Floating cruise-ship pier coming to Port Royal this winter
As of this coming winter, Port Royal will have the capacity to accommodate the world's largest ships when the first floating cruise ship pier, SeaWalk, is installed in the historic town.
Port Royal in east Kingston will be the first place in the Caribbean where the Scandinavian group SeaWalk will set up such a facility. Already, four installations have been done in Europe, and more than 400 successful cruise calls have been made using the modern technology.
On completion, the city made famous by pirates will be able to accommodate some of the world's largest cruise ships, SeaWalk's chairman, Ole Heggheim, told The Gleaner from his offices in Norway recently.
"The pier can accommodate one ship at a time," he stated, adding that SeaWalk is currently being used by ships carrying up to 6,000 passengers and more than 2,000 crew members without any issues.
On the heels of Heggheim's interview with The Gleaner, Cabinet announced on Wednesday that approval of US$7.4 million had been granted for the supply, installation and commissioning of the floating pier.
For years, plans to bring cruise ships to Port Royal have been thwarted by the fragile ecology of the site, which would be disrupted by construction of a fixed pier.
According to Heggheim, the floating pier is environmentally friendly since it only requires five metres of beach to operate. "SeaWalk is in use on UNESCO World Heritage destinations and costs less than 50 per cent of a traditional pier," he revealed.
With a floating pier, the ship is moored between two points. "SeaWalk is self-propelled to the ship's side and consequently moored to the ship," stated Heggeheim.
This, he explained, allowed passengers to walk ashore, similar to traditional concrete pier.
In fact, SeaWalk can, to an extent, be compared to a gate at an airport, the difference being that the SeaWalk is floating and is much bigger.
"The interruptive and patented product is founded on well-proven technology based on the experience from the oil industry in The North Sea," assured Heggheim.
He disclosed that discussions were in place with several other destinations in the Caribbean to provide the facility at their cruise-shipping piers.