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AJRimmer

Samana Port

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We are sailing to the eastern Caribbean on the Enchantment in Nov.

I hear a lot of mixed reviews about the Samana stop here on CC, some say to stay on the ship because its not safe and the locals are overly aggressive selling stuff while other say they enjoyed the port and would not miss it, while still others say it's only OK if you are on a RCCI planed excursion.

This being our first cruise should we be concerned about this port and skip it? If we go should we just go on a ship sponsored excursion or book a our own?

 

Thanks

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We had a very active roll call and for Samana many of us ended up booking with Terry. Terry's wife is from the DR and we went up to see her family's house and some property Terry owns next door. Next we did a souvenir stop - good rest rooms (a real problem in a place like the DR) and fixed prices that seemed reasonable. Among other things they showed how cigars were made and what you could do with a large cocoa bean. Very low key and no pressure to buy - it was interesting to see some of the native plants from the island. After that we went to the beach where we had a lovely lunch buffet and time to swim. On the way back we hiked into a waterfall and had another chance to swim. Each of us had a teenage helper for this. Terry was very up front about who to tip and how much. It was a lovely day.

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We did a whale watching tour with Terry in January. We had a great time and would go to Samana again. I am one that likes to make up my own mind about the different ports so I will always get off the ship the first time to the port.

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We took Terry's ATV excursion that included a beach lunch stop and trip to the waterfall. It was a great way to see the "real" DR, and we can recommend Terry as well. Have fun!

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My wife and I visited Samana on our recent RCI Enchantment of the Seas cruise. From what I’ve read in Cruise Critic, people either really like this port, or really dislike it. Count us in the former category. Of our four ports of call, this one offered the best opportunity to experience a foreign place in the short amount of time available.

 

We agree with those who’ve observed that this is one port where you really need to take an excursion in order to get anything out of Samana, as there really isn’t much to do on your own within walking distance of the tender port. There are excursions through the ship, but also a few others worth considering. We took our excursion through “Tour Samana with Terry” based on recommendations on Cruise Critic - as readers will note, three previous posters on this thread went with his tours. Our tour (#5 - "Low Impact") took us out into the countryside for some great scenery and contact with local residents. To get to El Valle beach on the other side of the Samana peninsula, we traveled for several miles along a rough, unpaved road (Terry's ATV tour travels to the same beach on this road via ATVs). On the return, we stopped to walk into the forest to see a waterfall and swim in the pool it created. Our hike was assisted by a number of locals whose help was needed to navigate rocky paths and sandbags across streams - we were happy to tip them a few dollars for their assistance.

 

With respect to Cayo Levantado - it's an island in the middle of the Samana Bay and from what I understand, it's basically just the beach that's there. In our case, the Samana stop was followed by Labadee, RCI's private beach resort, so we didn't feel any need to go to Cayo Levantado for the beach when there'd be one at our next stop. We were glad we took our tour and got to see more of the Dominican Republic than we would have otherwise.

 

In experiencing Samana, bear in mind that the Dominican Republic is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere and the port is not developed to the extent of the usual ports of call - a plus in our book. That may be intimidating to some; it helped us that I am reasonably fluent in Spanish and my wife speaks it to some degree, but our tour guide spoke fluent English and a number of the locals we encountered spoke at least a little English. We hear that RCI is dropping Samana from the Enchantment’s itineraries - a real loss, not only to RCI cruisers, but particularly to the Dominicans who benefit greatly from the tourism generated by ship visits.

 

With respect to the OP's concern about overly aggressive local salespeople - yeah, there were some, but that kind of behavior bothered us a lot more in downtown Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - our previous port of call - than it did at Samana.

 

I'm attaching a few of the photos we took from our Samana visit.

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Thanks everyone for all the input, this will help us for sure. I did look at Terry's site and we are considering that. As far as the Cayo beach goes with Labadee coming a day later I agree that may not be for us.

 

Has anyone done the Cave and Mangrove Exploration? We are considering that but would love to find out is it worth the money.

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AJ,

 

If you are interested in the ATV excursion, here's some info I posted after our trip in June 2010.

 

I believe that there were around 10 ATV's. We rode double, and that worked out fine. Taking some $1 bills is a good idea. We chose to ride one of the rickshaws (basically a motorcycle towing a small trailer with a seat and canopy), and wound up paying the driver $10 to take us from the arrival area at the dock to Terry's restaurant. It's not that far, but how often are you offered a ride in a rickshaw? We did walk back at the conclusion of the trip.

 

Our group assembled at Terry's restaurant, and after signing the required liability waivers and paying Terry, we went across the street and were given a brief overview of operating the ATV's by the tour guide, who was a cousin of Terry's wife. He was very personable, and spoke very good English, so communication was never a problem. From there we followed him on some roads that would not even qualify as jeep trails in the U.S. Eventually we wound up at the beach area, which had some primitive but adequate facilites. There you could purchase a Pina Colada for around $5, which was actually a fresh Pineapple that a local girl transformed into a pretty refreshing drink. This is where we were served a nice buffet lunch consisting of local dishes prepared on site. You also have time to take advantage of the beach, so you might want to dress appropriately for that. After lunch, you will be taken to a local village area where you dismount and hike a short distance to a nice waterfall. It's another opportunity to enjoy the water if you're so inclined. This is where the $1 bills may come in handy, as several local children will follow along on the hike, and assist you as you walk through some possibly slippery areas. We gave them a couple of dollars each afterwards, and they seemed to appreciate it. Before you get back on the ATV's, you have a few minutes to browse through some items they are selling at a small market area, and you can sample some of the local fruits and homebrew. You then return to Terry's restaurant, and he offered free beer or soft drinks. We walked back to the dock and stopped at a few of the shops along the way. I also decided to pick up a few Dominican pesos as a souvenir, so we briefly stopped at the local bank. All in all, it was a good way to spend the day in Samana.

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Has anyone done the Cave and Mangrove Exploration? We are considering that but would love to find out is it worth the money.

 

No, we didn't take that tour, but we considered it also and probably would have taken that tour if we had not taken our "Terry Tour". If we had time for a second tour at Samana, we would have taken this tour. While this trip seems to take you to sights worth seeing at Los Haitises National Park, but I don't think you would get the same feel for the country and its people as you would on a tour like the one we took, which goes out to the countryside and offers some interaction with the Dominicans.

 

"Worth the money"? Well, they all cost a bit, but I think it's comparable to the other tours. IMHO - seemed a decent value relative to the other tours offered by the cruise line. But not having actually taken that tour, I can't say any more about it.

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Thanks again, since I am a large man and have some minor but nagging knee issues the ATV might not be for me. We are looking at Terry's "low impact" tour. We'll see, maybe we could tag along with our fellow CC Roll callers we meet at our Meet and Mingle :)

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I too agree that "Tours with Terry" is the way to go.

We did the ATV tour and I rode on the back and my husband drove. It was the highlight of our cruise. Not because of the ATV but because we saw practically the whole island and it was the most undeveloped non touristy place that I've seen in the Caribbean....beautiful. Not to mention that Terry is awesome.

-Heather

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Thanks again, since I am a large man and have some minor but nagging knee issues the ATV might not be for me. We are looking at Terry's "low impact" tour. We'll see, maybe we could tag along with our fellow CC Roll callers we meet at our Meet and Mingle :)

 

R u going to be on the Nov 17 cruise from Baltimore?? If so, my 2 friends & I will be on this trip. I booked the low inpact tour (as we ladies have back & hip problems) with Terry after what I have read here & on his website. Have had some communication from him on his facebook site. He actually was born in a small town near me in PA. We can't wait to meet him. Also we r taking some small school supplies for him for local schools. I am thinking this will be the highlight of our 9 day cruise.

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Anyone know when the whale watching is? I'd love to see that, is it just in winter months?

 

 

I contacted Kim Beddall, from Whale Samana [kim.beddall at usa.net] who said that the whale season is January 15 through March 15, with the the peak being in mid-February. Other times during the winter months you might get lucky and see one but I doubt it.

 

There are whale watching boat tours that cost about $55 per person, either through the cruise line or from looking on-line which is how I found Kim although I haven't been on her tour yet.

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I contacted Kim Beddall, from Whale Samana [kim.beddall at usa.net] who said that the whale season is January 15 through March 15, with the the peak being in mid-February. Other times during the winter months you might get lucky and see one but I doubt it.

 

There are whale watching boat tours that cost about $55 per person, either through the cruise line or from looking on-line which is how I found Kim although I haven't been on her tour yet.

 

Thanks, this is good to know. I would luv to go in Feb & see the whales..........

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