A Royal Caribbean official said that passengers on the 3,400-passenger Navigator of the Seas would have a good experience when they arrive Jan. 7 for the first call at Falmouth, Jamaica.
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, and was purpose-built to accommodate the 5,400-passenger Oasis-class ships. It 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 Cruisea Ltd., said that the port is ready to safely accept ships but that the retail areas are 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."
During the Navigator’s visit Jan. 7, Royal Caribbean will bring a reggae band to the port and will have food stands stand selling local favorites like jerk chicken and Red Stripe beer.
The cruise line will offer walking tours into the town, and there will be 65 shore excursions available, many which are the same Montego Bay tours available out of Ocho Rios.
Falmouth was supposed to open last May for the Oasis of the Seas' Western Caribbean itineraries, but construction fell behind schedule. The Oasis instead has been calling in Costa Maya, Mexico.
Royal Caribbean then said that the Oasis would make its first call in Falmouth this month, but that date was also moved back. Falmouth will now welcome the Navigator next week and the Oasis ships in March, for its official grand opening.
Before then, it will receive two ships per week while still under construction.
Tercek explained that the new port is next to the town of Falmouth, a vibrant town of local Jamaicans, but not yet a tourist destination.
"People in the town are learning to shift their attitude towards tourism," he said. "When they see the cruise ship come in next week and see that it’s really happening, it will make a big impact and things will start moving at a brisker pace than they have been.
Regarding newspaper articles that have lambasted the government for the port's delay, Tercek said, "These articles in the local paper reflect the Jamaican culture of waiting until the last minute because they are natural skeptics. Now the government agencies are scrambling, but better late than never. A lot of agencies are making efforts to prepare and to receive the guests. We have an internal staff of 30 guest-service agents to assist and welcome our visitors."
Royal Caribbean International CEO Adam Goldstein noted in a recent blog post that the project is massive.
"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."