Jamaica will be hosting Royal Caribbean’s flagship Oasis class vessel and the world’s largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, in November.
According to Royal Caribbean’s western Caribbean itinerary for 2022, Wonder of the Seas, which is due to begin its maiden voyage from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to the eastern Caribbean on March 4, will arrive in Falmouth, Trelawny, on November 27.
The 18-deck cruise ship was built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, and has capacity for 6,988 guests and 2,300 crew members.
“We’re excited to introduce guests across the world to Wonder of the Seas and its world-class features after a six-year-long process,” Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations at Royal Caribbean International, Mark Tamis, said in a statement.
“From planning to delivery, we’ve utilised our expertise across Royal Caribbean, as well as incorporating our guests’ suggestions and travel partner feedback to create something truly awe-inspiring,” he said.
The significance of having the world’s largest cruise ship and the newest of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class vessels in its first year of operation has not been lost on Jamaica’s tourism officials and stakeholders, with many seeing it as a huge vote of confidence from the second biggest cruise company behind Carnival Cruise Line.
“It is indeed a signal that our tourism offerings continue to be world-class and that the major cruise lines see Jamaica as an important cruise partner,” said Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett.
“Of significance, we have been attracting all of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-styled vessels – from Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas, we have hosted them all. The lone exception is Symphony of the Seas [formerly the largest cruise ship in the world] which was due in 2020, but had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
Mr. Bartlett cited the long-standing relationship between Royal Caribbean and Jamaica, pointing to the cruise line’s investment in the Falmouth port and the many Jamaicans that have been employed to the company for decades.
Mayor of Falmouth, Councillor Colin Gager, is also excited to see the return of Royal Caribbean to the Falmouth port.
“Our cruise sector is only starting to recover after the near two-year absence of the ships,” he told JIS News.
The cruise line industry has faced constant disruption over the past two years because of COVID-19. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pushed cruise travel up to the highest risk level in late December, indicating that the risk for COVID-19 was “very high”, due to an increase in infections among cruise passengers and crew after the emergence of the Omicron variant.
In January 2022, the health agency’s COVID guidance became optional for a large number of cruise ships. This month, the CDC lowered the risk level from Level 4 to Level 3, which means that its advice is now that people should be fully up to date with their COVID vaccinations before travelling.