The debut of Royal Caribbean's 220,000-ton, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas -- the world's biggest cruise ship -- will also usher in a new Western Caribbean port of call: historic Falmouth, Jamaica, located between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
But cruisers will have to wait a little while longer to check out Falmouth. Royal Caribbean announced today that the new port won't be ready in time for the long-awaited and highly anticipated ship's first scheduled calls there in May 2010 -- and that 16 itineraries through November 2010 have been modified. From May through November, Costa Maya will replace Falmouth on the ship's Western Caribbean itineraries, which also call at Cozumel and Labadee.
Falmouth was originally expected to launch in March 2010 -- after the ship's December 2009 launch but before its first scheduled Falmouth call (Oasis will sail Eastern Caribbean itineraries through May, then alternate Eastern and Western Caribbean routes). The first Falmouth call will now take place on the December 11, 2010 sailing.
In an official statement, Craig Milan -- senior vice president of land operations for Royal Caribbean -- is quoted as saying, "We continue to look forward to calling at Falmouth on a regular basis with Oasis of the Seas and her sister ship Allure of the Seas. The completion of the port is going to take longer than we had hoped, but Falmouth will be outstanding when it is completed."
At this point, it's unclear exactly what is causing the delay; a spokesman for Royal Caribbean tells us, simply, that "the port's construction is not progressing as expected."
The delay is good news for Costa Maya. Oasis will bring more than 5,000 passengers ashore at a time -- a big financial boost for the man-made port, which is still rebuilding after 2007's Hurricane Dean. In a statement, Teofilo Hamui, president of the Port of Costa Maya, says, "We are thrilled that the recent enhancements we've made to Costa Maya have given Royal Caribbean confidence in selecting our destination as one of the Oasis of the Seas ports of call."
We'll continue to publish new information as it is received. In the meantime, check out Cruise Critic member Cruiserccl's pictures of Falmouth in March 2008; at that time, there was no evidence of a dock in progress.
--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor
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New Jamaica Cruise Port Delayed; 16 Oasis Itineraries Changed
June 4, 2009