Port of Samana and Cayo Levantado
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Trips to the nearby island of Cayo Levantado, visible from Samana and located about 10 minutes away by boat, are also available, but only through your cruise line's excursion offerings. (Private tour operators aren't allowed to transport cruise passengers to the island on days when ships are anchored.) Additionally, some ships call only on Cayo Levantado, half of which is a public beach that's available only to cruisers on days when ships are in port, and half of which is a private resort.
Top Samana and Cayo Levantado Itineraries
Star Pride11 Night Canada / New England CruiseNew York , Newport, Baltimore, Baltimore, Norfolk, Samana and Cayo Levantado, San JuanNow
Silver Whisper10 Night Caribbean CruiseFort Lauderdale , Grand Turk, Samana and Cayo Levantado, San Juan, Tortola, St. Barts, Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, BarbadosNow
Silver Spirit12 Night Caribbean CruiseBarbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts, St. Kitts, St. Barts, Tortola, San Juan, Samana and Cayo Levantado, Key West, Fort LauderdaleNow
Le Ponant10 Night Caribbean CruiseSt. Martin, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Santa Barbara, Samana and Cayo Levantado, Havana, HavanaNow
SeaDream I8 Night Cienfuegos (Cuba) to MarigotCienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, Samana and Cayo Levantado, St. MartinNow
Where You're Docked
In Samana, your ship will anchor near one of two piers and tender you to the appropriate docks, both of which are located along Avenida La Marina/Malecon. (Note: If you're a dog-lover, be sure to pack some treats; there are lots of friendly strays near the docks.)
The main dock is known as Embat Dock, but if more than one ship is in port on a given day, a secondary dock, Dock Moto Marina Club, is used for tendering.
If you're taking an excursion to Cayo Levantado from Samana, or if your ship is calling directly on Cayo Levantado, you'll tender to the island's public dock.
Good to Know
The Dominican Republic has a reputation for crime. Although you'll find less of it in Samana than in other locations throughout the D.R., always be aware of your surroundings, stay in groups, and don't venture to places you don't know when not on an organized tour or with a reputable guide. As a general rule of thumb, 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 (particularly if you're headed to the beach) that are not air-conditioned, making them perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes -- and the blood-suckers are vicious.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The official currency is the Dominican Republic Peso (check www.xe.com for current exchange rates), but it's rarely a problem to use American dollars. There are ATM's available at Banco Popular (Avenida La Marina/Malecon) and BHD Bank (green building at the corner of Avenida La Marina and Circunvalacion). ATM's will dispense money in pesos. (Note: Each bank's ATM will charge a $5 transaction fee in addition to any fees charged by your bank. BHD's ATM will allow you to withdraw up to the peso equivalent of $500 at one time, while the limit at Banco Popular is less.)
Dominicans speak Spanish as their primary language. Some, particularly those who work in tourist 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?).
The Dominican Republic is known for Larimar, a cloudy, pale-blue stone that's only mined on the island of Hispaniola. It's difficult to fake, so chances are good that you'll be snagging the real thing. Don't be afraid to bargain; sellers are used to it, and they often jack up prices with the expectation that haggling will occur. Amber and black coral are also popular, but they're easier to fabricate.
If jewelry isn't your thing, consider Dominican-made cigars, items made from coconut, and natural cocoa or chocolate, but do avoid purchasing woven palm hats. They're considered live plants, and they'll be confiscated when you return to your ship.
While you're in town, be sure to try some Mama Juana. Made by combining red wine, rum and honey with the fermented roots of the Mama Juana tree, it gives off a strong red wine taste with a spicy cinnamon finish. If you're not a wine-lover, go for Barcelo or Brugal local rum with Kola Real cola, or Presidente beer, which is quite refreshing when the weather gets unbearably hot. (You'll also want to pick up some sugar cane juice, which is locally made and allegedly a great hangover remedy.)