Amber Cove is Carnival Corp.'s new private port destination in the Dominican Republic. This place is an impressive destination that serves as a new entryway to explore the Caribbean country's gorgeous and unspoiled north coast. But it's also noteworthy in that it's unlike the other private beaches cruise lines have built, mainly on remote island locations like in the Bahamas -- Castaway Cay, Half Moon Cay and Perfect Day at CoCoCay, for examples.
Don't get me wrong. Those places are perfectly gorgeous spots for a day of relaxation in the sun or playing in the waters. But Amber Cove, which opened in October 2015, offers all of that and so much more to cruisers who arrive on Carnival Corp. ships. Amber Cove will receive visits from passengers arriving on ships from seven lines: Carnival Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises and Cunard.
I went to Amber Cove on Fathom Travel's inaugural voyage. Fathom sails to the Dominican Republic to bring passengers who want to combine their vacations with time spent helping community members. This "social impact travel" or "cruising with a purpose" mission is new in the cruise industry, and you'll see Fathom's presence at Amber Cove (like at the reforestation nursery or Fathom Impact Center) if you want to learn more when you visit with other cruise ships. (Note: The Fathom brand is no longer in existence. It was a wonderful idea from Carnival that never really took off.)
The port overall will please any type of traveler, though. Amber Cove, which can receive two ships at a time, is connected to the mainland allowing passengers to stay and play all day at the secure and secluded resort area or venture inland for excursions. You'll probably find a way to do both. The port is located just outside Puerto Plata's historical downtown area, and dozens of active excursions and sightseeing options are available, such as beach getaways, kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, catamaran rides, waterfall hikes, horseback riding and museum tours.
However, if you want to just hang around Amber Cove, I found five things that you'll love to do when you book a cruise that includes a stop in Amber Cove.
3. The Waterslide. This is free and faster and longer than you might initially think as you pull yourself into the chute. Wheeeee! This also has two side-by-side choices, so you can race (who's not at least a little competitive?).
5. The Bars. I already mentioned the swimup bar, and if you can drag yourself out of the pool, you might settle in for a drink at one of the other attractive watering holes at Amber Cove. The property has two Coco Cana bar/restaurants. One is right next to the pool (it operates the swimup bar, too) and the other is past the shopping area at the opposite end of Amber Cove. Take a stroll out to this CoCo Cana location to get the perfect photo of your ship at the pier (Carnival smartly placed a funky Amber Cove sign there to help create your postcard shots). Around sunset, head up the hill to SkyBar -- up past the water slide entry and zip-line start. In fact, if you start your day up there settled at the inviting star-shaped wooden bar, you might never want to head back down.
Amber Cove offers a cafe with great Wi-Fi (just grab a coffee and surf the Internet for free) and two bar/restaurants. You also can rent cabanas for a little pampering and privacy (choose overwater cabanas or those tucked on the hillside by the pool). Unlike cruise line private islands you might have visited before, there is no included barbecue lunch, and you have to pay with cash or credit card for purchases (your seapass will not work).