The mystique and allure of historic Port Royal were boldly awakened on January 20, when the Port Authority of Jamaica’s newly built Port Royal Cruise Port received its inaugural ship call by Marella Cruise Line’s Discovery II.
The introduction of cruise shipping to Port Royal and by extension Kingston represents an achievement of an objective that was first contemplated over 25 years ago. Port Royal joins Montego Bay, Falmouth, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio and it is anticipated that the new complement of five cruise ports of call will further strengthen Jamaica’s cruise shipping product and enhance the Cruise Jamaica brand.
The PAJ built a cruise port in Port Royal to fulfil three main objectives: Create economic and social benefits whilst collaborating with other Government of Jamaica agencies; enhance the unique historical assets of Port Royal for the benefit of Jamaicans and visitors; and create a gateway to Kingston, the ‘cultural capital’ of the Caribbean in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Cruise passengers on the Discovery II were treated to a grand fare representing an infusion of authentic Jamaican vibes, cuisine and music which was augmented by the natural heritage and culture that the town of Port Royal offers. The port’s courtyard buzzed with products and services from iconic Jamaican brands, including Red Stripe Beer, Appleton Jamaica Rum and Devon House I-Scream which were all well received by cruise passengers and crew.
Visitors experienced a taste of Jamaica through a number of tours, most of which were conducted in Kingston that included a visit to the Bob Marley Museum, Trench Town Culture Yard and New Castle for a Blue Mountain coffee experience. They also had a chance to experience the new Fort Charles, now upgraded and managed by the PAJ, where they were immersed in 17th-century history and had the opportunity to visit the renowned Giddy House.
In addition to this historic call at Port Royal, the PAJ marked another milestone with its first use of the SeaWalk during the maiden visit on Monday (Jan 20). The SeaWalk is a floating articulated bridge that is motorized and under electronic control, which unfolds to meet a ship off the shore (analogous to a jet-bridge at an airport). It is anchored at the port at one end and positioned and secured alongside the ship at the other end allowing passengers, baggage, trolleys and crew to move from the ship to the bridge to the port. It facilitates the berthing of vessels in Port Royal without dredging and extensive infrastructural works typically required to construct a conventional berthing system. Therefore, the use of the SeaWalk technology in Port Royal enabled the PAJ to both adhere to its environmentally conscious, operational practices as well as fulfil the objective of establishing Kingston as a permanent cruise port destination. Passengers travelling on the Discovery II disembarked and embarked the ship using the SeaWalk.
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Three more calls are scheduled for the rest of the 19/20 winter tourist season, one each in February, March and April. It is expected that the construction work on phase one of the new port development will be completed by the time it welcomes the last call of the season.