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A view of iceburgs around Port Cape Horn and Drake Passage

Cruising Bahia de Samana

A cruise through the Dominican Republic’s Bahía de Samaná offers a firsthand look at some of this Caribbean nation’s most stunning natural attractions. From migrating humpback whales to virgin rain forests, Bahía de Samaná has an abundance of wildlife and natural beauty, far removed from the overdeveloped resort zones in other parts of the country.

Upon first entering the calm, protected bay, the ship glides past picturesque Cayo Levantado, a tiny, palm-fringed desert isle that boasts the region’s most stunning beach. From there, it’s only a short ride to the provincial capital, Santa Bárbara de Samaná, a small outpost tucked into a cove in the bay, flanked by green mountains.

At the far western end of the bay, passengers can spot the rugged terrain and dense rain forests of Los Haitises National Park, the jewel of the Dominican Republic’s national-park system. And those who arrive during the winter season should always keep one eye on the surrounding water, watching for the telltale blasts of humpback whale breath. Sightings are frequent, and the chance to spot these magnificent creatures in the wild should not be missed.