KINGSTON — Carnival Cruise Lines has reached an agreement with the Government of Jamaica, which will guarantee cruise ship ports in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios at least 1.2 million visitors over three years.
The effective date of the agreement is March 1, 2011, and it will ensure that both ports maintain current levels of cruise arrivals, despite the competition from the new Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier. Carnival has also agreed that if it fails to deliver the 1.2 million visitors, it will pay the difference between the actual numbers and the guaranteed figure.
This was disclosed by Minister of Transport and Works, the Hon Mike Henry, in an interview with JIS News on Tuesday August 16. He described the achievement as “another important milestone” for his ministry, and commended both Carnival Cruise Line and the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) for their support.
“This development means that Ocho Rios and Montego Bay will continue to see the same volume of visitors as before, and it means that everyone can now plan in relation to the arrival of cruise ships from Carnival to these ports,” the Minister noted.
He said that in the context of the need for continued growth, the Government will be revisiting opportunities to expand both ports, and discussions will continue with interested parties on developing the landside of the ports, to increase the attractions for visitors and improve their earning capacity.
“This is a long awaited agreement and, now that it is force, we expect to see the landside of the industry step up its ability to ensure that harassment is kept at its lowest level, so the passengers of cruise lines can mingle and participate in the culture and history of Jamaica,” he said.
“I am also hoping to couple this with the revival of the railway, which should impact on the tourism sector, and is also related to the multimodal approach to transportation that the ministry is pursuing,” Mr. Henry said.
He thanked the Port Authority for working closely with the Ministry in developing the Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier, which has boosted Jamaica into the Top 10 cruise destinations in the world.
He assured that the Ministry of Transport and Works and the PAJ will continue to ensure that, “we deliver the best possible service and facilities for the cruise ship industry”.
In its first three months of operation, February to April, the Falmouth pier is said to have received close to 150,000 passengers and crew, and surpassed Ocho Rios as Jamaica’s main cruise ship port. However, Mr. Henry said there would be no rivalry, as long as each town developed the necessary attractions to keep visitors occupied and entertained.
By BALFORD HENRY, JIS Reporter & Editor