The first three ships scheduled to dock at the historic Falmouth Port next month have been diverted to the resort towns of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, cruise-ship officials have confirmed to The Gleaner.
The ships, Holland America's Ryndham and P&O's Aurora, were slated to call on the 18th-century commercial capital on November 3. The other vessel is Noordam, which was expected to make its maiden call on December 26. Each ship carries an average of 1,200 to 1,800 passengers per call.
"The port is not conducive to make a call," Holland America's vice-president of Caribbean affairs, Matthew Samms, confirmed, noting that he had visited the site on Monday and, after looking at the area, a decision was taken to move his vessels to the other local ports.
He was quick to point out that he fully supports the Falmouth Port and was looking forward to making calls there in the very near future.
In the meantime, Jamaica's president of cruise shipping, William Tatham, in his response to questions from this newspaper, scoffed at suggestions by cruise-sector stakeholders that the port was not in a state of readiness to accept the calls.
According to Tatham: "Having spent so much money developing this port, our feeling was that the guest experience was more important than anything else. It was always agreed that we would deliver only at a certain level to our customers."
The cruise-ship executive said it was a mutual decision by the Port Authority of Jamaica and the cruise lines to divert the vessels.
Tatham said the first ship, Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Sea, would make a call on the port on January 7 next year