The Dominican Republic is ending the year with a bang. The popular Caribbean destination will have welcomed a record number of tourists by the end of December 2023 and is celebrating the debut of five new cruise ships sailing to the country for the first time during this month. 

December 2023 has proven to be a busy travel month in the Dominican Republic. When all is said and done, the Caribbean nation will have welcomed hundreds of thousands of cruisers by the end of the month. 

According to the Dominican Port Authority (APORDOM), 104 cruise ships will arrive in the provinces of Puerto Plata, Samaná, La Romana, and the National District during December 2023. 

Tuesday, December 19, is expected to see the largest amount of cruise traffic in the country to date, with eight ships sailing through Taíno Bay, Amber Cove, and Samaná terminals simultaneously.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady, Carnival Vista, Carnival Celebration, Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, and Norwegian Encore are expected in Puerto Plato and Amber Cove, while AidAdvida, Explora 1, and Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam will dock at Semana’s tender pier. 

Not only is the country receiving a record number of cruise ships during the month, but five of the cruise ships are sailing to the Dominican Republic for the first time.

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

Norwegian Prima, Celebrity Ascent, Oceania Vista, and Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Sea already made their debuts earlier in December 2023. Virgin Voyages’ Brilliant Lady will be the last ship to make its debut with a scheduled arrival on December 26. 

Brilliant Lady will sail to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; Frederiksted, St. Croix, U.S.V.I.; and San Juan, Puerto Rico, as part of a five-night holiday sailing beginning in Miami, Florida, on Christmas Eve. 

Explorer of the Seas will return to the Dominican Republic two more times in late December and early January 2024 as part of its nine-night Eastern Caribbean holiday cruises, but the other ships will not be returning until later in the new year. 

The 104 cruise ships sailing to the Dominican Republic is a welcomed increase from past years, spelling good news for the nation’s economy. Looking back at the past December months, the country welcomed 76 cruise ships in 2019 and 97 in 2022.

Cruise Ships in the Dominican Republic (Photo Credit: Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock)

“Cruise passengers who arrive in our country will have the opportunity to explore the natural and cultural beauties of these destinations, and at the same time they will consolidate the economy by promoting tourism for our population and even interaction with businesses and services in the area,” says Jean Luis Rodríguez, executive director of the Dominican Port Authority.

This is the icing on the cake for a great year of tourism in the Dominican Republic. The Caribbean nation welcomed more than 7 million tourists during the first three-quarters of 2023, a record number marking a 25% increase in visitors over the same time period in 2022.

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

Cruise guests account for over 1.5 million of these visitors, with hundreds of thousands more expected during December. This number surpasses the 1.1 million cruise vacationers the country welcomed in 2019. 

By the end of the year, the country expects more than 10 million visitors (combining those coming from land and from the sea), exceeding the country’s previous record of 7.5 million tourists in 2019, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Dominican Ministry of Tourism. 

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