The Dominican Republic A Journey of Discovery & Exploration
Photos by Dave Pattison | Amber Cove, a development located in a remote area of the Dominican Republic’s northern coast.

The Dominican Republic A Journey of Discovery & Exploration

Global Traveler

Dave Pattison

The visit to Puerto Plata concluded with some refreshing coconut water.

A cruise to a remote and newly developed tourist area of the Dominican Republic provided a unique and unexpected visit to a largely undiscovered and unexplored area of this historic country.

We stayed four days in the newly developed port of Amber Cove, which engaged us in the newly designed “impact” activities with local residents or visits to historic areas visited by Columbus in 1492 and briefly settled by him in 1493. It is the only week-long cruise to the Caribbean that stops in just one place and engages in people-to-people exchanges.

We sailed on the Fathom line’s 704-passenger ship, Adonia, sponsored by Carnival Cruise. Unfortunately, the Adonia was leased from a British line and its lease has expired and will be returned to its owner. It remains to be seen if Carnival will continue its special and unique “impact” program in the future.

As indicated, the Adonia docked for four days at the brand-new development called Amber Cove in a remote cove along the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, which is an area of 60 miles of turquoise coastline backed by lush mountain areas. In 2015, Travel and Leisure magazine named this area as one of the best places to travel. Amber Cove is filled with the usual number of modern gift and craft shops, which, in my opinion, takes away from the natural beauty of the site.

The “impact” activities sponsored by the ship in cooperation with local residents cover a wide area of villages and towns. These activities include English conversation and learning in local homes and community centers; planting and cultivating cacao trees for a chocolate factory; creating handicrafts from locally recycled paper; reforestation and nursery help, including planting seedlings and trees; production of ceramic water filters; and even mixing and laying concrete to cover dirt floors in local homes. These activities to improve the economic health of communities have inspired many people to return here on the ship to participate again in these chores of accomplishment.

While here I took a trip to visit the ruins and site where Columbus established the first settlement in the Americas in 1493, following his first visit there in his voyage of 1492. There is very little left to see in the place called La Isabela, but it is still an inspiration to walk on the ground where the first Spanish lived in the new world. There is a replica ruin of the house lived in by Columbus, overlooking the sea. There were also foundations of homes in which the first settlers lived. A museum onsite showed how the native Taino people lived before Columbus arrived.

Next, I took a trip to explore Caribbean culture by visiting the Spanish colonial city of Puerto Plata, which has Victorian-style architecture. We also toured the San Felipe Fortress, built in 1564 to protect the city from pirates. In Puerto Plata we stopped at the Plaza Independence and adjacent Felipe Cathedral. The square has a huge gazebo in its center, and several colonial buildings and streets nearby. We ended our visit with a taste of tropical coconut water.

My voyage on the Adonia was certainly the most unusual and unique voyage I have ever taken. I hope Carnival is able to continue its special “impact” program.

Dave Pattison has lived in Marco Island since 1999. He has traveled to every continent and over 100 countries, and still takes five-six trips annually. Dave is a well respected travel writer, winning first place in a Florida Press Association contest. Dave was a lawyer/lobbyist for the insurance industry, and had worked in the White House for four years before retiring. A widower, Dave has four adult children and five grandchildren.

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