Welcome Aboard:  Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Friday, April 15, 2022

Our First Post-Covid Cruise

After setting sail from Fort Lauderdale…

…we spent a day at sea churning the Caribbean enroute to the island of Hispaniola.  It was enjoyable just being onboard as we settled into our cabin; explored the ship; and discovered what the Celebrity Millennium had to offer.  We found a unique and charming dining venue called La Petit Chef in the specialty restaurant, Qsine.  We’ll tell you all about this entertaining dining experience in a future posting.

But for now, let’s explore Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic: 

The island of Hispaniola is the most populous in the West Indies.  Comprised of French-speaking Haiti and Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic, it is one of two islands in the Caribbean with divided sovereignty (the other is French Sint Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten, which we will later visit on this cruise.)  In 1492, this was the third island to capture the attention of Christopher Columbus.  The native Taino population welcomed the explorers as they hoped these Spaniards would provide protection from the constantly invading Caribs.  Suspecting that gold could be found on the island, Columbus was willing to explore further.  When his flagship, the Santa Maria ran aground and sank in the bay on December 24, 1492, he set up a small, fortified colony, La Navidad, on the north coast and left 21 crewmen behind to await his return.  And return he did.  In November 1493, Columbus brought 1300 men to Hispaniola intending to establish a permanent settlement.  What he found was a devastated encampment where his men had been slaughtered.  He set up a new settlement in La Isabela where he directed the search for gold and waged a war of revenge against the tribal chief, Caonabo, who had invaded La Navidad.

Hispaniola is the most populated island in the West Indies and the second largest in land area after the island of Cuba (south of Florida and west of Hispaniola.) (Dominican Republic Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unreported)

And so, the Colonial Era began…

Hispaniola flourished. Imperial rule with its class and caste lines, cruel and exploitative economy, brutal and authoritarian society, took hold.  But the mines produced precious metals; the land supplied crops. The oldest cathedral, monastery, university, and hospital in the Americas were established on Hispaniola.  The history of the New World is fascinating and worthy of deeper study. 

But hey, this is a travel blog!!!  For the sake of brevity, here is my take on the issue:                

The history of all the islands follows a pattern.  The native inhabitants battle with each other as well as other-island inhabitants; then the explorers come; trade ensues; economic prosperity brings more strife.  The pirates come.  The sugar, salt and spice plantations bring slavery; then the desire for freedom and equality prevails; treaties are signed; some succeed; some fail.  And the modern-day tourist arrives.

Here we are!!!

Sailing into Puerto Plata presents a lovely welcome…
…this is the Fortaleza San Felipe fortification. Constructed in 1564, its original function was not to welcome the visitor but to repel pirates!
As our ship approached the dock, we noticed the lighthouse. Built in 1879 by the New York firm, R. Deeley & Co., it stands alongside the city walls and the Filipe Fortress. One of the few cast iron lighthouses in the Americas, it’s noted for its height.
Also visible on the sail-in is the Cathedral of St. Philip the Apostle (Puerto Plata Cathedral.) It was constructed in 1870 to replace the original wooden structure demolished in 1863 during the Dominican War of Restoration.
Currently, not all of the sail-in presents a lovely view. There is a lot of construction taking place as new tourist-oriented venues go up for the entertainment of cruise passengers. This appears to be an extension of the Taino Bay complex.
The complex extends around the bay. Notice the beach and resort on the right. And take a look at the new construction taking place on the left.
Then notice those hat-like roofs. They are a replication of the ancient Taino architecture!!!
Constructed at the foot of the dock, this is a shopping, dining and entertainment venue. Similar, I imagine, to Amber Cove which was purpose-built for Carnival cruisers.
The walk to the foot of the dock is lengthy, but there are cute little transports for hire at the gangway.
Once in the complex…
…you will find dining….
…lots of dining…
…more dining and drinking…
…some relaxation with WiFi…
…shopping…
…more shopping…
…and lots of really cute critters!!!
When the day is done, it’s easy to find the exit.
And return to the ship.
As we sail away, we watch Pico Isabel de Torres, the 2600′ high mountain within the city of Puerto Plata, slip from view.

Our next Port-of-Call is San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Join us next as we continue Our First Post-Covid Cruise!!!

2 thoughts on “Welcome Aboard:  Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic”

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