Cruisers wondering where Royal Caribbean's enormous Genesis-class vessels will be able to dock have been given a first piece of the answer. When the initial Project Genesis ship is introduced in October 2009, a new Jamaican port -- Falmouth -- will be ready to accommodate not just one but two of the 220,000-ton 5,400-passenger mega-liners.
The new port of call, located between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, will become the fourth Jamaican port to serve the cruise industry. (The less-used Port Antonio on the eastern end of the island is the third.) Falmouth is the capital of the Trewlany Parish, and is most widely known historically for its sugar plantations and factories. Tourist infrastructure is somewhat minimal -- a shopping and historical center, an 18th-century Anglican church, plantation houses, spelunking adventures -- but the port addition is expected to drive improvements.
So why not simply expand one of the three existing ports? At the FCCA Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference in Cozumel, Teijo Niemela of Cruise Business Review, a leading industry magazine, spoke to William Tatham of the Jamaica Port Authority. Tatham noted that constructing a new port of call, rather than expanding an old one, would provide a better passenger experience by avoiding an increase in congestion, already a serious issue in Jamaica, a country set to welcome around 1.5 million cruise passengers in 2007. The addition of the Genesis-class ships could increase the number of cruise passenger arrivals to 1.8 million by 2009, according to the Jamaica Observer.
The timing of the project (the new Jamaican port will be able to accommodate Genesis when it launches in fall 2009) is indicative of how much pull the cruise industry has in greasing the wheels of growth in Caribbean infrastructure. But although some information on the project has been revealed -- The Jamaica Observer noted that the port will construct a "finger pier" to accommodate the two ships -- it hasn't come from Royal Caribbean. Instead, the line continues to play it coy. Spokesman Harrison Liu told Cruise Critic, "I'm afraid that we would not be able to comment on it since it is associated with our new Genesis ships. Unfortunately, we won't be discussing anything Genesis-related until sometime between March and May 2008. Genesis is such a very hush-hush project...."
As to the question of where else will Genesis be calling, Niemela also spoke with Diana Block, Royal Caribbean's Vice President of Revenue Management and Deployment. Ms. Block told the magazine that there will be at least six ports ready to accommodate the Genesis vessels in the Eastern and Western Caribbean when the ships launch. Any guesses as to what the other five will be? E-mail them to email@example.com; put Home for Genesis in the subject line.
The first Genesis-class vessel is currently under construction at Finland's Aker Yards.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor
Photo courtesy of The Jamaica Observer
New Jamaican Port Will Accommodate Genesis-Class Vessels
October 12, 2007