Ministry to address cruise-liner complaints
Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU: OFFICIALS OF the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment have said urgent steps are being taken by the ministry to address the complaints that led to the announcement that the mega cruise liner Carnival Breeze will be switching port from Ocho Rios, St Ann to Falmouth, Trelawny, next year.
The management of Carnival Cruise Lines, the owner of the mega liner which has a capacity for 3,690 passengers, said last month that they were not impressed by the general ambience of Ocho Rios and were also peeved by the escalating complaints from passengers that they were being harassed by locals.
"We are concerned if visitors to our island enjoy anything less than the highest level of satisfaction with their experience," Basil Smith, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, told The Gleaner. "Ongoing efforts are being made to address the factors that may contribute to any level of dissatisfaction experienced in any of our resort towns or ports of call."
"The minister recently appointed a task force to identify problem areas and to propose solutions that will improve the visitor's experience in our cruise ports," added Smith.
According to Smith, the task force has already started its work and was enjoying positive results in the primary area of concern, Ocho Rios.
"This task force has been actively at work for several weeks, and positive results have already been experienced in Ocho Rios," noted Smith. "... we must remember that our visitors are the invited guests of us all and we must do our best to perform the role of hosts."
Should Carnival Cruise Lines go ahead with the switch to Falmouth, it would put the Georgian town at an even greater advantage over the Montego Bay and Ocho Rios facilities. Based on the Port Authority of Jamaica monthly statistical data, between January and July 2014, 55 cruise vessels docked at Montego Bay, with at a total of 144,409 passengers disembarking. Ocho Rios saw 77 vessels with 237,177 visitors; Port Antonio had five small ships with 787 guests, while Falmouth had a mammoth 464,504 tourists on some 109 vessels.
In reacting to the planned Carnival Cruise Lines pull-out, Shahine Robinson, the member of Parliament for North-east St Ann and opposition spokesperson for tourism and cruise shipping believes urgent dialogue could have resulted in an about turn in the decision to move the mega liner to Falmouth.