The Gleaner: KINGSTON, Jamaica, Contributed – A cruise ship docked at the Old Naval Dockyard in Port Royal, Kingston.

The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) is working assiduously to ensure a safe and secure return of cruise operations at all the island’s ports by early December 2021.

Assistant vice-president, marketing communications at the PAJ, Kimberley Stiff said the entity is hosting a series of meetings “to apprise various interest groups and the communities in which we operate, of the status of the [resumption] of cruise operations in preparation for the start of the upcoming season”.

Stiff, who was speaking in an interview with JIS News, noted that the PAJ, with the guidance and support from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, “has been systematically devising and implementing mechanisms and solutions to ensure a safe and secure restart of the cruise-shipping sector within the COVID-19 operational context”.

The authority has also been working closely with the Ministry of Tourism and its select agencies in this regard.

Already, several cruise-ship calls have been secured for the upcoming season, some of which are scheduled to start in mid-November.

These, Stiff said, include inaugural visits as well as calls from ultra-luxury premium cruise lines.

The port of Ocho Rios has enjoyed a steady schedule of calls since the restart of operations in August, with visits by Carnival Sunrise and MSC Meraviglia, and these should continue throughout the season.

Port Royal will host several ships from ultra-luxury premium cruise lines this season, including calls from Holland America Cruise Line – Nieuw Statendam and Nieuw Amsterdam; Crystal Cruises – Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony; and Seabourn Cruise Line – Seabourn Ovation, which is a brand-new ship from Saga Cruises (Spirit of Adventure).

Marella, which was the first ship to call at the historic Naval Dockyard in January 2020, returns with four more calls this season.

SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE

Several inaugural calls are also scheduled, including one of the newest ships from MSC Cruises, the MSC Seashore, which will call at the historic Falmouth Port in November, and the Spirit of Adventure, which will call at Port Royal in March.

She said that the high level of interest in Jamaica by cruise operators is attributed, in part, to the successful restart of activities at the port of Ocho Rios, after a 17-month absence due to restrictions arising from COVID-19.

Stiff noted that the state-of-art, modernised world-class cruise ports and facilities also add to the island’s attractiveness as a cruise destination.

The country’s favourable global stature, in tandem with the allure of the cruise product, has brought international recognition, with the island winning four World Travel Awards this year – Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Destination 2021; Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Port 2021: Historic Port of Falmouth; Caribbean’s Leading Home Port 2021: Port of Montego Bay; and Caribbean’s Leading Tourism Development Project 2021: Historic Naval Dockyard, Port Royal.

Cruise shipping is one of the PAJ’s core business segments, which contributes significantly to the Jamaican economy.

The success of many sectors, small and medium-sized businesses, as well as entrepreneurs, is dependent on the viability of cruise shipping.

Several professional and stakeholder groups benefit from cruise operations, as the industry plays an integral role in the sustainability of their livelihoods.