Hola! Our first few days abroad kept us busy, while the last few days were spent relaxing, eating too much food, and tanning. Since I didn’t write about the last few days, I decided I wanted to write a review of my experience. I also want to note that I’m not a well-versed traveler; I have been to Canada, Cancún, and Cozumel, and other states throughout the U.S.
We flew with Southwest Airlines, a company well-known throughout the U.S. for fast and inexpensive flights. The flight to Punta Cana was the smoothest I have flown, with the only turbulence being during the landing. The crew was exceptional during the 4 hour flight by handing out a never-ending supply of snacks (pretzels, BelVita coconut cookie thins, and their version/brand of cinnamon cookies), as well as a never-ending supply of drinks for the passengers. The drinks included were Coke products, coffee, water, and ginger ale. The alcoholic drinks were not included, but they were more than happy to accept all major credit cards. Southwest Airlines offered in-flight WiFi for only $8, which worked past international lines. This kept the kids busy, and kept an overly anxious individual like myself busy.
Flying back from Punta Cana to Fort Lauderdale, Florida was only two hours, and a pretty rough ride. However, the staff were exceptional again during the flight in keeping the passengers updated on what was happening, and the instructional portion before take-off was humorous and helped ease nerves in the cabin. The crew passed out two snack options, pretzels and veggie-flavored crisps, and offered one drink option of soda, coffee, water, or alcohol.
Overall, Southwest is phenomenal and I recommend them to anyone who is booking domestic or international.
I also have to point out that the Punta Cana airport is highly unorganized. Coming into the island, the luggage claim was crammed and there were staff attempting to take our luggage without communicating to us what they were trying to do. Flying out was ridiculous. We were called to our flight by groups A through C. Ok, great. But then everyone was loaded onto buses, which transported us on the runway to our plane. We then had to stand outside in the sun where groups were re-called to board the plane. There was no communication for this process, so first-time flyers, and those who had not been to this airport, had no idea what was happening.
Our family booked us at Occidental Caribe in Punta Cana. It is a beautiful, all-inclusive resort located right on the beach. There are multiple buildings, two pools, a jacuzzi, and lots of activities for kids, like rock climbing, trapeze swinging, and water sports.
There were five restaurants that took reservations to eat dinner at, and required long pants for men, and nicer attire for women. On top of that, there was a casual-wear buffet that served all three meals. From 11p.m. to 5a.m. there was a small buffet to serve the drunk and late-comer crowd. The buffet food was fantastic at having a variety of options to serve the multi-ethnic guests, such as American food like French fries, to German pastries for breakfast with German sausage, and Dominican food varieties. The restaurant food was OK. The restaurants were at least a quiet, sit-down environment and the food and drinks were served to you. One night when the family ate at the Italian-themed restaurant, everyone ended up leaving and eating at the buffet instead.
The staff were so-so as well. Some were nice and friendly to visitors, while others had an attitude that came across as if you were annoying them or wasting their time. Compared to resorts in Mexico where it seems like the staff are there to serve you hand and foot and treat you like royalty, the staff at Occidental Caribe were hit or miss. The positive was that the staff were patient with those who could not speak Spanish.
Overall, if were to go back again, I would stay at a different resort to see if the staff are better, but the resort itself is remarkable.
If I could have stayed another week, and had enough money to stay that extra week, I would have. The scenery is breathtaking, and something you will surely miss when you’re back to reality. The days are sunny, warm, and breezy, and the nights only rain for a few minutes before it’s warm with a cool breeze. The ocean can be a tad choppy, but won’t stop you from kayaking or tubing. The only problem I had with this island besides the overwhelming amount of poverty was the trash. There was trash everywhere. The only place where there wasn’t trash on the ground was at our resort and in the ocean (at least that we could see). I would say that I prefer the island of Punta Cana over Cozumel.
Have you stayed in Punta Cana? I’d love to hear your thoughts!