Ja wel­comes ‘Har­mony of the Seas’

Is­land has now played host to three largest ships in world

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Janet Sil­vera Se­nior Gleaner Writer janet.sil­vera@glean­erjm.com

FALMOUTH NOW has the dis­tinc­tion of ac­com­mo­dat­ing the three largest cruise ships in the world, with the in­au­gu­ral call of Royal Caribbean’s me­ga­liner, Har­mony of the Seas.

The ship, which docked Tues­day morn­ing in the his­toric town, has pushed Ja­maica’s cruise ship­ping earn­ings up, with the coun­try ex­pect­ing to hit the US$120-mil­lion mark in 2016, even as growth points to an im­pres­sive 9.6 per cent over 2015.

Dur­ing a com­mem­o­ra­tive cer­e­mony of­fi­cially wel­com­ing the ship, Min­is­ter of Tourism Ed­mund Bartlett noted that cruise ship­ping was one of the largest part­ner­ships forged by Ja­maica.

The tourism min­is­ter said the ship’s ad­di­tion to the cur­rent ros­ter will pro­vide a ma­jor boost for Ja­maica’s grow­ing cruise ship sec­tor, “which for the pe­riod Jan­uary to Septem­ber 2016 saw a 9.6 per cent in­crease in cruise pas­sen­ger ar­rivals, with 1,223,608 recorded passengers, when com­pared to the same pe­riod last year”.

He said the coun­try recorded cruise pas­sen­ger earn­ings of ap­prox­i­mately US$111 mil­lion, up from some US$98.3 mil­lion for the same pe­riod last year.

Some 6,400 passengers were on-board the ves­sel, which is manned by a crew of more than 2,150, who were lauded as loss lead­ers and among the is­land’s most loyal cus­tomers.

As­sur­ing the cap­tain of the boat, Johnny Faeve­len, of his commitment to build out the in­fra­struc­ture that the cruise in­dus­try re­quires, Bartlett said im­prove­ment was be­ing made to sup­port­ing in­fra­struc­ture at the ports and in the sur­round­ing towns.

“The min­istry’s Tourism En­hance­ment Fund (TEF), in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (UDC) and the Port Au­thor­ity of Ja­maica (PAJ), are in the process of giv­ing Falmouth a ma­jor facelift that will en­hance the am­bi­ence of this his­toric town,” he told the gath­er­ing.

SHIP­PING MAR­KET

Har­mony of the Seas will make bi­monthly calls to the his­toric Falmouth Port, and is the third in the se­ries of RCL me­ga­lin­ers to add Ja­maica to its itin­er­ary. Both the Oa­sis and the Al­lure of the Seas used the Trelawny-based port.

How­ever, if Faeve­len had his way, the ship would call ev­ery week with 6,000 passengers aboard. His love for Ja­maica and its peo­ple is an in­spi­ra­tion.

“We love Ja­maica, the friend­li­ness of the peo­ple; the hap­pi­ness and the no-prob­lem at­ti­tude,” he ex­claimed.

Tues­day’s call was the ship’s 43rd voy­age since it en­tered the cruise ship­ping mar­ket on the Mediter­ranean, and Faeve­len said he was thrilled to be in the Caribbean, par­tic­u­larly, with more than half of his guests be­ing re­peaters.

“The num­ber of re­peat guests on-board should tell a lit­tle about the prod­uct,” he stated, adding that their “crown and an­chor” guests were tak­ing up most of the space.

He an­nounced plans re­lated to the con­struc­tion of a larger ves­sel which should be on the high seas by 2018.

Of all the dig­ni­taries wel­com­ing the ship, none was more elated than Mayor of Falmouth Garth Wilkin­son, who pointed out that with Falmouth be­ing on the fore­front, the town had be­come the en­gine of growth for the parish.

JANET SIL­VERA PHOTO

One of the world's largest ships, Har­mony of the Seas, makes its in­au­gu­ral call on the his­toric Falmouth Port in Trelawny on Tues­day.

BARTLETT

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