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Question about Samana

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i have read some pretty bad reviews about Samana. We will be going on the Gem in April with the last port of call being Samana. Can anyone who has recently been there tell me if the ship docks and you can get off and walk anywhere or does the ship tender in and if so is there anything in the immediate area to see and do. I have decided not to do an excursion from all the bad reviews i have read online. It is making me nervous. Thanks everyone.

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Samana is a tender port and the scenery is very beautiful. However, we've been there twice and stayed on the ship both times. There are some good excursions but nothing we were interested in, so we opted for relaxing days on the ship. We have been told it's safest to go on to shore via an NCL excursion as Samana is very poor and can be dangerous. But, I'm sure some experienced CC posters can give you better info than me. One tidbit about Samana - on our second cruise two passengers were left behind as a result of missing the last tender. Oops. Not a good place to miss the tender.

 

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We found Samana a beautiful country with some of the friendliest people anywhere! Everywhere we went they smiled or waved.:)

We had an ATV tour with Terry,it was one of the best excursions we have ever done.Go to the ports of call boards and look him up.You won't go wrong doing anything with him.

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We did the Caves & Mangroves tour through NCL and thought it was great. It even rained on us during the boat ride but it was still fun. We learned a lot from the tour guide and the cave exploration was great. For the third part of the excursion, they dropped us at the private beach and then we could tender back to the ship whenever we wanted.

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Your loss for not doing an excursion! It's beautiful. That being said, we never do ship excursions. We joined an excursion with others on our roll call. There's an American that lives there - Terry Banda - and he does great excursions. We did the horseback to a waterfall, toured a typical Samana house, stopped at a school to deliver school supplies and ate a great local lunch. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

 

If you do just walk around the port, you will be disappointed, but at the same time, you didn't see Samana. Same thing goes with most ports. Many people hate Costa Maya - but they stayed in the shopping mall area built for the cruise ships. We always take a taxi into Mahahaul and have a great beach day.

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Your loss for not doing an excursion! It's beautiful. That being said, we never do ship excursions. We joined an excursion with others on our roll call. There's an American that lives there - Terry Banda - and he does great excursions. We did the horseback to a waterfall, toured a typical Samana house, stopped at a school to deliver school supplies and ate a great local lunch. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

 

Is this the Terry you're recommending? http://www.toursamanawithterry.com/

 

Just trying to do my homework! :)

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OP, I share your concerns, but I did my research and I am comfortable booking with terry. We're planning to do the zip line tour. Google terry samana and you'll find him.

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If you stay on the ship in Samana, you will never know what an amazingly beautiful place you've missed, nor how delightful the residents are.

 

Look up Terry, book something, and go experience an incredible place! :D

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We went on the zip line tour with terry and had a great time. It was one of the best zip lines we had been on in the Caribbean. We had a really nice local lunch and got to see a lot of the town. While it is a very poor area I agree that the people were very friendly. I highly recommend doing a tour with terry.

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If you stay on the ship in Samana, you will never know what an amazingly beautiful place you've missed, nor how delightful the residents are.

 

Look up Terry, book something, and go experience an incredible place! :D

Totally,completely 100% agree!

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I'm really looking forward to Samana next month. Glad to know there won't be a Senior Frog mere steps from the cruise dock.

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Your loss for not doing an excursion! It's beautiful. That being said, we never do ship excursions. We joined an excursion with others on our roll call. There's an American that lives there - Terry Banda - and he does great excursions. We did the horseback to a waterfall, toured a typical Samana house, stopped at a school to deliver school supplies and ate a great local lunch. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

 

If you do just walk around the port, you will be disappointed, but at the same time, you didn't see Samana. Same thing goes with most ports. Many people hate Costa Maya - but they stayed in the shopping mall area built for the cruise ships. We always take a taxi into Mahahaul and have a great beach day.

 

I absolutely agree. We've been to Samana twice, saw the beauty of that area from the boat and never went ashore, which I now regret. Since then we've become very good at researching ports of call and if we ever make it to Samana again we'll definitely be going ashore. To the original OP- it is very beautiful and as I originally hoped, you've gotten some comforting advise from more experienced cruisers than yours' truly. Don't make our mistake, find a good excursion, and enjoy Samana!

 

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Thanks so much everyone. Your input was very important to me and has eased my fears. Will look into an excursion now with "Terry". Thanks again :)

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Another vote for Terry & any of his tours.....Absolutely loved Samana...would like to go in Feb for the whale tours. We had the best luncheon, cooked by locals, on a beach...The Presidente beer was good also! You won't be dissapointed....

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The first time we stopped at Samana, we didn't get off the boat as we had the same concerns as you. This last time (march 2012) we did a well researched Tour with Terry - touring the island, waterfall, a local garden with exotic fruits etc, a great home made lunch by a beautiful beach....My kids and I rate it as the highlight of our Carribean trip because we did so much. Our guide was wonderful and Terry has everything very well organized. All those on CC who were on our trip who booked with Terry were not disappointed no matter what tour they booked. Highly recommended.

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Here are links to pictures of from Tour Samana with Terry's zip line tour from my cruise on the Gem 12/13 which included refreshments (beer/soda/water) and a traditional lunch at the Playa del Valle beach (no swimming or lifeguard). It was fantastic. We do travel through some poor neighborhoods on the way to the zip line park but always felt safe and the locals friendly.

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1754684&page=5

Edited by kylenyc

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We did the 9 day cruise on the Gem to Samana over Christmas. 12/22/12 - 12/31/12. The only thing I can say is that we had a horseback riding tour booked with Terry, and the morning of the tour I told my son, lets stay on the boat because of me reading that Samana was such a poor Country & there was nothing to see. He talked me into still going. OMG........I have kicked myself in the behind several times thinking that I almost passed up one of the best times in my life that I had experienced. What an amazing beautiful place Samana is. Yes !!!!!!!! it is poor... but the people are happy and friendly and ready to greet you. I was so overwhelmed with such a great time that as soon as I returned home on New Years Eve, I booked it again for next year..........Kudo's to you Terry (Tom was our guide) for showing us such a great time.............Go.......I hope you come back with the fond memeries we did !!!!!!!!1

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I thank everyone on this thread who has reassured people that it's safe to get off the ship in the DR. Dear Heaven, what have the Dominican people done that makes people so afraid? I don't get this at all. I've been traveling there for 25 years, on the back roads and the local buses, and never met with any harm. Yes, they will try to scam you or do a deal on you, but most Dominicans will never harm you, rob you, or bash you over the head and run away with your purse. Yes, they have a few criminals in their population, but no more than you do, wherever you come from, no matter how small your town.

 

Why are you so afraid? Didn't you travel to learn about people who don't look like you and don't live like you do? Good job Terry, whoever he is. But he's not the only guy who can take you safely off the ship. You can even go off the ship by yourself. They're not going to hurt you, honest....

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I thank everyone on this thread who has reassured people that it's safe to get off the ship in the DR. Dear Heaven, what have the Dominican people done that makes people so afraid? I don't get this at all. I've been traveling there for 25 years, on the back roads and the local buses, and never met with any harm. Yes, they will try to scam you or do a deal on you, but most Dominicans will never harm you, rob you, or bash you over the head and run away with your purse. Yes, they have a few criminals in their population, but no more than you do, wherever you come from, no matter how small your town.

 

Why are you so afraid? Didn't you travel to learn about people who don't look like you and don't live like you do? Good job Terry, whoever he is. But he's not the only guy who can take you safely off the ship. You can even go off the ship by yourself. They're not going to hurt you, honest....

 

Because in your own words, from another thread, the D.R. is a 3rd world country, in your own words from another thread. I don't have the benefit of your years of experience in the country, I'm only there for a day trip. I'm not comfortable with the idea of exploring on my own in the D.R. for the day. Thus the desire to go with a trusted guide, like Terry. Maybe you should research him. He's an American who came to the DR to do volunteer work and married a dominican and settled in the country. Now he takes tourists to see the countryside and culture and he employs several local people. He encourages tourists to bring school supplies and sports equipment to give to local residents.

 

http://www.toursamanawithterry.com/

 

He might not be the only person who can take you around Samana, but he's the one who my research turned up, and he's got loads of positive reviews on tripadvisor, so that's who I decided to go with.

Edited by dwjoe

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Is this the Terry you're recommending? http://www.toursamanawithterry.com/

 

Just trying to do my homework! :)

 

Yes! He's the one.

 

We were in Samana last week (1/10/13) on Terry's Low Impact tour #5. Terry is from Pittsburgh. He went there to do some volunteer work and ended up staying.

 

It was fabulous day. We had the best guide - Elijah stopped at private homes where they had a cottage industry and picked up goodies for us to try - coconut bread and coconut chocolate spread. Delicious.

 

Among other things, we went to a cigar factory, stopped at a gift shop, had lunch on El Valle (a beautiful beach), a trip through the countryside on a safari truck, a walk to a beautiful waterfall where you could take a swim, a stop at another home (cottage industry) where we tried hot chocolate, bananas and chocolate and other treats.

 

One of our group had to use the restroom and he stopped and someone's house and asked if she could use the facilities. Can you imagine that happening in the US???? Yes, the the facilities were primitive but still.......

 

We booked at the last minute and I am so glad we did. It was the best excursion of the trip.

 

It is true that the country is very poor but I never, never felt unsafe and the people were absolutely among the friendliest that I ever met.

 

I wish we had taken a box of school supplies to drop off at one of the schools that we passed. I will definitely do that on my next trip. We booked at the absolute last minute (the day before we left) and I wish I had planned a little better.

 

One more thing I wanted to add. My sister was along on our cruise and she had read terrible things about Samana so she would only do a ship's tour. I respect that but...... she did the ship's tour and went to a five star hotel and had lunch.

 

Who do you think had a better taste of the country?

Edited by MS52

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Yes! He's the one.

 

We were in Samana last week (1/10/13) on Terry's Low Impact tour #5. Terry is from Pittsburgh. He went there to do some volunteer work and ended up staying.

 

 

I just booked the same tour for our visit to Samana on the GEM in March.

 

Question for you...

 

I had read that the portion of the tour in the truck is terribly bumpy. Is that true? In your opinion, would it be too much stress on a person with mild back problems? After booking, I got a little nervous, as one of our party had recent surgery and perhaps the bouncing around would be too much on the healing bones?

 

What to you think? I could always cancel if the roads are too bad....

 

Thank You!

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dwjoe, I was not criticizing you or Terry. It sounds like he is doing a great job, and in fact, I thanked you for reassuring people that it's safe to get off the ship. Please don't take offense.

 

The fact is, however, that signing up with Terry is not the only safe option. I felt this thread was giving that impression. It's not - people can just get off the ship and do it for themselves with no more danger than anywhere else. Being a "third world" country does not make a place unsafe or its people dangerous.

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Yes! He's the one.

One more thing I wanted to add. My sister was along on our cruise and she had read terrible things about Samana so she would only do a ship's tour. I respect that but...... she did the ship's tour and went to a five star hotel and had lunch.

 

Who do you think had a better taste of the country?

Good for you! and you absolutely had a more genuine experience. I believe the hotels do this deliberately. They want to keep all the tourists corralled inside their walls, spending their money at the hotel. One way they do this is by letting on that it's not safe outside their compound.

 

When I stay in a hotel in the DR I'm aghast at what the gift shop charges for Dominican rum and coffee - outrageous markup. You can get exactly the same items at a local grocery store for about half the price. Many of the hotels are not Dominican-owned, so that huge markup doesn't stay in the country or do the people any good.

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Yes! He's the one.

 

We were in Samana last week (1/10/13) on Terry's Low Impact tour #5. Terry is from Pittsburgh. He went there to do some volunteer work and ended up staying.

 

It was fabulous day. We had the best guide - Elijah stopped at private homes where they had a cottage industry and picked up goodies for us to try - coconut bread and coconut chocolate spread. Delicious.

 

Among other things, we went to a cigar factory, stopped at a gift shop, had lunch on El Valle (a beautiful beach), a trip through the countryside on a safari truck, a walk to a beautiful waterfall where you could take a swim, a stop at another home (cottage industry) where we tried hot chocolate, bananas and chocolate and other treats.

 

One of our group had to use the restroom and he stopped and someone's house and asked if she could use the facilities. Can you imagine that happening in the US???? Yes, the the facilities were primitive but still.......

 

We booked at the last minute and I am so glad we did. It was the best excursion of the trip.

 

It is true that the country is very poor but I never, never felt unsafe and the people were absolutely among the friendliest that I ever met.

 

I wish we had taken a box of school supplies to drop off at one of the schools that we passed. I will definitely do that on my next trip. We booked at the absolute last minute (the day before we left) and I wish I had planned a little better.

 

One more thing I wanted to add. My sister was along on our cruise and she had read terrible things about Samana so she would only do a ship's tour. I respect that but...... she did the ship's tour and went to a five star hotel and had lunch.

 

Who do you think had a better taste of the country?

 

Great review, How far was the walk? Was there shade at the beach? Can't be in the direct sun, will that be a problem?

 

Thanks

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