New Jamaica cruise port gets their act together

Jamaica new portLong-delayed new cruise port Falmouth, Jamaica welcomed it’s first Royal Caribbean ship this week as Voyager of the Seas became the first ship to visit. It’s a custom-built port designed to handle mega-ships Oasis and Allure of the Seas. Both have been patiently waiting for months as construction has been dragging on. Early reports from the nearly-complete port indicate full speed ahead on construction and a positive, welcoming mood.

“Today was truly priceless! The people of Jamaica made today an experience I’ll never forget. Their early morning anticipation of the ships arrival was quite impressive. Buildings, rooftops, streets and any open spaces were filled with people awaiting Voyager’s arrival. The first passengers to disembark were well organized for tours and met by various performers. They created nice distractions to avoid noticing the construction around them. The ship did a superb job ensuring expectations by passengers were set at a proper level” said cruise expert Stewart Chiron CEO CruiseGuy.com, one of the first visitors to the nearly-complete port.

In full operation were a variety of new shore excursions as well as variations on some Jamaica favorites.

“I went out to Good Hope Estate and watched the tours happen. What a difference since I was last here in September. Passengers thoroughly enjoyed their various experiences. This was evidenced when we returned as Voyager was departing. The crowds of Jamaicans never dissipated and were cheering Voyager’s departure. What was truly emotional for many, was every open space on every deck of Voyager was lined with passengers and crew cheering and thanking the people of Falmouth for a most memorable day. I would think the comment cards from today will be extraordinarily high! This is a port experience unlike any other” added Chiron

Cruise passengers arriving into Falmouth will be able to choose between the shore excursion options in both Ocho Rios and Montego Bay since the new port is equidistant from both of these Jamaican towns. Additionally there will be an array of options for both tour and non tour guests at Falmouth. Royal Caribbean hopes that passengers arriving at Falmouth will feel like they are in the old world of the Caribbean with numerous shopping and authentic dining opportunities right at the port.

“I look forward to returning for Oasis’ arrival. What a spectacle that will be considering what occurred today. The Royal Caribbean staff that worked so hard on the pier were magnificent. What a team to make this dream come true” Chiron concluded.


Troubled Falmouth, Jamaica cruise port finally welcomes first cruise guests

Falmouith Jamaica cruiseRoyal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas became the first cruise ship to visit the new port of Falmouth, Jamaica which unofficially opened today, months behind schedule.

“We are delighted to see Voyager of the Seas make the first-ever ship call at Historic Falmouth,” said Craig Milan, senior vice president of Land Operations, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “By partnering with the Port Authority of Jamaica, we are working to deliver our shared vision of Falmouth’s rebirth. Together, we are bringing the town’s historic sites to life and integrating the culture and authenticity of this destination into a superior guest experience.”

The port construction is a joint effort between between mega-ship maker Royal Caribbean International and the government of Jamaica. Originally scheduled to open last May, ongoing construction delays pushed opening the troubled port back, rerouting giant sisters Oasis and Allure of the Seas to Costa Maya, Mexico instead. It looks like the port is on track for an official grand opening in March though when Oasis of the Seas will make her first stop at the new facility.

On the ground today in Jamaica, cruise expert Stewart Chiron CEO, CruiseGuy.com tweeted “Crowds massing on rooftops, churches, roadways as town about to enter new Millennium. Feels like Christopher Columbus’ arrival.”Indeed, the historic area of Falmouth, Jamaica dates back to 1790 at a time when Jamaica was the world’s largest sugar producer. One of the major obstacles in the construction of the new port has been building up an infrastructure that dates back to the late 18Th and early 19Th century when it was a central hub of the slave trade.

That was then, this is now.

“Marching band welcoming @RoyalCaribbean #cruise passengers as 1st to visit historic port of Falmouth” chimed Chiron.

Today, guests from Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas are experiencing a new and diverse variety of shore excursions while at Historic Falmouth, including:

  • Good Hope Great House:located fifteen minutes from Falmouth, guests can choose from the new horse & carriage ride, river-tubing, ATV exploring, among others, on this former 18th century Jamaican plantation
  • Dolphin Cove & Dunn’s River Falls:adventure seekers can climb Dunn’s River Falls; zip-line through the lush rainforest canopy or wind down the mountainside on a Jamaican bobsled at Mystic Mountain; or swim with the dolphins at Dolphin Cove.
  • Appleton Estate: after a scenic drive through the Cockpit Country and Bamboo Avenue, guests can indulge in one of Falmouth’s old-world delicacies by learning to make rum and sampling different aged rums.
  • Rafting on Martha Brae: located five minutes from Falmouth, guests can enjoy a tranquil ride on a 30-foot bamboo raft.

Once complete, the port’s master plan calls for 120,000 square feet of retail shopping and two berths capable of servicing the line’s Oasis-class ships. Located on the islands North side between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, most tours and excursions currently offered at either port will be available from Falmouth.

Some ships previously scheduled to call at Falmough had been redirected to Ocho Rios or Montego Bay where guests aboard Royal Caribbean ships got a discount on the very popular “JamaicaForADay” packages that sounded like just what they need and maybe what super-slow Falmouth construction workers shouldn’t have had.

The all-you-can-drink, all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-play excursion at Sunset Beach Resort pretty much washed away any post-ship diversion blues and brought on the trademark Jamaican party time with no problem mon.

Photos and video @CruiseGuy


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

cruise port not readyRoyal 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

New Jamaica cruise port to open, finally, sort of

jamaica port to openThe first cruise ship will call at the new port of Falmouth, Jamaica next week, months behind schedule and not fully operational.

The port construction is a joint effort between between mega-ship maker Royal Caribbean International and the government of Jamaica. Originally scheduled to open last May, ongoing construction delays pushed opening the port back, rerouting giant sisters Oasis and Allure of the Seas to Costa Maya, Mexico instead. In fact, neither Oasis or Allure of the Seas will be stopping by until a currently slated March grand opening of the port as construction.

That’s not surprising as the port’s history and existing infrastructure date back to the late 18Th and early 19Th century when it was a central hub of the slave trade.

First to call at Falmouth will be Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, a smaller ship with fewer guests on board starting January 7, 2011.

Once complete, the port’s master plan calls for 120,000 square feet of retail shopping and two berths capable of servicing the line’s Oasis-class ships. Located on the islands North side between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, most tours and excursions currently offered at either port will be available from Falmouth.

When asked if popular tours from Ocho Rios would be possible from Falmouth tour operator Lincoln Stewart told me in November “Oh yeah mon, no problem but don’t hold your breath, no don’t hold your breath.”

We won’t.