Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving From Jamaica

No, Cruise Diva isn't in Jamaica, but I'm not the only one in the family who travels on business. In this case, it's my husband Mel who's currently in Jamaica and arriving home in time for dinner on Thanksgiving Day.

You may recall that in an October 20th blog story (Jamaica Me Crazy), I mentioned that my husband had recently been in Jamaica. I asked him to swing past the Falmouth Port area, where it had been reported that construction progress for the new cruise terminal and nearby attractions were on course. Mel's on-the-scene assessment was quite negative at the time and his update isn't much better.

This time I asked Mel to take some photos and I've added a couple here. Although he couldn't get too close, he reported it's evident that a lot of work has been done, yet it's still painfully obvious that much more will be needed before the port in particular, as well as attractions in the historic Georgian-style town will be ready to welcome cruise ship passengers. At the port there are no paved roads completed and the buildings pictured above and below are shells without windows. (Click the images for a larger view.)

As reported in October, Holland America Line's Falmouth port calls scheduled for November and December were cancelled and their cruise ships will call either at Ocho Rios or Montego Bay instead. However, Jamaica's president of cruise shipping, William Tatham optimistically said the first ship to arrive will be Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas, which is still 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 postponed until March 2011. Maybe by then the port will be finished and the ships will visit on schedule. But with January 7th just a little over six weeks away, Mel's assessment is that they could only make that opening date if work proceeds round-the-clock and, even with the cranes in evidence, he saw no actual work going on this week. Still pretty dumpy, Falmouth town itself isn't expected to be fully "restored" for at least another year and a half.

For a bit more background on Falmouth's planned development, you might want to read our report from last May, Getting to 'Historic Falmouth Jamaica' on Island Time. Take heart if you have a cruise planned that is supposed to call at Falmouth and you are diverted to a different Jamaican port. Most of the same (or similar) excursions offered by the cruise lines for Falmouth are available from the alternative ports as well. Despite recent media reports that there's "no problem, mon," Mel's photos tell a bleaker story.

In any event, the Why Not? blog hosted by Adam Goldstein, President & CEO of Royal Caribbean Intl assured followers last May that the port will offer a "more authentic" Jamaican experience, which has proven to be true. Thus far, it's certainly a visible example of authentic Island Time.

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