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Cabo Rojo: Not ready for prime cruise time

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Cabo Rojo in the DR

We were the second.ahip to call at this new Dominican port, docking aboard the HAL  dock Nieuw Amsterdam. Here's my take.

So here's my take on Cabo Rojo . . . Give it a year. While everyone is trying REALLY hard to make our call a successful visit, but it's clear the port just isn't ready yet.

Shops aren't open. Lots of construction. The small beach port is not open. None of the connecting infrastructure is ready.

Workers and officials were friendly and tried hard, with good efforts with free swag, free drinks and a massive fireworks show. But as a working "tourist-only port," there's a long way to go.

The best way to think of Cabo Rojo is to compare it to a new version Amber Cove. If you like these types of "fantasy" ports with no connection to actual towns, then Cabo Rojo eventually will be a good choice.

Today, Holland America has lots of dissatisfied cruisers on Nieuw Amsterdam who signed on for a stop in Turks and Caicos and, instead, were dumped on an unfinished port. (And our next port, Willemsted, also was substituted for Aruba). I'm on vacay on this cruise for relaxing and a Panama Canal transit, so not unhappy.

Our cruise director "pumped up" the port during his port talk yesterday. And little of what he said matched up with reality. The "small beach at the port" wasn't open. Thus, there also were no watersports as promised like kayaking and paddle boarding. There was a free shuttle to the nearby small town.

Next season, Cabo Rojo should be a good stop. But for now, go with low expectations and you won't be disappointed.

Or, stay on the ship and enjoy the spa specials.

Whatever, enjoy, you're on vacay!

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@DeanLand Thanks for sharing your insight on Cabo Rojo! I don't understand why Cabo Rojo is open to guests if they aren't really ready yet. I would be pretty upset to miss out on all of the new attractions other guests will have access to in the coming sailing. From what I'm gathering, there isn't much to do outside of the port and the port isn't really ready for guests either. That's really frustrating. I'm surprised you had two ports of call changes on this HAL itinerary. Typically, HAL is pretty good about following through with its original itineraries. I appreciate your positive words and realistic/relatable review of the port. I would be dissatisfied if I were you too and would likely not get off of the ship based on this review. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

@DeanLand Thanks for the update and the positivity you have. It clearly was a letdown to stop there, but it seems Cabo Rojo has lots of potential and opportunity for growth, but right now it's not ready. I prefer the historical, established ports with lots of culture and scenery. The "fantasy ports" as you describe them aren't my favorites, but as you said, cruising in general is amazing. You have to appreciate every moment you have during your cruise, even if there are some flaws. I try to take it all with a grain of salt. For every one thing that's bad, there are always nine more things that make up for it. For me cruising has always been one of the most enjoyable and relaxing vacations I could asks for. I'm glad you were able to make the most of your cruise despite this unfinished port. 

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@FJB It's been circling the news, but I don't think it's very popular yet.


The DR is expanding its port options like crazy! Cabo Rojo was part of a $126 million dollar project. It is set to hold four ships at one time, and will have the capacity to receive 1 million cruise passengers each year.


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