top of page

Mitsugirlys MITSUGIRLY decides to CONQUEST new ports-complete pictorial review

Day 5: Dominican Republic

Day 4 on the ship: APRIL 18-TUESDAY: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC from 9-4pm

P4240035 copy.jpg
P4240036 copy.jpg

I set my alarm for 8am and we got up and showered and headed to the buffet for breakfast. I think you know the routine by now...but guess what? I'm changing it up. The hubby and I discovered the omelette station had smaller lines than the regular lines and we would head there hoping for a better experience with the eggs. BOOM! We won! Delicious eggs this time around.

P4180607 copy.jpg

Ahh, real eggs never tasted to good. It was a little more crowded this morning than normal, so I opted not to stand in the buffet line for all the "extras" because it extended on both sides and around the corner and down the hall.


I did discover the pastry "buffet" and these little tasty treats

P4180608 copy.jpg

I don't know what they are called, but they were yummy and I had a second since the only thing I had was an omelette.


We watched ourselves pull into La Romana and this is our first time here.

P4180609 copy.jpg
P4180613 copy.jpg
P4180611 copy.jpg

We were off the ship a little after 9am, once it was cleared, and off to face the obligatory photos for my scrapbook

P4240009 copy.jpg

...then to make our way out of the port.


Since this was our first time here, I had my research cut out of me. Some suggestions, on here, was to use Seavis Tours and head over to Saona, which is a little island. From looking at all of the pictures and stalking their social media page, I knew this looked like "my type" of island. I booked their "Saona Special", which included the boat ride to the island, your lunch and drinks, and a stop at a starfish sandbar. Yep, it sounded perfect.


The cost was $75 per adult and $50 per child under 12. They stated they had numerous no-shows in the past and now required deposits. Deposits are 20% of the total and the rest is due upon arrival.


The "tour" lasted from 9:45am until 2:15pm. The tour leaves from Bayahibe (which is about 25 minutes away) and you must take a taxi from the cruise port to there (which cost $15 per adult and $8 per child round trip). The instructions said the cab ride is arranged by "Taxi Casa De Campo", which is an independent company and we must give them a "tour code" to get this price.


There is a max of 26 people per boat and they can have up to 4 boats going out on the tour each day.


The included lunch consisted of pork chops, chicken, Dominican rice, salad, potatoes, pasta, fruits and french bread. Non-alcoholic drinks are water, orange juice (which was actually mango juice), cola (I later learn there was NO DIET), and sprite. There was a open bar with alcoholic drinks with rum mixes and beers.


I obtained a map from their site to figure out how to get out of the port (since it was our first time and I'm a "site" person) because I knew that time was of the essence when you factor in ship clearance at 9am, getting off by 9:15am (hopefully), time included in walking out of the port and to the taxi stand, and then a 25 minute ride to Bayahibe to make it there by 9:45am. Sounds impossible right? Or at least cutting it a little too close for comfort in my opinion. too close for comfort in my opinion.

P4240017 copy.jpg

After getting off the ship, we started our journey to the taxi station. It was a bit of a walk and we all know when you do something for the first time, it seems even longer. "Are we there yet?" kept racing in my mind.

P4180616 copy.jpg
P4180617 copy.jpg
P4180618 copy.jpg

Still trying to make it out of the port...

P4180622 copy.jpg

Sakari immediately noticed all the carved birds they had in this port.

P4180029 copy.jpg

I definitely knew there would be a battle of the "I want one" later when we returned.

P4180028 copy.jpg
P4180619 copy.jpg

♫ Just keep walking, just keep walking ♪

P4180621 copy.jpg
P4180620 copy.jpg

It looked like we had finally made it out to the area where they had the taxis.

P4180623 copy.jpg

It was a huge area and I wasn't sure where to go. I stopped several times to ask along the way and was pointed to the end.

P4180625 copy.jpg

There were plenty of tour buses lined up. They just weren't for us.

P4180624 copy.jpg

I approached a lady with a phone in the turn around area and ask about our taxi. She told us to "hold on and I'll get your cab". So, we stood around waiting. About then, we ran into Thrilled and family, who was also going on a tour...but a dune buggy tour. I started to doubt my decision because a dune buggy tour sounded amazing and something "different" than a beach day. She had been waiting for awhile and was told to wait as well.


We waited...and waited...and waited...and several times went back up to ask about our ride only to be told they were "working on it".


Sakari was busy taking pictures of this adorable little munchkin that stole our hearts.

P4180030 copy.jpg

It was getting late and I kept mumbling "we're not going to make it in time". It was already 9:45 and we were already supposed to be leaving for the tour and hadn't even made it there yet.


The hubby made a comment several times about how we should just go outside the port and catch a cab. There were plenty of cabs out there with the drivers standing at the fence, starring us down, and wanting our business. But, the only thing that actually stopped me was our $15/$8 pp round trip price and the fact that I watched a gentleman go up to one of the taxi buses and ask how much to get to _____ and their reply was $25 per person each way and they had 8 people in their party! $200 each way??? Are you serious?? That' s a $400 day just in transportation for them. I have no idea where they were going but I wasn't about to pay those prices!!


FINALLY, she told us to "come" and we followed....OUTSIDE THE PORT!! There ended up being 3 groups of people, going 3 different places.


Now we were outside the port with all of the other taxis.

P4180626 copy.jpg

I snapped a picture of my watch when we pulled out (this is how I keep track of my time spent at places) and it was now 9:58am and we had no idea what groups were getting dropped off at what places along the route and what type of delay that would mean for us. I lady conducting the taxi stand said they stay in contact with the vendors/tour companies and they knew we were coming.

Finally we were on our way...

P4180628 copy.jpg

I was busy snapping pictures along the way and trying to take my mind off just how late we were. Thrilled and I were still chatting it up and I was still wishing I would have booked the dune buggy tour.


I gave a few "lessons" to Thrilled about taking pictures in "moving"

P4180629 copy.jpg
P4180630 copy.jpg

We stopped to let a family off to do a jungle river cruise. Then we were off again. The next stop was for Thrilled and family with their exciting dune buggy tour.

P4180632 copy.jpg

Then we were the last to be dropped off.

P4180633 copy.jpg

We actually only pulled around the corner and we were there. It was located at the same area, just around the bay and beach area.

P4180634 copy.jpg

It was raining off and on and as you can tell by the pictures, pretty cloudy. It didn't look like a very nice day and that always brings you down a little when on vacation.

P4180635 copy.jpg

As soon as we pulled up, a lady approached our vehicle and ask if we were the "family" and I told them yes. They said they had been waiting for us and was about to pull out. Everyone was already in the boats and ready to go. She said since it was a rainy day, we had the option to continue with the tour or back out but it was up to us. It was nice that they gave us the option. Kudos! Well, we were going to an island, around water, at the beach, we were getting wet, so what's a little rain. YES! We are going. She was happy to hear that and said everyone else on the tour elected to go as well.

P4180762 copy-L.jpg

She rushed us out of the taxi and over to their "office" (I want to go to work at an office like this daily). We paid up our balance and signed some papers and was told to "rush to the boat".

P4180636 copy.jpg

Sakari was busy taking pictures of animals of course...

P4180032 copy.jpg

It looks like Sakari spotted things I didn't. I have no idea where she found this sculpture of remora fish, but I'm glad she has somewhat of an eye for things.

P4180033 copy.jpg

We raced across this beachy-bay area and I thought my legs were going to fall off.


"Come, come, hurry"

P4180637 copy.jpg

We were told that they keep in close contact with the taxi people in port and their last call to them to see if we were there resulted in being told "No, there isn't anyone left here for your tour!" SAY WHAT?? That's why everyone was in the boats and ready to pull out when we arrived. They were told we were a "no show" is the term they told them. UGH! GRR! It was the taxi stand that had us waiting for about 40 minutes for a taxi!!!

YES! We had made it. On the boat we went. According to my time stamp on my camera, we were pulling out at 10:33am. This means the tour was 45 minutes late...the exact time we were sitting at the taxi standing waiting for them to get our taxi.

P4180638 copy.jpg

Part of the boat had a cover over it and I opted to sit there with Sakari while the hubby went several seats up (without the cover). Eh, it's raining, it's not like it's going to matter since the sun isn't out and you're not going to get hot or burned more.

P4180641 copy.jpg

However, when it started raining again, being out in the open might have hurt a little more with having your face pounded with the rain water.

P4180035 copy.jpg

We stopped along the way and the tour guide pointed to some rocks that were caves. He explained that these caves were full of water and something about it being processed for x amount of their drinking water on the land. (Sorry, my mind was still in shock from almost missing our tour that I can't remember all of the details).

P4180644 copy.jpg
P4180645 copy.jpg

Sanoa Beach was in site at 11:04am. So it's basically a half hour boat ride, including the stop along the way about the caves.

P4180647 copy.jpg

As we slowly pulled up to the island, we stopped and was given instructions for the day. "This is our beach, this is where you sit, the other side is for other tour companies, this is where you snorkel, this is a pier that was destroyed by the hurricane over here and you can snorkel there as well. I wouldn't suggest getting the massage because there's not much time here and it's not worth it. It's an open bar the entire time you are here so enjoy. It is now 11:10 and lunch will be served at 11:30"...wait what? He went on to say what time we would gather to leave on the boat and head over to see the starfish (which I thought he said 12:30, but not sure), but I was still stuck on lunch in 20 minutes. How the heck am I gonna have time to snorkel, swim, and enjoy the island AND get tons of pictures? Seriously? I suppose this might be partially "our" fault because of the delay in us getting there...but seriously? 20 minutes? Debbie Downer entered my thoughts at this point and I knew it would be a race to get everything accomplished. The only problem is, I forgot to train for the Marathon this year...or last...or ever. I'm huffing and puffing just sitting here thinking about the "rushed" time frame we would have.

P4180646 copy.jpg
P4180649 copy.jpg

The pier that was destroyed by the hurricane and never rebuilt.

P4180651 copy.jpg

I swear I can not get a straight face out of this man to save my life. He's so goofy!

P4180652 copy.jpg

Where the boats parked was on one side and we had to track it over to the other side. It made me wonder why they don't just park on "their" side because there were some smaller boats there. Maybe it's just not deep enough? (Although we didn't get out on a dock or anything and had to climb over the end of the boat and into the shallow water).


Up and over the small sand hill we went and onto "our" portion of the beach.

P4180653 copy.jpg
P4180654 copy.jpg

We headed to grab a set of chairs and I picked one's that were basically right beside the "lunch" buffet-style line. Up to the line first, eat fast, try to make up for some of the lost day.


After putting our things down, I immediately set out to take as many pictures as I could.

P4180655 copy.jpg

The buffet table (and you can see the blue chair toward the bottom of the picture, which are our chairs:

P4180656 copy.jpg

There was plenty of picnic tables to eat at, other table and chairs, plenty of regular wooden chairs.

P4180657 copy.jpg

This is where they were doing the cooking. BBQ style out on that deck.

P4180658 copy.jpg

Of course, immediately this happened...

P4180659 copy.jpg

I told the hubby..."She's all yours, I'm off to take pics"

P4180660 copy.jpg

When I think of a "beautiful Caribbean beach", this is what I picture...somewhat. I love the beaches that have the soft powdery sand and palm trees spread out all over the beach for natural shade. I like the type of palm trees that have the leaves close to the ground, like in the pictures, with several bigger palms around them. It's just a beautiful site.

P4180662 copy.jpg
P4180661 copy.jpg

Everyone was pretty spread out. I liked that as well. You could be in groups and not be sitting right next to someone. There was plenty of room. However, if you are a (if you are critical of food, you are a foodie right? What are you if you are critical of a chair?....chair-ie snob?)...yea, if you are a chair-ie snob, then you might not like this beach. Those are wooden chairs you sit in. Use your beach towel for a little cushion, or be more like me and not have time to sit down and wander around seeing the beautiful scenery.

P4180663 copy.jpg
P4180664 copy.jpg
P4180665 copy.jpg
P4180666 copy.jpg

As you can tell by the pictures, it wasn't the most picturesque day out. No sun peeking out of the clouds, dreary, and this just doesn't make for awesome pictures. But, I tried my best. I have seen plenty of sunny-day pictures and know this is a beautiful beach/area.

P4180667 copy.jpg
P4180668 copy.jpg

Sakari and daddy checking out the water. It was really rough and a bit of a drop off instantly because of the waves. I was very unsure about her being able to use a mermaid tail and even less sure about her getting in the water.

P4180669 copy.jpg
P4180671 copy.jpg

She begged and pleaded and ended up getting in without her fin while we supervised...for about 2 minutes...then...

P4180673 copy.jpg

...I looked back at our chairs and everyone was already lined up for lunch. Gasp! So much for trying to be first in line and getting lunch over with to enjoy the rest of the day we had there. We were now last.


I signaled Sakari to come out of the water and she pulled her normal "I can't see you for some reason" glance-away look, as she turned her head. It's like pulling teeth to get her to come out of the water. It's even a bigger chore to get her to eat if it means coming out of the water. Threats are usually made "eat or no swim". That usually works.

This would be the prepared lunch for us...

P4180675 copy.jpg

Of course my first thoughts were "we just had spaghetti last night oh my", but once again we would have some spaghetti and it was pretty good. Actually everything I had was good (which I tried a little of everything except the pork chops because I'm not a big red meat eater unless it's hamburgers) and here I didn't even think I was hungry to begin with.

P4180676 copy.jpg
P4180674 copy.jpg

Even Sakari ate and ended up taking a piece of my chicken.


Finally she managed to convince us that the mermaid tail was a good idea.

P4180677 copy.jpg
P4180678 copy.jpg
P4180680 copy.jpg

This is the other side of the beach (that wasn't for us) and where the boats were pulling in at. I still kind of question why they park there instead of their side. This is the snorkeling area and I see nothing but potential problems with getting hit by boats coming in (which several boats came in as we were there).

P4180681 copy.jpg
P4180682 copy.jpg

I went back and talked Sakari in to getting out of the water and coming over to the "snorkeling spot" with me. At 12 noon we headed into the water...but it must have taken me a good 5 minutes or longer to try to actually get IN the water. First of all it was cold, but the main reason was there was nothing but rocks in the entrance...everywhere. You couldn't step anywhere without twisting an ankle. Then top it off with the huge waves coming in...this had the potential to end up disastrous for me. Sakari was over there like "just lay down and float in" girlfriend, momma's not skinny and little like you, if I lay down, I'm going to be beached like a whale, stuck on a rock".


I slowly but surely made my way out as the hubby looked on and I wasn't sure if he was hiding back his laughter or had to go potty.

P4180685 copy.jpg

Sakari made it out a little ways and I summoned her for a report. "Do you see anything?" Her reply was "Just a little". I was deep down inside hoping she would give me a report of "nope, nothing to see here" so that I could just turn around and crawl out of this mess...but then I got a reply "I think I see some fish on the bottom"...wait... "What do you mean you THINK you see fish". She finally confirmed that it was just too cloudy to see anything and the waves were making it impossible. Of course this confirmation came AFTER I had finally made it in the water. Sigh


Welp, here's your snorkeling picture for this trip....

P4180686 copy.jpg

There were several people that actually adventured out a little ways to the "missing pier", but at that point, I had decided I was done. I know the further you get out, the less stirred up things usually are, but it just wasn't fun at this point and now my mind was completely focused on just how I was going to manage to get out of here.

P4180687 copy.jpg
P4180688 copy.jpg

A few more pictures to snap before I tackle how I'm going to get back out of this water without breaking something...


Oh look, birds!

P4180690 copy.jpg
P4180692 copy.jpg

I decided that I would cross over (toward the new pier) the boats and anchors (which I had no idea where the anchors lied in the sand due to no visibility) and try to hope for better results over there. Slowly but surely I made my way over, only managing to trip over one of the boat lines and making it look like I meant to take a dip under water because walking on rocks is a work out (true story I kid you not), and then over to the beach. There's a certain way to do this that makes it a little more elegant than looking like you are walking a tightrope. I'm sure you have all tried it in the past, whether walking on rocks, or walking on look down and pick your next stepping spot, you wait for the wave to come and that's your nudge to move up (with a little help from the water). Inch by inch, foot by foot, you do this, acting as if you are just enjoying a leisurely stroll coming in from the ocean. The goal is to not take baby steps forward and giant steps backwards when the waves return back out to the sea and pushes you backwards.


I'm pretty sure the hubby is no longer laughing at this point...but instead cheering me on "You can do it!!!" Sigh.


I finally made it out, in one piece, no scrapes, no bruises, no falls this time around.

P4180693 copy.jpg

The hubby..."Are you o....k" wait, puppies! Then off he went.

P4180694 copy.jpg

I figured I would have better luck walking something that is more my style and this would do it...

P4180695 copy.jpg

Ok, truth be known, that wore me out. It's a good excuse to sit on the pier and act like I'm only doing that because I'm taking these perfect pier shots that might some day appear in a Ocean Life magazine.

P4180698 copy.jpg

See, you lay down on a pier to catch your breath and hold your camera up and others just think you a taking pictures and nobody has to know you are resting. (A trick I learned a long time ago when I started getting fluffy...truth is out, now you all can use my tidbits, tips and tricks to elegant resting).

P4180699 copy.jpg

Well whattaya know, the sun came out for a split second and I managed to get a shot, from the pier, of a mermaid down on the beach.

P4180703 copy.jpg

I approached one of the other cruisers, that was on the tour with us, and ask her what time they said we were leaving. Obviously I was not the only one shocked by the short time frame we would be here because she hadn't heard that tidbit of information either. Oh well, I guess when I start to see people heading toward the boat, I'd know.


Walking back toward "our side"

P4180704 copy.jpg
P4180705 copy.jpg
P4180707 copy.jpg
P4180706 copy.jpg

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention...I have a new "friend" I am going to be taking with me on cruises. I found this mentioned on a scuba social media site and I just knew I had to have one! A lego scuba diver that's holding a camera!!! YES!


I looked them up on ebay and about had sticker shock when I seen prices ranging up to $25 for a scuba lego person! Really?


I did manage to find one a tad bit cheaper...actually a lot cheaper ($4 plus delivery) and I immediately ordered it for this cruise. When it arrived, I was equally shocked to find that it was smaller in size than half my finger! Wow. Not at all what I expected. But, I have a macro function on my camera and I knew I would be using this to take pictures of the scuba photographer. The only issue is, you have to put it together and it comes apart easily...especially the fins and mask. I really meant to super glue it together, prior to leaving, but never got around to it. So...I was extra careful when handling it and prayed that it didn't get washed away by the water on some of the shots I had planned on taking.


So here we go....

P4180712 copy.jpg
P4180711 copy.jpg
P4180710 copy.jpg

I totally forgot to take pictures of it in Grand Turk the previous day and was completely kicking myself for it. I could have managed to get some great shots with the huge stingrays in the water behind it and also a few cute ideas come to mind using all those conch shells. Oh well. It's new to me and hopefully I'll start to remember each time.


Sakari made new friends and spent time photographing them.

P4180041 copy.jpg
P4180045 copy.jpg
P4180044 copy.jpg

We were told these are just "island dogs" and they run free and it's believed that they are brother and sister.


At 12:30, they started telling everyone to pack up and get on the boat. I was so sad. I guess I'm grateful that it was not a beautiful sunny day because if it had been, I wouldn't have wanted to leave at all. We were there approximately almost 1 hour and a half. Just not enough time in my book and I hate when tours are like this. It almost feels like wasted money. But, I'm glad I had the experience.


This time Sakari decided she would sit with daddy on the ride back. Since she was on the opposite side as me, she managed to get a great shot of the birds as we pulled out.

P4180037 copy.jpg

They stopped at some point to tell us about the mangroves.

P4180715 copy.jpg

Then within 8 minutes, we were at our sandbar location for the starfish. Well that was quick!


We all piled out of the boat...and here is Sakari with her life jacket on know, the child that refuses to wear them when swimming or snorkeling! One of the tour operators said "Hey, the water is just over your ankles, I don't think you'll need that life jackets". LOL

P4180718 copy.jpg

We immediately went on a starfish "hunt". Everyone was going in different directions and then we hear the tour guide yell "Hey, stay together. Come back over here". Ugh, I hate when tour guides do this and don't want you to go more than 5 feet from them.


But, I guess he already managed to round up 2 starfish for everyone to see.

P4180719 copy.jpg

Meanwhile, hubby is telling me to "take my the picture we took at that one place, on that one ship, in that one port awhile back that made me look like I was out in the ocean standing on the water".

He was referring to Nohoch Kay, the Breeze, and Costa Maya back in 2013.


Here is the picture I took of him back then:


That was a zoomed in pic. Here is how far I really was from him at the time:

P4180720 copy.jpg

Noooot quite the same effect. With our limited 5' range from the tour guide, I'm pretty sure this would be the best we would get for the day. No more walking on water for you sir!


As people went over and sat in a circle around the tour guide in amazement of the starfish he had captured, along come Sakari with her own she had found! (Of course...that's my daughter...starfish wrangler).

P4180721 copy.jpg

People don't know us on these tours, they have no idea just how cruise/ocean educated my child already is. It's not her first rodeo, or second, or even 15th. But of course they have no idea and I wouldn't expect them to. But one thing they would learn quickly is she finds her own to share as if she was the instructor... and has been known to do some education to groups as well.

P4180723 copy.jpg

Yep, she gets to sit right up front with the guide during the "demonstration" if she's part of it. This is that grin I get from her when she thinks she's the center of attention.

P4180724 copy.jpg



*There are several thousands of different starfish

*Most have 5 arms, but some species can have 10, 20 and even 40 arms.

*Their hard bony skin protects them from most predators.

*They have suction cup feet, which allow them to open clams, oysters and food.

*Average life span in the wild is up to 35 years

*They can grow up to 4.7-9.4 inches

*They can weigh up to 11 pounds

*They have no brains or blood. They have a nervous system.

*Their mouth is located on in the middle on the bottom.

*They can reproduce sexually or asexually.

*Most can regenerate lost arms and they can also shed arms in defense or if scared.


The guide told us not to allow the starfish to sit on the palm of your hand...he said if they suction, you can't get them off. Um...ok. They have suctioned to us plenty of times and they come off.


We were told to keep them in water, only bringing them up for 5 seconds at a time to get pictures, then putting them back in the water.

P4180726 copy.jpg
P4180729 copy.jpg
P4180732 copy.jpg
P4180735 copy.jpg
P4180728 copy.jpg
P4180730 copy.jpg
P4180733 copy.jpg
P4180736 copy.jpg
P4180737 copy.jpg

I don't know who Sakari passed her camera to, but she managed to get pictures of herself with the starfish on her camera.

P4180050 copy.jpg
P4180054 copy.jpg
P4180053 copy.jpg
P4180055 copy.jpg
P4180047 copy.jpg
P4180048 copy.jpg

A few practice shots with the macro on the camera. I'm still learning this part of the camera.

P4180743 copy.jpg
P4180749 copy.jpg
P4180745 copy.jpg
P4180746 copy.jpg
P4180750 copy.jpg

One of the other guides managed to bring a sea cucumber over. Once again, we encounter these everywhere we go and have many pictures with them. But the guide said "This is a sea urchin", no it's not. Now I'm pretty sure he knows what it actually is and mistakenly call it by the wrong name. But in his defense, he was just telling people to watch where they walk because sea urchins can be hiding in the sea grass. So, I'm sure he just said it by mistake.

P4180753 copy.jpg

Sea Cucumber facts:


*A typical sea cucumber is around 3.9-11.8 inches

*One end contains the mouth with the other end containing the anus

*Sea Cucumbers also have no brain or eyes and does have nerves.

*Most eat debris and plankton

*Their defense is their skin and can change from liquid to solid. They can squeeze into small places and harden again.

*Another defense mechanism is when they are removed from their habitat, they will PEE, which removes all the water out of their system and they can harden like a rock.

*Last but not least, if they are really scared, they can spit out their guts...including respiratory, intestines, gonads...all of it. They can self generate these organs if they are able to get to safety.


So...our guide would bring the sea cucumber out of the water several times and we would watch it "pee".

P4180755 copy.jpg
P4180059 copy.jpg
P4180057 copy.jpg
P4180740 copy.jpg
P4180739 copy.jpg

We stayed here, at the starfish sandbar, for 42 minutes. Then we piled back in the boats, sipped up the last bit of booze, and we were off for the interesting ride back.

P4180758 copy.jpg

Sakari's picture of the water caves

P4180036 copy.jpg

On our hilarious ride back, we discovered that 4 peopl