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Dominican Republic

Amber Cove Cruise Port: Tips, Excursions and Weather

Amber Cove cruise port
Amber Cove cruise port. © Carnival Cruise Lines

The filming location of the original Jurassic Park movie is an $85 million Caribbean port for Carnival Cruise Lines.

The Amber Cove cruise port is located in a small bay near the resort city of Puerto Plata on the north coast of Dominican Republic. The port lies just south of Grand Turk and the Turks and Caicos islands.

It officially opened in October 2015 with the arrival of Carnival Victory and 3,000 passengers. It highlighted the return of the first cruise passengers to Puerto Plata in 30 years.

The port is a somewhat common stop on eastern Caribbean cruises for Carnival cruise ships that embark from Florida ports. Five-day cruises may stop at Amber Cove and Grand Turk, which has another private Carnival port. Six-day cruises may also stop at Nassau, Half Moon Cay or Princess Cays in the Bahamas. Seven- and eight-day cruises may visit some combination of San Juan, St. Kitts, St. Maarten and St. Thomas in addition to Amber Cove.

The strategic location of the port will potentially result in future cruise stops in Cuba, Carnival says.

Other Carnival brands that may visit the port including Cunard, P&O, AIDA, Azura, Costa and Holland America.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Walking Around Attractions

Amber Cove Cruise Port Map

Amber Cove represents another step in a trend toward cruise lines developing their own ports and providing attractions that encourage visitors to stay on site or nearby.

These private ports try to offer a variety of dining, shopping and entertainment activities. They also provide an opportunity for the cruise lines to become excursion operators for anyone wanting something more adventurous.

Amber Cove doesn’t have a cruise terminal building. It has a welcome center with a crafts marketplace, restaurants, pool, splash zone and green space areas.

Otherwise, it doesn’t have cultural or historical attractions like Caribbean port cities because it is a privately developed facility. Cruise visitors will have to go elsewhere for unique Dominican Republic experiences.

Shore Excursions

One of the largest nearby attractions is Ocean World, a two-mile drive from the port. Ocean World has animal encounters with an emphasis on swimming with dolphins as well as programs that include sharks and sea lions. Program prices vary, but $150 to $175 is common with discounts for children.

Puerto Plata with much more shopping and dining lies seven miles southeast of the port. The town was founded by Christopher Columbus and was the first European settlement in the Americas. A five-hour Puerto Plata walking tour with snacks costs about $55 per person. The tour may include Plaza Independencia, Fort San Felipe, San Felipe Cathedral and Renovation Library among other sites.

Fort San Felipe
Fort San Felipe. credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Just before reaching Puerto Plata, visitors may want to see Fort San Felipe. The fort, completed in 1577, was built to protect the city from pirates. A separate five-hour cultural and historical tour includes the fort as well highlights of Puerto Plata for about $50 per person plus discounts for children.

The Amber Cove port has various shore and water excursions that are standard for Caribbean destinations. They include ATV rides, snorkeling and boating trips. But it also has a major national park nearby that has some unique features.

Parque Nacional Isabel De Torres is located about the same distance from Amber Cove as Puerto Plata, although just south of the city.

The main feature of the park is Mount Isabel De Torres. The 2,600-foot mountain is known for its cable ride to the top and panoramic views of Puerto Plata, Christ the Redeemer statue and the surrounding countryside. The park also has hiking trails, botanical gardens and a bird sanctuary. A typical excursion costs about $65 per person.

The 27 Waterfalls of Rio de Damajagua are south of Mount Isabel De Torres. Visitors take an excursion bus followed by a 40-minute hike to reach them. Visitors can slide on some of the falls are jump into them. Prices start at about $60 per person, although some excursions cost more because they offer other activities.

ATV shore excursions are quite popular at Amber Cove and Puerto Plata. One popular tour is a half-day ride at Country World Adventure Park with prices starting at $60.

All prices are subject to change.

Beaches Near the Cruise Port

Some cruise line excursions do go to Cabarete Beach. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Anyone who wants a more authentic beach than the one at Amber Cove can venture three plus miles by taxi or rental car to calm Cofresi Beach. It is next to Water World Adventure Park, which makes it easy to combine both activities in one trip.

The rougher waters of Grand Beach or Playa Grande are four miles in the other direction. Otherwise, good options that take up to an hour to reach are Sosua Beach and Cabarete Beach. Both of them are in attractive tourist towns to the east of Puerto Plata. Some cruise line excursions do go to Cabarete.

Amber Cove promotes its own private beach at Coconut Cove. These “beach breaks” cost about $40 to $50 per person depending on amenities.

Getting Around

Attractions around Amber Cove such as beaches, Puerto Plata and Parque Nacional Isabel De Torres are close enough to tempt some people to rent a car.

Car rentals are available at the Amber Cove docks as well as taxis. A one-way trip to Puerto Plata costs about $35.

Rental car agencies such as Alamo and National have an office at the cruise port.


This video explains the best time to visit the Dominican Republic and avoid the annual hurricane season.
Full-Screen Version | YouTube Caribbean Channel

The dry season for Amber Cove is June through September and part of October. The heaviest rains historically take place from November through January, according to the Dominican Republic National Meteorological Office.

Average high temperatures reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 32 degrees Celsius during the summer. They decline to about 84 degrees Fahrenheit or 29 degrees Celsius during the winter.

• Amber Cove weather in January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

Other Tips

Restaurants usually include a 10 percent tip with the bill. Most people do not tip taxi drivers, although tipping is acceptable for good service.

Dominican Republic uses the same ten-digit call system as the United States. The main area code is 809.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
December 12, 2023

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