The city of Montego Bay in St. James will on Wednesday (December 1), welcome the Carnival Glory, its first vessel since the resumption of cruise shipping to Jamaica four months ago.
The passengers and crew of the mega vessel, a Conquest-class cruise ship operated by Carnival Cruise Line, will be calling on the tourism capital, ensuring that all Jamaican cruise ports would have received at least one ship since the reopening of the sector in August.
Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Falmouth and Port Royal are the other cruise ports to have received ships.
The expected arrival of the Carnival vessel is already reigniting the passion of local stakeholders, especially cruise-dependent entities such as craft traders, transport operators, souvenir shop owners, duty free merchants and attractions, with many banking on the hope that this is “a sign of better things to come.”
“I certainly see this as a positive step in the right direction,” Chairman of the Jamaica Co-operative Automobile and Limousine Tours Limited (JACAL), Brian Thelwell, told JIS News.
“We have not seen a ship at the Montego Bay Pier in over 20 months and, trust me, it has not been an easy road for many transport operators, especially those who rely heavily on the cruise-shipping business for a living,” he added.
Mr. Thelwell said it would be naive for anyone to think that “miracles” will happen overnight, noting that he expects to see the cruise business in the tourism capital getting a lot better in the coming months.
Restaurant owner, Lowell Spence, said not only is he happy to see a return of the cruise ship to Montego Bay but that all the island’s ports are now fully operational.
“The cruise business means a lot to Jamaica and when the ships are here… that means a lot of happy faces,” the Smokeez by the Sea restaurant owner added.
For his part, owner of the Royal Shop chain of duty-free stores, Ravi Daswani, said it is obvious that Jamaica must be doing something right to secure the confidence of cruise-line owners.
“The fact that you are starting to see some of the mega liners rolling back into the Jamaican ports is a sign that the cruise lines are convinced that we are handling the COVID-19 protocols well and that they are also up to international standards,” Mr. Daswani noted.
“Believe me… it’s not just about love and loyalty. It’s about knowing that their passengers are safe and are not going anywhere that would put them in danger. Jamaica has been scoring positively in all departments, which explains why the ships are coming back gradually,” he told JIS News.
Vice President of Cruise Shipping and Marine Operations at the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), William Tatham, said in a statement that he is pleased with the PAJ’s cruise restart activities.
“We deliver a safe and rewarding cruise passenger experience. We have also managed to implement the mechanisms, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and also the Ministry of Tourism, to ensure a safe and secure restart of the cruise-shipping sector within the COVID-19 operational context,” he noted.
From August, 2021 to November 18, 2021, a total of 50,160 passengers and crew/staff disembarked cruise ships in Jamaican ports. The total number of ‘paying’ passengers (excluding crew) for the period was 29,045.
Also, since the restart of the cruise industry globally, ships are averaging between 50 and 60 per cent occupancy and are anticipated to reach 75 per cent occupancy during the first quarter of 2022 and full occupancy by the end of the second quarter of 2022.