Caribbean Cruise Destination Thrives Despite Travel Warning

The popular Caribbean cruise destination of the Dominican Republic is thriving with cruise ship visits, despite a US travel advisory warning.

Tourism to the Dominican Republic is going gang-busters, as air and cruise arrivals have shown notable increases compared to the last few years. The news is a welcome development in light of a recent upgraded warning on the destination from the US State Department.

Cruise Arrivals Spike in the Dominican Republic

The US State Department’s June 6 upgrading of its travel alert to the Dominican Republic to Level 2-Exercise Increased Caution doesn’t appear to be causing concern in the local tourism industry.

In a strong start to the year, the Ministry of Tourism said the island nation marked a record in tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2023, when 2,076,171 travelers arrived.

Carnival Cruise Ship in Dominican Republic
Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz

March was a particularly good month for cruise arrivals. Cruise ship guests calling at the island in March reached 280,247, more than double the number that arrived in March 2022, when 134,070 cruise guests called at the Caribbean island.

Read Also: Amber Cove, Dominican Republic – Everything You Need to Know

In terms of total tourism arrivals, by air and sea, the first quarter number reflects a 21% hike over the same time frame in 2022.

Government Warning is Tied to Crime

The State Department warning to exercise increased caution in the Dominican Republic is due to crime. In its Country Summary, the department states that violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault, is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic.

It also says that the wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.

US State Department Dominican Republic Warning
US State Department Dominican Republic Warning

Level 2 guidelines advise travelers to be aware of their surroundings, avoid resisting any robbery attempt, and avoid displaying signs of wealth.

The Dominican Republic is not the only Caribbean island on the receiving end of government warnings. In May the State Department issued a Level 3-Reconsider Travel warning for Jamaica, and a Level 2, the same as the Dominican Republic, has been in place for Turks and Caicos since last October.

Cruise Lines Embrace Island’s Offerings

Virtually all of the major cruise lines call at destinations in the Dominican Republic. Carnival Cruise Line calls at La Romana, on the island’s southeast coast, where cruisers can enjoy superb beaches and the town’s medieval village.

Cruise Ships in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Photo Credit: Mark Anthony Ray / Shutterstock

An upcoming cruise aboard Carnival Horizon visits the destination on the ship’s 8-day Southern Caribbean cruise from Miami on August 5, 2023. Other port calls on that sailing include Aruba, Curacao, and Amber Cove.

Royal Caribbean ships call at Puerto Plata, in the island’s northern region, where mountains pose a dramatic backdrop to ocean views. The port is known for the Parque Central, a park surrounded by Victorian architecture.

A 9-night cruise aboard Grandeur of the Seas visits the port on an Eastern Caribbean itinerary from Miami on November 5, 2023. Other port calls include San Juan, Puerto Rico, Antigua, and St. Kitts and Nevis.

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