Wed | Jan 26, 2022

Cruise ships return to Falmouth November 8

Published:Tuesday | October 26, 2021 | 12:07 AM
Cruise passengers shop at retail stores at the Falmouth port in Trelawny.
Cruise passengers shop at retail stores at the Falmouth port in Trelawny.

Cruise ships are set to return to Falmouth on November 8, following an 18-month absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Italian liner, Costa, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, will be making a much-anticipated call to the Trelawny capital.

An elated Mayor Colin Gager said that the visit by the vessel is welcomed news for local officials, businesses, and residents, and “represents a glimmer of hope for bigger things to come”.

“It has been a tough 18 months for all concerned. It was a case where our cruise sector was booming, where we were used to seeing the ships coming in their numbers, and then came the coronavirus, forcing the lockdown of all cruise ports,” he pointed out.

Noting that plans are in place to welcome the Italian cruise liner, Gager said that, once cruise shipping resumed in Ocho Rios over two months ago, Falmouth had started to do some “on-the-ground preparation”, such as improving on basic infrastructure in anticipation of “our turn to bat”.

These efforts, he said, intensified over the past few weeks when the confirmation came that Falmouth “will be getting its turn at the wicket on November 8”.

“We have been walking the ground with the superintendent of police to ensure that we have everything in place and that there is nothing we are leaving to chance. We know the importance of a good first impression and what it means to the future of Falmouth as a major port of call,” Gager said.

Chief strategist/adviser in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright, who was part of a delegation led by portfolio minister Edmund Bartlett, that met with cruise owners and officials in Miami, Florida, recently, said the visit of the Costa cruise ship is only a “sample” of things to come.

“In every meeting I have personally attended with the top cruise honchos, Jamaica is on top of everybody’s Caribbean agenda. The truth is that they have always had this beautiful love affair with Jamaica and, had it not been for COVID, our cruise shipping sector might have been at a stratospheric level by now,” he pointed out.

Seiveright noted that Ocho Rios, which has been welcoming cruise passengers since August, has proven that Jamaica is adequately prepared to host ships during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This, he said, bodes well for other destinations, including Falmouth, and will open the gates for a plethora of ships to call on the island’s other ports in the coming months leading into 2022.

“I would say that, by the middle of 2022, our cruise shipping sector should be rocking again. We have put in the work, and we have been having the dialogue. Our people need this, our people deserve this, especially with what we have all been through over the past 18 months,” Seiveright said.