Cruising: Day 12 – La Romana, Dominican Republic

La Romana in the Dominican Republic was our stop today. We’d heard differing opinions about this port so we were unsure of what to expect.

We took a tour in the morning that started out by taking us through a gated community nearby called Casa de Campo. There were several resorts, including a couple of golf courses, equestrian centers and many large private homes. The Dominican Republic is a very poor country, but you’d never know it if you only visited this area. A lot of major league ballplayers are from the Dominican Republic and many have come back to this area to live during the off season. Sammy Sosa is one in particular that has become a hero here. He doesn’t have just a home, but a small village within the development.

Part of our tour was to visit a small village named Altos de Chavon that was built back in the late 70’s and made to resemble a 16th century Mediterranean village. Cobblestone streets surround Spanish style buildings with woodwork and ironwork completed by hand. Throughout the area there were young women and men dressed in period costumes strolling around. It was an interesting place to visit and offered a complete opposite glimpse of the island that we would see later in the afternoon.

The tour finished up by taking us on a 90 minute paddle wheel boat ride up the Chavon river. The river was used as a location for the ‘Apocolypse Now’ and ‘King Kong” movies. Lush jungle vegetation lined both sides of the river surrounded by cliffs on both sides. The ride was nice and relaxing.

When we returned to the ship we decided to take advantage of the shuttle service that was provided to the ship’s passengers to take them to La Romana. It was $5 each for a roundtrip to and from town to the port. Once we headed out we were told that the shuttle drops us off at one park, and then we need to walk to another park to catch a return shuttle. As it turned out, the whole deal is a scam. They take your money and drop you off at a park full of vendors that make used car salesman seem shy. You get hounded the minute you step off the bus, and it’s all you can do to walk the 8 blocks or so to the other park to get back on the shuttle. Every step of the way is someone trying to get you to buy their junk. It’s a shame.

I now know why some people liked this port, and others didn’t. It all depends on what and where you go.

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