FEBRUARY 18, 2015 — With bigger cruise ships bringing more cruise passengers to the Caribbean, Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), looks to be doing something about providing all those guests with more Caribbean to visit. It is expanding its presence in the region with the opening of the $85 million Amber Cove Port in the Dominican Republic.
By October this year, nine Carnival cruise brands — AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line and P&O Cruises (UK) —will start visiting the new destination.
With the opening of the new Amber Cove port, passengers will be able to make stops along the Dominican Republic's north Amber Coast, which has not been regularly visited on cruise itineraries since the 1980s.
Carnival says Amber Cove is the largest cruise industry investment ever made in Dominican Republic. It will feature one of most extensive shore excursion programs in the Caribbean and will open expanded itinerary options in the Caribbean. Looking to the future, says Carnival, the port is strategically located to be incorporated into itineraries featuring potential stops in Cuba..
Amber Cove will feature a two-berth port able to accommodate the largest cruise vessels in operation today. Carnival Corporation has monitored the various stages of the port's construction progress with the use of drones, an innovative development that is being used for the first time as part of the company's port development process.
The facility, a joint project between Carnival Corporation and the Rannik family of Grupo B&R, is expected to host more than 250,000 cruise passengers in its first year of operation. It will provide approximately 430 local jobs.
"The construction of the cruise port at Amber Cove has been an incredible project for our entire country, as well as the Caribbean region as a whole," said Francisco Javier, tourism director of the Dominican Republic. "Carnival Corporation's investment in Amber Cove has already proven beneficial to the economy, and we expect the investment to have a positive long-lasting economic impact. The new port will also give cruise passengers an opportunity to see another part of the Dominican Republic, our Amber Coast, which hasn't been available as part of cruise itineraries in nearly 30 years. This is a very exciting development."
The port will open with a visit from Carnival Victory from the company's Carnival Cruise Line brand on October 6, 2015. Following this inaugural visit, five additional Carnival Corporation brands are scheduled to make calls on Amber Cove -- including Cunard's Queen Mary 2 on November 22, P&O Cruises' (UK) Azura on December 5, AIDA Cruises' AIDAvita on December 11, Costa Cruises' Costa Deliziosa on December 31 and Holland America Line's ms Eurodam on January 19.
Additional ships from the company's brands are scheduled to call on the port in late 2015 and through 2016 including Carnival Cruise Line's Fantasy, Splendor, Valor, Sunshine, Conquest and Breeze and Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam.
These visits will consist of 57 calls by 13 different ships across the six brands taking place between October 2015 and April 2016, accounting for more than 155,000 guests during this period.
As the world's largest cruising market – representing more than 37 percent of the global cruise business – the Caribbean is a strategic geographic region for Carnival Corporation and the overall cruise industry.
Carnival says that the new port facility in the Dominican Republic underscores the company's focus on creating great vacation experiences, as passengers sailing the Caribbean will have an exciting new destination to visit. It will also give Carnival Corporation's nine global cruise brands the ability to create more diverse itineraries, another important part of the cruise experience. More than 60 percent of cruisers are repeat passengers, and offering robust itineraries keeps the experience fresh and engaging for them.
"There are several markets that are becoming increasingly important to the cruise industry, but today the Caribbean is the single largest share of our business," said Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation. "We are constantly looking for new ways for our guests to enjoy their cruise experience, and it is always exciting to add new destinations to our itineraries, especially in the Caribbean where many of our passengers have been before. We are confident that our guests will love visiting Amber Cove, which we believe will quickly become a very popular port of call for our guests. And because Amber Cove is easily accessible, it will give our guests a convenient gateway to the Puerto Plata region, which is spectacular. And importantly, Amber Cove will allow us to offer our guests a new option in our Caribbean itineraries."
The Amber Cove port is located in the heart of the Dominican Republic's North Coast just outside the historical town of Puerto Plata, which was discovered by Christopher Columbus in the 1490s and was recently named by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the "Best Places to Travel in 2015."
Amber Cove will feature a waterfront welcome center with a variety of retail offerings, including a marketplace for Dominican crafts and souvenirs, as well as a wide range of unique food and beverage establishments. The port will also include a recreational area featuring amenities such as a pool, splash zone and green space areas. The transportation hub —the single largest component of the port — will provide visitors easy access by land and sea to the surrounding destinations and attractions.