(3:30 p.m. EST) -- Royal Caribbean
has postponed cruise ship calls to the new port of Falmouth, Jamaica. According to a company statement, visits to the historic town -- which were set to begin with Navigator of the Seas
on January 7 -- have been delayed until February 17, when Voyager of the Seas
It's not the first time ships have canceled stops in the beleaguered port: Both Holland America
and P&O Cruises
canceled Falmouth calls in November and December 2010.
According to the cruise line, "This past weekend, Royal Caribbean and the Government of Jamaica toured the development together and decided that it is not quite ready to deliver the high standards we are striving for." Ships scheduled to call in Falmouth will instead call at either Montego Bay
or Ochos Rios
. We reached out to Royal Caribbean to ask which aspects of the port project were not completed, but at press time had not heard back.
An article this week in the Jamaica Observer
describes Falmouth as a construction zone. Jes Olsen, project director with Pihl (the Dutch construction firm working on the project) is quoted as saying, "The port facilities, especially the shops, are not ready. I would say the earliest they would be ready is about mid-March, and fully operational around late April, and the terminal building, a hundred percent open at the end of June."
Royal Caribbean has been working with Jamaica since 2008 to create a new cruise port at Falmouth, with a pier large enough to handle the behemoth Oasis-class ships. The line is building a tourist zone with a 17th-century look (think Georgian-style architecture and cobblestones) to reflect the heyday of the town. Falmouth, located between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, has access to popular Jamaica attractions such as Dunn's River Falls and Dolphin Cove, as well as the nearby Martha Brae river rafting and the historic Good Hope Estate. To that end, we're also waiting word on what will happen to passengers with pre-booked excursions in Falmouth.
Royal Caribbean passengers don't seem too bothered by the change of ports. On the Cruise Critic message boards, jms
posts, "I just checked our itinerary (from "my account" on HAL) for our January Western Carib cruise and I was pleasantly surprised to see Ocho Rios where Falmouth once was."
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor