Falmouth, Jamaica to receive first cruise ships next week

his item was written by Johanna Jainchill, who covers cruising for Travel Weekly. Jainchill is serving as Guest Editor of The Cruise Log while USA TODAY Cruise Editor Gene Sloan is away.
CAPTIONCourtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruises
As another report out of Jamaica questioned the readiness of Falmouth, the island's newest cruise port, a Royal Caribbean official on the ground there said that Falmouth's first cruise passengers would have a good experience.
The 3,400-passenger Navigator of the Seas is due to be Falmouth's first cruise ship call on January 7, to be followed by two ships per week.
Yesterday, the town's Mayor, Collin Gager, told a local news outlet that he was disappointed with the local businesses' level of readiness in advance of the ship's arrival. The port's construction has already been significantly delayed; it was due to open last May.
Historic Falmouth Port, a 32-acre, two-berth port on the island's north coast, is a joint venture between Royal Caribbean and the Port Authority of Jamaica. It was purpose-built to accommodate the 5,400-passenger Oasis-class ships, and will eventually have a new terminal and a "town center" with shops and restaurants.
John Tercek, vice president of new business development for Royal Caribbean, said that the port is ready to safely accept ships, but that the retail areas are still under construction.
"We'll be able to deliver a good experience for guests visiting in the interim," he said. "By the time the big ship comes, our project will be done."
For the Navigator's visit, Royal Caribbean will bring a reggae band to the port and will have food stands selling local specialties like jerk chicken and Red Stripe beer. The cruise line will offer walking tours into the town and will have free shuttle buses to a thematic shopping center. There will also be 65 shore excursions available for passengers to take. In addition, Tercek said the cruise line would have an internal staff of 30 Guest Service Agents to assist and welcome passengers.
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Falmouth was supposed to open for the Oasis' inaugural Western Caribbean itineraries last spring, but construction fell behind schedule and the ship has instead been calling in Costa Maya, Mexico. Royal Caribbean thought the Oasis would make its first call in Falmouth this month, but that date was also moved back. Falmouth will now welcome the Oasis ships in March for its official grand opening.
Tercek explained that the actual town of Falmouth, next to the port, is a "vibrant town of local Jamaicans that live and trade. It's not a tourist destination yet. It's a 300-year-old town. It's not going to change overnight."
Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein reminded readers how massive the new port project is in a recent blog post.
"Falmouth, Jamaica will (finally) come on line as a new destination in the first quarter of 2011," Goldstein wrote. "As far as I know, our Falmouth project has been the largest infrastructure development project in the Caribbean basin in recent years."
One travel seller specializing in cruises who toured the site in September said it has the potential to become one of the best stops in the Caribbean.
"Falmouth will be able to offer strikingly different and historical tours," said CEO Stewart Chiron. "All of Jamaica will benefit from the new facility as the area will increase the amount of ships capable of visiting at one time."