The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and it partners continue to bolster the restart of cruise shipping operations with the Historic Falmouth Port poised to reopen when it welcomes the Emerald Princess, the first ship to call at the port since the suspension of operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This call fits aptly into the PAJ’s efforts to progressively reopen its ports island-wide within a new operational context guided by strict protocols and in accordance with health and safety guidelines that were instituted by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW). The strategy to restart operations incrementally, one port at a time has been fruitful as the Port of Ocho Rios and the Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio received their first ships since the suspension in August and November respectively and each reopened successfully. The model of restricting cruise passengers to specific attractions and within controlled tours approved by the MoHW and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) has worked creditably and will be implemented at all cruise ports. The primary focus of this model is to restrict interaction with locals to ensure the sustained safety of the citizens of the country which is a priority and to mitigate against the risk of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The Emerald Princess called with approximately 1,719 guests and 1,061 crew. Arrangements have been made for cruise passengers to visit the craft markets in the town of Falmouth as well as visits to approved attractions including Dolphin Cove, Dunn’s River Falls and Chukka in addition to participation in other controlled tours.
Professor Gordon Shirley, President & CEO, PAJ expressed his delight at the successful phased restart of the Cruise Shipping business segment, which is one of the PAJ’s most significant income earners, and looks forward to the reopening of all ports. He stated that “the PAJ welcomes the avid interest in destination Jamaica that cruise enthusiasts globally have demonstrated, which 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’s Wave Awards." He further stated that “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 organization has made in cruise infrastructure this year, the calls for next year’s season will surpass those slated for this year.”
In welcoming the return of cruise shipping to Falmouth, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett said: "The return of cruise operations to the Historic Port of Falmouth is an important step in the phased reopening of the tourism sector and it will play a major role in the recovery of the industry overall and by extension the wider economy, from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many players in Falmouth and surrounding areas will benefit as it will facilitate the return of well-needed jobs for numerous Jamaicans who depend on cruise tourism."
"The return of cruise shipping to Falmouth is further proof of the growing demand for Destination Jamaica. The tourism sector is rebounding well and based on current projections we expect to welcome some 75,000 cruise passengers between November and December 2021," the Minister revealed. "I would like to commend all the stakeholders who have worked together to make this possible including the Port Authority of Jamaica, the Ministry of Tourism and its public bodies as well as the Ministry of Health and Wellness," Minister Bartlett expressed.
He noted that arrangements have been made to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols instituted by the MoHW, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other international partners for the safe return to cruise operations, adding that due to the risks posed by COVID-19, steps will be taken to manage the movement of cruise passengers.
William Tatham, Vice President, Cruise Shipping & Marina Operations, PAJ stated that “I am pleased with the progress of the PAJ’s cruise restart activities, and I am confident that we will deliver a safe and rewarding cruise passenger experience in Falmouth, just as we have done in Ocho Rios & Port Antonio.” He also noted that “this call at Falmouth is just another step towards a full return to cruise operations, as we are reopening one port at a time. We have been working closely with MoHW and TPDCo to ensure the safety of passengers and locals alike and each successful call leads to more calls and a widening of the opportunities. We are confident that cruise will fully recover by the 2nd quarter of next year.”