Saga Pearl II docks at Errol Flynn
Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
PORT ANTONIO, Portland:
THE ERROL Flynn Marina in Port Antonio has been lauded for its pristine beauty by cruise ship officials after European vessel, Saga Pearl II, made its maiden call to that port yesterday.
The ship docked at the marina shortly after 7 a.m. with 368 passengers on board, along with 277 crew members. It left the port shortly after 5 p.m.
Vice-president in charge of cruise shipping and marina operations at the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), William Tatham, presented staff captain, Krzysztof Majdvinski, with a plaque portraying Jamaica's lush vegetation.
"The PAJ is ecstatic about this visit," said Tatham. "It is all about fostering good relations with cruise liners. Port Antonio's beauty is magical, and we are determined to attract smaller-size vessels to this port, especially those involved in Caribbean cruises. And with Cuba opening up, I am sure that we will be able to attract ships more often over a period of time."
Majdvinski, representing the ship's captain, who was reportedly resting, commented on the lush vegetation at the Errol Flynn Marina, along with its beautiful white-sand beach, which is captivated by its natural look.
Port Antonio, which is the cradle of tourism, has experienced a huge decline in cruise ship and tourist arrivals over the last 20 years.
Between 1960 and 1980, the Errol Flynn marina (formerly the Ken Wright Shipping Pier) attracted as many as five ships per week including Star Ward, South Ward, Nordic Prince, Boehme, Carib, Sun Viking, and Vera Cruise, which pulled out shortly after 1980.
Close contact for vendors
Since June 2009 only cruise vessels have docked three times in Port Antonio: in February 2010, January 31, 2011, and yesterday.
Craft vendors occupying booths on the West Harbour property had close contact with the tourists, who made purchases at regular intervals.
Earlier, Jamaica Union of Travellers Association, Portland Chapter members formed a queue along West Harbour Road, awaiting their turn to transport tourists to different attractions, including Rio Grande Rafting, Somerset Falls, Folly Ruins, and Port Antonio's historic highlights.
Later in the day, a massive barbecue was held along the white-sand beach at Errol Flynn Marina, with the picturesque Navy Island in the background. This event was organised by the PAJ and Saga Cruises.
Foods including lamb chops and ribs, barbecued pork ribs, chicken, grilled lobster, pastry, a variety of salad, fruits and vegetables, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages were available in abundance and consumed by visitors and specially invited guests, with the added attraction of a local steel band playing renditions of legendary reggae artiste Bob Marley.