Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise ship company, announced Wednesday an $85 million expansion at the Dominican Republic’s Amber Cove port, marking the biggest single cruise industry investment ever made in the Caribbean nation.
Beginning in October 2015, six of Carnival Corporations nine cruise brands will call on Amber Cove, located on the Dominican Republic’s northern Amber Coast and not regularly visited on cruise itineraries since the 1980s. It’s opening will mean expanded itinerary options for passengers in the Caribbean, the world’s largest cruising region, and Carnival says that the port’s is also strategically located to be incorporated into itineraries featuring potential stops in Cuba.
The new $85 million facility, which is a joint project between Carnival Corporation and the Rannik family of Grupo B&R, will feature a two-berth port able to accommodate the largest cruise vessels in operation today. The facility is expected to host more than 250,000 cruise passengers in its first year of operation, creating approximately 430 local jobs.
“The construction of the cruise port at Amber Cove has been an incredible project for our entire country, as well as the Caribbean region as a whole,” said Francisco Javier, tourism director of the Dominican Republic. “Carnival Corporation’s investment in Amber Cove has already proven beneficial to the economy, and we expect the investment to have a positive long-lasting economic impact. The new port will also give cruise passengers an opportunity to see another part of the Dominican Republic, our Amber Coast, which hasn’t been available as part of cruise itineraries in nearly 30 years. This is a very exciting development.”
The port will open with a visit from Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Victory on October 6, 2015. Following the inaugural visit, five additional Carnival Corporation brands are scheduled to make calls on Amber Cove — including Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 on November 22, P&O Cruises’ (UK) Azura on December 5, AIDA Cruises’ AIDAvita on December 11, Costa Cruises’ Costa Deliziosa on December 31 and Holland America Line’s ms Eurodam on January 19.
Additional ships from the company’s brands are scheduled to call on the port in late 2015 and through 2016 including Carnival Cruise Line’s Fantasy, Splendor, Valor, Sunshine, Conquest and Breeze and Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam. These visits will consist of 57 calls by 13 different ships across the six brands taking place between October 2015 and April 2016, accounting for more than 155,000 guests during this period.
“There are several markets that are becoming increasingly important to the cruise industry, but today the Caribbean is the single largest share of our business,” said Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation. “We are constantly looking for new ways for our guests to enjoy their cruise experience, and it is always exciting to add new destinations to our itineraries, especially in the Caribbean where many of our passengers have been before. We are confident that our guests will love visiting Amber Cove, which we believe will quickly become a very popular port of call for our guests. And because Amber Cove is easily accessible, it will give our guests a convenient gateway to the Puerto Plata region, which is spectacular. And importantly, Amber Cove will allow us to offer our guests a new option in our Caribbean itineraries.”
Carnival notes that Amber Cove is located just outside the historical town of Puerto Plata, which was discovered by Christopher Columbus in the 1490s and was recently named by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the “Best Places to Travel in 2015.”
In addition to the two berths, the facility will also feature a waterfront welcome center, a variety of retail and food and beverage options, a transportation hub, and an extensive shore excursion program.