Beyond the cruise ports of Ocho Rios, Port Royal and Falmouth

Community development initiatives help to support locals

Beyond the cruise ports of Ocho Rios, Port Royal and Falmouth
Renovation work on the historic Fort Charles has turned Port Royal into a cultural and entertainment hub

By William Tatham |

The allure of Jamaica’s cruise experience is inextricably linked to its opportunity for adventure, vibrant culture and the warmth of its people. The bucket-list appeal of this enchanting island is significantly enhanced by the array of activities, attractions and landmark sites that are located in many of its cruise port towns and communities.

Recognising this, the Port Authority of Jamaica has focused on enhancing the infrastructure of the communities in which it operates, particularly those with a cruise port. Many of its development projects in recent years have extended beyond the ports to include the construction of a tourist attraction in Ocho Rios, a significant upgrade to Fort Charles in Port Royal, and the introduction of pedicabs in Falmouth. This has enabled the port authority to deliver a better destination experience, while simultaneously creating opportunities for local stakeholders.

Ocho Rios Fishing Village, which is nestled between the Port of Ocho Rios and the Reynolds Pier in the garden parish of St. Ann, was significantly upgraded to become a world-class attraction with an ocean view and a natural spring flowing through the property. The improvements to the facility’s overall aesthetics and amenities were welcomed by cruise lines because they have created a safer and more enjoyable environment for cruise passengers exploring the town. The village also provides a place for cruise guests to browse craft shops selling authentic Jamaican wares and come together with locals in a proverbial ‘melting pot’ of restaurants serving tasty Jamaican cuisine.

The beachside attraction, which has been dubbed the ‘ultimate chill spot’, has also been highly beneficial to the local community. Not only has it boosted the visual appeal of the shoreline of a main thoroughfare in Ocho Rios, but it has also created new job opportunities and significantly contributed to the livelihoods of many locals. In addition, the fisherfolks and shop owners who occupied the original facility are grateful for the improvements and the other support they were given, which included training in business best practices, financial management and customer service.

Elsewhere, the Port Authority of Jamaica has developed a new cruise port at the Historic Naval Dockyard in Port Royal. The main objectives were to create economic and social benefits in collaboration with other government agencies, enhance the unique assets of the town of Port Royal for the benefits of Jamaicans and visitors, and create a gateway to Kingston, the so-called cultural capital of the Caribbean, in an environmentally sustainable manner.

To improve the economic and social fabric of Port Royal, the port authority completed a comprehensive upgrade of the renowned Fort Charles attraction located in the historic town. The rehabilitation of this heritage site transformed Port Royal into a cultural and entertainment hub, driving economic growth and creating multiple new job opportunities for storytellers, tour guides and others. It has also been a major boost to the town’s visitor experience and tourism offering.

Similarly, the introduction of a pedicab service in Falmouth has significantly enhanced the cruise passenger experience and has been met with much critical acclaim by both visitors and locals. The goal of the service was two-fold as it aimed to provide a unique mode of transportation for cruise passengers and others who visit the town, as well as employment opportunities for residents of Falmouth.

Pursuing community development initiatives that extend beyond its ports to support locals has become a strategic imperative at the Port Authority of Jamaica for many reasons. Projects such as those carried out in Falmouth, Ocho Rios and Port Royal are mutually beneficial for improving business, as well as for promoting community engagement and fostering better stakeholder relationships. As it seeks to continually improve Jamaica’s cruise offering and visitor experience, the port authority will pursue new and innovative ways to support and develop initiatives that will benefit the port, the country’s cruise sector, local stakeholders and the wider community.
William Tatham is vice president of cruise shipping and marina operations at Port Authority of Jamaica 

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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