Cabanas at the Amber Cove cruise port in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Inside the Dominican Republic’s Amber Cove Cruise Port

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Although the swirling blue slides aren’t visible the exact moment you step off the ship at Amber Cove cruise port, they could be. Instead, what you see are the brightly-colored cabanas tantalizingly balanced on the wooden walkway over the ocean. If you’re not sure what to expect from your day (or longer) in the port of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, Amber Cove will warm you up. 

Water slides at Amber Cove Dominican Republic cruise port
Dueling water slides

About Amber Cove Port

Amber Cove cruise port is the exclusive port for Carnival Corporation’s lines, including Holland America, Princess, and Carnival. (I first visited on the now-defunct Fathom line.) Opened in late 2015, the $85 million port is located near Puerto Plata on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.

Although the port itself doesn’t have a beach, there are lot of options for on-site activities, and it is close to great beaches and other attractions.

Things to do in Amber Cove

The Dominican Republic port has many things that are typical of a cruise port in the Caribbean, but there are also lots of activities and offerings that set it apart, making Amber Cove a destination itself.

It’s not usually my style to hang out at the port when I take cruises. Usually I’m off exploring local beaches, scuba diving, or snorkeling. But sometimes you need a balance between adventure and relaxation, and Amber Cove is great for that. Here’s a look at some of the things you can do in the comfort of the cove.

Waterfall at Amber Cove Puerto Plata
The waterfall greets you as you enter the port from the ship

Explore the port

The port area is large, so there’s a lot to see. There are palm trees, man-made waterfalls, waterside hammocks, and fountains. In the main plaza, you’ll find giant colorful masks with descriptions explaining their significance.

The huge Amber Cove sign—conveniently positioned with your ship in the background—is a great place for taking photos. Afterward, get your passport stamped at a kiosk in the center of the port.

Shop

The shops at Amber Cove are open when the ships are in port. There is, of course, a Diamonds International (this is obligatory at every port, right?) and a full complement of souvenir shops. There is every kind of duty-free rum you could hope for, with free tastings available.

The most unique shopping opportunity at the port is the artisan market. You’ll find a variety of local products, including food items like chocolate, handmade recycled paper, jewelry, and more. Because the products are truly local, purchases here help to support the local economy beyond the port.

Relaxing poolside is one of the fun Amber Cove things to do
There is plenty of room to relax poolside
The swim-up bar at Coco Cana in Dominican Republic Amber Cove
The swim-up bar at Coco Cana

Hang out at the pool

The winding pool (numerous lifeguards included) occupies a large section of the Amber Cove cruise port. It twists and turns at different depths that are perfect whether you want the wading area for children or the deeper area that becomes a swim up bar at the Coco Cana. And what’s not to love about a swim up bar? Plus, there’s a sea of pristine, blue lounge chairs just waiting for guests.

Splash down the slides

Just next to the pool area are those alluring, swirling slides. The side-by-side tubes allow you to race your friends to the bottom and provide just as much (if not more) fun for adults as for kids.

The Amber Cove zipline at the Puerto Plata port
Zip lining above the Amber Cove cruise port

Soar above it all on the zip lines

If you’re looking for something even more active, clip onto the twin zip lines that run above the pool. For just $20, you can speed down them an unlimited number of times.

Try out a new activity

Nearby, you can rent pretty much any kind of equipment you need to make your day more enjoyable. Kayaks ($19-46) and stand up paddleboards ($20-32) can help you explore the bay adjacent to the port. For something different, try out an aquaboat cycle—like a cross between and paddle boat and a bicycle.

Grab a drink

Yes, there’s Coco Cana in the pool area, but there are other options if you want to get away from some of the crowds. The aptly-name Sky Bar at the top of the hill is a great place to watch the sunset, or you can head to El Cibao Café for coffee. At El Cibao, you can learn about coffee production in the Dominican Republic and sample the different varieties.

Information center at Amber Cove in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
The information center, modeled after a building in downtown Puerto Plata
Enjoying the children's play area by the pool is one of the fun things to do in Amber Cove
Children’s play area by the pool

Exploring Beyond Amber Cove

As much fun as the cruise port is, there is lots of natural beauty to see in the surrounding area. Consider booking a tour or venturing out on your own.

Dominican Republic excursions and tours

These tours are solid options for how to spend a day in port.

My favorite activity during my visit to the Puerto Plata area was a trip to Playa Dorada. This half-day trip will ensure you get in some quality beach time.

If you want time in the water plus a bit more adventure, check out this visit to a local waterfall. To take your activity level up yet another notch, consider this 4×4 ATV adventure.

Puerto Plata is an area rich in culture. This three-hour tour will take you to the malecon, have you visit a local rum factory, and see gorgeous mountaintop views.

Relaxing on Playa Dorada is one of the best activities in the Dominican Republic
Relaxing on Playa Dorada on an excursion

See the island on your own schedule

Those that are looking for adventure beyond the Amber Cove port just need to walk in, turn left, and head out near the back of the port complex. That’s where you’ll find the National/Alamo car rental counter if you’re feeling like exploring the island on your own.

If you’re looking for something between a planned shore excursion and a sporty day driving yourself in the Dominican Republic, the taxi stand can help you have a day in town, take a trip to the 27 waterfalls attraction, or do any of the other things to do on the island. Be aware that the taxis are pricey compared to those at other Caribbean ports, so you may want to gather a group.

Giant carnival masks on display in the Amber Cove Carnival port
Giant carnival masks on display in the cruise port

Amber Cove sign at the cruise port in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic


Do you have a favorite spot in the Caribbean?

Amber Cove cruise port in the Dominican Republic goes beyond the typical port. It offers a huge pool - complete with water slides - plus a zip line, kayaking, and more.

20 thoughts on “Inside the Dominican Republic’s Amber Cove Cruise Port”

  1. If you’re arriving on a Princess ship, is there any charge for using the pool area? Also, with the swim up bar and such, how does one pay for drinks? I.e. is it local currency, or can you charge to your cabin.

    1. Only ships from Carnival Corporation use Amber Cove. Princess would be included in that, so I doubt you’d have any extra charges to use the pools. I don’t believe you can charge to your cabin, though, because the businesses are individually owned. I just used a credit card.

        1. Yes. As far as I know, the problems are being reported at a couple of resorts (often specific to the alcohol there) that are 5+ hours away from Amber Cove/Puerto Plata in Punta Cana.

  2. Virginia Altmiller

    Amber Cove is beautiful. I loved it there when we visited in April 2016. My husband & I chose the excursion to swim with the Dolphins. So we went to Ocean World. The park was beautiful. It was so clean and well kept. It was not crowded at all. We got to see the excellent bird show. We were getting ready to see the sea lion show when it was our turn to swim with dolphins. I will admit at first I was very scared to get in the water and our group instructor/trainer (not sure his title) was so nice and understanding. Finally I just jumped in. It was the greatest experience of my life. My husband even loved it and had a great time. It was honestly amazing. An experience I know I will never forget. It was well worth the money it cost. There is 2 different dolphin excursions…1 is an interaction with the dolphins you do get in the water with them but you do not actually swim with them. the 2nd you do a lot more interacting with the dolphins and you actually get to swim with them I believe this one is $40 more… it is well worth it. I absolutely do not regret choosing this excursion however I would of loved to have seen more of the Dominican Republic…it looked beautiful. I am planning on taking another cruise with Amber Cove being a stop just because I want to explore this place. I am extremely excited about this I can not wait to see everything the island has to offer.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Virginia. We’re glad you enjoyed the experience in Puerto Plata. It’s a great place with many different things to do. We would strongly encourage visitors to steer clear of activities that involve interacting with animals in captivity.

      1. Amber cove in July 2017 .. I wanted too know if i rent a cabana the one near the pool do it included all drinks or that’s on our own we pay for our drinks and food or you know a place that I purchase tickets etc.. That comes included with all .. We are taking a cruise on carnival .. I seen it in the excursion on carnival that we can rent a cabana but it doesn’t say it comes with drinks and food included

        1. I think sodas and water may be included, but I would assume most food and drinks are an additional expense. I didn’t get a cabana, though, so I cannot say for sure.

    1. I haven’t been at that time of year, so I can’t say for sure, but I would imagine they would be up by then.

    1. I’ve been to the DR in December and April and know someone who went to the pool in Amber Cove just last week. Considering the number of cruises that visit Amber Cove in the Christmas and New Years time frame, I would imagine it should be pretty comfortable. Have a great time!

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