Royal Caribbean to Pull Some of its Cruise Ships from Falmouth, Jamaica?

Royal Caribbean and sister cruise line Celebrity Cruises are pulling some of their cruise ships from the port of Falmouth, Jamaica, according to the Jamaican Gleaner.

Yesterday, the Gleaner published an article titled Major Cruiselines Pull Out Of Falmouth Port, Financial Fallout Expected. The article is admittedly confusing. It quotes Falmouth’s mayor, Colin Gager, referring to three ships, the "Allure of the Seas," and two unnamed ships from Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. It seems that Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises changed the itineraries of three cruise ships from Falmouth at sometime in the future. 

It does Falmouth Jamaica Royal Caribbeannot appear that these cruise lines are pulling all of their ships from this port. The Royal Caribbean website still lists the Independence, Liberty, Oasis, Allure, and Harmony of the Seas sailing to Falmouth in 2017 and 2018 and the Adventure of the Seas calling on Falmouth in late 2018 and 2019. 

The article cites three reason expressed by the Falmouth mayor for the disruption of arrivals at the port: (1) "visitor harassment," (2) the "conduct of tour bus operators," and (3) "craft vendors leaving much to be desired."

Many cruise passengers have complained about being harassed in Falmouth, as well as other ports in Jamaica such as Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, by vendors and hair-braiders over the years. There have been many discussions between Royal Caribbean and Jamaican tourism officials about the cruise visitors' complaints of harassment. 

Local tour bus operators have been a problem with safely taking cruise passengers from the port to excursions. Last year over a dozen passengers were injured in a crash of a tour bus where the driver was reportedly driving erratically. The accident killed one Royal Caribbean passenger who was aboard the tour bus.

Royal Caribbean invested heavily in developing the historic port, which we have reported on several times. Local newspapers are reporting on promises by Royal Caribbean and the local port authority to complete a large market with over 200 stalls, a transportation center in the middle of town, and an artisan village.

Royal Caribbean and the Port Authority of Jamaica are planning to further dredge the port to make room to permit Falmouth to permit two cruise ships which are the size of the Allure of the Seas (or the Oasis or the Harmony) to be in port at the same time. There have been reports in the local press that there is opposition to the dredging by local citizens of Jamaica. Last month, the Gleaner reported on calls for the local citizens to resist the dredging. It mentioned that a pastor in Trelawny, the Reverend Devere Nugent of the William Knibb Baptist Church, was "calling on the people and churches in the parish to resist the plan to do further dredging of the sea, which is a proposal to bring more cruise ships to the resort town."

Falmouth JamaicaReverend Nugent said "I am calling on the churches and people to establish baskets of resistance. We must resist the further dredging of the sea. Let us no longer sit back and be exploited.The people who are planning to do further dredging are doing so for their own profit, none of which stays in Falmouth. They don't live here, they don't shop here, and they don't join any church or civic organization here. It is broad-based exploitation."

We have reported on Royal Caribbean exploitation of Falmouth and the destruction of the local habitat there before. 

The question arises whether Royal Caribbean is pulling some of its ships from Falmouth to make a point with those resisting the cruise line's plans for the port.

Ironically, the Jamaican minister of tourism, Edmund Bartlett, boasted a couple of months ago in the Jamaican Observer that Falmouth was hosting many of the largest cruise ships in the world and would soon be the region’s "number one cruise destination."

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Photo credit: Jim Walker