Following a near 20-month hiatus, the coastal town of Falmouth, Trelawny, welcomed its first cruise ship on Sunday (November 14).
Carnival Corporation’s Emerald Princess, with some 2,780 passengers and crew members, made its entrance into Jamaica’s largest port at approximately 6:45 a.m., where it was greeted by local and health authority officials.
Following the routine checks and ensuring strict adherence to the established health protocols, passengers were allowed to disembark and board waiting busses for approved tours of designated locations.
“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,” he added.
Mayor Gager said that the visit of Emerald of the Seas is a prelude of what is to come for the historic town of Falmouth.
“We have not yet seen the rollout of Royal Caribbean and its Oasis Class vessels… some of the biggest ships in the world. This is a list that includes Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, and of course, the biggest [currently] –Symphony of the Seas. And lest we forget, there is another one that could make its way into Jamaican waters and here in Falmouth next year – the newest and the biggest –Wonder of the Seas,” he pointed out.
Mayor Gager noted that Royal Caribbean, which, along with Carnival Cruise Lines, has the biggest vessels in the world, is not only a long-standing partner of Jamaica but is also a major shareholder in the Falmouth Port.
“It’s easy to see why they would have a vested interest in wanting to bring their ships here. We have the biggest port in Jamaica and we can accommodate their huge Oasis class vessels,” he noted.
Craft trader, Raymond Gordon, who spoke to JIS News, said he is excited to see that ships are coming back to Falmouth.
“We have been hard hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and, understandably, the ships stayed away. I am seeing this as a sign of hope and for better things to come,” he said.
The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), for its part, is also expressing delight at the return of cruise shipping to Falmouth and other Jamaican ports.
President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Professor Gordon Shirley, in a statement said that the entity welcomes the avid interest in destination Jamaica that cruise enthusiasts globally have demonstrated.
He said that this is evidenced “by the inclusion of our cruise ports on the itineraries of the major cruise lines despite the new COVID-19 cruise operations protocols and as seen with our recent prizes from the World Travel Awards and the United Kingdom (UK) Wave Awards”.
“There is great value to be obtained from an award-winning cruise destination like Jamaica and we [the PAJ] are even more hopeful that as a result of the investments the organisation has made in cruise infrastructure this year, the calls for next year’s season will surpass those slated for this year,” he added.
Celebrity Equinox, Aida Diva and Crystal Serenity are expected to return to Falmouth later this month. Disney Cruise Lines’ flagship vessel Disney Fantasy is scheduled to visit in December.