Cruise terminal to be built on Folly lands in Portland
The Port Authority of Jamaica, PAJ, is looking to test the stability of the soil at East Harbour, the site of the planned development of a cruise terminal in the coastal town of Port Antonio, Portland.
The terminal is slated for development on lands that incorporate a 68-acre property known as Folly.
East Harbour neighbours the West Harbour, which houses the Errol Flynn Marina, but appears to be substantially larger, based on aerial images found within tender documents seeking a geotechnical expert for soil testing.
The original location for the cruise terminal was the smaller West Harbour, but that was ruled out in 2022, according to statements made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness. The larger harbour would, on the surface, make navigating easier for large vessels.
The Port Authority is both owner of Folly Lands and the Errol Flynn Marina, which mainly accommodates private yachts.
The marina was built by the PAJ in 2002, with expectations that it would open up Port Antonio as a cruise tourism destination, but has been heavily criticised over the years for not generating enough cruise ship calls. It’s utilised by wealthy boat owners but the cruise pier in operation there is incapable of docking larger cruise vessels that handle thousands of passengers.
No yachts or other vessels docked at the marina during the first seven months of 2023, according to statistics from the PAJ. In 2022, three yachts carrying 1,200 persons moored at the facility.
In 2019, the marina welcomed the most visits in a year, with nine vessels carrying 1,480 persons.
At all of the 14 ports monitored by the PAJ across Jamaica, some 2,050 vessels docked with 740,500 persons aboard between January and July of this year. Cruise passengers arrivals have rebounded since the pandemic, having shot back to 828,400 tourists in 2022 after declining to 69,500 in 2021.
The works being tendered for the Port Antonio cruise terminal require the collection of 22 soil samples, or assays, at depths of 20 to 30 metres for lab testing. The job is to be completed within eight weeks.
The cruise pier is not included in the Port Authority’s major capital projects for this fiscal year.