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Carnival pledges 1.2m cruise visitors to MoBay, Ocho Rios

Published:Friday | August 19, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Carnival Cruise Lines has reached an agreement with the Government of Jamaica, which will guarantee cruise ship ports in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios at least 1.2 million visitors over three years.

The effective date of the agreement is March 1, 2011, and it will ensure that both ports maintain current levels of cruise arrivals, despite the competition from the new Falmouth cruise ship pier. Carnival has also agreed that if it fails to deliver the 1.2 million visitors, it will pay the difference between the actual numbers and the guaranteed figure, said Minister of Transport and Works Mike Henry, in an interview with JIS News on Tuesday.

"This development means that Ocho Rios and Montego Bay will continue to see the same volume of visitors as before, and it means that everyone can now plan in relation to the arrival of cruise ships from Carnival to these ports," said Henry.

In its first three months of operation, February to April, the Falmouth pier is said to have received close to 150,000 passengers and crew, and surpassed Ocho Rios as Jamaica's main cruise ship port.

Royal Caribbean, a financial partner with the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) in the Falmouth port, has said it will bring in as many as eight million visitors to the historic coastal town over a decade.

However, Henry said there would be no rivalry, as long as each town developed the necessary attractions to keep visitors occupied and entertained.

He said that in the context of the need for continued growth, the Government will be pursuing opportunities to expand both the Ocho Rios and Montego ports, including developing the landside facilities to improve earning capacity.

"This is a long-awaited agreement," he said, referring to the Carnival deal, "and, now that it is in force, we expect to see the landside of the industry step up its ability to ensure that harassment is kept at its lowest level, so the passengers of cruise lines can mingle and participate in the culture and history of Jamaica," the minister said.

"I am also hoping to couple this with the revival of the railway, which should impact on the tourism sector, and is also related to the multimodal approach to transportation that the ministry is pursuing."

He thanked the port authority for working closely with the ministry in developing the Falmouth cruise ship pier, which has boosted Jamaica into the top-10 cruise destinations in the world.

He assured that the Ministry of Transport and Works and the PAJ will continue to ensure that "we deliver the best possible service and facilities for the cruise ship industry".