For the Perfect Voyage: Private Isles and Ports
Travel ▶ Cruise lines spend big to avoid the dirt and beggars of real ports ▶ Vacationers “want the Caribbean as they imagine it to be”
The Dominican Republic is replete with natural beauty and island culture. But passengers disembarking from Carnival’s ships at the cruise line’s massive Amber Cove complex on the nation’s northern coast can ride zip lines, shop for locally grown coffee in a replica Victorian village, or chill out in a thatched-roof hut on the water— without leaving the fenced-in property. Rather than exploring the country, Pierre Maloka, a software engineer from Weehawken, N. J., whose voyage on the Queen Mary 2 last November included a stop there, spent the day by Amber Cove’s pool, entertained by a merengue band and Dominican dancers. Explains Maloka: “You’re lying in the sun, getting drinks and food. What’s not to like?”
Amber Cove, which opened in October, is the latest of several private ports being built in the Caribbean by cruise operators. The lines like the facilities, because they can market them as exclusive destinations and keep much of the revenue from souvenirs, piña coladas, and paddle board rentals. Carnival expects more than 350,000 guests to disembark this year at Amber Cove, one of its six similar facilities in the Caribbean. Guests can still leave the compounds, either on prearranged excursions—many sold by Carnival—or in taxis that wait just beyond the gates.