With Ocho Rios, St. Ann, chosen as the sole Jamaican port to kick off the phased return of cruise shipping, operators of the famed Dunn’s River Falls say the state-owned entity is “far advanced in preparations”.
In fact, according to Director of Subsidiary Management at the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Farrah Blake, the world-renowned 28-acre property has been in a state of readiness since it was reopened to the public in July 2020 following a four-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have been ready,” Ms. Blake said in an interview with JIS News. “Even while we were closed back in March 2020, we had some of our workers here on location to keep the park in a state of readiness, knowing that at some point we would be called on to reopen…and that at some point the ships would be back to complement the stopover arrivals.”
Ms. Blake said all the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) protocols remain firmly in place and that “our staff” are just as excited “as everybody” to see the return of cruise shipping following a near 18-month absence.
“It was a lot of work to get us to this point…and all credit to the team we have here at this facility,” she added. “The other UDC properties…Green Grotto Caves and the Ocho Rios Bay Beach, have also been well prepared for this moment.”
Meanwhile, Park Manager for Dunn’s River, Michelle Sawyers, said that there continues to be a growing level of patronage since the reopening of the facility, and this will only get bigger with the return of the cruise ships.
Ms. Sawyers said that in keeping with Ministry of Health & Wellness-mandated safety guidelines, patrons must wear masks and do a temperature check on entering the property.
She added that while guests are not required to wear masks when climbing the falls, they are encouraged to carry one in a pouch which they must put on after completing the trek.
The Park Manager advised that masks and pouches are available at the property, which has also been outfitted with handwashing and sanitising stations strategically positioned for guests and staff.
Ms. Sawyers praises parent company, the UDC, and its subsidiary, the St. Ann Development Company (SADCo), for their support in ensuring that all the health and safety requirements have been instituted at Dunn’s River Falls.
She anticipates a gradual increase in the facility’s patronage over time, noting its unique distinction of being a haven for both local and overseas visitors.
“This is even more the reason why we have to follow protocols and ensure that we keep our staff and visitors safe,” Ms. Sawyers added.
Each year, Dunn’s River Falls welcomes thousands of local and overseas visitors.
At about 180 feet (55 metres) high and 600 feet (180m) long, the waterfalls are terraced like giant natural stairs, although some aspects incorporate man-made reconfigurations.
Several small lagoons are interspersed among the vertical sections of the falls, which flow into the Caribbean Sea at the western end of a white-sand beach.
Following a near 18-month hiatus, cruise shipping returned to the island on Monday, (August 16) where the 3,100 passengers and crew of Carnival Sunshine made a call on the resort town of Ocho Rios in St. Ann.