by Brian Major
Last updated: 6:34 PM ET, Mon August 22, 2016
The cruise ship facility in Falmouth is currently Jamaica's largest. (Photo by Brian Major).
The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) will spend $40 million to upgrade the country's cruise ship port in Montego Bay according to local media reports. The upgrade is being designed to create a "regional, multi-purpose port" operators hope will host more cruise ships.
Jamaica officials anticipates "homeporting" cruise ships for scheduled departures from the revamped Montego Bay facility, said Dr. Horace Chang, a ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation official, in a Jamaica Observer report.
"The current cruise ship pier has to be improved significantly to support the traffic we are going to have with home porting," he said.
William Tatham, PAJ's vice president of cruise shipping, said Montego Bay "will have seven [ships] home porting, up from five" in the 2016-1017 season. Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream and Carnival Freedom will sail regularly from Montego Bay this fall and winter along with ships from MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises and several European cruise lines.
In an earlier interview on the government-run Jamaica Information Service (JIS) website, Chang said PAJ is placing "serious focus" on expanding and improving the resort city's cruise shipping facilities. "We expect cruise shipping to grow in Montego Bay and not just cruises coming through, but home-porting in particular," he said.
Montego Bay is the smallest of Jamaica's three major cruise ship ports, hosting 210,000 cruise passengers in the 2014-2015 season, trailing Ocho Rios (400,000 passengers) and Falmouth (800,000) passengers according to PJA data.
Jamaica's 1.5 million cruise passenger arrivals during the 2014-2015 season represents the country's best-ever annual total and is a 20 percent increase over 2014. Overall cruise ship calls increased 19 percent to 433 compared with 363 in 2014, according to PAJ data.
The ports of Falmouth and Ocho Rios accounted for 44 percent and 32 percent, respectively, of ship calls and 52 percent and 30 percent of passenger arrivals.
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