives, on average, 197 inches of rain per year. The driest months of the year are January through April, but short, midday showers are still common.

The average monthly rainfall is four to six inches from January through April during the dry season. Dominica’s dry season is as wet as the rainy season for most Caribbean islands.

Average rainfall jumps to nine inches in May and backs off a bit in June. It then starts climbing again until it reaches a high point of about 15 inches in November.

The best time to go to Dominica is April for a combination of low risk of rain and warmer temperatures. The worst time to go is any month from late fall until early winter.

Other Cruise Tips

  • English is the official language.
  • Taxis have H, HA or HB starting the registration numbers on the license plates.
  • Bus service is available from private minibus operators.
  • Tipping is usually 10-15 percent of the bill.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Cruise Ports   

June 04, 2019

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