Feature
Norwegian Cruise Line will be home​porting one of its vessels in Montego Bay, St. James, on August 7,2021
Photo: contributed

Story Highlights

  • As Jamaica prepares for the “home-porting” of a Norwegian Cruise Line vessel in Montego Bay in August, stakeholders say that the country should look to pursue other such arrangements with additional cruise lines, in order to bring economic benefits to local businesses and communities.
  • Home-porting is when a ship uses a port/marine terminal as its home, regardless of its port of registry. This allows passengers to begin/terminate a cruise in the home port and positively impacts ground transportation and tours. Passengers may also fly into the island to board vessels.
  • Among the benefits of home-porting is the creation of jobs for locals, as support services are provided for the vessels such as fuel, water, food and merchandise.

As Jamaica prepares for the “home-porting” of a Norwegian Cruise Line vessel in Montego Bay in August, stakeholders say that the country should look to pursue other such arrangements with additional cruise lines, in order to bring economic benefits to local businesses and communities.

Home-porting is when a ship uses a port/marine terminal as its home, regardless of its port of registry. This allows passengers to begin/terminate a cruise in the home port and positively impacts ground transportation and tours. Passengers may also fly into the island to board vessels.

Among the benefits of home-porting is the creation of jobs for locals, as support services are provided for the vessels such as fuel, water, food and merchandise.

Ground transport and small business operators will also profit as passengers disembark and go on tours and shop.

Director of the Jamaica Cruise Council and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Caribbean Cruise Shipping and Tours Limited, Dr. Lee Bailey, tells JIS News that the island’s advantage in having the most cruise ports in the English-speaking Caribbean makes it a front runner for any home-porting arrangement.

He says there is opportunity to offer “multi-porting” where vessels could move from one Jamaican port to the other, thereby maximising the use of port facilities.

“Current cruise calls to Jamaica could be doubled or tripled if [ships] call at several ports before leaving Jamaica. If that could be introduced to the cruise lines, that would cause other benefits to communities by a single call from a single cruise ship,” he points out.

Duty-free merchant and senior director of Royal Shop, Ravi Daswani, agrees, telling JIS News that the arrangement will also generate more airlifts into destination Jamaica as passengers fly into the island to board vessels.

“Jamaicans booking cruises on home-ported ships will have the advantage of boarding here as opposed to flying to another location to do so,” he points out.

He says that home-porting will also bring additional businesses for local service providers such as restaurants, tour operators, taxis, car rental companies, craft traders and many other small and medium-sized operators.

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says arrangements are being put in place to ensure that the home-porting of the Norwegian Cruise Line vessel is a success.

He tells JIS News that there will be strict adherence to the COVID-19 safety measures that have been put in place for the cruise industry.
“I want to assure that we are putting the protocols in place that will ensure that it will not only be a lucrative endeavour but one that is safe and seamless too,” he tells JIS News.

The vessel, which is one of the cruise line’s Breakaway Class ships will transport passengers boarding from Jamaica, and the itinerary will include seven-day packages sailing out of Montego Bay.

It will operate at 50 per cent of its 3,800 carrying capacity in keeping with the current COVID-19 protocols.

Minister Bartlett says that passengers will have to be fully vaccinated before being allowed to board the ship.

The Minister, in pointing to Jamaica’s COVID-19 response, which has been hailed on the world stage and includes the establishment of resilient corridors, says it is no surprise that the island has been chosen as a home-porting destination by one of the major cruise lines.

He notes that the island has been a pioneer in tourism resilience and sustainability with commendable work being done by the Tourism Linkages Network as well as the Global Tourism Resilience Crisis and Management Centre (GTRCMC), which focuses on building capacity to withstand disruptions and enable the country to recover quickly and thrive.

Mr. Bartlett, in the meantime, tells JIS News that while the current arrangement has been finalised with the Norwegian Cruise Line, there are ongoing discussions with other cruise entities for additional home-porting opportunities.

A 2017/18 study indicated that the total cruise tourism expenditure for Jamaica was US$244.53 million, generating total employment of 8,293 and total wage income of US$56.57 million.

In 2019, the region received an estimated 28,941,888 cruise visitors, an increase of 3.5 per cent when compared to the same period in 2018.

In recent years, Jamaica has been engaged in home-porting arrangements with a number of ships being accommodated at the Montego Bay port, including vessels such as Mein Schiff and Aida out of Germany.

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