Officials at Jamaica’s Tourism Ministry have long supported the idea of Jamaica-only cruises, and now cruise companies have begun to show a real interest in making this a reality. Notably, Marella Cruises, which homeports its flagship Marella Explorer 2 in Montego Bay, is considering the introduction of week-long Jamaica-only cruise itineraries that would visit all the island’s ports, including Falmouth, Ocho Rios, Port Royal, and Port Antonio in addition to Montego Bay.
Homeporting refers to a ship using a port or marine terminal as its home, regardless of where it is registered. This means that passengers can start or end a cruise in the home port, which has a positive effect on ground transportation and tours in the area.
Marella Cruises has been prompted to explore the new itineraries as part of efforts to find more cost-effective ways to stay in business in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdowns associated with the virus are lifting, but COVID-19 impacts continue to have a negative impact on cruises and the overall tourism sector.
According to the captain of the Marella Explorer 2, Kostas Lampropoulous, it makes sense to do a Jamaica-only cruise. He noted that it is more cost-effective for the company in terms of fuel and water and added that the firm has a very good relationship with Jamaica and views the country as “an important partner.” He also said that Marella’s plan is to make Jamaica the first call and first-choice destination for its cruises, enhancing the homeporting activities there.
Joy Roberts, the executive director of Jamaica Vacations, stated that Jamaica’s Tourism Ministry has lobbied major cruise lines about the potential for Jamaica-only itineraries, citing the fact that the country is the only destination in the Caribbean with so many ports of call. She noted the value-added benefits of homeporting as Marella Cruises is doing in Montego Bay. The port, along with Sangster International Airport, is a major attraction for tourists and is perfect for overnight stays for ships.
Marella Explorer 2 started to homeport in Montego Bay once again on March 14, 2022. It then visited Port Royal and is scheduled to return, weekly, until April 29, 2022. According to Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, the goal is to attract three million cruise visitors to the island by 2025, and to reach this goal, the Jamaica Tourist Board and Jamaica Vacations plan to intensify their marketing efforts to make Jamaica the destination of choice for cruise visitors from North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Jamaica’s ports had a total of 104 calls between August 2021 and March 16, 2022, which represented 141, 265 passengers and 108,057 crew members.
Photo: Port Authority Of Jamaica