Chukka Adventures is betting big on the return of cruise ships, pumping millions of Jamaican dollars into getting ready to welcome passengers.
“We are spending half-a-million US dollars on upgrades and restoration for the coming cruise ships. We will do it now, otherwise we will miss another high season,” said General Manager James Robertson.
On November 14 the parish’s Port of Falmouth will welcome back it first cruise ship since the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“More volume means more space to retain COVID regulations, so the other big hub [at Good Hope] has to be opened soon. It is large and our original hub. We ran them side by side when we were doing 100,000 people a year before COVID,” Robertson added.
Like the rest of the world, Jamaica’s cruise shipping industry got a pummelling from COVID-19. Cruises have started to return, the first one docking in Ocho Rios on August 16. Calls are slowly being rolled out at other ports with Port Antonio welcoming the words largest private residential ship, MS The World, November 7.
Cruise passengers are a vital source of income for wide swathes of the country, from craft traders to attractions such as Chukka Adventures. They stand to benefit from the almost 300,000 cruise passengers the tourism ministry estimates will visit Jamaica by the end of the year. But those numbers hinge on how well the country implements the stringent safety protocols established in conjunction with the cruise lines.
Tourism ministry officials have consistently made it clear that all COVID-19 protocols must be observed and it has strongly urged industry employees to get vaccinated.