ABOARD THE COSTA MEDITERRANEA –– Samana, in the Dominican Republic, is now a full-fledged member of the welcome tourist brigade for passengers on Costa cruises.
I just returned from this new port of call, where an energetic young man named Carlos was our guide. Welcoming our group of Costa Mediterranea passengers in both French and English, he talked about the area’s history supplying mahogany wood for construction to the U.S. in exchange for arms prior to the Civil War.
The port is pretty and a colorful and talented folkloric dance troupe welcomed us as we climbed off the ship’s tenders.
Broad streets are evident in the business and shopping areas, but narrower roads dot the countryside.
We toured the Whale Museum and Nature Center (Centro de la Naturaleza) where Carlos explained the gestation period for whales and that the large mammals return to local waters to give birth.
We saw the church, La Churcha, brought to the island from England and reassembled in pieces in 1823 and another charming church, Antigua Cultural Casa, built by a mourning mother in memory of her late daughter.
Carlos cautioned against giving cash to youngsters on the street. His story was his own cautionary tale of working in banana and rice fields at the age of five, and attending school — through college — at night. He is now an accredited tour guide
We saw seriously sad poverty, a middle class neighborhood and a much more prosperous area.
As for most tours, it ended in a shopping area.
Our tour did include a nice pizza lunch at a lovely resort and marina, water on board and a bright and eager guide!
Tomorrow we call at Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. I remember the BVI as having glorious beaches with waters that are crystal clear and range from turquoise to sapphire blue. I am anxious to return.
Water, water everywhere – but on the table
I am a long time Costa fan. I have sailed the line throughout the Caribbean and on a repositioning cruise to Europe. I have a special pasta recipe I treasure given to us by a maître’d. I enjoy Italian culture and have loved the Costa experience since my first cruise on Costa Flavia in the late 1960s.
And, like most Americans, I expect to sit down for a meal and receive a glass of water. On this ship it is served in the dining room by the glass, for a charge. Everyone is talking about it and the decision, apparently made in Europe, isn’t playing well here in the Caribbean.
A new policy offers a $45 package for 13 one-liter bottles of water.
December 14, 2014