Jamaica Port Authority plans $40 million Montego Bay Upgrade

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Montego Bay Cruise pier

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

MSC Divina will return to Miami in 2016

MSC Cruises said that MSC Divina will sail from Miami during the summer of 2016, giving it a year-round presence in the Caribbean again.

MSC had said that Divina would return from the Mediterranean this fall but hadn’t announced deployment beyond April 2016.

With the announcement, MSC published itineraries for Divina through March 2017. They will rotate between eastern and western Caribbean routes and call in St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico and the Bahamas.

As previously announced, MSC plans to deploy a new ship, the MSC Seaside, from Miami starting in November 2017. The MSC Seaside is expected to sail to the Caribbean year round.

Divina sailings from April 2016 through March 2017 will go on sale on Friday, May 1. In an introductory promotion,  MSC said it will offer consumers a shipboard credit, a beverage package and a WiFi package, depending on the category of stateroom booked.

The line will also offer 18% flat commission for group bookings, along with complimentary stateroom upgrades and shipboard credit for guests in the group.

Caribbean Facts and Figures

Interesting
Caribbean
facts & tidbits

Tourist count

Roughly two million tourists visit the Caribbean Islands per year.

World’s top cruise destination

The Caribbean accounts for nearly half of the industry’s passenger count. Most of the world’s major cruise ships winter here.

Economy

Tourism drives the economy of most Caribbean islands. And the United States is the chief trading partner in goods and raw materials.

Caribbean compared to the Atlantic

The Caribbean water is significantly warmer, calmer, clearer and less salty. These attributes draw tourists.

Size

The Caribbean Sea is the world’s second largest sea. The biggest, the Mediterranean, is only 9% larger.

Depth

The Caribbean Sea’s deepest point is 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) below sea level.

Number of Islands

The Caribbean officially has over 7,000 islands (but that figure includes small cays, reefs, and islets). Only about 150 islands are inhabited.

Population

When Columbus arrived in 1492, the Caribbean had an estimated population of 700,000. Today, the number is about 40 million. Most descend from African slaves.

Language

Creole, Dutch, English, French, and Spanish are the top five languages spoken in the Caribbean. The entrenched European language on any given island reflects the island’s colonial heritage.

Nautical link

The Caribbean Sea connects the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean (with the assistance of the Panama Canal).

Geographical origins

The rugged-mountain islands (think Jamaica) are mainly volcanic in origin. Flat islands (like Barbados) were formed by coral formation and rising sea beds.

Etymology

The Caribbean is named after the native Carib people who once dominated many of the islands.

Best Caribbean cruise lines

Best luxury

Silversea Cruises ships are modest sized and sport spiffy interiors. Passengers are sophisticated, congenial, and well-traveled. Food and service are highly regarded. Crew-to-passenger ratio is high.

Best luxury-upmarket

Azamara Club Cruises has two ships, each accommodating up to 644 passengers. Its price point is between upmarket and luxury. They provide vacationers with a needed niche between luxury and mid-priced fares.


to see my tip-and-photo pages on the Azamara Quest ship.

Best upmarket

Celebrity Cruises is upmarket, thus clearly superior to the mid-priced lines in many ways, including cabin space, service, entertainment, food, and passenger sophistication. Most ships carry about 2,000 passengers.

Best 20-something party boat

Carnival Cruise Line has a well-documented fun, party-boat reputation. Fare are mid-priced and ships are quite large (about several thousand passengers). Has glitzy Las Vegas style entertainment and decor.

Best for families

If your children
are 9 or younger

Disney Cruise Line has four ships, all family oriented. Pleasing kids is the prime focus, but there’s something for everyone. The Fantasy is the best and newest Disney ship.

If your children
are teens

Royal Caribbean International has specialized facilities and programs for teens. But there’s plenty going on to please parents and other adults. Passengers: About 3,000.

If your children
tweens ( to 12)

If 9 to 10, Disney Cruise Line is a better fit.  If 11 to 12, Royal Caribbean is better.