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

  • Celeste Stiller

    We recently stopped at Falmouth on a Disney cruise. We were very disappointed as the walled off city seemed to be very much “manufactured” just for tourists. There was no local flavor except junk stores and the stores all sold exactly the same merchandise, and were not willing to bargain like other Caribbean straw markets we have visited.. When we ventured outside the gates, we were mercilessly harassed so much so that we turned around and came back in, returning to the ship early. My daughter and her husband took an excursion which they enjoyed very much. But if I were ever on a cruise that stopped in Falmouth again, I wouldn’t even bother getting off the ship.

  • Brent

    We don’t get off the ship at Falmouth, nor Nassau or Freeport, for many reasons. They should stop porting at all three. Very few people care about stopping at these.

  • Ann

    I took a tram/train excursion from the port in Falmouth. It was extremely enlightening to see the REAL town. The young woman who served as our guide was truly outstanding,recently educated and graduating from the new Tourism College, she proudly showed us their campus/buildings and explained what a wonderful opportunity it was for young adults on the island who have few options. We then toured one the oldest churches in the Caribbean and it was truly fascinating to hear all of the history (on which the guide was a true expert, there were no questions she could not answer fully). We made a brief (not for swimming) stop at the beach where we just took some pictures and waded at waters edge to cool off, and then saw a few more local buildings and government sites. For the $25, I was so glad I did this. I cruise often and therefore have been to Falmouth many many times, usually do not get off the ship (ditto Nassau and Freeport as others here have mentioned), and the trend is definitely toward these “Disney like created ports”, walled cities. More and more I choose cruises with the MOST sea days, but a close look at the REAL Falmouth was like a walk back in time to the Caribbean of 40 years ago ! Utility lines strung from poles right into the windows of homes and businesses, a lot of poverty, and a great deal of PRIDE from the residents. I for one hope the investment will succeed and not just exploit or build resentment.

  • steve

    this is why we avoid not only Falmouth but all of Jamaica.
    To many other great places. You cannot expect to treat people
    like they do and expect them to come back

  • Cheri

    My husband and I are going on an RC cruise next month and I am so disappointed to read this article. I toured Jamaica with my parents 50 yrs. ago as a child. I have river-rafted, toured the Runaway Caves, and seen Dunn’s River Falls. We plan to go tubing and see the falls. It sounds like RC has been a blessing and a curse for the locals. How sad that things are walled off. Well, we’ll see what it is like and hope for the best. We want to be a blessing to the locals, if we can be.

  • Bob

    Can’t we Jamaican see that Falmouth town is a mess that needs to be cleaned up.the bigger the ship is the more passenger it brings, and I I know that tourism is one of our main income in Jamaica so Isay let them do it

  • Theresa

    Instead of disrupting the eco-system, why don’t you use water taxi’s and that revenue could go to the city as well. Jamaica and its citizen deserve to preserve their country the same as anyone else. If tourism is a part of their revenue there is certainly a happy resolution.