Because there are so many cruise ships sailing these days, the cruise lines have been looking for more places to stop. And because cruise passengers like to spend money in ports, more and more countries have been trying to attract cruise ships. In some cases, ports are being “invented” where there haven’t previously been cruise ports. Often, these ports are being developed in conjunction with, and most likely significant investment from, the major cruise lines. One of these is Puerto Plata, in the Dominican Republic.
We visited the Dominican Republic once previously, on a Carnival ship that docked in Amber Cove, which is another recently developed port just up the coast from Puerto Plata. Amber Cove is frequented by ships in the Carnival family, namely Carnival, Princess and Holland America. We did an island tour on that cruise, so we had seen most of what we wanted to see. Highlight for me was a visit to the Brugal rum distillery, but since I can buy their products at home, we didn’t think a follow up visit was needed. 😉
The port area in Puerto Plata is called Taino Bay, and it contains the requisite spending opportunities. Taino Bay is still in the development stages, but there are plenty of shops, many of which offer locally made crafts and other wares. We picked up a couple of souvenirs, but mostly used it as a way to get off the ship, stretch our legs and take a few photos.
What I enjoyed most about Puerto Plata was that the shop owners and workers were very polite. They seemed happy to see us and were not pushy or aggressive like in other ports. It was a welcome change, and I hope it stays that way!
San Juan, Puerto Rico is our favorite cruise ship destination, and for many reasons. We love walking around Old San Juan and have discovered a number of interesting nooks and crannies, some fun shops with local wares, as well as a few restaurants to get some local cuisine.
But the highlight of any visit to San Juan is sailing past Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Also referred to simply as El Morro (The Promontory), it is a citadel (or fortress) built between 16th and 18th centuries at the entrance of San Juan harbor.
Most sailings from Florida arrive in San Juan in the late morning or early afternoon, as it is often the first port and it takes a couple of days to sail there. As it happened on this most recent visit, our 7am arrival coincided with sunrise, and I just happened to be up early enough to hit the outside decks in time. I was rewarded with a fabulous sunrise and wonderful early light on the buildings of the city.
We spent some time off the ship and walking around, and I’ll highlight those photos in another post or two.
We were sitting at breakfast one morning, waiting for our food. I was looking up at the dining room ceiling and decided to take a few pictures. A really nice man at the table next to me turned and asked, “could I see what you were taking pictures of?” I showed him the screen on my camera, and I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was something like “fascinating” or “interesting” or “excuse me I need to go now.” Just kidding about the last one. 😉
At first this will sound absurd, but Kathy & I are currently in Ocala, FL watching the wind and rain from Tropical Storm Nicole. Why the heck would we do that? No, we’re not auditioning for a spot on The Weather Channel!
Kathy & I are heading out of Port Tampa this Friday (tomorrow as I write this) for a cruise. Our original plan called for us to drive to Ocala Thursday (today), then on to Tampa – a 1.5 hour drive – tomorrow. Once we saw the forecast for Nicole, we decided to come down a day early, knowing that there wouldn’t be a lot we could do.
Our drive down was uneventful. We didn’t see a drop of rain the whole way, although it did start to get a little breezy. We got out for dinner last evening and even managed a bit of a walk. This morning we got out for breakfast between rain bands and before the wind got too strong, and we are now watching rain blow against our balcony door. But it is supposed to blow through in time for us to get out to dinner later.
Our drive to Tampa in the morning should see the weather improving and the skies beginning to clear. And away we’ll go!
My pictures may not prove it, but we were at Biltmore about a week early for peak fall color. I had to “help” the color a bit in processing to make them look as fallish as they do, but they still give a pretty good idea of what things looked like.
Last week’s blast of cold air and accompanying winds discouraged any thoughts I had of getting out early and took care of our bold plans for a picnic or two. But we still managed to find some nice color on a couple of days.
I’ve got more photos to share and will work on them over the next few days.
Kathy & I are at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC celebrating our 42nd anniversary. I’ve been joking that this is quite an upgrade from our honeymoon in Gatlinburg, TN. 😉
We did an early morning guided house tour on Monday and have a few days of exploring planned, including taking in their Leonardo Davinci exhibit on Wednesday. I’ve taken a few photos so far, including this one of the Biltmore House from The Lagoon, a spot along the French Broad River.