The number of cruise tourists to Jamaica over the last decade has been growing as fast as Usain Bolt can run.
This is because the demand for Caribbean cruises has been increasing in recent years, due to, among other things, massive medias promotions. As more vessels expand their voyages to cover Caribbean islands far beyond the Bahamas, cruise tourists now have the opportunity to see many islands within a short space of time, as they spend their vacation on a luxury ship, with all the trappings of a holiday village.
For Jamaica, the Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Falmouth cruise ports are equipped to handle the largest cruise ships, while picturesque Port Antonio caters to boutique cruise ships and megayachts.
Kingston, by way of the historic Port Royal, is touted to be the site of the island’s next major cruise destination and a proposal is on the table for the development of a cruise shipping port accompanied by the revitalisation and restoration of Kingston’s downtown and harbour-front areas.
Kingston is awesome. With its plethora of historical sites and places of interest, huge gastronomy offerings it has vast potential as a heritage tourism destination - bar none.
For anyone who has an inkling of what a good tourism product is, they would recognise immediately that Kingston has what it takes in terms of attractions, culture, history and global recognition to be, once again, among the finest and most sought after cruise centres this side of the hemisphere.
You see, contrary to what some cynics believe, cruise companies do not choose ports because of how beautiful the waters of the port appear. It is not harbour that attracts tourists, it is the city, so the city itself, is what would be at the forefront of the promotion of the destination.
The selection of a cruise port within a destination is dependent on its offerings and surroundings including historical sites, cultural offerings, eating, drinking, accommodation and shopping facilities, port facilities, accessibility, climate, proximity to other ports, security, infrastructure, port entry and exit fees and so forth.
As a city, Kingston, like the rest of Jamaica, provides favourable conditions for cruise tours with rich history, cultural assets and natural beauty, geographical location and climate. Yes, it is urban, but it is close enough to rural St. Andrew, St. Thomas and the St. Catherine countryside, and even Clarendon and gorgeous Portland, so the offerings are even more wide and varied.
Kingston would be a dream for cruise tourists because these visitors are looking for different experiences and adventure and oftentimes relish the opportunities to participate in indigenous activities within the destinations they visit. Among them are:
Museums: Bob Marley Museum, National Gallery, JDF Military Museum
Historical sites: Port Royal; JDF Training Depot Newcastle; National Stadium, Devon House; Kings House, Jamaica House, Vale Royal, National Heroes Park; Ward Theatre
Places of Interest: The University of the West Indies Mona: Rockfort Mineral Bath, Kingston Craft Market; Coronation Market; Emancipation Park; Hope Gardens; Irish Town; Blue Mountains (JaBLUM), Sangster Rum Cream Tour; Red Stripe brewery.
We could go on and on. But there is one thing that is sure: There is definitely “magic in Kingston town”!
Claudia Gardner, Staff writer