$ billion cruise port “not ready” for ships on the way

Royal Caribbean’s new cruise port in Falmouth, Jamaica looks “more like a bomb went off on the site than a high-class tourist trap” says the Jamaica Observer today after a recent site visit.

That’s bad news for cruise passengers set to start visiting the new port January 7Th off Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas.

“The port facilities, especially the shops, are not ready. I would say the earliest they would be ready is about mid-March, and fully operational around late April, and the terminal building, a hundred per cent open at the end of June (2011),” said Jes Olsen, project director for the Dutch construction firm in charge of building the pier.

That’s about a year behind the originally projected opening date. Still, Royal Caribbean will send the first ship, Navigator of the Seas, to the port January 7Th. The Falmouth project was built to accommodate giant Oasis and Allure of the Seas beginning May 2010. Those ships won’t call in Falmouth until March.

“It is a very huge project. It’s a ‘design/build’ project, where the developer has certain things in mind and he can change his mind along the way. Also the unknown factors, we had a lot of coral to move which delayed the start-up of the project. We moved about 140,000 live corals.” adds Olsen.

With nothing to do at the port itself, the guests who disembark will have little choice for activities off the ship other than ship-sponsored shore excursions. Plans for setting up a temporary craft market on the site have yet to materialize.

Jamaica Observer photo