Kingston Wharves at the centre of cruise history
Jamaica has a rich legacy in the cruise shipping industry and on Tuesday, December 6, 2016, the island marked another milestone with the docking of the largest passenger vessel ever received at the Port of Kingston. At the centre of this history-making day was Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL), which hosted the massive Pullmantur Cruise Lines' MS Monarch, capping off its own significant year of firsts.
Passengers disembarking from the 2,700 passenger-capacity vessel were only aware that they were on a working cargo facility because of the stacks of shipping containers visible in the distance. KWL's Berth 2 was beautifully converted into a welcoming facility to prepare the eager passengers for what awaited them on their voyage of discovery of Jamaica's capital and even as far as Ocho Rios.
Speaking onboard the vessel, CEO of KWL, Grantley Stephenson, heaped praises on the government team for making this dream a reality. "When the PAJ (Port Authority of Jamaica) and the JTB (Jamaica Tourist Board) approached us to host the Monarch, we said yes because otherwise Jamaica would have lost an opportunity. As brokers of capabilities we knew that with the resources in place we would be able to take on the challenge." He continued, "Over the past four years there has been over US$30 million in investments in KWL infrastructure and this prepared us for this opportunity".
SHORT AND LONG TERM
Kingston Wharves has been undergoing modernisation of the port facilities to maintain its position as the leading multi-purpose port in the region.
Commenting on the significance of the Monarch's visit to Kingston, KWL chief operating officer, Mark Williams stated that, "This is the result of preparation in the short and long term. Our infrastructure programme continues to position us as the terminal of choice for feeders and regional services in the Caribbean. We have the capacity to accommodate post-Panamax vessels and to also accommodate the largest cruise ships on the seas now."
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, who was also on hand to welcome the Monarch, stated that it is the ministry's intention to target more vessels to call on Kingston. To this, Stephenson enthusiastically replied that "Kingston Wharves is ready."
The MS Monarch's berthing at KWL has added to an impressive list of achievements for the terminal, which includes being named the best multipurpose port in the Caribbean for the fifth time in nine years; hosting the largest cargo vessel to call on the port, the Northern Jubilee; and the MV Toronto Trader which made its maiden cargo sailing from Kingston. As part of its modernisation programme, KWL also acquired the largest mobile harbour crane in the Caribbean, the Liebherr LHM 600.
Pullmantur Cruise Line is a division of Royal Caribbean Cruise International with a primary base out of Spain. The MS Monarch operates cruises in both the Southern and Northern Caribbean. This voyage is called Legendary Caribbean, which originated in Limon, Costa Rica and ports of call in Colon, Panama; Cartagena, Colombia; and George Town, Grand Cayman. There were just over 2,600 passengers and 800 crew members on this cruise. The ship was captained by Arkadiusz Branka.