- Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo Port of Call
Los Haitises Park © Anton Bielousov
Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the Americas and for cruise passengers an essential and fascinating stopover on any north Caribbean cruise. The chief highlight is the Colonial Zone which combines 15th century buildings with modern restaurants and shops. Santo Domingo is a large city, but has wonderful parks and waterfront areas to break up the urban development.
The beaches are decent, and the people very welcoming, helping to ensure cruise passengers have a memorable experience of the Dominican Republic's capital and largest port. The Port of Santo Domingo has two main terminals for cruise passengers. The Sans Souci cruise terminal opened in 2009, part of an overall $1 billion port expansion project, while Don Diego terminal also serves passengers. Cruise ships generally dock at San Diego Quay, which is only a few minutes walk from the old town.
Ministry of Tourism
Taxis await passengers at the cruise terminal. Negotiate a fare before departing, and seek advice on pricing from your cruise concierge. Local transport such as buses and motorcycle taxis should be avoided. The Colonial Zone can easily be accessed on foot from the cruise terminal.
The Old Town is fabulous, steeped in five centuries of history, and containing many original buildings, such as the Catedral Santa María La Menor, the first cathedral in the Americas. The Calle de Las Damas is a cobbled street that Christopher Columbus once walked upon, while the Alcazar of Columbus is a castle built by his son Diego, after whom the main cruise quay is named. Don't miss the amber museum in Puerto Plata and the wonderful gardens of Plaza de la Cultura. The Malecon is a charming boulevard on the waterfront where locals and visitors stroll and relax.
Pat E Palo - this brasserie has been operating since 1505!
Meson D'Bari - sensational fish and stewed goat, a national delicacy
Meson de La Cava - the city's best loved restaurant in an underground cave
Sancocho, the national soup
Go to the open-air Mercado Modelo for a great range of collectibles, crafts and basic commodities. Puerto Plata is the area for quality art, carvings and jewellery. For more upscale shopping, including stylish boutiques, head to Las Atarazanas.
Amber jewellery, cigars, pottery
Escape to the stunning resort of Boca Chica, 30 minutes' drive down the coast
Visit the National Botanical Gardens on the city outskirts
Take a tour to Los Haitises National Park