Last updated: 03:18 PM ET, Thu September 17 2015

Jamaican Officials Eyeing New Cruise Ship Ports

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | September 17, 2015

Jamaican Officials Eyeing New Cruise Ship Ports

PHOTO: YS Falls is one of Black River’s many nature-focused attractions. (Photo by Brian Major).

Perhaps buoyed by the success of its facility in Falmouth, which opened in 2011 and quickly became the country’s number one cruise ship port, Jamaica stakeholders have recently called for cruise ship port development in new areas along the island’s coast.

On Thursday Hugh Buchanan, a member of Jamaica’s parliament from St. Elizabeth parish, called for a cruise port to be built in Black River, a historic town on the country’s southwest coast. “Having tourists come to the south coast must be a priority for the government,” said Buchanan during a parliamentary debate reported by the Jamaica Gleaner. “I believe that a cruise ship pier in Black River would do a lot for tourism,” he added.

Buchanan and other officials are clearly cognizant of Jamaica’s strong cruise sector growth. The country is already the Caribbean’s fifth-largest cruise ship destination according to Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) data. The county hosted 1,423,797 cruise ship visitors in 2014, a 12.5 percent increase over 2013.

Falmouth is Jamaica’s leading cruise ship port, hosting more than twice the number of passengers as the other two ports combined in 2014. Ocho Rios, the second-most popular port, recently completed a renovation of its cruise terminal and surrounding district.  

Now stakeholders are eyeing Black River, originally developed as a port at the mouth of the river of the same name. While the area is beyond the larger tourism districts of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, it features a number of environmentally themed attractions including the Treasure Beach and YS Falls, which Buchanan cited in his address. The region already hosts Jamaica visitors in search of a relaxing, stress-free vacation experience.

The region is also a playground for nature-lovers, with more than 100 species of birds. Black River is also home to endangered American crocodiles, with sightings reportedly frequent. YS Falls features a large natural waterfall where travelers can enjoy swimming, swinging from ropes into the falls and other activities amongst lush gardens and tall trees.

Buchanan’s remarks Thursday follows a report earlier this month revealing Jamaica’s Urban Development Corporation (UDC) has launched discussions with the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) on developing a cruise ship pier in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital.

Desmond Malcolm, UDC’s general manager, said a source of funding for the project — and even its cost — have not yet been determined. Still, Malcom said UDC and the PAJ “believe that the cruise ship[s] will be coming back to Kingston” and are “working to ensure that it becomes a reality.”

Another long-planned UDC project, a redevelopment of the historic town of Port Royal, relies heavily on the development of Kingston as a cruise ship port. Kingston harbor last hosted cruise ships in the 1950s and 1960s, including what was then the world's largest cruise ship, the S.S. United States, on Feb. 14, 1966.

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