Bright prospects for tourism in Portland
Ken Wright Pier, Port Antonio:
Headed by Captain Hamish Elliott, who is Jamaica-born, cruise vessel Seabourn Sojourn docked at the Ken Wright shipping pier recently with 750 passengers and crew during its inaugural visit to the resort town of Port Antonio.
The visit, which was obviously an enjoyable one for Elliot, saw him expressing joy and happiness, having returned to the country of his birth, especially in the capacity of the ship’s captain. It was a visit that he said allowed him to mingle with representatives from the Jamaica Tourist Board, the Port Authority of Jamaica, Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) and the local people.
“We are really so excited to be here,” said Elliott.
He continued: “Everybody is so excited, and the passengers that I have spoken with going off the gangway are really looking forward to spending the time here. The only bit of sad news is that it is only one day. We will be back in the future again and again.”
The Seaborn Sojourn is owned by the Carnival Cruise Line shipping company, which has a long history and association with Jamaica dating back to the 1970s, when the fleet of cruise vessels made frequent calls to Port Antonio, with as many as three ships per day.
But while the Seabourn Sojourn made its historic visit to the pristine eastern parish, it was embattled president of the CMU Professor Fritz Pinnock, who is currently on special leave from the school, who hinted that the resort town of Port Antonio was poised for resurgence in tourism and cruise ship arrivals, given its aesthetics.
“Most of the ships that we are getting are in what you would call the mass category,” said Pinnock.
He added that the Sojourn was a high-end ship. “For a ship of this nature to come here and have a second call in December, I think this is progress for Jamaica. So whereas Port Antonio is a little different, you won’t see the mass number of calls coming, but the targeted high-end ships coming here can bring greater value to the economy. I think this is very good.”
He is of the opinion that this was a representation of the future of even greater activity, and with Cuba opening up, he said that Portland was going to see some new styles of cruising.
Speaking of Port Antonio’s diversity, he noted that unlike Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Falmouth, which tend to attract bigger mass ships, this market was reserved for the more boutique ships, “and we also see this in the new Port Royal to come, which I’m very excited about”.
Pinnock’s comments come on the heels of statements made by chairman of Mayberry Investment Limited, Christopher Berry, who told Hospitality Jamaica that Port Antonio was the gem of the Caribbean and that its natural look, pristine beauty, and friendly people make it easy to promote and market.
“We have people coming from Grand Cayman just to fish in an angling tournament,” said Berry.
He added that visitors are captivated by what they see and experience, which includes the island’s indigenous food.
“And here in Portland, there is the renowned Boston jerk pork, which has a rich history, especipally among our local cuisine. The stage is set for Port Antonio, which is where tourism started, to once again boom in confidence and to get its fair share of the tourism pie. The recently concluded Superstars of Port Antonio Blue Marlin Tournament is a testimony that we can still attract people to our shores.”