Work in progress: Construction begins in Port Royal

2019, November 1: The floating, motorized articulated pier purchased by the Jamaican government as part of its programme to expand cruise tourism business for Jamaica was on site in Port Royal when Portside Caribbean visited during the summer of 2019. Construction of  attendant and supporting infrastructure for the January 20, 2020 arrival of the first cruise ship was in progress.

That first cruise vessel, Marella’s Discovery 2, which uses Jamaica’s Montego Bay as a home port during the northern winter months, has scheduled four calls in Kingston via Port Royal before it heads to Europe to meet its summer obligations.

Construction site of passenger reception facilities, mid-August 2019.

In all itineraries, the ship departs its home port in Montego Bay and the Kingston call is the last port visit before its home port docking. With this schedule, passenger spend in Kingston, the last port visit on the four itineraries mentioned, is likely to be moderate to low. Cruise passenger research shows that ports at the beginning of a voyage tend to get a higher per capita passenger spend in contrast to ports listed towards the end of the voyage.

As documented previously by Portside Caribbean, the Port Royal cruise port facility has received the largest slice of the Port Authority of Jamaica’s 2019-2020 capital budget, with over US$7.6 million earmarked for spending during the financial year.

Meanwhile, as reported previously, the floating motorised articulated pier, branded SeaWalk, remained anchored at Port Royal awaiting completion of construction works, including passenger reception facilities; gates, roadways; other ground transportation infrastructure and cruise passenger reception amenities.

PORT ROYAL: The Caribbean’s first articulated pier stacked against the newly constructed wooden boardwalk.

Jamaica’s deal with SeaWalk, (a total value of US$8.5 million) for the supply and installation of the 750-foot floating pier at Port Royal was the first such deal in the Americas. Indeed, the Port Royal contract was the first sale outside of Scandinavia.

William Tatham

The Port Authority’s Vice President Cruise Shipping and Marine Operations, William Tatham thinks the floating pier is a brilliant idea. Port Royal is a delicate historical site with an entire sunken city from 1692 just below the surface.

“It’s a very fragile area and with SeaWalk we’ll be able to develop it without having to dredge or drive piles.’ the PAJ executive said.

The SeaWalk floating pier was developed for the relatively flat waters of the Norwegian fjords. When the contract with the Jamaican government was signed there were fewer than five in operation anywhere in the world.  []