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Loonbeam

Port and Tour Review - Amber Cove DR - Marysol Tours - May 2018

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Date: May 2018

Ship: Carnival Magic

Tour Operator: Marysol Tours

Tour: #2 - Puerta Plata City Private Tour with Cable Car Add On ($50pp) - All entries included

 

Weather: Hot and Humid

Time In Port:9-4

 

 

 

The first thing to be aware of is that private tours (i.e. not via the cruise line) are not allowed to pick up guests inside the port area. To get to the pickup point you need to walk through the shopping complex, up the long driveway, out to the highway, left past the parking lot to the pickup point. Takes a good 15 minutes and its a hot walk. Dropoff is same in reverse. It's manageable but definitely worth noting especially for people with limited mobility.

 

 

Even with that, I still would highly recommend doing a private tour. Ours was $100 and we had a private van, guide and driver for just the two of us! While they have a set itinerary they will customize where applicable (for example, we had no interest in the Cigar factory so our guide switched in the new chocolate factory instead.

 

 

Tour:

 

 

Our guide was waiting with a sign when we arrived. We hopped into an air conditioned van, were offered cold water or soda and off we went (worth noting, the van was also equipped with umbrellas, which we did not need)

 

 

First stop was the cable car, to beat the crowds. The Cable car is an add on when booking and worth it for the view (see below). On the way up and down, we were either one of a few or the only people in our car, we heard the cars were PACKED later. Also, the clouds sometimes come in later as well. At the top, we briefly explored the gardens located up there, took pictures with the statue (tip the local photographer that takes staged photos - I actually did not have cash in pocket at time and felt bad). We then went down and into the city.

 

 

The city tour includes a touristy shopping stop (which actually had some actual handmade crafts at reasonable prices in addition to the usual stuff, the Brugal Rum plant, Cigar or Chocolate plant (we chose chocolate. Very good chocolate). The Amber museum, city center, fort, and the church.

 

 

A couple of notes about stops:

 

 

The chocolate tour is somewhat basic. They offer a sample of their brownies and chocolate, followed by a short presentation of the ingredients used, then a video of how the product is sourced and processed. You don't go into production rooms but can see into some of them if operating. Then you go to the gift shop, where more samples are offered in the temp controlled chocolate room. Their chocolate is produced bean to bar in the DR and is really well made, no preservatives or shelf stabilizers either. And its very reasonably priced, less than Hershey's in most cases. I strongly recommend picking some up. Worth noting - they do make rum infused chocolate with the Brugal rum.

 

 

 

The rum tour is also interesting, especially when compared to the bigger and smaller facilities we have seen on other islands. Brugal is a family business and the guide takes you through the production process in a series of rooms, offers a tasting and shows the bottling facility - before exiting in the shop (they did not have small bottles or we would have picked some up). Their rum is some pretty potent stuff.

 

 

The Amber museum is free entry and they will give you a 5 minute walking tour, worth doing. There is a tip box at the exit, plus you exit through the jewelry shop. Prior research indicated that while they probably were not the cheapest for purchasing either local blue amber or the local stone known as Larimar, they are reasonable and we bought some small pieces. One very nice touch. Our guide knew EVERYBODY. The ring we wanted was not available in the right size, they offered to resize it and have someone deliver it to us at a later stop. Our guide trusted them so we did and they delivered, the gentleman brought the ring to us at the fort.

 

 

 

Audio tour is included at the fort, the players have seen better days, make sure yours works before leaving the gatehouse (rental included). There is also a memorial there and some nice beach views. Make sure your guide shows you the weed (no, not that kind of weed). Vendors here were VERY pushy, but guide kept most of them off us, and their products were crappy compared to the other store and the jewelry store.

 

 

All in all, we'd be happy to go back to the DR. Mobility permitting, I would like to do the Falls if we docked in Amber Cove again, and I would use Marysol again.

 

 

One final note, as we were heading back to the ship, the owner of the company called us (on the guides phone) to thank us for using his company and make sure everything was good. That's never happened before and I thought it was a nice touch.

 

 

Photos:

 

 

View on way UP to cable car. You are going to that little speck at the top.

 

 

Carnival%20Disney%20May%202-3-X3.jpg

 

 

Amber at Amber Museum:

 

 

 

Carnival%20Disney%20May%202-55-X3.jpg

 

 

View from Fort:

 

 

Carnival%20Disney%20May%202-73-X3.jpg

 

 

Why to go on cable car early:

 

 

Carnival%20Disney%20May%202-138-X3.jpg

 

 

As always, happy to answer any questions...

 

Oh almost forgot - link to all trip photos:

Edited by Loonbeam
Forgot photo link

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Thank you so much for this review, we are looking to book with this company in October.

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Honestly, other than the hike to get to them (not their fault), I can't say a negative thing...

 

Thank you so much for this review, we are looking to book with this company in October.

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Loonbeam, do you know if you can take the pedicabs from the pier to where the guide will pick you up? We would love to take the tour, but my mom can't walk much and the 15 minute walk you describe would be too much for her. We are not fans of ship tours but will have to take their offering otherwise. I'm happy to tip the pedicab guy to make it worth his while, but was not sure if they were allowed to leave the port.

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Unfortunately not - the pedicab service only runs from gangway to the duty free/security building at the end of the pier. They can't go past it. I asked too.

 

 

The only thing I can think of is if a wheelchair is available basically push her to the pickup point. There is one small hill grade but otherwise pretty doable and the curbs have cuts at least until you get to the port entrance. I would also reach out to Marysol and see if they have any suggestions, I am sure it has come up.

 

 

Loonbeam, do you know if you can take the pedicabs from the pier to where the guide will pick you up? We would love to take the tour, but my mom can't walk much and the 15 minute walk you describe would be too much for her. We are not fans of ship tours but will have to take their offering otherwise. I'm happy to tip the pedicab guy to make it worth his while, but was not sure if they were allowed to leave the port.

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Thanks so much for your reply. Yes, I will reach out to Marysol for sure to ask them.

 

As a backup - several people mentioned they just got a taxi at the port and you can ask for an English speaking driver to take you around the island, cable car, etc for 3-4 hours. Do you know if these taxis are available just outside the port, i.e. close to where the peducabs drop you off?

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You would still have to walk through the duty free and the shopping area - see the map below. It's not current, as pre-arranged tours cannot pick up at point 9, but the taxis were somewhere at the end of number 9. The tour pickup is up that road to the left, then down the road about 1 block. The pedicabs only go to the portside entrance of building 1.

 

Theoretically you could also take a taxi to the pickup point I guess.

 

 

1936-d681725e284.jpg

Thanks so much for your reply. Yes, I will reach out to Marysol for sure to ask them.

 

As a backup - several people mentioned they just got a taxi at the port and you can ask for an English speaking driver to take you around the island, cable car, etc for 3-4 hours. Do you know if these taxis are available just outside the port, i.e. close to where the peducabs drop you off?

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Thanks again Loonbeam. And thanks for posting the map. Looking at the map, would you estimate about 10 minutes slow walk to the taxis or would you think it would be longer?

 

Im a little annoyed that Carnival which has developed this port, doesn't seem to have given much thought to people with reduced mobility. It's one thing if it's a very old port as those as harder to retroactively upgrade, but for a new port they should be keeping the changing demographics of cruisers in mind.

 

Thanks so much for your help and making the port layout so much more clear.

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10 mins to the taxis should be fine. We were not pushing it at all and made it from ship to pickup point in 20 with a pedicab assist. And I agree, it's poorly designed and very obviously designed to steer you to their shops and pool area etc by making everything else too difficult.

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Please excuse my ignorance. but what is a Pedicab? I ask as my DH and I are planning to take a Marisol tour in November. While he is not in a wheelchair, he does have limited stamina, especially in such hot weather. I am wondering if a pedicab could help him make the long walk in more comfort, thus saving him some energy for the rest of the trip. And, how far will a pedicab take you?

Overall, how long would you say the tour with cable car and the city tour will take? Do you remember what time you met up? Thanks for any assistance and advice you can give.

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A pedicab is exactly what it sounds like, think a bicycle with a little 2 seater cart with a cover attached, they pick you up outside the gangway and take you to the entrance to the duty free shop (which is also the port entrance). It's a hot 4-7 min walk otherwise. That is as far as they can go, you will still need to walk through the shopping area, up the driveway and down the road a bit. As I noted, took about 15 mins at a moderate pace with a little bit of hills. There's a map in this thread that shows you. The reality is, unless you want to take a ship tour, or an ad hoc taxi tour, this is what you have to do because of the way they set the port.

 

 

We met at 9 I think or there abouts? The tour ran about 5 hours plus for us, but that can vary based on line for the cable car if any, how much time you spend shopping, which shop tours you take (chocolate versus cigar, etc) and we were not pushing it, plus we spent a decent amount of time in the Amber museum and the fort area. The driver and guide will work with you (and I am still shocked we had a private driver AND guide for what we paid for 2 people. The service was top notch with these folks.

 

 

Please excuse my ignorance. but what is a Pedicab? I ask as my DH and I are planning to take a Marisol tour in November. While he is not in a wheelchair, he does have limited stamina, especially in such hot weather. I am wondering if a pedicab could help him make the long walk in more comfort, thus saving him some energy for the rest of the trip. And, how far will a pedicab take you?

Overall, how long would you say the tour with cable car and the city tour will take? Do you remember what time you met up? Thanks for any assistance and advice you can give.

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