For anyone who may be visiting this port, we were just there April 28, 2004, and I had received a lot of confusing info before I went, so I wanted to give some clear info. First, the ship docks right at the city of La Romana. You may take a cab into town or walk in - you are actually right there and can walk to the shopping area. It is a bustling, busy city. There is a very well organized cab stand at the dock. The dispatchers stand outside and speak English well. We asked for a cab driver who spoke English and got one. We actually told them things we wanted to do, and for about how long. The driver suggested more and we went with his ideas - for a large, air conditioned van for 6 of us for 7 1/2 hours, he charged $130 - $21.67 per person! We did tip him well. He first took us to the Cueva de las Maravillas. I hadn't heard much about them, but they are national caves, and they are huge and full of pre-Columbian Indian paintings. Admission was $4 and there is a great English-speaking guide who takes you through and tells you all about the caves and the drawings, history of the Indians, etc. It was probably the highlight of our trip to the D. R. Then we shopped in La Romana - the driver took us to the usual shops, but I had heard about Jumbo's - you really need to go there! It is like a Wal-Mart supercenter, Clean, and full of everything - we bought local coffee for about $1.25 a pound, vanilla for $1, bottles of Brugal (local) rum for $1.25, there is larimar and amber jewelry, art work, clothing (in case you forgot anything - including snorkeling gear), we even used the bathrooms and they were spotless! We also went to Altos de Chavon - it was fine, shops are too expensive, but pretty. We ate at a restaurant there outdoors - caution - it took about 2 hours! We tried the sancocho, local stew, and it was awful! But others had the red snapper and lobster, and pasta, and loved them. Then to two beaches - Dominicus was a topless beach and it was ok but we also went to Bayahibe beach. Some reviews say it is the prettiest in the Caribbean, it was just average and snorkeling is NOT good there (reviews said it was). Part of the beach is private but the other part is fine. There are stands there selling everything and you can really talk them way down in price - jewelry, wood carvings, paintings, tee shirts, beach towels, etc. I'd be happy to answer any other ques. about the D. R. - others on our ship took excursions to Catalina Island (loved it) and Santo Domingo (it is a huge city, but very historic. The only problem they mentioned is that you are in a bus all the time with very few times to get out and walk around).
I have heard people say this is not a port you should attempt to do on your own for safety reasons, especially if you don't speak Spanish. You're review sounds as if you felt perfectly safe, am I correct? We're thinking of doing a Carnival excursion at this port, to be safe, if we even get off the ship at all. We've been so disturbed by some of the negative reviews. It's refreshing to know you had a great time! Thanks for sharing.
We were told that the cabbies with the green shirts were safe - they are the ones at the cab stand at the dock. They are very well organized - when you are at the beach the cabbie locks his van and stays with it to watch your stuff (purchases, etc). I really think this port will develop as it is used more - but for now, I felt perfectly safe with one of the cabs from the dock. Many on our ship did do the excursions there (especially to islands) and felt it was worth it. We also felt good because there were six of us together and there is extra safety in numbers! The people are not as pushy as in some other ports (Ocho Rios, for instance) and it is probably just as safe as most other ports.
La Romanais not Ochos Rios or St Thomas thank heavens...I understand the men with the green shirts are Cuban and are less $$ than the unionized and bandit cab drivers.. There is no way you should rent a car..mainly for safety reasons. Since we go to La Romana for a week in Feburary we really like the area.. I haven't been to the marina.. but I urge you all to go to Altos de Chavon..a recreated spanish village and if your able to go to Kandella at the amphitheatre one night. What you can/should do.. is take a taxi into La Romana, walk around and see the church and the beautiful zolca.. then go to the supermarket and fill up on right from the shelves Dominican coffee, 151 proof rum and puro vanilla and those who use Dominican cigars..pay by credit card..
As for the beaches.. we have stayed at Casa del Mar in Bahaybe...the beach is one of the most beautiful I have EVER seen..you can get some inexpensive trips from tour guides in Bahaybe
Unfortunately, I haven't found the "expensive' shops at the dock... yet.. but I have been buying at Bantrys the handiwork of the local Dominican women..
Thank you so much for the information. We have been to the other two ports but knew nothing about LaRomana....and since it is relatively "new" to us ... we were clueless.
We will definately feel more comfortable now grabbing a taxi. We usually don't do ship excursions since our youngest son is a special needs child and usually can't do what the ship offers. Having our own taxi for the day sounds excellent and very reasonable. You don't happen to remember your drivers' name do you???
He said his name was Alexander the Great. We didn't care what he called himself - he did tell us things as we drove along and we felt we got a guided tour. We felt we saw a lot of the countryside and it was great. A lot of this is a very poor country - but we wanted to see what was real.
Terry: What a great name !!! He has obviously figured out that with a catch name, some folks may come into port asking for him by name. I know we will!!! He can really build a reputation and business. That is cool!! Thanks again.