OCHO RIOS is poised to see a significant boost in cruise shipping business this year as based on the 2013 cruise shipping schedule from the Port Authority of Jamaica, the resort town will see a 22.4 per cent increase in arrival over last year.
Of the 391 vessels slated to arrive at Jamaica's four premier ports this year, the popular tourist resort town will welcome 169 cruise ships, 31 more than the 138 that docked at the port in 2012. However, Ocho Rios will still trail the new Falmouth Pier on passenger arrival, albeit that they will receive 138 ships, three more than last year.
"We must have an equitable distribution of cruise calls for all three communities to benefit," said businessman Lee Bailey, who heads the Montego Bay-based CCS Tours. "The effort put into the marketing of Falmouth, which has only 900 residents, is not comparable with the Montego Bay or Ocho Rios with 100,000 residents apiece."
Unlike Ocho Rios, which will have ordinary vessels this year, Falmouth will host several mega-liners to include the Oasis of the Seas, the world latest cruise-liner. That vessel, which has an 8,000 visitor capacity, will make 26 visits.
Last year, Jamaica welcomed 1.3 million passengers, 200,000 more than the 1.1 million passengers who visited the island during 2011. The Falmouth Pier, which was in its first full year of operation, was responsible for almost 45 per cent of last year's total.
Since coming to the fore in March 2011, Falmouth has become the envy of the region in terms of cruise-shipping arrival. That port was developed at a cost of US$269 million in a partnership deal between the Port Authority of Jamaica and Royal Caribbean Cruise Limited. Several ships, which were previously scheduled to call on the Ocho Rios Pier, were shifted to Falmouth.
Since the fall-out with RCCL, Ocho Rios has re-established an arrangement, which it had with the Norwegian Cruise Lines. The company has now resumed calls on Ocho Rios, after a four year hiatus and is primarily huge increase in cruise ship arrival projected for 2013.