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Cruises to Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo (Photo:e2dan/Shutterstock)
Santo Domingo (Photo:e2dan/Shutterstock)

About Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, takes up two-thirds of the eastern side of the island of Hispaniola; the rest of the island is shared with Haiti. Altogether, the D.R. is about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined, and it's rumored to be home to Christopher Columbus' tomb. The nation also is home to lots of Taino Indian history, among other things.

Located on the southern coast of the country, Santo Domingo is full of culture and, unfortunately, poverty, thanks to the decline in the production of sugar, one of the country's main exports. This region of the country probably isn't a place you'll want to navigate on your own. When you hear about violence, robberies and the like, this is one of the areas of the D.R. where they most often occur. Locals will bombard you with solicitations for everything from jewelry to windshield wipers, but you're likely to encounter plenty of nice and helpful folks, too. It's hot there, and the main streets in tourist areas are clean, but if you venture to other areas of the city, you might find it a bit ... unkempt, albeit colorful.

Ships dock at the Sansouci pier, about a five-minute drive to the Zona Colonial or Colonial City, which dates to 1498, when it was founded by Bartholomew Columbus, Christopher Columbus' brother. It's also a 10-minute drive to the lighthouse and tomb of Christopher Columbus; a 15-minute drive to Mirador del Este, a park that houses the limestone cave of Los Tres Ojos (the three eyes); a 30-minute drive to Boca Chica, a beach town that's a great place to interact with locals and sample their cuisine; and a 90-minute drive to Casa de Campo, a tourist resort in La Romana, where you'll find the famous Teeth of the Dog golf course and various other shore excursion options.

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56 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
St. Maarten
Visiting:
Antigua, Sopers Hole ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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DAY 1: Miami

30 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Port Antonio ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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DAY 1: Miami

7 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Port Antonio ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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DAY 1: Cozumel

11 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Cozumel
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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32 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Tortola, St. Maarten ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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74 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Santa Marta, San Blas Islands ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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33 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Buenos Aires
Visiting:
Santos, Ilhabela ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Half Moon Cay, Santo Domingo ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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21 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
St. Maarten
Visiting:
St. Barts, St. Kitts ...
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Cruise Line:
Seabourn Cruise Line
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19 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Colon
Visiting:
Bocas Del Toro, San Andres Island ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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18 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Cozumel
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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43 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Hamburg
Visiting:
Portsmouth, La Coruna ...
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Cruise Line:
AIDA
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22 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
New York
Visiting:
Hamilton, Port Canaveral ...
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11 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Guadeloupe
Visiting:
Catalina Island, Santo Domingo ...
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Cruise Line:
Costa Cruises
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18 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Guadeloupe
Visiting:
Catalina Island, Santo Domingo ...
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Cruise Line:
Costa Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
New York
Visiting:
Hamilton, Port Canaveral ...
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14 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
Charlotteville, Grenada ...
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Cruise Line:
Seabourn Cruise Line
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18 Night
Cruise to Santo Domingo

Leaving:
Guadeloupe
Visiting:
Scarborough, St. Vincent ...
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Cruise Line:
Costa Cruises
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Why go to Santo Domingo?

Pros:

You're only there for a few hours

Cons:

Few locals speak English, the downtown is dangerous and driving is a nightmare

Bottom Line:

Venture to Zona Colonial (the colonial zone), book a tour or stay on the ship

Santo Domingo Cruise Port Facilities?

Minor amenities (bathrooms, duty-free stores and Internet access) are located inside the cruise terminal, but there is nothing of interest in the immediate vicinity outside the terminal. The closest attractions are the Colonial City and Christopher Columbus' lighthouse tomb. They're all within walking distance, but hoofing it isn't recommended. Your best bet is to arrange a tour ahead of time, or hire a taxi. The latter won't set you back more than a few pesos. Note that tour operators and taxis are required to wait outside the port gates, which are guarded by tourist police.

Good to Know?

Crime, violence and gang activity are prevalent in Santo Domingo. Always be aware of your surroundings, stay in groups, and don't venture to unfamiliar parts of the city when not on an organized tour or with a reputable guide. As a general rule, leave all jewelry and valuables onboard in your cabin safe, and carry only as much cash as you think you'll need. We recommend a money belt to keep valuables safe while you're ashore.

Also, be sure to pack bug spray; you won't have much of a problem outdoors, but you might use some restroom facilities that don't have air-conditioning, making them perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes -- and they're vicious.

Getting Around?

On Foot: It's possible to walk, but it's not recommended, particularly if you don't know where you're going and don't speak Spanish. There is a lot of crime in Santo Domingo, and it's much safer to take other means of transportation.

By Taxi: This is the most economical option if you're staying within a half hour of the port. Be warned, however, that local drivers might not speak English, and it's best to agree on a roundtrip price before going anywhere. If you happen to snag an English-speaking cabbie, he or she can be a great resource if you'd like a tour of the area, information about its history or recommendations for sights that are worth seeing. Be aware that some taxis, known as "carros publicos" carry multiple passengers, and they usually aren't air-conditioned.

By Motochoncho: Say what? Enterprising locals with motorbikes will offer rides to anyone in need of transportation for very reasonable prices. However, this can be exceedingly dangerous because of their tendency to weave among larger vehicles and the aggressive habits of other drivers. It's also not the best method in inclement weather, and it's likely that you won't be provided with a helmet.

Via Public Transportation: Bus transportation is available, but, although inexpensive, local buses are often overcrowded, hot (no air-conditioning) and slow. An underground Metro system is also in place, and it's easy to use for first-timers, but there's only one line at this point, and you should really know where you're headed before using this option.

Renting a Car: We strongly discourage this. Driving conditions in Santo Domingo are horrendous. Motorbikes dart between cars incessantly, and the few traffic signals are generally ignored. Street signs are not in English, and it's extremely easy to get lost in the wrong part of town, where gang members will attempt to sell you kites and windshield wiper blades. (No, we're not kidding.) If you know where you're going and how to drive defensively and still want to give it a go, you can take a cab to Avis (517 Avenida George Washington, 809-535-7191), National (Avenida Independencia Esq, 809-221-0805) or Budget (Avenida John F. Kennedy, 809-566-6666).

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The official currency is the Dominican Republic Peso (check www.xe.com for current exchange rates), but it is rarely a problem to use American dollars. ATM's are available near the cruise terminal and throughout the city; they dispense money in pesos.

Language?

Dominicans speak Spanish as their primary language. Some, particularly those who work in tourism areas, speak English. That said, communication can be a problem, so either carry a pocket dictionary or bone up on basic phrases like hola (hello), buenos dias (good day), por favor (please), gracias (thank you), cuanto cuesta? (how much does it cost?) and donde esta el bano? (where is the bathroom?).

Where You're Docked?

You'll be docked at the Sansouci pier, the city's main cruise terminal. Plans are in the works to turn another terminal -- Don Diego, about five minutes from Sansouci pier -- into a facility that can accommodate cruise vessels, but there is no word yet on when that will be completed.


Santo Domingo Cruise Reviews

Razz44
Sail Date: Nov 2018
Saw the sights and sounds of the port.... Read More
Rneal27
Sail Date: Nov 2018
Beautiful old city.... Read More
Seabourn Odyssey
323493
Sail Date: Jan 2018
Taxi ride worked well.... Read More
Celso Socorro Oliveira
Sail Date: Jan 2017
Santo Domingo is full of attractions. One can ask the taxi driver to take for 3Ojos Park, National Aquarium or Colonial Zone, just to cite some.... Read More
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