Cruise Guest Starts Petition to Improve Popular Port Accessibility

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A recent Norwegian Cruise Line guest by the name of Emily Dominguez has started a petition in the hopes of raising awareness and urging port authorities to improve the overall accessibility of the Puerto Plata cruise port area.

In particular, Dominguez hopes to encourage adjustments to where guests may be dropped off from shore excursions, improving the experience for travelers who may have mobility difficulties.

Petition to Improve Port Accessibility

Emily Dominguez recently visited Puerto Plata on the March 7, 2024 departure of Norwegian Getaway, a 10-night sailing from New York. The ship’s last port of call, on Thursday, March 14, was a stop in the Dominican Republic, but unfortunately the experience was more difficult than Dominguez expected due to accessibility challenges.

While Dominguez admits the port was lovely, it was the slate walkways and the distance from where shore excursions drop guests off back to the ship that proved difficult.

“Our day in Puerto Plata was marred by an unexpected challenge. After a lovely excursion, our tour guide from NCL apologetically left us on the far end of the Taino Port, explaining that he wasn’t allowed to discharge us closer to the ship,” Dominguez explained. “The long walk back was difficult, navigating a rollator over uneven slate walkways.”

A rollator is a type of accessibility walker, typically with four wheels and a seat so the user can take a break if necessary. The front two wheels of most rollators pivot, which can cause them to get stuck on uneven pathways – such as in the breaks between slate pavers.

After struggling with the situation, Dominguez spoke with other guests and found similar issues for those with mobility challenges.

“An older couple found the walkway treacherous and a potential tripping hazard while another woman who pushed her sister in a wheelchair was exhausted by the time she boarded the ship,” she said.

Entrance to Pier at Puerto Plata
Entrance to Pier at Puerto Plata (Photo Credit: Joni Hanebutt)

Dominguez has started a petition urging improvements to the port’s accessibility. Specifically, she suggests that travelers have the option to be dropped off closer to their ships after excursions, particularly for elderly or disabled travelers.

“Allowing these passengers to disembark closer to their ships would greatly improve accessibility at this port and ensure that everyone can enjoy all that Puerto Plata has to offer without unnecessary hardship or risk,” she explained.

The petition was just begun on Wednesday, March 20, and has already gathered a handful of signatures in support of better accessibility at Puerto Plata.

Not a Petition to the Cruise Line

It should be noted that Dominguez is not at all suggesting that Norwegian Cruise Line is at fault, but rather is hoping to reach Taino Bay Cruise Port authorities to implement the change.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (Photo Credit: Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock)

Furthermore, Dominguez acknowledges that the port is designed to encourage guests to enjoy local shopping and restaurants, therefore spending money during their visit. She even notes that the port is lovely, but that accessibility would be greatly improved if, upon request, travelers could be dropped off closer to their ships.

Distance and Accessibility

It is true that even on flat, stable surfaces, accessibility can be a concern if visitors must walk long distances along a dock or pier. This can be difficult for travelers with mobility issues, breathing difficulties, heart conditions, or other health concerns that may limit endurance, especially on hot days as the pier is not shaded.

Guests who have temporary mobility issues, such as after a recent surgery or while wearing a cast or walking boot, may have similar difficulties on long piers.

In some ports, trams or even pedal-driven bike taxis are available to help guests move back and forth along lengthy docks or piers. This might be a possible solution in Puerto Plata, if it is not possible for tour buses to maneuver down the pier for closer shipside drop-offs.

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