Port Royal, the historic town, welcomed its first cruise ship, Marella Discovery II, with approximately 1,900 passengers on board, on Monday, January 20. Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, accompanied by several Ministers of Government, were there to witness the memorable occasion, welcome the passengers to the island, and tour the new facility.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, speaking to the media said: “Port Royal is a destination that we have longed to build out and I am very proud of the work done by the Port Authority; the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport; the Ministry of Tourism; the Urban Development Corporation; Local Government; the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) and the many other partners, to create this new port.”
Mr. Bartlett further said the technology used in the disembarkation of cruise passengers at Port Royal can be replicated in other locations. He indicated also that the visit of Marella Discovery II is the first of four rotations for 2020 and so Government will be building out the cultural assets in Port Royal, thereby enabling residents of the town to exploit the potential financial benefits. Residents of the town are excited about the economic opportunities that are expected to result for artisans, fishermen, performers and others in the area, with more cruise ships expected to call at Port Royal,
“Port Royal has the greatest potential in the Caribbean of being a really world-class destination, and we are committed to building that out, and to complete the arrangement, so that it will become a ‘must’ on any itinerary for cruise shipping in the Caribbean,” said Minister Bartlett.
Mayor of Kingston, Senator Delroy Williams, described the inaugural arrival of the Marella Discovery II as “a new day for Kingston” and thanked the Government of Jamaica and the Port Authority for their belief in the vision of transforming Kingston into a destination city. Mayor Williams expressed a vision to have Kingston’s stopovers grow by 10 per cent per annum. The KSAMC has also undertaken several projects in Port Royal to improve the existing infrastructure and will continue to do so as this new era of development unfolds.
Passengers on the inaugural visit expressed satisfaction with the Port Royal stop. In addition to touring the historical sites in Port Royal, they were able to visit Emancipation Park, Devon House, National Heroes Park, Fort Clarence Beach and Ocho Rios. One passenger from London said he especially enjoyed chilling at Fort Clarence Beach for the day. “We have done four other drop-offs on the Caribbean cruise and to say this is the best stop is to put it mildly. To step off the ship and see the welcome that we’ve had, makes you not want to go back on the ship,” he said.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, addressing journalists at a reception for the cruise-ship passengers at the new Port Royal Naval Dockyard, which concluded the day’s activities, hailed the inaugural port call a success. Said that a number of persons were trained in preparation for the arrival of the Marella Discovery II and “it has paid off for them”. Minister Grange further said: “The residents of Port Royal, right now they are saying that they are so happy. They are overwhelmed and those who were not as involved, they now want to be involved and be given the opportunity.”
Given the positive feedback from the visitors and the residents of Port Royal on the occasion of the inaugural cruise ship docking at Port Royal, it is safe to say that the venture is off to a great start. Port Royal Cruise Port is open officially for business.