I’ve been on over 20 cruises, and over that time, I’ve visited numerous Caribbean, Bahamian, American, and Canadian ports. But up until recently, I’d never had a cruise stop in the Dominican Republic. So, when I booked my most recent Virgin Voyages cruise, I was excited to stop at the Puerto Plata cruise terminal on our Dominican Daze itinerary. Our cruise shopped at the new port in the area – the Taino Bay Port.
While I was only there for a day, I found Puerto Plata to be absolutely beautiful with delicious food and great people. I definitely want to return to spend more time in the areas I quickly saw.
Disclosure: I paid for my own trip and excursion in Puerto Plata. This post contains affiliate links and a purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.
Essential Guide to the Puerto Plata Cruise Terminal
Location of Puerto Plata
Puerto Plata is located on the northern Atlantic Coast of the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola (which is shared with Haiti). It’s west of Puerto Rico and south of Turks and Caicos.
The third largest city in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Plata is located about 5 hours from the country’s capital Santo Domingo, and is on the north coast.
Unlike Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic is not a US territory. Therefore, passports are required if you are flying in. You’ll need to check directly with your cruise line to see what form of ID they require. I always cruise with my passport just in case I have a medical emergency and need to be evacuated.
The Dominican Republic is in the Caribbean hurricane belt. If you are cruising during hurricane season, you’ll want to keep an eye on the forecast. There’s always a risk your cruise will be re-routed due to a storm.
If booking Puerto Plata excursions during your cruise, it’s a good idea to book them through the cruise line. That way, if they are canceled, you’ll be reimbursed.
Taino Bay Puerto Plata
Taino Bay Cruise Port is the newest cruise port I’ve ever visited – opening in December 2021. It was originally the Puerto Plata cargo port and is located right in the center of the action. Many, but not all, of the cruise ships visiting Puerto Plata dock at the Taino Bay cruise port.
If you don’t want to book an excursion or leave the cruise port area, there’s still plenty to do right there. In fact, I’d recommend booking a later or early-ending cruise excursion so you have some time to explore the cruise port before sailing away.
Amenities and Activities at Taino Bay
Here’s some of what you’ll find right in the cruise port. Cruise travelers can spend the day in the Puerto Plata cruise port if you’d prefer not to leave.
A huge pool/lazy river: This is free for guests and a great option to cool off if you want to leave the ship but don’t plan to do a shore excursion in Puerto Plata. Some of the cruise staff on our ship were raving about the lazy river, but we didn’t have a chance to try it.
Shops: Want to do some souvenir shopping in Puerto Plata? The Puerto Plata cruise port offers several specialty shops including jewelry stores (where you’ll find Larimar, exclusive to the Dominican Republic), duty-free shops, souvenir shops, and clothing shops. These are all relatively small, but there’s a good selection of them.
Experiences: There are six aviaries scattered throughout the port. Exotic birds, including Macaw Parrots and the native Amazona Ventralis, can be found in these aviaries.
There’s also Monkey Island, located right in the port. In this hands-on experience, you can interact with and feed adorable squirrel monkeys. This is something you are typically able to just walk up to – you won’t need to book an excursion because you won’t be leaving the port.
Restaurants: If you’d like to get food and drinks off the ship, you won’t have to walk very far. There are several restaurants and bars in the Taino Bay cruise port, including a mojito bar, a rum bar, a coffee shop, and a Mexican restaurant.
WiFi, restrooms, and a last-minute excursion desk are also available at the Puerto Plata cruise port.
Things to See in Puerto Plata
Want to explore beyond the cruise port? There are lots of great things to see and do in Puerto Plata. Highlights include:
The Umbrella Street: An adorable, Instagram-friendly street with colorful umbrellas hanging above. In addition to being a great photo opportunity, there are shops and restaurants along the street.
Paseo Dona Blanca (Pink Street): Within walking distance of the umbrella street is the Paseo Dona Blanca (also known as the pink street). This is also an Instagram-friendly street that is entirely bright pink, with different installations that are great photo backdrops. Both Umbrella Street and the Pink Street are an easy walk from Central Park (Independence Square).
Macorix House of Rum: If you love rum, you’ll want to do the tour and tasting at the Macorix House of Rum. It includes a movie about rum making, a walk through the barrels, and a tasting of a bunch of different rum flavors. There’s also a gift shop where you can purchase your favorites at a great price.
Fortaleza San Felipe: As you sail into the Taino Bay cruise port, you’ll see the Fortaleza San Felipe, a historic Spanish fortress.
Ocean World Adventure Park: An ocean park offering animal encounters, a beach, a restaurant, and more, Ocean World Adventure Park is a popular destination for cruise ship passengers.
Puerto Plata Cable Car: If you want to see beautiful views of Puerto Plata from above, visit the Puerto Plata Cable Car. The ride will take you up to Mount Isabel de Torres, a National Park.
Playa Dorada: Want to visit the beach during your day in Puerto Plata? Playa Dorada (the golden beach), is a great option. This is the area where many of the Puerto Plata resorts are located.
Damajagua Waterfalls: This park, which is best via by cruise ship passengers via an excursion, offers 27 waterfalls (although excursions typically include visits to 12). You’ll be able to swim, jump, and more. Here’s one excursion that is well-rated.
Dominican Amber Museum: Puerto Plata is well-known for its beautiful amber. If you want to see it up close, you can visit the Puerto Plata Amber Museum.
Puerto Plata Shore Excursions
You’ll have lots of options for excursions in Puerto Plata if you decide to leave your cruise ship. Excursions will vary by availability and cruise line, but here are some options listed below.
Keep in mind that if you book an independent excursion not through the cruise line, it’s your responsibility to make sure you get back to the ship on time. If you book the excursion through your cruise line, they will be responsible for making sure you get back.
Food Tour: During my most recent Virgin Voyages cruise, we did a Puerto Plata tasting tour that I would highly recommend. We started at the Macorix House of Rum, where we were able to taste multiple varieties of rum.
We then headed to three popular restaurants – La Skina Restaurant, Mares Restaurant, and Casita Azul, to try some location cuisine. Before going back to the port, we stopped at the Pink Street and the Umbrella Street. It was led by a local guide and was an official cruise ship excursion.
Ziplining: Looking for a little more adventure? Some excursions go to the Wild Play Adventure Park where you’ll be able to zipline over the ocean and enjoy some time at the beach.
Beach Day: Want to visit the beach? One excursion on our sailing was to Coconut Cove Beach where sailors had the opportunity to enjoy drinks, lunch, and time at the beach. There was also a separate excursion to Fricolandia Beach Club.
Damajagua Waterfalls: There were a number of different excursions to Damajagua Waterfalls. One includes ziplining, swimming, sliding, and a ride in a buggy. There’s also one that includes off-roading.
You’ll probably find a number of other excursions during your visit to Puerto Plata. Think about the type of experience you’d want to have and find a well-reviewed excursion that fits. If you aren’t sure, a guided city tour of Puerto Plata is always a good idea so you can get an overview of the area.
Amber Cove Puerto Plata Port
I mentioned above that many cruise ships dock at the new-ish Taino Bay cruise port. However, there are more than one cruise ship terminals – some ships dock at the Amber Cove cruise port. Opened in 2015, the Amber Cove cruise center was developed privately by Carnival Cruise Line.
Amber Cove is sort of a combination between a port and a private destination. There’s lots to do within the port, including a water park area, shopping, watersports, and more. Excursions are also an option, if you’d like to explore beyond the Amber Cove cruise port immediate area.
Frequently Asked Questions
During our food tour, we had the opportunity to try bandera dominicana (translated to Dominican Flag), a dish that includes fried plantains, rice and beans, chicken, and some fruit. We also had a delicious soup with rice.
Popular drinks include the local mamajuana – a drink made with rum, honey, and wine, as well as local rum.
The Dominican Republic uses the Dominican Peso. US dollars are typically accepted, which makes it easy for a quick cruise port stop. Credit cards are accepted in some locations.