On November 25 Port Royal will welcome the largest cruise ship it has ever received, the Nieuw Statendam from luxury cruise line Holland America. It’s scheduled to call at the Historic Naval Dockyard, a significant milestone as the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) intensifies its restart of cruise shipping activities after a 17-month suspension due to COVID-19.
The call should augur well for cruise shipping activities in the community and its environs if the port becomes a fixture on the cruise line’s itinerary. It will demonstrate to the global cruise market Port Royal’s capacity to facilitate larger ships. It will also provide an opportunity for Port Royal, and by extension Kingston, to showcase its sought-after heritage, culture, entertainment, and other unique offerings that distinguishes its cruise passenger experience from any other. A boost in cruise shipping activities in Port Royal, especially when underscored by larger sized ships and an increased passenger count, should redound positively on businesses, commercial activity as well on the economic development in Port Royal and Kingston.
The ship can carry approximately 3,000 passengers, however in November it will be at 50-60 per cent capacity in accordance with its COVID-19 protocols.
The Port Authority has secured a number of calls for the upcoming season which signals an uptick in cruise shipping activities across all cruise ports island wide. The PAJ, with guidance and support from the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), 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. Some of these calls, which are scheduled to start in mid-November, include inaugural visits as well as calls from ultra-luxury premium cruise lines. The intensity may be partly attributed to the successful restart in activities at the Port of Ocho Rios which served as a pilot for the restart of cruise shipping operations amid COVID-19 restrictions and protocols. Since September, Ocho Rios has enjoyed a steady schedule of calls by Carnival Sunrise and MSC Meraviglia which should continue throughout the season. A similar model that is being used in Ocho Rios will be adopted in Port Royal where cruise passengers will only participate in controlled tours approved by the MoHW and interaction with locals will be largely restricted. However, consistent with the amazing on port experience that has become synonymous with the Historic Naval Dockyard, Port Royal will also offer an array of iconic Jamaican brands, local artisans, and cultural entertainment at the port during cruise ship calls.