Catalina, La Romana, Dominican Republic

Catalina is a tropical island of the Caribbean Sea, located in the southeast of the Dominican Republic in the province of La Romana. There are no inhabitants on the island but it receives thousands of people through the cruise ships that let their passengers spend a day of relax, sea and beach. Everything awaits you to enjoy this paradisiacal place; you will find sun loungers, parasols, services, snorkelling, etc. A buffet meal will also be offered by your cruise line. The island is a small paradise with stunning white sandy beaches with crystal clear waters. It takes half an hour to get there from La Romana. You can snorkel or dive to discover its colorful fish. The island is surrounded by corals.

Tips

When leaving the ship, do not forget to bring the necessary items for a day of beach, especially sunscreen, glasses and towels. The rest you can find on site and the chairs are free. But be careful in the sea because there is no surveillance.

Consider that you will be transported there by the rescue boats of your ship and if you have sea sickness, plan to take your medicine against transport sickness and bring it to take it before returning.

You will find local craft items so bring in a little money if you want to buy some souvenirs.

If you like Latin music, you will have the opportunity to dance or learn how to dance with the local animation staff.

Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands

Saint Thomas forms a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands, an unincorporated territory of the United States. Located on the island is the territorial capital and port of Charlotte Amalie. In 1917, St. Thomas was purchased (along with Saint John and Saint Croix) for $25 million in gold, as part of a defensive strategy to maintain control over the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during the First World War. The post-war era also saw the rise of tourism on the island, with relatively cheap air travel and the American embargo on Cuba, the numbers of visitors greatly increased. Passenger and limited car-ferry services to neighboring islands such as Water Island, St. John, St. Croix, and the British Virgin Islands run regularly out of the Red Hook Terminal, Charlotte Amalie, and Crown Bay Marina. This is the only place under American jurisdiction where you must drive on the left. However, because St. Thomas is a U.S. territory, most cars are imported from the mainland United States and therefore the steering column is located on the left side of the vehicle. The island has many regular taxis from compact size to large vans, as well as open-air, covered trucks called “safari cabs” with bench seats. To visit : the second-oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere; Fort Christian (built in 1680), the childhood home of Camille Pissarro, one of the best-known French Impressionists, the Cathedral Church of All Saints; built in 1848 from stone quarried on the island, this church has thick, arched window frames lined with yellow brick that was used as ballast aboard ships. Merchants left the brick on the waterfront to make room aboard their boats for molasses, sugar, mahogany, and rum for the return voyage. The church was built in celebration of the end of slavery. You can also take the 700-foot skylift to the top of Charlotte Amalie; it could be good specially if you want to take photos from there.

Tips 

You have a lot of activites to do on the island specially if you like sports : sailing, snorkeling, diving, swimming, golf. You can do it by yourself or on a tour.
If you like shopping, take advantage of duty-free shopping, the stores offer a range of high-quality products available for significantly less than on the mainland.
If you are on a cruise and you only have the day to visit the island, you can do it going on the safari cabs with other people from the cruise. It’s the cheapest way to know the island and the driver will show you the best spots. Don’t forget to ask for the price before getting on because you can be badly surprised at the time of paying. Take a photo of yourdriver’s license to have a proof with you in case he isn’t honest.

Cienfuegos, Cuba

Cienfuegos is a port city on the south coast of Cuba, capital of the province of the same name. The bay on which is located, has the same name too and is 228 km from Havana. It was founded by French immigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana in 1819 (although it was dominated by the Spanish) under the name of Colonia Fernandina de Jagua but 10 years later, it took the name of the general Cuban governor at that time, José Cienfuegos. It has a very well preserved colonial-style historic center with imposing buildings around the central square, Parque José Martí, which is UNESCO heritage. You will find very beautiful buildings of that period like Tomás Terry theater with its frescoed ceilings and its mosaics; the Government Palace (City Hall); Ferrer Palace; the former Lycée; San Lorenzo School; among others.

Tips

There are other attractions to visit not far from the city like the Soledad Botanic Garden, 14 km away, with a huge variety of species and the Jagua Castle, an eighteenth century fortress that can be reached by ferry.

There are two important events in the city: the Carnival and the Benny Moré Music Festival (September).