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Berthing demands as Jamaica attracts more cruise ships

Published:Tuesday | December 6, 2016 | 12:15 PM

WESTERN BUREAU:

With the world's biggest cruise companies currently leaning towards Jamaica as a first-call destination, there is a growing demand for more berthing capacity at the island's ports.

Yesterday, six ships - two in Ocho Rios, two in Montego Bay, and one each in Falmouth and Kingston - called on Jamaica.

This follows visits over the past two weeks by Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas - the largest cruise ship in the world - and Carnival's newest and biggest cruise vessel - the Carnival Vista. The ships went to Falmouth and Ocho Rios, respectively.

The growing demand has not been lost on the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), the principal maritime agency responsible for the regulation and development of Jamaica's port and shipping industry, and which is currently undertaking major infrastructural work in the major resort and cruise-shipping towns.

"The Western Caribbean is in strong demand and Jamaica is one of the main ports of call on that route," explained William Tatham, vice-president for marine operations and cruise shipping at the PAJ.

"At the same time, the growth in our shoreside offering is delivering more options for the cruise lines, which translates into greater revenue for both the ship and the destination."

Tatham further indicated that port development would be done in response to overall demand, adding that it was important to expand when the demand reaches the point where it can generate the revenues needed "to pay for these developments".

"Having said that, we continue to upgrade our existing facilities to ensure that they can accommodate the larger vessels, which helps to meet one part of the increased demand," he added.

DELIVERING UNIQUE OFFERINGS

Tatham said that Jamaica is one of the largest Caribbean cruise destinations and prides itself on being able to deliver unique offerings in each of its ports.

"The Monarch, which docked in Kingston today, will continue the tradition of offering the unique offerings we are known for. Passengers were booked to visit Port Royal, Spanish Town, the Bob Marley Museum, and a host of other unique and interesting stops."

He added that this was the first time in over three years that a cruise ship was calling on Kingston - the last being a German vessel in 2013.

"The Monarch is by far the largest cruise vessel ever to call on the Port of Kingston," he pointed out.

"We believe that it is important to demonstrate that Kingston has the potential to host vessels successfully. We were able to convince the cruise company, Pullmantur, to give Kingston a try. Pullmantur is the largest Spanish cruise line and a major European cruise company. We will then use the success of this call in our future efforts to sell Kingston and Port Royal as viable ports of call."

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com