A total of 66 cruise ships are scheduled to call at ports across the island for the month of December.
Of the total, 25 are scheduled for the resort town of Ocho Rios, with 19 for Montego Bay, 18 for Falmouth, and four for Port Antonio.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett explained that the figure, while less than the 75 port calls for December 2018, is expected to rise as the season gathers momentum.
“The numbers that are coming out of Ocho Rios are very encouraging and we are expecting to see more of that as we get into the heart of the cruise shipping season…from December to April,” he said.
“Jamaica has the most diverse tourism product in the entire region…the most natural attractions…and some of the biggest and best cruise ports. I really expect a cruise shipping explosion over the next few years where all our ports of call will be well represented,” he added.
Minister Bartlett added that cruise lines officials are well aware of the quality that Jamaica brings to the table and as such “they continue to send their biggest and newest ships to our ports year in and year out.”
“This is why it is with a renewed sense of optimism that we are looking forward to the next couple of seasons where we will be seeing numbers out of the ordinary for cruise shipping,” he added.
Chief Strategist and Senior Advisor in the Ministry, Delano Seiveright, said that both Montego Bay and Falmouth will see further improvement, adding that Kingston and Port Royal “will eventually have their say and in a big way.”
“Cruise is now moving in a particular direction and we have to position ourselves to fully capitalise on what, inevitably, will be coming our way,” he said.
“We just have to continue to improve on our cruise offerings and ensure that our guests get to enjoy the type of experience where they will just want to come back,” he added.
Meanwhile, owner of the Ocean View Jerk Centre in Bryans Bay, Port Antonio, Bentley Rodney, said local stakeholders are looking forward to the cruise ships calls for December three of which will be by the ultra-luxury vessel Seabourn Sojourn.
“In Port Antonio that is almost like winning the lottery” he said. He noted that while the number does not compare to Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Falmouth, which sometimes have multiple port calls per day “we are looking at it with great optimism that things are improving.”
Rodney beamed that Port Antonio is increasingly being seen as destination that “attract[s] the smaller boutique vessels and the kind of visitors that are looking for a quieter and more relaxed experience.”
“If you want your quality rafting or to climb some beautiful waterfalls or even to hang out on a pristine white sand beach with the beautiful Caribbean Sea backdrop, then look no further than Port Antonio,” he said.