The newest Caribbean cruise port, Cabo Rojo in Pedernales on the southwestern coast of the Dominican Republic, has welcomed its very first cruise guests with the arrival of Norwegian Pearl on Thursday, January 4, 2024.
The new port will offer travelers unique experiences from other Dominican Republic destinations, and will hopefully grow to become a popular destination with multiple cruise lines.
Norwegian Pearl Visits Cabo Rojo
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl is the first-ever cruise ship to visit Cabo Rojo, the new cruise destination in the southwest corner of the Dominican Republic.
The ship was scheduled to visit Cabo Rojo from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 4, 2024, as the first port of call on an 11-night Caribbean itinerary. Norwegian Pearl departed Miami, Florida on Tuesday, January 2 and spent Wednesday at sea before arriving at Cabo Rojo with 2,873 guests onboard.
“Three years ago many saw it as impossible, but we assumed it with commitment and passion. For this reason, today we can say We did it! The first stage of Port Cabo Rojo of the Tourism Development Project in Pedernales has been inaugurated, with the arrival of the first cruise with almost 3,000 visitors,” said Sigmund Freund, the director of Public-Private Partnerships, as Norwegian Pearl arrived.
“This is what the people of Pedernal have been waiting for for years. Today is a day of joy for the entire country!”
Local retailers and tour operators are eager for the business, which will be a significant step toward opening up the southern part of the country to more tourism. According to the country’s Central Bank statistics, cruise passenger spending in 2022 averaged $116 per visitor – up significantly from $92 per guest in 2021.
That spending goes toward retail purchases, restaurants, bars, tour guides, rentals, and more. When guests have good experiences, they tend to spend more and return to their favorite destinations.
“We have been working for this day for several years, and we will do what we know how to do: provide good service to visitors,” said Euris Gonzalez of the Association of Nature Guides of Oviedo.
The development of the port has also created more than 1,800 jobs in the region, further boosting the local economy. The 93,530-gross-ton, Jewel-class ship was greeted with fanfare as she sailed into Cabo Rojo Thursday morning, and enjoyed a great day in port.
“Thank you to all Norwegian Pearl cruisers for visiting!” Freund said as the ship departed Thursday evening. “I hope you enjoyed our new great destination, Cabo Rojo, Pedernales.”
Other destinations on Norwegian Pearl’s current itinerary include Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic, along with Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Tortola, Puerto Rico, and Great Stirrup Cay.
Visiting Cabo Rojo
The new cruise port has been developed through a $126 million project and can accommodate four cruise ships simultaneously when complete, able to welcome more than a million annual cruise passengers. A beach area, local shopping, spa facilities, and a water park are all part of Cabo Rojo port.
Further afield, the region features beautiful white-sand beaches and unique gastronomy with a variety of Caribbean influences, with various shore tours guests can enjoy including a wide variety of water sports.
At the moment, few ships have scheduled calls to Cabo Rojo, though Norwegian Cruise Line is committed to the destination. Unfortunately, some planned calls by Norwegian Sky in upcoming months have been rerouted and will no longer include Cabo Rojo.
It always takes time for a new cruise port to build up a steady schedule of visitors, as cruise lines plan itineraries years in advance. Cabo Rojo may see some last-minute ship calls in 2024, however, if poor weather or hurricanes force cancellations of other ports of call and the new port can be a good alternative.
The new destination is also likely to be a part of future itineraries in 2025, 2026, and beyond, bringing more and more guests to a new and exciting destination.