Royal Caribbean Cruises plans on using Falmouth, in Jamaica, as a port for its new monster of a cruise ship Oasis of the Seas.  There is a concern in Jamaica that Royal Caribbean is exploiting it’s historic town in the process.

A Historic and Quaint "Colonial" Town – Sugar, Rum & Slaves  

Port of Falmouth Jamiaca Falmouth is the chief town and capital of Trelawny parish, Jamaica, and is located on Jamaica’s north coast near Montego Bay.

In the late 1700’s, Jamaica was the world’s leading sugar producer. There were hundreds of sugar estates and enormous wealth created by slaves for the rich estate owners. Falmouth was named after the birthplace of Sir William Trelawny in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain. At the turn of the 1800’s, one hundred sugar plantations in Trelawny parish provided sugar and rum for export to Britain. Falmouth also has a notorious past because it was a center for the slave trade from Africa.  Based on its rum, sugar and slave business, it became one the wealthiest ports in the "New World." 

Falmouth is also considered to be one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved historic towns. Historic FalmouthMeticulously planned in the Colonial style, it is often compared to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, here in the United States. 

Royal Caribbean Makes a Sweet Deal

Several years ago, Royal Caribbean Cruises needed a port to accommodate its new "Genesis" class cruise ships (the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas).  These ships were far too big to use a regular port. 

The cruise line approached Jamaica and proposed a deal where Royal Caribbean would agree to use Falmouth as a port for its new mega ships – provided that Jamaica spend around $120 million deepening its port and creating a huge facililty to accommodate the two new mega-ships carrying over 6,000 passengers each.  The trade-off to Jamaica for this investment would be the infusion of money into Falmouth and the surrounding parish with the arrival of the new mega ships.     

Jamaica quickly jumped at the deal. No environmental impact statement or detailed economic analysis was prepared. The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) prepared promotional materials suggesting that "the destination will deeply reference the town’s history, offering visitors a unigue sensory experience of the Colonial era."  William Tatham, Vice President of Cruise and Marina Operations at the Port Authority of Jamaica, proclaimed: “cruise visitors are looking for more memorable experiences, and this is certainly what Falmouth will be able to deliver.”

Royal Caribbean Cruise President Adam Goldstein  Royal Caribbean’s President Adam Goldstein signed the deal with Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding  and promised to deliver 400,000 passengers a year to Falmouth over the next 20 years, with an expectation that each passenger would spend over $100 in the port. 

Jamaicans were promised a revitalized local economy with thousands of U.S. passengers spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every time the Genesis class cruise ships arrived in port.

Oasis of the Seas – a Self-Contained "Vegas with an Anchor"   

Fast forward to November 2009.  There is now little talk about passengers actually getting off the Oasis of the Seas and going into Falmouth.  Yesterday, the Charlotte Observer ran a story called  "Vegas with an Anchor," which quoted one the cruise ship’s captains stating that “our hope, of course, is that people Oasis of the Seasdon’t get off, because this ship itself is the destination. This is better than a lot of the islands.”

Paul Motter, the editor of the cruise community CruiseMates, echoed this sentiment: "I think it’s going to be the first ship where people truly book just for the ship and hardly care where it goes."

Gadling, the online travel site, criticized the "nearly entirely inward-looking" experience of the Oasis of the Seas.  "With the aptly named Oasis, you don’t need to leave the ship at all . . . As the Oasis passes by port after port, please pardon the passengers if they’re not gathered at the rail watching the world pass by."

The thought of a megaship so big and self-contained that its passengers don’t bother to disembark while in Falmouth is not lost on the people of Jamaica.  After spending and borrowing $120 million, they now realize that Royal Caribbean may have just taken them for a ride.

Oasis of the Seas – Looking for a Place to Offload It’s Pee and Poo

In articles entitled "Why We Fail" and "Fantasies, Follies, and Frauds," John Maxwell of the Jamaica Observer warns of the  "transformation of our beautiful heirloom Falmouth . . .  to please the billionaire owners of Royal Caribbean Lines.  He writes:

John Maxwell - Jamiaca Observer"In beautiful and historic Falmouth, we are busy making a billion-dollar cosy corner for the Royal Caribbean Line on the alleged promise that they will be bringing 6,000 visitors a week to Falmouth. What we don’t know is that we have probably been conned.

The Oasis of the Seas will make land-based hotels irrelevant. Instead of bringing visitors to Jamaica the new ships will bring an ersatz Jamaica to the visitors. Each of these ships will be human zoos specially designed to bemuse their clientele."

"Crapital" (sic) of the World?

Mr. Maxwell continues with his concern that Jamaica’s town of Falmouth may become just a lovely place to unload the crap from the Oasis of the Seas’ 6,000 passengers and 1,500 crew members:

"Given all this, the rationale for the Falmouth cruise shipping centre is simple: There’s got to be somewhere to dump the huge amounts of waste generated by such a monumentally environmentally unfriendly project. Falmouth’s destiny is to act as a relief point for the ship to be sanitized, resupplied with cheap Jamaican water and for the ship, its passengers and crew to offload their excrement in what will become the cruise crapital (sic) of the world"

Oasis of the Seas Allure of the SeasJamaica has a history of being exploited by foreign plantation owners, sugar barons, slave owners, bauxite-mining companies and now the mega ships of the $15 billion Royal Caribbean cruise line. 

Next year, the Oasis of the Seas will invade the historic port of Falmouth.  Later in 2010, the Allure of the Seas will follow.  When these floating-high-rise-shopping-centers cast a shadow over all of old town Falmouth, will Jamaica realize that it’s once quaint port is being used for little more than a big latrine?     



Historic prints of Falmouth   Falmouth Heritage Renewal

Adam Goldstein and Bruce Golding   Jamaica Ministry of Transport & Works

Oasis of the Seas   Kenneth Karsten via

John Maxwell    Jamaica Gleaner

  • Paul Motter, editor,

    Hmmm.. Just did a Google on Falmouth and found this. FWIW; what I said before the ship came out, that people will book the ship despite where it goes, is not the same as saying people won’t get off the ship. It has been shown that each time the ship stops in Haiti (another “exploited” island) the guests spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Falmouth will be the same – at the least, or better. It is an historic city which is of interest to travelers. I wish them luck. Bamboozled? How many port visits will it take to pay for those upgrades?

  • Jim Walker


    Thanks for your comment.

    The “upgrades” you mention are for the benefit of the cruise passengers and the profit of the cruise line, not things like better schools for the children in Jamiaca.

    The same is true for Haiti. Cruise passengers who sail to Labadee may each pay over $100 for jet skis, zip lines, alcohol etc. but the money goes to Royal Caribbean and not into the local economy.

    Jim Walker

  • Windsor

    I live in Falmouth, so I don’t know if anyone that made a comment lives there or visited but what I know is right now it is an open market for any investors and most of the investors are not black foreign nationals. I am a black foreign national who invests in real estate in Jamaica and abroad and the investors are Spanish, Chinese (but there are a lot of Chinese foreign nationals who invest) US and Canadian governments and firms. WHERE ARE THE BLACK FOREIGN NATIONALS. I have invest so I have a say and with that I take action, I refuse to complain from abroad !

  • There is a lot of waster produced from the ships, its a shame that there is always a good and bad side to things. The point is people really need to visit Jamaica, its the country not the floating hotel, that people will remember.

    Maybe we should just take a plane?

  • Chris

    I have not been to Falmouth yet but looking forward to visiting on my cruise w/family in 2012. I have been to Jamaica several times and have enjoyed my visits for the most part. There is a good and bad to all things in life. I may not always spend a lot of money when I go there but whatever I spend in the local economy I feel in some small way it helps. That may be naive but my thoughts. Anyway, if not RCCL then it would be some other cruise line or group of investors, just a matter of time.
    Keep cruising RCCL and providing ports of opportunity to see history and have a vacation to remember and share with others.

  • Doc Lagos
  • donovan tyndale

    There is no doubt RCCL will be making ship loads of money off Falmouth, however, it is a big pie and it is up to us as Jamaicans to be creative enough to take a piece of the pie. Lets face it if those mega ships did not dock in Jamaica they would find another island to dock.

  • Ever

    We are ruled by two major political parties and of course they possess different modus operandi. The PNP,s MO is for winning elections hence the poor must have parties under their stewardship and the JLP is for the establishment and the various perceptions hence the people suffer.All this cruise ship business will not in any way address the various problems of the underclass, the working man and who is seeking employment.The JLP will never know why they were in political isolation for almost a 1/4 of a century because they have no compassion for the poor and the working class and they have never tried to address the social problems when times are good.

  • Tom

    I have been to Jamacia many times, a few on RCCL ships. I have also travelled In January on the Allure of the Seas. It is a great ship but, we always get off at the ports. Look for us as we will have 12 in my group from the Allure and will be getting off to spend time and money with you in Falsmouth.

    Learn a hard lesson from someone in Louisiana. You do not want to loose your tourists (as we did from the oil spill), whether you feel “crapped on” or not. There are “crap” taxes too that help support the schools.

    See you soon!

  • Marcia

    For all it’s flaws and problem, I will be leaving this US to comeback and invest all my resources in my country. As a country, we are not prefect but we are trying.

    • joelgrant

      I might be a few steps ahead of you Marcia. I just bought a villa at Stonebrook Manor about 4 minutes drive away from the Falmouth Cruise ship pier. I see great potential for the town of Falmouth. It is a diamond in the rough and has space for organized development.

  • John

    Tourists are afraid to venture beyond the gated areas and happily choose excursions to nicer areas because and i use Kingston as an example, (i came there on the Mariner of the seas many years ago) everything beyond the shopping areas looked like a third world country, there were armed guards with full auto machine guns protecting the shopping areas. Some dude even tried to sell me drugs as i walked back to the ship.

    I’m not singling out Jamaica, all the other caribbean ports are in the same shape outside of the tourist areas.

  • Tim

    Visited Falmouth aboard the MSC Poesia recently. Many passengers from the Poesia as well as the Navagator of the Seas walked thru the Iron Gates into the town to spend money. I personnally took a ride on a trolley thru town. It is a beautiful village but appeared a little scary to say the least. I did not walk thru the Iron Gates into town but would have given the oppurtunity. Many passengers did and enjoyed what they saw. I spoke to many who visited Restaurants and local shops and commented on how much cheaper the prices were there compared to the shops inside the gates. The word will get around and benefit Falmouth. Also if there is not “per person” tax on the passengers to benifit the port there should be as most ports have this type of tax, usually 1 buck or so per passenger which goes to the local government, now what they do with it who knows. Hope to be back to Falmout again and take in some “local culture”. Hang in it will get better.

  • paul muschett

    I agree with Tim. The problem is that Falmouth needs infrastructure improvements to facilitate tourism. Falmouth is not getting any passanger tax $ to do this work so it has to be borrowed money to do upgrade. Citizens also need to keep town clean. Many don’t know better or don’t care. Those that have had training understand what is required to give tourists a good experience. More businesses catering to guests need to be in the town square. More artisans with unique craft need to be in the town. Now it is all the same, what is sold on the port is the same as in the town. It is a work in progress and a lot of persons now have jobs that did not before. The stakeholders need to continue to work for the progress of the heritage tourism product that is still in its infancy. The people and RCCL need this for all to survive and prosper.

  • Stir Fry

    Where will the waste water be treated?
    The only plants I know of are MoBay and Negril-Ochos Rios.