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Disappointed in Dominica

Roseau, Dominica from the Morne Bruce Viewpoint.

We’d heard a lot about the vast natural beauty of Dominica and were really looking forward to visiting this Caribbean island. We’d heard great things about Titou Gorge, snorkeling on the Champagne Reef and Trafalgar Falls. But, as we discovered on our Dominica tour, the island has a long way to go. We were definitely disappointed in Dominica.

To be honest, Dominica does live up to its reputation of intense natural beauty. Here, steep mountains plunge directly down into the sea. Roads and trails cling desperately to steep cliffs. The entire island is covered in a lush forest. The vegetation gives off a kind of humidity and our nostrils were filled with the sweet fragrance of flowers.

But Dominica is also an island struggling with poverty and trying to accommodate tourism. The island’s infrastructure just isn’t able to handle the amount of visitors it is receiving. The result is a trip-over-each-other experience – especially if more than one cruise ship is in port at a time.

Another cruise ship in the port of Roseau, Dominica.

Another cruise ship in port

We stopped at Dominica during our recent Celebrity Summit cruise. We had a nice long day to explore the island and arranged to do the Dominica Jewel Tour with the Nature Isle Explorers company – along with everyone else on the cruise. And there was another ship in port as well.

Snorkeling at the Champagne Reef in Dominica.

We began our shore excursion by heading to the Champagne Reef for some snorkeling. On arriving at the snorkel spot, we got our first taste of Dominica. The snorkel spot in Soufriere Bay was packed with people. There was no organization. Several tour providers all converged on the same spot. There were not enough masks, fins and snorkels to go around, resulting in a long wait (over an hour). What was supposed to be a 45 minute to 1 hour snorkel ended up being a rushed 20 minutes.

There can be large numbers of snorkelers visiting the Champagne Reef at one time in Dominica.

Large numbers of snorkelers visiting the Champagne Reef

Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful. The geothermal activity on the island bubbles to the surface just off-shore. Here, in the marine reserve of Soufriere Bay is an underwater volcano and warm water comes out of natural vents in a coral reef in the cool ocean. At the Champagne Reef, it’s like snorkeling or swimming in a champagne glass as the tiny bubbles tickle your skin. The only other time we’ve seen something like this was in the Antique Pool of Pamukkale in Central Turkey.

Snorkeling at the Champagne Reef in Dominica where volcanic activity bubbles to the surface.

After a disappointing snorkel, we made a quick stop at the Botanical Gardens to see different flora species native to the island. There were some beautiful flowers, but also some birds in cages. We’re not fans of animal captivity, so we skimmed over that part. The highlight of the botanical gardens is the bright yellow school bus crushed under a baobab tree during a hurricane in 1979.

The school bus at the Dominica Botanical Gardens. This bus was crushed under a baobab tree during a hurricane in 1979.

The Nature Isle Explorers tour then led us up into the mountains to the Titou Gorge, part of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). This cave-like natural gorge is a wonder and became famous for its role in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean 2. Here, we swam up into a gorge against the current of a stream. I’m not going to lie: the water is frigid. At the head of Titou Gorge, a small waterfall comes through a keyhole, where visitors could jump into the pool. Or that was the plan. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out like that. Like everything on Dominica, there were too many people at Titou Gorge. Two large groups were herded into the very narrow gorge at one time. One group didn’t have strong swimmers and they were struggling with the strong currents. People were kicking each other and screaming at each other and struggling in the swift-moving water. The guides pulled everyone out before someone drowned. And, in the end, we weren’t able to see the waterfalls or even experience Titou Gorge. Frankly, we were kind of pissed because Titou Gorge was the one thing we really wanted to experience on Dominica.

Large numbers of people crowd into the narrow Titou Gorge in Dominica.  This was included in the Pirates of the Caribbean 2.

The crowds at Titou Gorge

The final stop on our Dominica tour was Trafalgar Falls. The first clue about the falls was the fact we couldn’t get to the parking lot – it was already packed full of buses. We were let off at the bottom of the hill for a long walk up to the entrance. From the entrance, it’s 10 minute walk to a viewing platform to look out at the Mother Falls and the Father Falls. The viewing platform was as packed as a nightclub and I worried the wooden platform might collapse under the weight of all the visitors.

Visiting Trafalgar Falls on our Dominica Tour.

A trail led us further down below the falls where we encountered natural hot springs pools. After the frigid temperatures of the Titou Gorge, it felt amazing to sit in the warm murky waters. This was definitely the highlight of the day.

Soaking in the hot springs below Trafalgar Falls in Dominica.  This is the perfect way to warm up after the cold waters at Titou Gorge.

The challenge with Dominica is that there are relatively few things to do on the island. So, when a large number of visitors arrive at one time (such as when a cruise ship is in town), the island is overwhelmed as nearly everyone visits Titou Gorge, the Champagne Reef and Trafalgar Falls. The island’s infrastructure can’t accommodate that many visitors at one time and in such concentrations. We loved the natural beauty of Dominica and would like to return someday. But on this trip, we were definitely disappointed in Dominica.

Enjoying the local beer in Dominica after a disappointing shore excursion to Titou Gorge, Trafalgar Falls and the Champagne Reef.

After the day we had, the local was a big help

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What do you think about Disappointed in Dominica?

  1. Ryan Biddulph March 24, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

    Hi Lance,

    This is really a tough one.

    I visited more than 1 spot that’s gorgeous but can’t handle the tourist throng. Spoils it.

    If I’m hitting Bangkok I have no problems with crowds. It’s a city. If I visit a slice of paradise more people kills the experience. I can’t blame the locals; they are poor and have a poverty mindset, not knowing that overcrowding kills their brand and turns off many folks.

    Koh Lanta was the perfect tropical island for me, at least as far as a chill getaway. We visited for a month. No tourists at all really, just a few, but with some cool Western comforts.

    This Thai island has the perfect mix down in my eyes.

    Lance thanks for sharing!

    Tweeting from Bali.

    Ryan

    • christon March 30, 2015 at 7:22 am #

      Lance

      Please note that you did not enjoy your trip frankly because of where you went. We in dominica have alot of different areas to visit and is the best vacation island after the Bahamas.

      Your operator or your attitude is your problem but dominica is the nature island of the world.if you are ever back in Dominica I will personally give you a free tour for your enjoyment.

      Sorry to say but you cant blame us in Dominica you were brought where you paid for.

      Regards
      Christon

      • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 10:05 am #

        I don’t know if I could compare Dominica to the Bahamas – they are both very different. Growing up in the mountains, I have a fondness for them, so Dominica’s geography certainly has a lot of appeal to me. And we just may take you up your offer.

      • Theo March 30, 2015 at 11:20 pm #

        This is the experience of this visitor and he is right. The infrastructure is NOT encouraging. He has expressed his love and beauty for Dominica but getting there and about is tedious even with you as his driver, guide.
        Dominica is NOT ready for tourism development status…we have a loooong way to go

      • Althea April 2, 2015 at 7:30 am #

        Well said Christian. I totally agree with your sentiments! We have plenty to do and see in our beautiful island. Trying to fit a few spots in a day from a cruise ship is frankly nonsensensicle! Not surprised by the outcome!

    • Jeane March 30, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

      Hi,
      I am from the nature Isle (Dominica) and yes I Do agree that during the tourist season when most of our visitors arrive they arrive in clusters. But I am offended that are blaming this over crowiding by stating we have a poverty mindset.. we are not poor, we are a small island and it is obvious we can not compete economically with large countries but guess what we do not go hungry. No, we do not have skyscrapers and having pretty building does not make a country rich.we are rich in culture and heritage, visiting us in one day when everyone else is here might be a little overwhelming but do not let one persons experience deter you. You want a good experience visit us in October. You may think we do not have a lot to offer in terms of the fast life but we are an Eco – touristic destination. We are a very cultural nation and that means we embrace the old and the new because that is what make us unique. Its part of our heritage and we are proud of it. We are in the Caribbean that means we have sun 365 days a year. Visitors can come at anytime they choose so visitation is not limited to the tourist season. So I disagree that our brand is being damaged by overcrowiding because our visitors have choice about when they would like to visit. We can not be blamed because a lot of visitors want tobbisit at the same time.

      • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

        I’m sorry if you are offended. I wrote about my experience and this is an opinion. As for poverty, I did not find Dominica to be poor. However, our guide from Dominica made that point, so we included in the article. I agree with you that Dominica is a very cultural nation and needs to be experienced. However, Dominica is also courting cruise ships and visitors. By default, that means everyone will be there at the same time. When the nearly 300,000 visitors come (and they are coming on cruise ships), what kind of experience are they having?

      • Howard March 30, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

        I also am from Dominica and I vsisted recentky as a tourist, I understand that there are economic challenges facing Dominica but I truly do not believe that the Toursim board is doing enough to accomodate tourists.
        The site of the Roseau Dock is vey unappealing, The walk from the other port in Fond Cole is also unappealing and esthtically challenged. Theres a lot that can be done using natural talents and material on the Island.
        Such as planting palm trees along the waterfront from Roseau to Fond Cole. Paving the road from Roeau to Loubiere, Placing Sculpture througout the city. Improving landscaping in the Botanical Gardens. Improving the Tourist sites.

      • Althea April 2, 2015 at 7:31 am #

        Well said Jean!

    • Abraham March 30, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

      Ryan I think your comments are very prejudice and bias:”they are very poor and have a poverty mindest” Really?! Because the people are Black? I am from Dominica and we are very hard working and friendly people with out a poverty mindset, thank you very much. I work in a fortune 500 company for a top financial institution in New York City and my mindset is to have the American dream. I do agree that Dominica needs to do more to handle the congestion of tourists, this is something thats been addressed to the local government and politicians which of course fall on deaf ears. I thank you for making an honest assessment of our problems that we have, much appreciated, hopefully the govermnet of Domiinca see your article and try to do something about and implement the necessary changes when dealing with tourism.

      • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

        From my experience, I would concur with Abraham that the people we encountered in Dominica were hard working, polite, and very friendly. I only mentioned poverty in my article because it was a central theme mentioned by our tour guide. Personally, I did not experience a “poverty mindset” among the Dominicians. I did not see any victimizing or negativity. I saw bunch of hard working folks who could not have been more pleasant.

    • Greatful March 30, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

      Thank you. We appreciate feedback! Negative comments help us look at things from different perspectives and possibly improve our product. For the people who have no understanding of Eco and Nature tourism, read up and understand what the man is saying? Ever heard of carrying capacity? Or more specifically perceptual capacity?

      If this is the experience and sentiment among visitors then we are indeed hurting our brand, our natural resources and our economy just for a quick buck. Tourists come to the nature island not to experience mass tourism. The word nature suggests peace and tranquility and that’s what is expected. Now I know that there is much to offer but very little we can do with the six hours that tourists are on shore.

      But we need to conserve/protect our natural resources and meet or even exceed our customers expectations. It’s time we work towards the sustainability of the tourism industry. All comments that will lead us towards this are welcomed.

  2. Jenna March 25, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Sounds so frustrating–it’s always hard dealing with crowds, especially when they aren’t handled well. I’ve been wanting to visit Dominica. It looks so beautiful, but after this, I think I would want to try and visit when there aren’t any ships in port–wonder if there are many off days. Anyways, glad you got to see a bit of the island’s beauty. Hope the rest of the cruise was better!

    • Lance Longwell March 25, 2015 at 11:27 pm #

      The rest of the cruise was amazing! The perfect way to relax for the holidays.

      • Br. March 30, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

        I somehow see why SOME Dominicans will get offended and a little bit annoyed about certain things mentioned in your article. There are a few who are also in a bit of agreement with some of the things you said. however, I feel like some people are either scared of saying Okay Mr. Longwell, you DO have a point there.

        The thing about a country and its people is that they get offended really fast when they read comments that tend to lean towards the negative side. However, they need to understand that whatever the comments, it wouldn’t be made if the experience didn’t lead to making such a comment or comments for that matter.

        As a Dominican, I have seen, wondered and thought about how can we deal with such crowds at peek times in the tourist season. I am Dominican and I am siding with you on the point that there REALLLLLLY needs to be some form of proper organization put in place for visiting sites, especially the most popular sites. These are not the only places to visit on the island. There are many, many other sites around the entire island that needs recognition. Therefore, rather than being yelled at and saying they are disappointed in your article, we as DOMINICANS should use that and build on the weak areas, it doesn’t take just locals to figure out what weak areas we have in the tourism industry. The biggest and BEST module of understanding and developing our tourist infrastructure is to learn from the experiences of a TOURIST! They are the only ones that can inform and properly pin point the areas where we are weak and can improve.

        Using the word poor is not demeaning the society and its people. I do not for once believe that’s what you used the word for. There are many other countries and islands which are poor in certain areas and rich in other areas. However, The use of such a word should be used in the right context. So, therefore, you have the freedom to explain in what areas you saw the island struggling with poverty. Dominicans are a free minded people as well and do not get me wrong, I am not arguing for or against either side here, I am simply putting in a neutral word and saying every where struggles with poverty. So by you mentioning that, it is nothing new, and by Some Dominicans getting annoyed by you mentioning that, that is ignorance.

        Additionally, I hope your next trip you will enjoy much much more, DO NOT limit yourself to the most popular spots and tourist sites. Visit at a time when its not so busy and crowded. The young lady mentioned October but that during the World Creole Music Festival and Independence season, which is good but she failed to mention also, that is is CROWDED with tourists. Do some more research, make a few calls and you will find that ANY tourist driver can take you to many other spots you hadn’t hear of and You will be AMAZED that these areas are not so CROWDED.

        For I believe that your entire article was based to mention that hey, this is a beautiful country which can survive on its tourism industry, but the organization for visiting destinations and tourist sites are poorly organized and I AGREE with you in some ways about that situation. We should embrace your article for both the negative and positive light that you shed because only then can we see what can be improved on.
        I Do not care if someone disagree with me by applauding your efforts, but your efforts shed some light in some areas. YES there needs to be proper organization whether we like it or not. ….. And another thing, NO One really hates your article, they’re just scared to admit that there needs to be crowd control and poverty exists everywhere.

        Thank You!

    • Thia March 30, 2015 at 8:34 am #

      I am Dominican and it is beautiful. I agree with you, visit when it is not as busy. Can you imagine so many people trying to cram in so many tours in hours, that’s what one should expect, just like when I have been Disney and have had to wait in lines for hours and hours in the hot sun. ..same thing.

  3. Wendy Was Here March 25, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    I worked with a girl who had volunteered in Dominica and had really extolled its virtues to me on a daily basis for nearly two years. This was back in the early 00’s and I have a feeling she would be a bit surprised of the throngs arriving now. Pretty sad as it seems like it’s quickly heading from unspoiled to spoiled.

    • Lance Longwell March 25, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

      Thanks Wendy. Hopefully, Dominica will invest in its infrastructure and the situation will improve. It’s a beautiful country…

      • Caryl March 30, 2015 at 8:59 am #

        How do you come to my beautiful Dominica for one day and expect to enjoy it…we have natural beauty no artificial , we are indeed unspoile and we are nature isle…..

        • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 10:28 am #

          Thanks Caryl. Dominica is truly beautiful!

  4. Danny March 29, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    I’m from Dominica. Its really difficult to enjoy Dominica in 1 day. Much of the island is unspoiled but generally it’s the taxis and the tour groups who take tourists to the same places all the time. I suppose because most of the other locations are medium difficultly hikes. The best places are more difficult to get to. Try coming again.. stay a week this time and you’ll see the real country.. away from the Tourists.. and into nature.. 🙂 Thanks for your words though, I was happy to read the reality from someone who experienced it.

    • Vincia March 29, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

      I agree!

    • Lance Longwell March 29, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

      Thanks for taking time to comment Danny. As I said, we would like to return someday and see a different side of the island.

  5. Islander Originally March 29, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    So what exactly do you recommend be done to improve such? Because to me, over-crowding is inevitable, especially when there’s a ship in port and it’s tourist season. So I don’t think those are even good enough reasons to make such a conclusion that you’re “disappointed in Dominica”. That’s only going to give people a bad taste in their mouth when they consider visiting there. I think it’s just bad timing. If you’re visiting a country on a cruise ship or during the season, you should expect areas to be packed with visitors. My time in Dominica was magnificent and the island is a lovely destination.

    • Lance Longwell March 29, 2015 at 11:39 pm #

      Being disappointed is my personal opinion. I agree that over-crowding and situation does give people a bad taste. However, other islands don’t suffer the same over-crowding and logistical challenges we encountered in Dominica – even islands smaller than Dominica. To be honest, I don’t know why. My guess it has something to do with licensing of guides/companies, permitting to get into sites, etc. I’m hoping that things will be different on our next trip!

      • T.S March 30, 2015 at 9:47 am #

        I am from Dominica and like you I have visited many places in Europe, the Caribbean and Central America.

        What you describe here is no different that what I have seen in other tourist spots.

        As far as the other Caribbean islands are concerned, you don’t see people falling over each other because most of them have very little of natural beauty to offer.

        I have travelled from Aruba in the south to the Bahamas and visited most of the islands in between, and I can tell you that Dominica is by far one of the most beautiful of those islands.

        I was there in October for 11 days with my wife who is not from Dominica. We had access to a vehicle and we had one of the best vacations EVER. We visited a lot of spots on the island and 99% of the time, we were the only ones there.

        The people are very friendly and are always willing to assist. Although I was born in Dominica, I left as a young lad and I don’t know the island very well. That gave us the opportunity to explore the place more fully.

        Whilst there we met some friends who travelled to Dominica for the World Creole Music festival. Three had come from Trinidad and one from Miami. One thing that struck them was how safe they felt on the island. This is one of the safest places you will find in all the Americas.

        Here is my suggestion to you. Don’t let that deter you. You have not seen Dominica yet. Plan a trip in late October when the World Creole Festival is on, spend a week there. Your experience will be far different from what you saw on your recent visit.

        • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 10:53 am #

          I would absolutely agree that Dominica is probably the most beautiful Caribbean island I’ve ever visited. And I’d agree people were very friendly and the island is safe and wonderful. The Creole Festival seems pretty amazing. I have to put that on our bucket list!

      • Anonymous March 30, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

        Hi Lance,
        I read the three reviews you wrote of the other islands in your itinerary (St. Croix, St. Kitts, and St. Thomas), and in each of those, you mentioned having done “our usual research,” which led you to make a personal itinerary that you were very satisfied with. And in all three of those islands, it seems as though you only visited one site–a beach–on each. I am curious whether you did any prior research on possible itineraries in Dominica before you came? Also, would you suggest that tour operators accommodate the crowds by driving to a site farther away from the Roseau port?

        I’ve lived in Dominica for the past two years–on the north side of the island, which is a 1.5 drive from the Roseau cruise ship port. Dominica’s north coast has several spectacular and secluded beaches. I am happy that you are open to coming to Dominica again, at which time I hope you visit (and write about!) some of the other, less-frequented sites on the island.

        • Sandy April 1, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

          Agree 100%. My daughter was stationed on the north side of the island and we had access to a car. Because she had lived there for a while, she knew where to take us. (And both of our trips to the island were in the fall.)

      • ShermsCT January 13, 2016 at 1:05 am #

        Your article title is very misleading because the island did not disappoint you – the organization of the tourist board/cruise ship/tour guide is what disappointed you. Dominica’s natural beauty has always been there and will continue to be the gem of the Caribbean. I would encourage you to revise your title because the body of the article does not support it.
        There are many factors that must be considered:
        What tour did you pay for? The cheapest, the most popular, the shortest distances apart?
        What time of year did you visit?
        Did the salesperson at the desk on the ship tell you that this tour was the most popular?
        I am originally from Dominica and have cruised to my beautiful home island twice so I have experienced the sales pitch about the most popular tour for every island you go to. The information on the TV in the stateroom only show a few activities in each island. We do our own research and NEVER pay for the tours on the cruise ship, over priced and over crowded. You’re shuffled around like a herd of cattle and must go to all the places even if you’re only interested in 2 and would like to stay longer at a certain spot.
        Hope your next visit to Dominica is soon and that you try doing it the local way.

        • Lance Longwell January 13, 2016 at 10:29 am #

          There was no salesperson and no sales pitch. We didn’t book through the ship. As you suggested, we did our own research and went entirely independently. However, the issue is that the island just cannot sustain cruise ships…yet this is exactly the kind of business that the government and the tourist sector in Dominica is trying to bring to the island. It’s not a sustainable model. And the result is that visitors are disappointed. The hundreds of comments here (and on Facebook and in local newspaper) to this article show that others feel the same way. The issue is systemic.

    • Caryl March 30, 2015 at 9:09 am #

      I truely agree with your comment

  6. Vincia March 29, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

    I’ll have to agree with Danny on this one. It’s not easy to enjoy the essence of what this land has to offer in just one day or on a daily cruise. Think of it as a trailer to a really good movie. I guess your trailer just sucked. But the movie is gonna be the bomb if you give it another chance! I’m kinda comforted that your bad experience was just with over-crowding and not ill-treatment by islanders or uninteresting places and such. But I’m sure if you visit the island when it’s on off-season, then you’d have a greater experience. Hope you consider it!

    • Lance Longwell March 29, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

      Thanks Vincia. I love your analogy about the the movie trailer! I’m going to have to use that some time. The islanders on Dominica were a delight!

  7. Chad March 29, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

    Lance I’m sorry your experience in Dominica wasn’t what you expected. As a Dominican living here there are a few things you mention I don’t totally agree with you on.

    1) ” there are relatively few things to do on the island.” Quite to the contrary though. Dominica has quite a number of other attractions you just could not see in a day. For example: Emerald Pool (Which might have also been over crowded on days when ships are in port), Spanny Falls is not too far from Emerald Pool but is a longer hike. There is also Sari Sari, Middle Ham, Salton, Dernier Falls and these are just those I can remember off the top of my head.

    Champange is the top destination for diving here, but just a 15 minute drive south is another amazing dive location in Scotts Head bay. Whales have even been spotted in Scotts Head Bay before. There are also excellent dive spots in the north of the island.

    There are also many other hot spring pools across the island in Soufiere, Layou and several Wotten Waven. You could have also gone river tubing on Layou River, at the end of this river has a wonderful beach. There is also the Mero, Coconut & Woodfordhill beach, once again just to name a few.

    2) Dominica is not poor and desperate for the tourist dollar. Like every country in the world there is poverty in Dominica but the notion that generally Dominicans are poor is far from the truth.

    Once again I’m really sorry we didn’t live up to your expectation but like Danny said, there’s no way to have the complete Dominican experience in just a few hours. A cruise ship visitor basically gets the equivalent of a free sample at a supermarket of Dominica.

    I would like to encourage you to visit Dominica again, but this time for a few weeks. I could put you in contact with a number of top notch tour guides and await your full review.

    • Lance Longwell March 29, 2015 at 11:52 pm #

      Thanks Chad and I appreciate your perspective. The notion of poverty came from our local tour guide. He mentioned it. I just wouldn’t want you to think we were inconsiderate. However, we’d love to return to Dominica! If you know some guides, we’d take you up on that!

    • diane March 30, 2015 at 7:48 am #

      Chad,
      I grew up in Dominica and have not visited for far too many years. I will be returning with my husband for a nine day stay and would love to have an excellent tour guide to help us enjoy my island home to its fullest! care to share contact information of some top notch guides?
      thank you much!

      • Chad March 30, 2015 at 10:44 am #

        Diane,

        Send me an email at atschad@gmail.com and we will make arrangements.

    • Nayan March 30, 2015 at 9:42 am #

      Well said Chad. My exact thoughts.
      I’m sure when Lance returns he will be blown away.

  8. nigel March 30, 2015 at 12:33 am #

    Dominica is a beautiful island. The problem with your trip is that you only came for a day on a cruise ship. Everyone visits the same site at the same time because there are limited hours in the day . That being said everyone visits the same sites at the same time. Maybe you should try coming for a week. Much better experience. Yes it’s still all natural unspoiled beauty.

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 12:43 am #

      I agree Nigel. Surely a week would be better. That said, other islands are able to accommodate the influence of cruise ship visitors – why not Dominica?

      • Nadge March 30, 2015 at 8:39 am #

        I don’t think its a case where other island are able to accommodate the influence of cruise ship visitors and we cannot. I think its that most of the best sites to visit in Dominica cannot be reach and explored in a matter of 2 hours so therefore at the moment the best way to give visitors a taste of what the island has to offer is to take them to the closer or more accessible areas/sites so then that results in over crowding. As the others said, there’s no way you can enjoy what Dominica has to offer in just one day or a few hours. So its simple as at the moment we can only entertain with the sites that are closer and easier to access in that limited amount of time given to a cruise ship visitor but i am sure if you were to spend more time on the island you may end up having an entire site to your self 🙂
        Yet still thanks for visiting. Do come again.. This time for a week or two.

        • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 10:26 am #

          Those are good points Nadge. Thanks for adding.

  9. Dorian March 30, 2015 at 4:13 am #

    Hey Lance,
    Sorry for your poor experience on island during your visit, but I’m a bit comforted that this was only due to the sites being overcrowded and not because they did not live up to expectations or a poor experience to with the islanders. As a Dominican, we appreciate your feedback, and like the others, I would like to encourage you to visit for a longer period. Even one week will be able to offer you so much (if you can handle it). However, I would just like to disagree with you on a few of your points.

    1. As Chad noted, you are quite mistaken when you said that “there are relatively few things to do on the island”. What you were offered is a typical tour of popular sites in and around the city, usually offered to cruise visitors. I do agree that the tours should be organized better to avoid the overcrowding issue, but the island has so much more to offer.
    Waterfalls include: Trafalgar Falls, Middleham falls, Victoria falls, Sari Sari falls, Jacko Falls,
    Other Rivers include: Emerald pool, Layou River, Indian River, Chaudiere etc (365 rivers-one for everyday)
    Other Hikes include: Boeri Lake, Boiling Lake (the second largest hot lake in the world), Waitikubuli National Trail (several available, with different difficulty levels)
    Other hot springs: Soufriere hot springs, Tia’s Sulphur pool, Ti Kwen Glo Cho, Screws Sulphur Spa
    Other beaches: Batibou, Hampstead, Woodford hill, Purple Turtle, Mero
    Other sites: Cabrits National Park, Fort Shirley National Park, Kalinago Territory
    Mountains: Morne Trois Pitons, Morne Diablotins etc
    There are several other areas to explore, such as Whale Watching, Bird Watching (in the mountains), water sports etc, but I think you got the idea.

    2. Totally disagree with your point that “the island’s infrastructure just isn’t able to handle the amount of visitors it is receiving”. One of the things that we pride ourselves with, is being the Nature Isle of the world, so I don’t support a call for infrastructural development in and around the sites….if the intention is to preserve the natural beauty.

    So do consider another visit, this time spend some time on island, experience the cuisine, the culture…get the whole Dominican experience. I’m sure all the hotels will offer you a variety of tours and adventures to choose from. I would be willing to get you connected with qualified tour organizers if you need help in this.

    Hope to have you, and all your readers back in Dominica soon!
    Dorian recently posted…Disappointed in DominicaMy Profile

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 10:00 am #

      Dorian, thank you. This is a great list of things to do in Dominica – certainly more than I was aware of. As for infrastructure, this is tough. Dominica as an country has been making a major push for bringing more cruise ships to the island. In fact, just last month, the Dominica Air and Seaport Authority (DASPA) announced a proposed massive expansion of the port in Roseau to accommodate additional cruise ships – ships the island is struggling to accommodate. My personal feeling is that Dominica doesn’t need more cruise ships – it needs to better manage the ones it is already receiving. However, your point is extremely valid. I do want to return to Dominica and experience another side of the island. My article has brought about a very passionate response from the Dominica community – that pride comes from somewhere beautiful.

    • Dana March 30, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

      I agree with Dorian. You need to give the island a chance, and not simply rely on the experience you have had with other islands in the Caribbean, or elsewhere. Dominica is a wonderful, and rugged gem. It isn’t for the stereotypical American, but that is honestly what makes it great. The people that live there are deep, thoughtful people that do not cut corners and give you information straight. In all honesty, there are not very many authentically real places like Dominica left, and they are not for the cookie-cutter tourist. I get defensive when I hear people from the outside making judgments about Dominica, when they truly do not have any lens as to what it is like on the inside. Start to appreciate things for what they are, instead of what you want them to be. When you are open to an experience without any preconceived notions you are actually able to enjoy it for what it is. Dominica is nirvana…for real.

  10. BigJohn March 30, 2015 at 6:29 am #

    Visited that same island last year! I were lucky enough to be there during off season I guess. Blissfully amazing.

  11. Ophelia Olivacce-Marie March 30, 2015 at 6:47 am #

    I love the attention Dominica is getting on account of your article. My daughter who is a Marketing Major would say that all publicity is good. Even the presence of the crowds is good. They must have read the same scripts and magazines you read or viewed the same videos…
    I think your article said enough to encourage visitors to come for more than a few rushed hours. Try visiting the Emerakd Pool, Syndicate, the Lakes, the Kalinago Territory, the Sulphur Springs in the Roseau Valley for starters. Take in some of the succulent food, great music and market scenes. Soak your toes in one of our rivers… And then tell us how you feel…

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 9:52 am #

      The food is one aspect of the island we didn’t experience at all on our brief trip. Would definitely want to return to try that. You don’t really know a place until you experience it through food.

  12. Samuel March 30, 2015 at 6:51 am #

    Lance
    1 day on a cruise stop is enough to provide a cruise ship stop experience and the tour operators you selected to the destinations you selected not an island vacation experience. To truely offer a conclusive headline like you did should warrant more than that.
    How can you complain about crowding when you arrive with 1500 other visitors. That was the experience you selected. It’s like me going to Disney during peak season then complaining that Disney does not have the infrastructure like 6 flags..duh

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 10:03 am #

      That’s a valid point. My counter argument is that other islands get the same ships in port with the same number of visitors, yet don’t struggle to accommodate them. What makes Dominica different? But yes, a cruise is a very different kind of travel experience. I write about many different kinds of travel (from a weekend getaway to a multi-week cultural experience) and this is just one kind. I certainly concede that Dominica needs more time to truly know it.

  13. Katrina March 30, 2015 at 7:56 am #

    Lance, your opinion of Dominica is devastating to many, as well as to the island’s future tourism, and appears not to have been written with a whit of compassion or an open perspective generally encountered by responsible travel bloggers. It leaves me wondering what personal crisis that you suffered such that you’re personal angst influenced your perspective during your six hours in Dominica.

    I’ve been traveling the world since I was not even knee-high but fortuitously with parents who constantly reminded me to view each country and each site with fresh eyes -never to consider the virtues of one country over another but to contemplate the uniqueness of each and every country. And I’ve been to every continent except one. Thus I would never consider Turkey’s marvels whilst in Jordan much less Dominica. That’s just ugly behavior. And as a resident of Minneapolis I would never compare the winter here to the winters of Boston for I’d be doing not only a disservice to myself but also to the respective cities.

    I suggest that you stop taking/using cruises as a means of exploring countries/islands and other cultures. I discovered via the Radisson Seven Seas Alaska cruise that virtually every cruise will give you the same experience irrespective of whatever port you descend upon…essentially you’re just one of the masses. Overcrowding is not unique to Dominica and actually rarely happens…but just as in Cozumel, Alaska, Roatan, Belize, Greece and many other placed..when the cruise ships are in port the cheapest most accessible tour sites will be crowded.

    Lance, responsible travel blogging around the world really requires authors to travel and experience an island independently of a third party such as a cruise ship. Perhaps you wrote this article in hopes that Dominica would invite you back on their tab?

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 10:20 am #

      Katrina, I recognize my article is very difficult for some people – however, it is the real, authentic experience. A cruise is just one kind of travel experience, and I write about all different kinds of travel (weekend getaways, cruises, extended multi-week adventure vacations in exotic destinations like Africa). But, cruising is also important to Dominica. As you may be aware, the country has been making a major push for bringing more cruise ships to the island – an island already struggling with the ones it does receive. Last month, Dominica announced a expansion of the port in Roseau to accommodate additional cruise ships. My personal feeling is that Dominica doesn’t need more cruise ships – it needs to better manage the ones it already gets. If you re-read the article, I think you’ll find that I don’t compare Dominica to any other country – it’s all from the perspective of “fresh eyes.” I also think my article is very even. It certainly is not my intention to “attack” the island, nor have I done so. As a member of numerous professional associations (including the Professional Travel Bloggers Association as well as International Travel Writers Alliance), I’m well aware of my obligations. And there is no obligation to experience everything individually – in the fact, the whole point of this series of articles was to take a cruise and write about the ship and the various ports (which, by the way, we paid for). Katrina, if you really thought this was a scam to get a free trip, wouldn’t I have done that before taking the trip?

  14. Dominican living in the states March 30, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    I’m kind of sad that you say you’re disappointed. I feel like that shouldn’t have been the title for this article because it’s going to turn people away from wanting to visit my beautiful island. Instead of pointing out all the negatives you experienced bc of your bad timing to travel, why not talk about the positives of what you did see! It’s a shame that you basically bashed a diamond in the rough in the Caribbean. Next time you go, do some research on when is a slower time in Dominica [in May] and rent a vehicle and meet some locals…not tour guides. You’ll have a better time.

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 10:25 am #

      Renting a vehicle is certainly something we’re a fan of – having driven in Europe, Africa, Asia and other Caribbean islands. Next time we would do that. However, unfortunately, the timing of our visit was constrained by other factors and we really didn’t have a choice on that one…unfortunately. I don’t want to turn people off to Dominica, but I also don’t think people are selecting a cruise based on the inclusion of Dominica as a destination. It’s also not my objective to try and change Dominica. If changes occur as a result, that’s great. If not, it’s still a beautiful island that I hope to re-visit eventually. Dominica has four of the things I love in life: hot springs, waterfalls, snorkeling and scuba diving.

  15. Micky March 30, 2015 at 9:20 am #

    Hello Lance
    Maybe your tour guide did not inform you that Dominica has been until recent years, an agricultural island. The main revenue earner was banana exports. Many of the other islands were tourism destinations long before Dominica. When the banana industry collapsed some years ago the island sought to diversify and went into tourism. The other islands have had decades of being tourism destinations and benefit from their experience. Dominica is relatively new to the game compared to others so there is work to be done. I think it is fairer to say that you were “Disappointed in the Organisation of your tour experience in Dominica” rather than being disappointed in the island itself. Do come back and spend some time visting and exploring the island… you were taken to 3 out of scores of sites. Not enough data to form an opinion in my experience… We welcome you on a future visit. All the best.

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 10:30 am #

      Micky, Thank you. First, our guide really didn’t cover that history, which makes sense. I agree with you that there is work to be done, but since Dominica is new to the game, that makes sense. As I said, I will definitely return one day for a more involved visit.

  16. Layla March 30, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    Plus I have been hearing of increasing murder rates and police looking the other way of letting murders out quickly.Crime is every where but this is beyond pick pocketing , and lack of safety is a deterrent for me and done if my friends I travel with.So sad what,a gorgeous island that trumps even Hawaii

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 10:37 am #

      That was not our experience. We felt perfectly safe in Dominica. I did research and the crime rate in Dominica seems very low – especially coming from the United States.

    • Cece March 30, 2015 at 11:14 am #

      Layla im not sure where you heard such lies about Dominica, but do yourself a favor and dont believe them. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.

      …there is practically no crime in our country, thank God for that. Children walk safely on the streets without being kidnapped, no one is shot down in the streets, no one pick pockets you, no one steals your vehicle even if its unlocked. We’re the safest in the Caribbean

  17. Jodi March 30, 2015 at 10:08 am #

    That experience sounds horrible and I understand your frustrations! Dominica is a small island with natural beauty that is best experienced in smaller groups (or solo). You are describing an experience that involves taking a cruise ship load of people to a small tropical jungle island. Please think about that for a moment. If Dominica widened the roads into the jungle to accommodate this kind of activity, it would destroy that very beauty that makes it unique. Likewise, if it constructed a massive pavilion at Champagne to eliminate wait times for time-restricted tourists visiting by the bus loads, that would also subtract from the natural beauty. I respect your view, but I can’t say that I understand it. Maybe your complain is that Dominica should understand its limitations and not accept mass tourism? That’s a reasonable argument. Maybe another reasonable way to look at this situation, is that if you travel with masses of people, perhaps it’s unreasonable to complain about masses of people? Taking a cruise is akin to visiting a buffet–you get a small sampling of the delicacies, but ultimately leave disappointed. You want to experience the intricacies of the particular cuisine? Then please sit down for a more leisurely meal.

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 10:43 am #

      A valid point. We write about all different kinds of travel. I’m not comparing cruising to an intimate travel experience. I’m looking at cruising and comparing it to other cruises. And I certainly would NOT want more roads in Dominica. That’s definitely not the solution. And roads really weren’t the problem at all. But I wonder if there isn’t a solution in this somewhere? Permitting for tour operators into the major sites like Titou Gorge, Trafalgar, etc.? Tour operators have time slots – so everyone doesn’t come at once? As Dominica courts more cruise lines to come to the island and considers the proposed expansion of the port in Roseau, it will bring more visitors. How will Dominica respond? Tell them that its their fault for coming on a cruise? Or find some way to accommodate them?

      • Jodi March 30, 2015 at 11:15 am #

        Oh, I wasn’t blaming you for traveling via cruise ship. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Surely, there are things that can be done on both the parts of the island and the tourists.

        It’s a complex situation. Small island yearning and competing for that foreign dollar. The island does need to think about what is feasible, and be upfront about what it can and cannot accommodate, because ultimately, there are only so many people that a small site can comfortably host in a 12 hour period. Yes, I do think that Dominica is doing a disservice to itself and its citizens by accepting multiple ships at once.

        At the same time, travelers should refrain from the passing judgment on locations after very limited exposure (and I say that as a fellow traveler). You talk of its poverty without consideration that your judgments may be based on a different set of values. You talk of the crowdedness, without consideration that after the ships leave, it returns to it’s normally slow pace, where you can visit Trafalgar Fall with almost no one else in sight. You gloss over all of the beauty that you witness to focus on the disorganization of the locals. All I’m saying is, be disappointed, but also consider the dynamics that led to this unfortunate situation. Maybe even share a bit of the blame with the corporations that own cruise ships, dumping hundreds of people at once until a small “poor” island, while telling its guest to “go make memories, but hurry, because you only have a few hours.” Maybe the cruise ships could coordinate with the locals to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen? They do have a lot of power, you know!

        • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

          That’s a great point on the cruise ships having some responsibility here too. I would agree.

          One point on my mentioning the poverty – that came from the guide, so I included it. Dominica did not feel poor, like the kind of places we have experienced in South America, Africa and Asia. I only mentioned it because our guide did.

  18. Rens March 30, 2015 at 10:31 am #

    i think you’re being unrealistic. You went to a country during peak season to all the touristy areas- exactly what did you expect? I mean for a seasoned traveler you sound very naive. Have you been to the pitch lake in Trinidad? Or Harrison’s cake in Barbados? The Statue of Liberty? You should have planned your day better and expect touristy areas to be packed – any seasoned traveler knows that. Or do you go around saying Rome is undeveloped because you weren’t able to get a good picture at the Trevi fountain? Give me a break. I’ve visited Dominica many times and never had any issue seeing the island because I knew, perhaps I should go to this place at this time while everyone is folking to this location. Unless you had no common sense and just went with the flow.

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 10:51 am #

      That’s an interesting perspective. While a very seasoned traveler, we write for an audience that is not. We write for people who have 2 weeks of vacation a year and their “big Christmas trip” is the highlight of the year. Telling them that they should move Christmas really isn’t going to work. So, as Dominica tries to lure more cruises to come to the island and considers the proposed expansion of the port in Roseau, what does that mean for the future? Are you proposing telling visitors not to come? Or find some way to accommodate them? The challenges we saw in Dominica are not insurmountable, however, they are there. We understand there are lot of people, particularly folks from Dominica, who are not particularly pleased we wrote this article. However, it was our real experience. It happened to us. And it is happening to others. Dominica has a lot to offer and we look forward to returning one day to see the evolution.

  19. Daniel March 30, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    Lance. You can visit on a normal vacation trip, and get the opportunity to enjoy the entire island.

  20. Dotty March 30, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    I visited Dominica many years ago and a friend and her husband gave us a grand tour.we went to the Kalinago reservation, had a nice visit, had cassava root bread, saw where the Atlantic and Caribbean meet. There were some things we were not able to see due to time. Perhaps the island needs to have residents input things to do. I enjoyed buying fruit from a fruit stand, Screws sulphur spa, Cabrits national fort. Tours can be thematic. I would return again. Just don’t like over commercialization if any country or island. A taste of Dominica could be a food tour. Educational tours are popular with teachers. Highlight your science, education, medical. Let travelers experience everyday life. When I visited Nassau, there was it much to see there, but the tour operator was knowledgeable with folk lore stories.

  21. CMJames March 30, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    I have so many issues with this article, it’s hard to know where to start. First off, it it hints at everything I loath about cruising. Frankly, Dominica is not an island where locals put on a show for tourists and make pretend like Disney. It isn’t a nation that sells off its land to foreigners to build and operate Casinos, duty free malls, golf courses, or the like. Its topography is beautiful and the forest doesn’t lend itself to day trippers, nor do the interior villages up in the clouds, the 300 other waterfalls that require a pack and a half day hike. Dominica is a hard study, but like its people, if you put in the time then you are rewarded far beyond what you ever gave. An online index or ranking of countries will suggest Dominica is poor, but I tell you I have never seen richer, not before I lived there for three years and not since I returned to the U.S. (Manhattan- 21st & 9th if it matters). While some see a low per capita income, I see an island with abundant food falling from the trees, cut daily from the fields, pulled each morning from the ocean. Clean cold water, fresh from the sky- but a hour spent running down the mountain to you. You want real history from a boat? Take a smaller sailing cruise and dock a few days in Portsmouth- go to Ft Shirley and learn about the Battle of the Saints that took place just off the North Shore. Learn about the West Indies regiment that mutinied, and the trial that resulted in the first act of emancipation in the British Empire- some 60 years before the American Civil War. Stay on at the Fort for a lecture by Dr. Lennox Honeychurch- renouned historian (his extensive works are on display at the Smithsonian), educated as much by his youth in Dominica as his years at Oxford. Read about where the Jamestown settlers first landed for water before heading north to Virginia. Take a day to hike part of the watikubuli trail, earn that cold Kubuli and lay up your weary feet in Penville, high up at Baba’s Bar. Stand on the lip of the Morne Aux Diables and feel the wind of the Atlantic press through the gap at speed, cooling you like a wet bulb experiment- clouds dipping down and whistling a hand overhead.

    In your headline you announced you were ‘Dissapointed in Dominica!’ I will withhold such sweeping judgement of the author, and just say I am disappointed in your headline.

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 11:16 am #

      What you are saying is that people aren’t allowed to have opinions. I get that this is intensely personal for many in Dominica. I will completely agree with you that cruising is not the best form of travel – especially to an island like Dominica. Yet, Dominica is working very hard to recruit cruise ships. The visitors will come to Dominica and they will come via cruise ship. What kind of experience will they have in Dominica?

  22. Daniel Jordan March 30, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    Lance

    My goodness, you got hooked by the “big three.” There is so much more to Dominica. And it does not have to be an “intimate travel experience.” You could easily have seen a whole other side of Dominica if you had planned ahead, asked ahead, done some “off the grid” homework. I do agree wholeheartedly, if you do the big ticket items on what we jokingly call “Cruise Ship Tuesday” (whatever the day of the week) it is horrendous, your experience will be less than great. Perhaps the taxi operators need to expand their own thinking. That is not so much lack of infrastructure, but lack of thinking about options, other ideas, could be a “lesson learned” to expand horizons to other venues. My wife and I bought our second home there eight years ago and have learned so much more, we just avoid the hot spots when you guys are in town! We snorkel Champagne when no one is around. Marvelous! Examples: Take a peaceful drive around the Eggleston loop to view the lovely gardens. About an hour. Drive to the Atlantic side, and see just how stunningly different it is, you’d think you were on a different island, play in the surf (with supervision). Do an archaeological tour and get up to Cabrits (that would be the one thing you did). I could go on, but any number of these ideas could be identified with a bit of homework. With respect, I put that homework on the traveler. Kind Regards, Dan

  23. Cece March 30, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    Sorry to hear of your disappointment with my island. However, there are so many other places to visit than simply where you went. Please do visit again and make sure to visit other sites such as the following

    -Mero beach
    – Screws Spa
    – Middleham Falls
    – Freshwater lake
    – Boiling Lake
    – Hike on the trails

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 11:20 am #

      Thanks for commenting Cece. A number of people have mentioned Screws Spa. I just looked it up and have to admit, that looks right up my alley! I’ll have to try that on my next trip to Dominica.

  24. Cliff March 30, 2015 at 11:44 am #

    Hey Lance
    Thank you for visiting the beautiful island of Dominica.
    I understand your frustration of having to wait and having to deal with crowds. That is a common occurrence when tourists visits popular sites. I am sure that in your many travels in the United States and Europe , you witnessed the same things.
    So I do apologize for the crowds and the long wait. Next time give a little notice and we will close the island and give you a private tour with a presidential escort.

    • Mindy March 30, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

      I vowed not to comment on this article, however, I cannot resist ater reading this one! Good one!

  25. mamaj March 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    Its sad to read some of your complains and as a Dominican do apologized but in one days tour made u no that Dominicans are that poor as u keep mentioning really .its only one day to try to accommodate thousands was your dollar more important than the other thousands its really dissapointing trust me I see visitors on a regular basis and they enjoy Dominica u can’t take a few hours and judge our country and its poverty smh at u my advise u want to see our country at its best then come spend a week explore Dominica the nature isle of the world I thank u

  26. Simon Walsh March 30, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    Hi Lance.
    I am involved with tourism and live here in Dominica. I agree with those that say Dominica is best appreciated with a long visit but even more importantly you could have had an outstanding time even on the day you were there by simply avoiding the popular spots. The reason they get so many visitors to those spots is because they are close to the ship and have some facilities. There are SO many things to do in Dominica that you most people who come here for a week realize they need to come back! Instead of Champagne you could have driven 10 more minutes South to a snorkeling that is just as good and would have had hardly any other people, that is down IN Soufriere or Scotts Head. You could have snorkeled over a wall that drops straight down 1500ft within a 5 minute swim, then had a run punch at the Bubble spa and a soak in a sea hot spring. Then you could have driven to Middleham Falls where after a 45 minute hike you would arrive at a spectacular waterfall with very few people. By this time most of the hoards would have left Titou and you would have way less people. So please give us another chance because this was simply your bad luck in not getting a more personal planned tour. We have the friendliest people, a rich culture, great music festivals, a wonderfully safe and fun Carnival and the best diving in the Caribbean. That is why I live here so call me bias if you want.

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

      Thanks Simon. These are some suggestions. I would like to return and have a completely different kind of experience.

  27. Ms E March 30, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    My my, what an article and such interesting responses. Clearly Lance from all the feedback/comments there’s truly much more to this gem. Firstly, thank you for visiting Dominica and please promise not to only return, but to pen and share fully your “real” encounter 🙂 It seems you’ve been thoroughly schooled. I commend my fellow Dominicans for not only being passionate, and honest, but remaining so kind doing so – a true testament that we are loving and kind. I thank you profusely for your honesty, as it has opened an opportunity for us the “insiders” to proactively take a closer look at our potential threats and continuous weaknesses. As one responder so fittingly noted, “no publicity is bad publicity.” One last thing, you too must be commended for remaining kind under pressure. Your initial start to a beautiful story was a tad bit frustrating, but what an amazing end it will be, but you must return 🙂 Thanks again!

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

      One of the beautiful things in this world is that everyone can have an opinion. Frankly, given the neutral tone of my article, I was surprised at the controversy this developed. Given all of the comments, I’ve had to re-read the article several times today, and I stand by everything I wrote. Having this microphone – a blog with tens of thousands of readers – is not something I take lightly. Dominica is a very beautiful island. Perhaps I chose poorly in going to “The Big Three,” as someone called it. However, nearly 300,000 cruise ship visitors come to the island every year – and plans are in motion that will expand that capacity. I think the central question that has come up time and again – when those 300,000 people get to Dominica on a cruise (and they are coming), what kind of experience do they have? And what do they do? I don’t have all the answers. But discussing openly and with mutual respect, I’m sure ideas will present themselves. I can promise you, when I do return, I will write about that experience as well.

      • Ms E March 30, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

        Hopefully your concerns/intentions don’t get lost in translation. Once again, thank you! We do need such construction criticism if we are to successfully move beyond where we are!

  28. LOL March 30, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    For someone who seems to travel a lot, you definitely didn’t do your homework. If you had, you would have realised that it’s impossible to really explore and enjoy Dominica in one day. If your cruise ship docks in Roseau, you will be taken to Emerald Pool, Champagne, Trafalgar Falls, Titou Gorge, and the Botanical Gardens. If you dock in Portsmouth, you will get to visit Fort Shirley, the Kalinago Territory, Indian River etc… Due to the fact that you are pressed for time, and most of the sites are inaccessible by vehicle, this is all you can do with such limited time. Had you stayed longer, you could have gone whale watching, to the Rosalie Bay Resort, Ravine Cyrique, Chaudiere Pool, the Boiling Lake, or Victoria Falls just to name a few. I think you expected too much out of one day, that’s why you were disappointed. And by the way, the fact that “Dominica is an island struggling with poverty” as you so well put it, is like the price of tea in China… it’s irrelevant, and not the cause for your disappointing experiences there.

    However, I can relate to what you went through, because I too, get pissed every single time I go home, and I think it’s high time sea and port officials, and the folks in the tourism sector started doing their jobs. I don’t know, maybe if tours were coordinated in a more intelligent manner, the overcrowding at the sites could be lessened. Or if tours had different starting points and itineraries, less people would be at the same places at the same time. Dominicans are banking everything on tourism and those cruise ship calls, except they are not putting the necessary measures in place… They think the island will sell itself, but sadly for us, that’s not nearly enough.

  29. bogoroy March 30, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

    Please leave the messanger alone and concentrate on the the message, fix the problems. Great job lance.

  30. David March 30, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    Hi there I would like to say based on what you wrote I think there are some points we need take note of. For example certain areas being to crowded. The Dominica Tourist board should find a way to stagger trips to most of these sites.

    We are learning how to entertain tourist and ideas from someone like you would always be welcomed. I would however like to remind you that paradise is not somewhere you visit for a few hours it is somewhere you spend a few days. To appreciate anything of splendor you need time to really feel the beauty.

    On the poverty thing we are no different really to most of the Caribbean however we are very political. Your driver making a statement like this may have done so because of their political affiliations. I think this is another area that the people need to be educated. Being such an accomplished writer one would have hoped that you would have made observations of the surroundings to see if poverty is really as bad as your article claims.

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

      Thanks for your comments David.

  31. Dorival March 30, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    Lance as a Dominican I am sorry you had a bad experience here. Your article has generated lots of attention on the ground in Dominica, on social media and the like.

    I hope your article has opened the eyes of the authorities to address some of the issues. I do welcome constructive criticism.

    Here in Dominica we say tourism is everybody’s business, so I make it mine.

    Please revisit. We would love to have you back.

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

      Thanks for your comment Dorival. I hope to have the chance to return to Dominica and see a different side of the island.

  32. Hamlin March 30, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

    Lance, despite your detractors, I believe you’ve got your finger on the island’s tourism pulse. Dominicans are very nationalistic, however we should not feel offended as we all know that our tourism product is deteriorating rapidly.The tourism authorities must stop burying their heads in the sand and take decisive action to ensure that our tourism product is regionally and internationally competitive. Thanks for your honest opinion, I think it will serve as a wake up call.

  33. Ian March 30, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

    Though not Dominican by birth, I’ve lived here half my life. I would bet you Lance, every last cent to my name, that if you spent an off-season week here, you’d write a book, not just an artical. Point taken on the over crowding though.

  34. john paul March 30, 2015 at 10:11 pm #

    What You expect when you come on a cruise ship?Those who like cruise ships want a carnival-like atmosphere.If you want a quiet experience you need to come as a stay over and visit several of the waterfalls that the ship visitors do not go to.You can always go to Trafakgar falls after 4pm and have it all to yourself but there is still middle ham falls,Sari sari falls,Victoria falls etc only to name a few.Again you cannot come here on a cruise ship and expect it not to be crowded unless you get an operator like KHATTS tours to take you away from that activity to the real quiet spots

  35. Beno March 30, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

    Yes I agree with your sentiment Zephan Jhem Bruney the Topic says one thing but when you read the story you can see Lance’s problem really was how his tour was organized with his tour operator or guide,I am a Tour operator myself and one of the things I do is to inform the people requesting my services about all the possibilities and in further dialogue with them even go as far as suggesting to them alternative things they could do,there are too many places in Dominica where one could see and do adventurous things without seeing any other tourist even if we have 6 ships in port…..what about Glassy trail,Victoria falls where one would have to cross the white river 4 time before you get to the base of the falls,we offer these tours on a cruise day and take you back in plenty of time before you ship sails without any rush during you experience…

    • Lance Longwell March 30, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

      Beno, thank you for commenting. We’re aware of your company and know how highly regarded you are. You were actually our first choice for this trip. However, please do not misconstrue my comments. It is not a dissatisfaction with how the tour was organized by NIE, rather, my comments revolve around the coordination of the many different tour providers throughout the island. The issue is systemic, rather than with one specific vendor.

  36. pieros March 31, 2015 at 4:42 am #

    Mr. Lance

    i live in Dominica and i can tell you that there are many things to do but you cannot do so in 1 day or a few hours

    if you really want to experience Dominica u must visit for a minimum of 1 week

    just to give u an idea have a look at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pastaphan under album section to view the different hiking trails you can do to view the beauty of Dominica

  37. KERVIN March 31, 2015 at 6:44 am #

    Lance I believe you should visit Dominica when the tourist season is close. You will have time to enjoy all what Dominica has to offer.The time the ships comes and the time they are leaving does not give you the time to enjoy, everything is a rush. That is why we are trying to promote stay over visitors.

  38. Alain March 31, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    I’m not really sure about the status of the Champagne Reef but based on the photos, there seem to be no life in there! 🙂

  39. Dan April 1, 2015 at 12:45 am #

    Hey all, visit Dominica for more than a day, say a week, two weeks or more. You just can’t enjoy Dominica in a day. There’s alot more to see and enjoy than just the Titou Gorge, Champagne Reef and Trafalgar Falls mentioned in the article. Come on over!!!

  40. Sara April 1, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    Hey Lance, sorry for your unfortunate experience, and thank you for visiting our beautiful Nature Island. As you’ve seen, we value your opinion and have taken it to heart. We hope that you will give it another shot! Dominica is MUCH more hilly than other islands (9 active volcanoes!) thus tourist must be taken to nearby locations – leading to overcrowding. And not to mention the fact that a lot of great spots need to be accessed by four-wheel drive vehicles.

    I am speaking from somewhat of a foreigner and local perspective, as my husband, myself and 2 year old just moved to Dominica to open a health and nature retreat (www.beyondvitality.com) a few months ago. There is no possible way that you’d be able to get a real feel of Dominica in just one day, let alone a few hours. We’ve been here for almost 6 months now, and we’ve made a point to visit 1-2 attractions new attractions each week. We still haven’t even done half of them! As locals, we are always warned not to go to the “tourist hot spots” on cruise ship days. We get schedules and avoid cruise ship days in town as well. Dominica is small, perhaps not the smallest of them all, but we are definitely the least developed in terms of accommodating tourist, as we are new to the game, and thrive on ECO tourism. That’s the beauty of Dominica – we do not want to “invest” in large infrastructure as Dominica is “The Nature Island” – the only Caribbean island that is so untouched and natural. The REAL laid back Caribbean – like all the others were 20 years ago! It’s what we have to offer – our naturalist, eco vibe. Our economy thrives on eco tourism. If we get the large infrastructure and become more developed, we’ll be just like all the other islands. It’s inevitable to avoid crowds on cruise ship days, as visitors arrive in thousands. The population of our entire country is in the 70 thousands. Unfortunately the tour operators want to give you the best bang for your buck by taking you to all the closest spots. They all think alike in that sense. They’d rather drive a little and give you time at a spot, versus driving a lot, but maybe avoiding crowds. It is unfortunate to hear that there is a plan to bring in more cruise ships. The crowds definitely need to be managed better, I think we all agree on that. But Dominica has made efforts to bring in tourist at other times of the year as well – there is Hike Fest, Dive Fest, The World Creole Festival, Carnival, etc. These are all mostly during low season, and your experience will be completely different.

    Coming from living in Venezuela and Trinidad for a few years, to me there are NO crowds in Dominica (besides 2-4 tourist spots for 2-3 hours while cruise ships are in), and certainly no traffic compared to other islands I’ve lived on. It is a relief to hear that your disappointment was regarding the overcrowding, as it’s something that can be worked on and improved. Your suggestion about tour guide companies needing permission to enter tourist attractions is a good one. But honestly, most instances where I’ve brought my family to popular tourist spots, we’ve been the only ones. My parents always comment on it when they visit from Canada. By chance, I guess we had avoided cruise ship days.

    As mentioned, Dominica certainly cannot be enjoyed in 1 day. Before we bought a property, we visited for 10 days, and we still didn’t get to do everything. My husband is native to the Caribbean, I’ve traveled to a lot of the islands and Central/South America. I’ve lived on various islands and in the Americas, and have been here for more than 6 years. Dominica is truly unique, and meant for the naturalist, down to earth (literally), nature lover. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s one of the safest places in the world, with very friendly people who love their land and culture, and live from the land (not poor). I can personally say that it’s been very enriching to live off my own land, off the grid – saving money on water, electricity and food. Our lifestyle here is just so different from the one we lived in America – and we are definitely happier with a smaller income, but not poorer.

    If you want to truly experience a country and it’s culture and attractions, coming off a cruise ship is not the way to go. It gives you a very narrow view of a country (I’m sure you know that as a travel blogger). But, the fact is, Dominica does receive thousands of travellers through cruise ships, so we must definitely work on our end to give them the best, most invigorating taste of our natural beauty. When you come back, check out http://www.dominica.dm for an awesome list of places to visit, and stop by to say hello at Beyond Vitality Health and Nature Retreat! 🙂

  41. Sandy April 1, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    My reaction when I read this—GOOD!!! My daughter was a Peace Corps volunteer on Dominica for two years and my husband and I were lucky enough to visit her twice. We never lacked for anything to do. Seeing the unspoiled beauty on the island, my feeling was that it would be a shame if luxury hotels started sprouting up all over the island. It’s definitely not for everyone, but we loved the time spent there!!!

  42. Tai April 6, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    I read the article and I agree with some of the points that the writer made.
    Although it is virtually impossible to do a complete write up on the beauty and natural sights of Dominica – especially in the limited capacities of a cruise ship tourist – one really needs to spend several weeks here to fully appreciate the awe inspiring sights of this beautiful tropical island.

    However, the part about poverty is indeed very true. Dominica’s economy is non existent. There are many factors why this is so. Unemployment is very high and agriculture is barely breathing. So we need to take off the rose coloured glasses we have on our eyes and stop sweeping the realities of the ‘nature island’ under the proverbial rug.

    I live in Dominica. My husband is Dominican and I see the absolute poverty on a daily basis.

    Its a beautiful country, but the infrastructure of the country needs rehab, asap, in my frank opinion…
    Tai recently posted…Disappointed in DominicaMy Profile

  43. the lazy travelers April 17, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    though we haven’t been to dominca OR on a cruise, we’ve been to our fair share of cities that become considerably less enjoyable when overtaken by cruisers… dubrovnik, venice and oia all come to mind. infrastructure and poverty issues aside (as they obviously also played a role here, too), would definitely be curious to see if your opinion changed if you went back separately from a cruise and to less crazy places. either way, love the honesty!!
    the lazy travelers recently posted…video sneak peek: 24 hours in napa valleyMy Profile

  44. Nomadic Gringo April 17, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

    To be honest it sounds like an amazing island ruined by the overcrowding caused by cruise ships. I spent 2 weeks in Antigua 2 years ago with a friend’s family. You could always tell when a ship was there (especially the bigger ones) everything become overcrowded. On the few days without any boats the island was perfect!

  45. Jennifer April 17, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    I haven’t been to Dominica, but I do live on the mainland just outside of Venice. And to be completely honest, I cringe when cruise ships are in port and I have things to do in Venice. It’s just way too crowded with hundreds of thousands pouring in from the ships.

    I would be curious to see how your experience was if you’d visited Dominica not on a cruise and could visit these sites when they aren’t over-packed with cruise shippers.
    Jennifer recently posted…Eccleston Square: London’s Bou”tech” HotelMy Profile

  46. SJ April 18, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

    Sounds to me like a common problem for places that those giant cruise ships dock for the day. I live in Croatia, and always tell people to avoid Dubrovnik the days those big ships come in. Glad you enjoyed at least some of the day.
    SJ recently posted…Festivals In Croatia You Won’t Want To Miss This yearMy Profile

  47. Casey @ A Cruising Couple April 18, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

    So interesting to hear your opinions and read all of the comments that resulted! I definitely understand your frustrations – I’ve felt similarly on cruise ship excursions and tours. I haven’t been to Dominica, but I am intrigued to visit now and experience it firsthand!

  48. Megan (@APassportAffair) April 19, 2015 at 4:40 am #

    Interesting. Dominica is one of the few places in the Caribbean that appeals to me. Your experience validates my theory….cruise ships ruin everything. They’ve ruined Venice. They’ve ruined Key West. They’ve ruined the bigger Greek Islands. Ships pull in, tourists stream off by the thousands and crowd venues during peak hours. They leave without spending money, absorbing any culture or contributing to the “host” nations in any way in their hurry to get back to the buffet line and deck chairs.

    Stay off the cruise ships. Take a local guide.

  49. Teva May 9, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    Thanks for the review. Some of the people responding are harsh because their pride is hurt but some give good examples of places I should see when I go. The facts are that on the day you went it was overcrowded and hard to enjoy. People keep saying you should go back and stay longer but you are right-the average American has 2 weeks vacation that they spread across the year. It’s hard to see the world in that time so cruises are considered a great option for many of us. On my first and only cruise so far, we were the last people to get back on the ship at our first port, we didn’t realize how little time we had to explore. I was so tired when I came back I promised myself to never take another cruise like that. I’m looking at a cruise that stops in Bernuda for 3 nights so I don’t feel rushed. I’ve wanted to see Dominica for 10 years and this might finally be the year so I’m doing some research now. Thanks for your honest review. (Laura if you’re reading email me!)

    • Lance Longwell May 19, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

      Thanks for commenting. We’ll e-mail you.

  50. Abe September 5, 2015 at 8:35 am #

    I enjoyed reading the many perspectives on this blog. I recently visited Dominica along with several other islands on a cruise and can happily proclaimed it to be my favorite by far. The people we met were wonderfully friendly, and the islands natural assets stood it apart from others. I would happily return (perhaps for cricket game) and have no problem recommending the island to my friends. It was obvious upon arrival that Dominica lacks the financial infrastructure that other island enjoy, but for us, this was part of the charm. The people we met couldn’t have been more accommodating. Loved reading the passionate opinions of those who make Dominica their home.

  51. Joseph Sango January 13, 2016 at 9:32 am #

    I agree with the post. The problem is that their is rampant public sector corruption in Dominica. Public funds are routinely misappropriated away from where they are most needed – funds that could go towards enabling the tourist infrastructure on the island.
    And about the culture thing- that will soon be a thing of the past, since the mainstay of the economy is the selling of passports to those who want to escape from the Middle East.

    • Lance Longwell January 13, 2016 at 10:33 am #

      Thanks Joseph. I don’t know what the solution is unfortunately. It’s a beautiful island, but the infrastructure struggles to sustain what’s happening there. As for the Dominica economic citizenship programs, I’m familiar with it, but thought it was still very, very small. In other countries that used to have it, the utilization rate was very low. That said, the world is a bit different now. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  52. Sherrie January 23, 2016 at 2:00 am #

    I appreciate you experience, but it was opposite of our experience from last January 2015. We also arrived on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship. After mulling around the dock with family and going into the tour office, we spoke to a young man who operated his own tour and promised us he would take us to places where no others would be crowding us. We decided to take him up on his offer. Six of us hired him to take us around the island. We saw gardens, waterfalls, a natural hot spring coming from the side of the hill and got to swim in both the falls (ice cold) and hot springs (nice and hot). We were on a 5-6 hour tour and even got to walk along the beach and hunt for sea glass, while our tour guide visited his family/friends there at a little restaurant/bar. We loved Dominica and even got our tour guide’s business card, so we would recommend him to others and call him if we ever visit the island again. We were not crowded at all and didn’t encounter many others on our tour. We felt spoiled and made sure our guide knew how appreciated he was. Of the 5 islands we visited, Dominica was our favorite!

  53. MSN February 19, 2016 at 2:12 am #

    I spent ten days in Dominica and loved it. Yes, it’s a small island, and yes, the infrastructure could be improved. But if you’re prepared to take time there and to enjoy it for what it is, rather than trying to pack every experience into a day at the same time as thousands of other people are doing the same, it’s great. I have very happy memories of wandering up to the hot springs through the most gorgeous rainforest, exploring the parks, enjoying the quiet pace of Roseau and the bustle of the Saturday market, going along empty coastlines with perfect water. And did I mention that they are the loveliest people ever? (As a friend said of someone else: “He’d give the shirt off his back for you, because that’s the Dominican way.” And it is.) Very safe place in my experience, too. Would go back in a trice if I could.

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