The quiet town of Port Royal was transformed into a bustling hub this morning, as it welcomed its first cruise ship.
The Marella Discovery II, the lead ship of the Vision Class of cruisers, docked at 8.09 am.
The town has been in heavy preparation mode for months, and its residents were excited to witness this historic occasion, so much so that the early morning showers did nothing to dampen their spirits.
Over at the Port, an ‘entertainment zone’ was in full effect. Reggae music blasted through speakers, a jerk pan spewed smoke in the air, a heap of coconut jelly laid idly on the ground, a Red Stripe Bar, and an Appleton Estate Bar announced to visitors that they have arrived in Jamaica.
At first, the visitors seemed oblivious to the historical occasion that they were a part of, but upon realizing, basked in the excitement. “I feel great getting off here. It’s my first time here, and this is the first ship here. I feel great, like a virgin. The whole area is very beautiful. I already had some jerk chicken, and it was pretty good,” Catherine, who’s visiting Jamaica from Canada with her husband, Anthony, told BUZZ.
Elizabeth and her husband Akie, are visiting from Gambia. They said that coming to Jamaica was like coming home. “My father used to say that our ancestors were from Jamaica. So when we come here we feel like we’ve come home. I didn’t know about Port Royal, until today, but it feels so good to be a part of history,” Elizabeth said.
The ship is expected to leave Port Royal at 8:00 pm this evening. But until then, visitors had the option of exploring the city of Kingston.
“We have a number of tours that were pre-booked, as well as tours that are booked on the pier, and there is entertainment on the port for those who choose to remain here,” Minister of Culture, and Entertainment, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange told BUZZ.
“The tourists will get a tour of Port Royal itself, then there’s a tour of Devon House, Independent Park, Emancipation, craft market downtown, and Victoria Pier,” she added.
Locals were not allowed over on the port, but in the town, tourists were walking with their heads down in maps, trying to figure out where next to explore.
“It’s a beautiful thing that’s happening to Port Royal right now,” said Dale Crooks, a resident of Port Royal, as he stood aside observing the tourists.
“We looking forward to accommodating them more. Port Royal is a quiet place, and the people not so used to this amount of people here, but we will get used to it,” he added.
Added another: “I feel so good to see them walking around without even a tour guide, dem comfortable.”
But the question on the lips of many locals is how they would benefit.
Tony had taken the time out to decorate his shop with Jamaican flags and seashells, hoping that would attract some of the visitors. But he said he was yet to make a sale. “This is just a get together, a pass true. It nuh ready up. Dem need fi mek it more attractive, so when the next ship come wi can benefit to,” he said.
They have everything on the Port for them, Red Stripe, Jerk Pork. When they come out here is just a sight seeing,” another resident chimed in.
Four ships are expected to dock at Port Royal within the next four months.