Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jamaica Me Crazy

"Island time" is a pretty well-known concept in the Caribbean where a slower pace prevails than in most of North America. Nowhere is it more pronounced than in Jamaica where it's not uncommon to hear, "no problem, mon" even when problems are clearly apparent.

When my husband was in Jamaica on business last month I asked him to swing past the Falmouth Port area, where it had recently been reported that construction progress for the new cruise terminal and nearby attractions were on course. His on-the-scene assessment was quite negative. Although it was evident that much work had been done, it was painfully obvious that much more would be needed before the port and historic Georgian-style town would be ready to welcome cruise ship passengers.

Therefore, it came as no surprise to read in Jamaica's The Gleaner newspaper last week that the initial three ships scheduled to dock at Falmouth Port (Holland America's ms Ryndam and ms Noordam and P&O's Aurora will call at other Jamaica ports. Holland America Line reports that the 11/3, 11/17, and 12/15 calls of the ms Ryndam to Falmouth, Jamaica have been replaced with port calls to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The 12/1 call of the ms Ryndam and 12/26 call of the ms Noordam to Falmouth have been replaced with stops in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. As reported in The Gleaner, Holland America's vice-president of Caribbean affairs, Matthew Sams said, "The port is not conducive to make a call" after looking over the area.

Only a few months ago The Gleaner stated, "work has not started on refurbishing the 18th-century commercial capital." My husband confirmed that as well with the simple description, "it's a dump." However, the delay in opening is being given a positive spin by Jamaica's president of cruise shipping, William Tatham, who says, "Having spent so much money developing this port, our feeling was that the guest experience was more important than anything else. It was always agreed that we would deliver only at a certain level to our customers."

And when will that be? Tatham says the first ship to arrive will be Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas, which is scheduled to visit the port on Jan 7, 2011. Meanwhile, calls by Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, for which the port was conceived, have been delayed until March 2011. Maybe by then it will be no problem, mon.

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