After Jamaica made its intentions clear several weeks ago that it would be opening up more cruise ports throughout the country and expected increased cruise ship traffic to call in the country, the island had its busiest week so far this week.
The six ships were spread out between Ocho Rios and Falmouth. In the coming weeks, more and more vessels are expected to dock in one of the five cruise ports in the country, with around 75,000 cruise visitors scheduled until the end of the year.
This week saw the busiest week in Jamaica since the pause in operations stopped cruise ships sailing to Jamaica for more than 16 months. Four ships docked in the popular cruise port of Ocho Rios; two ships docked in Falmouth.
The week started with the first call of Emerald Princess carrying 2,780 passengers and crew members to the port of Falmouth on November 14, the first time in over twenty months a ship called at the port.
On November 15, Norwegian Gem and AIDAdiva arrived in Ocho Rios, while on November 17, Carnival Sunrise and MSC Meraviglia also visited Ocho Rios. AIDA cruises made another call to Falmouth on November 19.
“This is something we are hoping to see many times over in the coming months,” said an elated Falmouth Mayor, Colin Gager. “This is a phased return to cruise shipping in Falmouth and we welcome it with wide open arms. We look forward to the full return of cruise shipping in the parish, as it will result in economic benefits for residents and our many stakeholders.”
Norwegian Gem and MSC Meraviglia docked at the Reynolds Pier in Ocho Rios, which has seen a multi-million-dollar facelift. While cruise ship tourism is increasing again for Jamaica, it certainly is not at pre-pandemic levels yet; nonetheless, according to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett its has been a historic week:
“The return of cruise shipping to our ports is further proof of the growing demand for our first-class and top-quality tourism product. Six ships in one week is an indication that the cruise sector is coming back, and based on current projections, we expect to welcome some 75,000 cruise passengers between November and December 2021,” he said.
Three cruise ports are so far operational in Jamaica, besides Ocho Rios and Falmouth, the small port of Port Antonio on the island’s northern coastline has been focussed on smaller, luxury vessels with a call from The World and Scenic Eclipse.
The focus now is on Port Royal and Montego Bay, with the tourism minister hoping to have all cruise ports operational by the end of the year, or latest early next year. If all the plans for Jamaica go as scheduled, the island will need that port capacity.
Previously, Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald declared the largest cruise company in the world planned on scheduling at least 110 cruise ship calls to the island.
Tourism minister Bartlet announced earlier this month that Royal Caribbean intends to bring no less than four Oasis-class ships, including Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, and Symphony of the Seas, with the possibility that Wonder of the Seas will also be making its way to Jamaica.