Jamaica poised for continued growth in the cruise market

Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has revealed that the country’s tourism sector is poised for continued growth in the cruise market, while noting that cruise shipping recorded 1.26 million arrivals in 2023, 48.3 per cent above 2022 figures.
Speaking April 30 during his opening presentation of the 2024/2025 Sectoral Debate in Parliament, Minister Bartlett said, “I am pleased to say that the expectation is that the 2024/25 vessel arrivals and passenger count will equal or exceed those in the 2023/24 fiscal year despite the challenges in the sector.”
Minister Bartlett used the opportunity to underscore some of the key takeaways from his high-level engagements with cruise partners at the recently held Seatrade Cruise Global trade event in Miami, Florida.
“Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) has reaffirmed its commitment to Jamaica and has set a target of maintaining their tally of 400,000 visitors to Falmouth every year. Additionally, Disney Cruise Lines expressed their satisfaction with their current operations in Falmouth and have expressed their willingness to consider Port Royal as a future destination, pending the requisite logistical arrangements,” added Minister Bartlett.

Larger strategic partnership underway

He further explained that positive discussions with MSC Cruises suggest a larger strategic partnership and potential infrastructure investments in Jamaica with negotiations also underway to attract luxury yacht calls from high-end operators.
Beyond these partnerships, Minister Bartlett noted that Jamaica boasts several strategic advantages in the cruise industry such as leading the way in sustainability. “Our cruise partners also acknowledged the importance of the island’s ability to bunker vessels. Bunkering refers to the process of supplying fuel to ships, and Jamaica is the only Caribbean destination with the capacity to bunker vessels with Liquified Natural Gas,” Bartlett said.
Moreover, Minister Bartlett also discussed Jamaica’s homeporting potential, saying, “Jamaica is also able to serve as a homeporting destination, and we are exploring opportunities to expand the supply of goods and services to the vessels that visit our ports.”

Important upcoming dates

Additionally, the tourism minister also addressed the temporary closure of the main berth in Ocho Rios due to weather damage earlier this year. In this regard, he said: “Vessels originally scheduled to dock at the main terminal have been rescheduled to Reynolds Pier. Fortunately, investments were made to improve cruise handling capabilities at Reynolds Pier, allowing Ocho Rios to retain a significant portion of its cruise calls and passengers. All the other vessels not booked into the Reynolds Pier have been rebooked to berths in Falmouth and Montego Bay.”
Looking ahead, he disclosed that Jamaica will host the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s (FCCA) 2024 Platinum Member Cruise Summit this June.
The tourism minister explained that this high-profile event presents an opportunity to showcase Jamaica’s advancements in cruise infrastructure and world-class attractions to key decision-makers in the global cruise industry.