Is Jamaica Unrest Impacting Cruisers?

Carnival Cruise Lines

Cruise ship visits to Jamaica have not been affected by street violence this week in Kingston, which has left as many as 44 people dead.

In fact, cruise ships dock in Ocho Rios or Montego Bay, both a good distance away from the troubles, bring cruise passengers on shore excursions that go nowhere near Kingston, and are operating business as usual, cruise line officials say.

A U.S. State Department travel alert issued this week warns U.S. citizens against travel to Kingston and its surrounds, where a state of emergency has been declared due to "escalating violence, shootings and unrest." The situation began when government authorities attempted to arrest a popular drug lord. Armed gang members have been battling with government forces, and among the dead are civilians.

Kingston's airport (one of two international airports on the island; the other in Montego Bay) has been blocked on an intermittent basis and some flights canceled, the alert advises.

But the violence has been contained to the Kingston area, which is on the southeast coast of the country, far from the North Coast where cruise passengers and most resort-goers typically visit.

The gritty capital is about 54 miles from Ocho Rios, and 119 miles from Montego Bay, both popular tourist areas. Due to road conditions, a ride from Kingston would take 2 hours and 4 hours, respectively.

Ships due to call in Jamaica this week include the 2,974-passenger Carnival Liberty, scheduled to arrive in Ocho Rios on Thursday.

Carnival Cruise Lines said it is "monitoring the situation closely," in Kingston, but that its ships have so far kept their schedules and "are not experiencing any issues."

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises likewise said they are "continuing to monitor the situation and will respond as necessary," but that no cruises had been affected. Royal Caribbean's 3,600-passenger Liberty of the Seas is visiting Ocho Rios today.

Popular shore excursions from the ports include climbing Dunn River Falls, trying your hand at the Jamaican Bobsled run and taking a Bob Marley Bus Adventure tour.
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