Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Caribbean’s newest destination, the $65 million Amber Cove Cruise Center, were held yesterday in the Dominican Republic at the project site on the Bay of Maimon located near Puerto Plata in the country’s North Coast.

The new facility – which represents one of the largest cruise industry investments ever made in the Dominican Republic – is scheduled to open in 2014.  The project is designed to re-establish the Dominican Republic’s North Coast as a popular cruise destination.  The last cruise ship to call at Puerto Plata was nearly 30 years ago.

The ceremony attracted a number of dignitaries from the Dominican Republic, including President Dr. Leonel Fernandez Reyna, Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia, Minister of Public Works & Communications Victor Diaz Rua, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Ernesto Reyna, Director of the Dominican Republic’s Center for Export and Investment (DR-CEI) Eddie Martinez, Customs Director Rafael Camilo and Dominican Port Authority (APORDOM) Director Ing. Ramon Rivas.

A joint project between Carnival Corporation & plc and the Rannik family of Grupo B&R, the new two-berth Amber Cove Cruise Center will be able to accommodate up to 8,000 cruise passengers and 2,000 crew members daily.  The facility is expected to host more than 250,000 cruise passengers in its first year of operation.

Amber Cove will encompass 30 acres of waterfront property and will feature a welcome center with a variety of retail offerings, including a marketplace for locally sourced Dominican crafts and souvenirs, as well as a wide range of themed restaurants and bars and an exciting water attraction. A transportation hub allowing visitors easy access by land and sea to the surrounding destinations and attractions will be included, as well.

“This is a glorious day for the Dominican Republic. It is already being inscribed in the annals of our recent economic history as one of the most significant steps we have taken to assure the transformation and development of Puerto Plata, the northern region, and the entire country.  With this cruise terminal, tourism and economic activity in Puerto Plata and the north region will rise to occupy a preeminent regional position in the entire Caribbean, showing that a combination of natural beauty, a supportive government policy, investment by a world-class company determined to put its trust in our country, and above all the quality of our people, are key factors that can secure present and future generations ample growth opportunities in the tourism sector,” said President Leonel Fernández Reyna.

Added Jeffrey Rannik from the Rannik family/Grupo B&R, “We’re very pleased to team up with cruise industry leader Carnival Corporation & plc on the exciting Amber Cove project which will serve to re-establish the North Coast as a major destination for cruise ship visitors.  This magnificent facility will not only provide cruise ship guests with a positive shoreside experience but also serve as an economic catalyst for the North Coast and the surrounding region.”

“Amber Cove promises to be a spectacular facility that will serve as a gateway for cruise guests to experience the natural beauty and wonder that makes the Dominican Republic such an attractive tourist destination,” said Giora Israel, Carnival Corporation & plc’s senior vice president of global port and destination development.