International Cruise and Ferry - Spring/Summer 2019

49 appear. “We look at our existing facilities and at how they can be upgraded to increase efficiency and accommodate the next generation of ships,” he says. “For example, the upgrade of Reynolds Pier makes us one of the few facilities in this part of the world with the depth that can accommodate a ship like Cunard’s Queen Mary.” As cruise vessels get bigger, avoiding congestion at any of the island’s ports is a high priority. “Port Royal will only ever accommodate one vessel, and while Montego Bay has room for three large vessels, with one at anchorage, ideally we’ll have just two at any time,” he says. “Two ships can bring more than 8,000 passengers to the port, and it’s important that they all have a positive experience and are able to get where they want to go.” Looking to the longer term, Tatham says Jamaica has the size and geographical make-up to offer additional ports. “Jamaica has a number of areas where there is no shipping right now, but which have the natural environment to perhaps be looked at as future ports of call,” he says. “Once we’ve completed our upgrades and delivered the best experience we can at our existing ports, we think there are future ports of call in Jamaica to be looked at and developed, that can open up other parts of the island and highlight other waterfalls, rivers, natural and historical sites and so on.” Niche cruise lines, with their smaller vessels and experiential cruise experiences, suggest possible opportunities. “We recognise that those cruise lines don’t want to go where the big lines are,” says Tatham. “They’re looking for a very different experience so we’re thinking about areas in Jamaica that are off the beaten track, where some of those smaller lines can find those unique experiences for their guests. For example, the Black River area on the south coast of Jamaica is within an hour’s drive of the spectacular YS Falls, Lovers Leap which is 1,700 feet above sea level, and the Appleton estate where they make Jamaica’s most famous rum. You can go for incredible tours there where you’ll see flora and fauna including crocodiles, and there is a unique bar on stilts half a mile offshore, which was made by a fisherman. People love to pull up in a boat, have a beer and then head back to wherever else they were going.” With many smaller ships happy to provide their own anchorage, the niche market could provide a cost-effective way for Port Authority of Jamaica to test out new locations. “We’re willing to discuss with them parts of Jamaica that are unexplored or are not traditional stops, to find ways to make it work,” says Tatham. “That means working with other government agencies too, but we’re confident that we can do that and in the long term, if an area proves popular, we may look for a geographical location – a natural harbour or something nearby – that could be developed further.” Whatever the cruise market brings, Tatham says Jamaica has the space and the diversity to meet its needs. “Jamaica is big enough,” he says. “It has enough to offer to create great experiences for the entire spectrum of the cruise market, from the giants to the smallest ships. That puts us in a great position to respond to the market and its growth.” C&F Photo: Jamaica Tourism Board