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ZoeyVictoria

Puerto Plata City Sights & Beach Stop

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Has anyone taken this relatively new Carnival excursion?  I was hesitant to take a tour with no reviews, but now there are two good reviews on the Carnival website and I had a 15% excursion code plus a 10% discount for using my Carnival Master Card.  Brought the total down to less than taking a taxi on my own.  

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Hi @ZoeyVictoria, Did you end up going on this excursion? I have it reserved for our large group, and I'm a little hesitant about the few number of reviews. The reviews are good, though. I would love to hear your opinion.

Edited by browntownten

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Our cruise is this coming Saturday, December 16, so we will be taking the excursion on the 20th.  I will let you know once we return.

 

Oddly enough, I checked just this morning to see if additional reviews have been added - no, just the original two.

Edited by ZoeyVictoria

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Thank you so much!! I would really love to hear details. I feel responsible for the big group I've signed up for it: ) 

Hope your cruise is wonderful! We leave Dec. 29.

Edited by browntownten

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On 12/16/2018 at 1:57 PM, browntownten said:

Thank you so much!! I would really love to hear details. I feel responsible for the big group I've signed up for it: ) 

Hope your cruise is wonderful! We leave Dec. 29.

 

We had a great time on the cruise, thanks!  I am not sure what to tell you about this excursion.  The itinerary and ages/interests of your group will make a difference here.  For perspective, we are 66- and 70-year-old Florida retirees who are not sedentary but no longer looking for action-filled adventures on cruises.

 

We had a glitch caused by our failure to take a watch upon leaving for the excursion; we asked the RCI employee just before the gangway what time it was and he told us that the time listed on our excursion tickets was local time vs. ship time, and we had missed our tour.  That was NOT correct; the time on the ticket is ship time.  The ticket said to meet "at the end of the pier", it turned out that the meeting places are on the other side of the building you enter at the end of the pier.  The different excursions were clearly marked, and we had no problem meeting with the group and proceeding to the bus area.  All of the busses were brand new when Amber Cove opened and are in good shape, with working a/c and speakers to hear the tour guide.  The large group was split onto two busses and ours was not full (we were in the back with an empty row between us and the people in front of us, and there were about three empty rows behind us).  The tour guide was personable and knowledgeable, unfortunately he had a very heavy accent and we could not understand him without a lot of effort and concentration, so we heard almost nothing of what he said.   The best part of the tour for us was the drive; we enjoyed seeing the buildings (structures might be a better word), the people, and the vehicles.  We enjoyed it in spite of not understanding what the guide was saying.  Eventually we stopped at a town square, and while we couldn't understand the information provided, it was enjoyable to be there -  with the exception of the very aggressive local street vendors.  We then proceeded as a group to a gift shop.  The shop had the usual made-in-China souvenirs as well as some nice hand-crafted items.  Normally I avoid tours because I hate the mandatory shopping stop, but I found an item that I had been looking for in Florida for six months, for $12, so I was happy this time.  It was impossible to just wait for the group outside the shop because of the street vendors.  The part that made me uncomfortable was the fact that the guide spent a long time standing 10-12 feet away from the checkout area, observing transactions; at first I thought that he was just making sure that nobody on our bus was left in the line, but it seemed that he was interested in what was being purchased (possible kickbacks?).

 

There were no parking spots for busses, so each time we stopped the bus left and then picked us up when the tour guide called the driver.  We left the gift shop and proceeded to the beach resort.  Here is where I don't know what to say because I am unaware of your itinerary and group's interests.

 

For us, the beach resort was just okay.  There was a large group of vendors between the street and the beach that we had to walk through, with tables of the same made-in-China souvenirs; there was also a security guard displaying a billie club.  We weren't interested in the bar and restaurant areas, so I have only photos to show you (including menus). We each received a cup of non-alcoholic punch, the  loungers were free and umbrellas just $5.  Unfortunately, the resort has the same sargassum problem as so many other areas this year.  There were a group of 4-5 employees raking up the sargassum, but within twenty minutes that location was covered again.  There were few children there, and only 5-6 adults were in the water at any given time.  I didn't see any groups who were doing a lot of drinking or eating, and there just wasn't much of an atmosphere of "fun" that I could detect - it was very quiet where we were.  I spent about fifteen minutes walking in the water, but it was cooler than I prefer (and cooler than Half Moon Cay and Grand Turk) so I did not spend a great deal of time just floating around like I usually do.  There were several people on the beach with large exotic birds and a tiny little monkey; you could hold the animals or take photos for a fee.  The tour guide walked around and told each of us when we needed to gather for the ride back.  We were given ten minutes to shop on the way to the bus, but nobody ventured into the group of very aggressive vendors until the last possible moment.

 

I think the reason I was not impressed with the beach resort is that this was our fourth port day in a row, and we had already been to Nassau, Half Moon Cay, and Grand Turk.  Half Moon Cay and Grand Turk are hard acts to follow; if Amber Cove is your first beach stop, you will probably enjoy the excursion.  If your group enjoys each other's company and makes their own fun, you will probably enjoy the excursion.  If there are a lot of children in your group, I think they might have a better time at the pool area in Amber Cove.  I know that this is not what you were hoping to hear, but I hope it is helpful to you.  My suggestion to you would be to make sure the others know what to expect, and possibly split up into groups that will allow kids and teenagers to just enjoy the port area.  I hope you will report back and let us know what you think.  In any case, I am sure you are going to have a great cruise!

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Edited by ZoeyVictoria

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On 12/26/2018 at 3:01 PM, ZoeyVictoria said:

 

We had a great time on the cruise, thanks!  I am not sure what to tell you about this excursion.  The itinerary and ages/interests of your group will make a difference here.  For perspective, we are 66- and 70-year-old Florida retirees who are not sedentary but no longer looking for action-filled adventures on cruises.

 

I know this is a couple of months old, but thank you for posting your review!

 

I'm looking at the same excursion through Carnival but there are only 3 reviews (2 great and 1 just ok).  I wonder if multiple cruise lines use the same vendors for excursions.  Also, do you know the name of the beach you went to? 

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2 minutes ago, Eggs And Bacon said:

 

I know this is a couple of months old, but thank you for posting your review!

 

I'm looking at the same excursion through Carnival but there are only 3 reviews (2 great and 1 just ok).  I wonder if multiple cruise lines use the same vendors for excursions.  Also, do you know the name of the beach you went to? 

 

Oops, I know I said RCI in my last post, but we were on Carnival Conquest, sorry.  So, yes, it is the same excursion.  I couldn’t understand the name of the beach resort because of the tour guide’s accent, but look at my last photo - I think it says “Brugal LaCarihuela”.

 

I think the enjoyment of that particular beach will depend upon your past experience; if you lived in Naples, Florida for years as I did, or have been to some of the really nice ones (think Half Moon Cay), you will not be as impressed as if you are relatively new to beach resorts.

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We really had a great time on this excursion. We were a huge group with a wide age range. It was a great and inexpensive way for my big family to get to see a real town in Dominican Republic. Also, loved the beach. It was a locals beach (Long Beach I think) with a restaurant/ bar/ chairs. Vendors came around offering braids and massages. We saw Mt. Isabel from a distance. It was a nice sampling. 

Most of all we loved our tour guide Chucky. He was a great person and loved talking about his country and the amazing people of the DR.

Hope this helps. 

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24 minutes ago, ZoeyVictoria said:

 

Oops, I know I said RCI in my last post, but we were on Carnival Conquest, sorry.  So, yes, it is the same excursion.  I couldn’t understand the name of the beach resort because of the tour guide’s accent, but look at my last photo - I think it says “Brugal LaCarihuela”.

 

I think the enjoyment of that particular beach will depend upon your past experience; if you lived in Naples, Florida for years as I did, or have been to some of the really nice ones (think Half Moon Cay), you will not be as impressed as if you are relatively new to beach resorts.

 

Thank you! It looks like Casa Rita Beach or Long Beach depending on where they stop. 

 

We are beach fanatics and love the crystal clear water and white sand the most, but are happy with water. Was the water calm enough to get in? I know you mentioned it being a bit cool, but we will be there in the month of May, so it should be warmer. 

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2 minutes ago, Eggs And Bacon said:

 

Thank you! It looks like Casa Rita Beach or Long Beach depending on where they stop. 

 

We are beach fanatics and love the crystal clear water and white sand the most, but are happy with water. Was the water calm enough to get in? I know you mentioned it being a bit cool, but we will be there in the month of May, so it should be warmer. 

 

There were some waves, but possibly because of the time of year. We had been to Half Moon Cay and Grand Turk the two previous days, so by the third day I wasn’t as interested in the beach as I usually am.  I remember the water was very shallow, in the fifth photo you can see two women out a bit who are only thigh-deep.  I am hoping @browntownten can help you with your question.

 

I think I was not extremely impressed with this tour because I have been taking taxis rather than tours for many cruises and prefer to go off on my own rather than on an organized tour.  Just something a little different for me.

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43 minutes ago, ZoeyVictoria said:

 

There were some waves, but possibly because of the time of year. We had been to Half Moon Cay and Grand Turk the two previous days, so by the third day I wasn’t as interested in the beach as I usually am.  I remember the water was very shallow, in the fifth photo you can see two women out a bit who are only thigh-deep.  I am hoping @browntownten can help you with your question.

 

I think I was not extremely impressed with this tour because I have been taking taxis rather than tours for many cruises and prefer to go off on my own rather than on an organized tour.  Just something a little different for me.

 

Honestly, this is what I'm worried about.  We prefer to just grab a cab and do things on our own.  On our last cruise, we only booked 1 excursion through Carnival (Puerto Rico because we had never been, we wanted to do the beach, and I got the impression that it needed to be done through the ship for safety reasons - which we have a stop there this cruise as well and we will be doing it on our own this time).  But that 1 excursion through Carnival was horrible.  Literally the entire bus of people were sitting in chairs for the last hour or so waiting on it to come back.  One couple even grabbed a cab and headed back to port earlier.  We thought about it, but the hotel we had been dropped off at warned against it so we just waited. Being stuck with a hungry 4 year old, no food even though it was supposed to be available for purchase, the ocean so dark and full of rocks that my husband cut his foot as he tried to wade out, and the pool frigid made for a miserable trip for us (and apparently everyone else too).  I just don't want a repeat of that, but now with 2 kids!

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1 minute ago, Eggs And Bacon said:

 

Honestly, this is what I'm worried about.  We prefer to just grab a cab and do things on our own.  On our last cruise, we only booked 1 excursion through Carnival (Puerto Rico because we had never been, we wanted to do the beach, and I got the impression that it needed to be done through the ship for safety reasons - which we have a stop there this cruise as well and we will be doing it on our own this time).  But that 1 excursion through Carnival was horrible.  Literally the entire bus of people were sitting in chairs for the last hour or so waiting on it to come back.  One couple even grabbed a cab and headed back to port earlier.  We thought about it, but the hotel we had been dropped off at warned against it so we just waited. Being stuck with a hungry 4 year old, no food even though it was supposed to be available for purchase, the ocean so dark and full of rocks that my husband cut his foot as he tried to wade out, and the pool frigid made for a miserable trip for us (and apparently everyone else too).  I just don't want a repeat of that, but now with 2 kids!

 

My honest opinion is that you should make some other plans.  I don’t think a 4-year-old would enjoy the somewhat long bus ride, the town square, or the crowded gift shop (for a length of time that is out of your control), and certainly not the pushy vendors.  I just don’t think the beach is nice enough to balance that.  We took the tour because my relatively new SO had not cruised before we met.  His first snorkeling experience was in Grand Cayman when the excursion probably should have been canceled because the water was really too rough that day, and now he doesn’t want to go on snorkeling trips.  I have been on a snorkeling excursion in Puerto Plata and just loved it.  This excursion was a compromise, and we would not do it again.  I can understand having a good time as part of a large group, but for a couple or small family, I don’t really recommend it.

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