The Jamaica Gleaner reports that Royal Caribbean and it’s subsidiary, Falmouth Jamaica Land Company, are required to disclose their contractual arrangements with the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) to build Falmouth Port because they were a day late in filing a notice of appeal.

An environmental watchdog group, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), had previously requested copies of the contracts and other documents between Royal Caribbean / Falmouth Jamaica Land Company and the PAJ which had formed a joint venture to develop the Port of Falmouth in Trelawny. The controversial project was spearheaded by Royal Caribbean and involved the dredging and filling of the old port of Falmouth. It turned out, as many environmentalists feared, to be a disaster to the local environment of Falmouth.  Millions of cubic feet of living coral reefs were pulverized and then dumped on dozens of acres of native mangrove fields to build a port capable of accommodating the largest cruise ships in the world, the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas.  

The finished port left many local residents disappointed due to the fact that most passengers either did not leave the walled port facility and invest much in the local economy or were whisked away Falmouth Jamaica Royal Caribbeanfrom Falmouth in buses to shore excursion destinations sold by the cruise line.      

Jamaica spent a small fortune for the port, well over $150,000,000. Royal Caribbean promised that it would pursue plans of developing 125,000 sq. ft. of leasable building space, including ground floor retail, restaurant space, a boutique hotel, residential units, and a shopping center for the local community, all linked to the original town by tram-cars, to be built by the cruise line in collaboration with the Port Authority of Jamaica.  

According to the Jamaica Gleaner, Royal Caribbean reportedly guaranteed $8 million in annual fees to the PAJ, based on a formula of bringing a minimum of 667,000 passengers annually or paying the shortfall, for a ten year period. The cruise line also reportedly promised the PAJ, which owns the land on which the pier is built, an annual ground rent of approximately $3 million. There was also talk about hundreds of new jobs created in the port project, including "construction workers, drivers, shop workers, sales clerks, cooks, bartenders and wait staff, security guards, maintenance staff, information and walking tour guides, entertainers, artisans and taxi drivers."

The disclosure of the contracts and other documents between Royal Caribbean and the PAJ should shed light on the true nature and details of the arrangements between the Miami-based cruise line and the Jamaican port authority. However, the port authority refused to reveal the documents to the environmental trust. The environment trust appealed to an Access to Information Appeal Tribunal, which ruled in its favor. 

Royal Caribbean sought permission to appeal the ruling of the Access to Information Appeal Tribunal, which was granted on July 7, 2015 by the Supreme Court. Royal Caribbean then filed its appeal notice, with an Appeal Tribunal, on July 22, fifteen days later.

But the Appeal Tribunal questioned whether Royal Caribbean had filed its appeal outside of the court’s 14 day filing requirement and sought an order striking Royal Caribbean’s appeal. Royal Caribbean argued that the date the order was granted should not be counted in the 14-day period, but this argument was rejected. 

The ruling striking Royal Caribbean’s appeal was upheld by the Appellate Court which concluded that the cruise line’s appellate forms were filed one day late using a 14 day period beginning on the date of the order requiring the documents to be disclosed.

Royal Caribbean can apply to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal to the Privy Council, Jamaica’s final court of appeal.

As maters now stand, the Jamaica Environment Trust expects to finally obtain a copy of the lease agreement and the pier usage agreement from the Port Authority.

Photo Credit: Jim Walker

  • Ted

    Perhaps the same locals that are upset about locals not leaving the walled area, would realize it is because the locals are known to harass cruise guests about spending money and/or using the services. Unfortunately, Jamaicans have a reputation for being aggressive salesmen. And it drives many to simply avoid getting off the ship.

  • tinikini

    It will be interesting to see how this all pans out. I will hope that there is some transparency here and it outs the cruise lines, if they are guilty of hiding things and making back door deals. It seems to me that the cruise lines destroy more countries and lives than they do good. When you promise shops and jobs and don’t follow through, I would think that the natives would be pissed and get aggressive, they are trying to survive. I know that dredging up coral and dumping on mangroves hurts the ecosystem. We should all know that killing off coral, plants and animals in the ocean is a certain death for the rest of us. As a scuba diver it saddens me that this reef and mangrove was destroyed.

    When Jamaica was prepared, and did, ruin part of their reef and mangrove, plus used millions of their own money for the cruise lines, then the cruise lines need to back up what they promised. It’s no wonder why the terminals and towns are trashy, the cruise lines have not fulfilled on promises they have made and the locals are angry. They in return take it out on visitors, because they can’t get to the cruise lines directly. While not a smart idea, that is their only defense, in hopes that the cruise line will make good on promises.

    RC had 14 days to respond and waited until the last minute to file. If you are any kind of lawyer, you count the days, you don’t play games and you file early, and you don’t miss deadlines. I don’t feel sorry for them and I hope they lose on appeal.