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Falmouth overtakes Ocho Rios as busiest cruise pier

Published:Friday | June 17, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Oasis of the seas

Steven Jackson, Business Reporter

The Falmouth cruise ship pier generated income of some US$4.4 million (J$380 million) from 50,700 passengers in April alone making it the island's busiest pier, according to data from the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).

The newly opened pier has already contributed to a 41 per cent rise in total cruise passengers in the month - at Falmouth, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Port Antonio - over year earlier levels.

Ocho Rios has held the record for cruise activity up to now.

In its first three months of operation, February to April, the Falmouth pier has landed nearly 100,000 passengers and 34,650 crew generating roughly US$8.7 million (J$746 million) in passenger expenditure.

The Financial Gleaner estimates are based on the Annual Travel Statistics 2010 published by the JTB which stated that "cruise passengers spent an average of US$87.35 per person per night".

Government's share of the visitor expenditure at the Falmouth cruise pier is projected at only J$91.4 million this fiscal year, up from J$56.7 million in the last fiscal year based on the Jamaica Public Bodies 2011-12 report published by the Ministry of Finance. Additionally, Ocho Rios cruise pier income formerly the island busiest, is projected to be flat at J$30 million, whilst the Port Antonio Marina is projected at J$48 million or nine per cent higher than in the last fiscal year. Montego Bay pier data was not disclosed.

The rise of Falmouth has come amidst a slight reduction in port calls to Ocho Rios over year earlier levels. The PAJ, however, intends to maintain the competitiveness of that pier.

"To further capitalise on developments in the cruise industry and maintain a secured position in this area, plans are also in place to upgrade the Ocho Rios cruise ship pier," stated Jamaica Public Bodies 2011-12.

PAJ is projected to earn a J$2.17 billion surplus this fiscal year or 22 per cent lower over last fiscal year due, in part, to higher finance costs related to upgrades.

PAJ vice-president of cruise shipping and marina operations, William Tatham, reached in the United Kingdom, referred the Financial Gleaner to another PAJ spokesperson, and despite assurances from the PAJ marketing department there was no response up to press time.

The Falmouth pier accommodated its first cruise liner on February 17. The official opening and docking of the world's largest passenger vessel was realised in March; however, construction continues at the facility.

The Falmouth pier was developed by the PAJ in partnership with Royal Caribbean Cruise Limited (RCCL).

The PAJ's investment in the development project is estimated at US$167 million, along with RCCL's US$102 million - US$46 million in the first phase.

In March, RCCL promised to flood the historic town of Falmouth with eight million cruise ship passengers over the next 10 years. In fact, every week going forward to at least 2013, an Oasis-class vessel will dock at the Falmouth pier amongst other vessels. Oasis of the Seas is reportedly the world's largest cruise ship, carrying some 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew.

The port boasts modern high-tech facilities and allows for the docking of the world's largest cruise ships. It also has the capacity to handle at least two mega ships concurrently.

Upon completion, the components of this state-of-the-art facility will include a terminal building, which houses customs, immigration and port security. Other areas will include restaurant services, retail shops, as well as a transportation centre. Subsequent phases will include on-site attractions, cultural experiences, hotel and residential developments.