Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I wrote about the food, service, entertainment, and Cruise Director(s) aboard the Carnival Celebration from Sunday January 08TH 2023 to Sunday January 15TH 2023. If you missed it (or any other previous editions of my cruise review) then simply scroll down on this page to read past blog posts.
This week we jump to Day 3 of my 7-day cruise – and the first port-of-call in the Dominican Republic.
But First: Occurring simultaneously I’m also uploading and captioning photos of my cruise onto my Flickr site. Go to my Flickr Photostream to check them out. (The most recent photos are at the top.)
Going into this cruise I figured that I would really enjoy my day touring San Juan Puerto Rico (Day 4), and that I would really enjoy my fun day on a nearly empty ship while docked in port at Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas U.S.V.I. (Day 5). I didn’t really have high expectations of my day in the Dominican Republic (Day 3). But that’s why one shouldn’t “overthink” a cruise beforehand. I tend to do that sometimes. I figured that it would be my least favorite port-of-call of the 3 – for no particular reason other than the fact that it was the only non-U.S. port, and a first-time visit for me.
Fun Fact: This was my 2ND-ever visit to the Dominican Republic. My 1ST visit was a little over 10 years ago as part of an 8-day cruise on the Carnival Valor. That was at La Romana on the southeast coast. This 2ND visit was at Amber Cove on the north-central coast.
This port far-exceeded all expectations that I had for it. I pre-purchased a 3½-hour shore excursion (through Carnival) titled “Mountain Views & City Sights”. Sounds kind of vague – doesn’t it ? As it turns out – that was an appropriate title for the tour – that turned out to be nearly 5 hours.
Here’s how Carnival describes this tour on their web site:
“Take a scenic countryside drive in a safari truck through San Marcos Village and up to Puerto Plata’s highest mountain – Isabel De Torres. Follow the guide on a visit to the botanical gardens and see the famous Statue of Christ. Take in the amazing views of the surrounding area before heading back down the mountain. Explore the historical center of Puerta Plata including Plaza Independencia and enjoy a photo stop at the San Felipe Fortress before heading back to the pier.” (carnival.com)
That’s an excellent snapshot of my day. Our tour guide on the open-air safari truck was fantastic. He narrated nearly the entire time telling us all about this beautiful region (north-central coast) of his country. He clearly loves his job and his country. He was our tour guide on the various stops along the way as well, and he pretty much stayed with us the entire time from start to finish. There was no “handing-off” to another tour guide, or a “go check everything out and meet me back here in 45 minutes”. He led us everywhere. He told us about everything. He was one of the best tour guides I’ve encountered on any recent shore excursion. He was knowledgeable, friendly, and had a fun sense of humor. His catch phrase was “Hola ! Coca Cola !”. (It never got old. I smiled every time he said that.)
That tour – because of that tour guide – was one of the top highlights of my 7-day cruise.
4 days ago on #SundayScripture I posted a photo of El Cristo Redentor (Christ The Redeemer) – a statue that overlooks Puerto Plata – the country’s 3RD-largest city – from nearly 800 meters / 2,600 feet above sea level on Loma Isabel De Torres. Here’s what Christ is looking at – the beautiful city below:
Next #TravelThursday we’ll head over to Old San Juan Puerto Rico to check-out some fortresses. Let’s keep traveling together.
All rights reserved (c) 2023 Christopher M. Day, CountUp