Royal Caribbean to Call on New Jamaica Port in 2011
Harrison Liu, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean International, said the idea for the new port grew out of the need to accommodate the line's two largest ships, Oasis of the Seas and sister ship, Allure of the Seas, scheduled to launch in November.
Both ships have the capacity for 5,400 passengers, based on double occupancy, and are approximately 40% larger in interior volume than the line's previously largest ships, he said.
In addition to size requirements, Liu said, the line was also looking for a port that could offer "hospitality service, security service and a sophisticated welcome center." The port was originally scheduled to open when Oasis of the Seas launched in November 2009, but was delayed, Liu said. Both ships are planning to call on the port in March 2011.
William Tatham, vice president of cruise shipping for the Port Authority of Jamaica, said the new port, expected to open in November, is a joint venture between Royal Caribbean and the Port Authority, which is financing the lion's share of the $180 million dollar development project.
Port Falmouth, founded in the 18th century, was once one of the world's leading export ports for sugar and rum, Liu said, but "it has fallen into disrepair." The new port was designed to reflect the historic character of the town.
Craig Milan, senior vice president, land operations and president of Royal Celebrity Tours, in a post on a Royal Caribbean blog earlier this week, wrote "Guests arriving into Falmouth will feel like they are in the old world of the Caribbean and find themselves availed of numerous shopping and authentic dining opportunities."
Visitors will be able to easily visit both Ocho Rios and Montego Bay since the new port is midway between them.
Lanie Fagan, director of communications for Cruise Lines International Association, a trade group, said "it will further the economic development of the area and offer another wonderful Caribbean port" for passengers. In addition, she said, it will benefit all the association's member cruise lines that use the port.
Tatham said the newly designed port will offer guests an opportunity to learn about the area in an educational and entertaining way. "There is a historic theme to it." Travelers will be able to visit a plantation and a museum, explore the area's slave trade roots, and the town, he said " has the largest collection of Georgian architecture found in the Caribbean. It's a stunning place."