Development moves apace as Port Royal businesses ponder


Development moves apace as Port Royal businesses ponder

Town readies for cruise ship's arrival at floating pier

Business reporters

Sunday, January 19, 2020

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As the town of Port Royal ramps up for the prospect of becoming the Caribbean's newest cruise destination, having just a day before the historic city welcomes its first cruise ship, some residents and popular entities of the town are expressing doubt that the planned developmental objectives will filter down to the community and its businesses.

While it is acknowledged that the town is likely to benefit from infrastrucural improvements, many are wondering if businesses will benefit from increased sales, or whether it will be more like Falmouth in Trelawny, where residents have rued the lack of development.

During a tour of the community on Wednesday, residents and business operators alike said that while much activity is taking place to get the pier ready to welcome its first cruise ship tomorrow (January 20) not much is known by the community at large in terms of what will be happening.

On our visit to a popular food location, a worker shared that the whole plan of activities is more skewed towards leaving the community on the periphery, as the pier they have said, will carry its own set of businesses and activities.

“We heard that shops will be stationed at the pier, so it's going to be up to the tourist if when they come into the town to tour, as we were told, that they may stop and have lunch or whatever at our restaurant,” the worker who wished not to be identified told Sunday Finance.

She said that in terms of increasing revenues and sales for their establishment, this may not be as fulfilling, given that ships are only expected to dock once per month.

Another owner and operator of a bar and pub also expressed similar sentiments sharing that ongoing activities are moving too quickly.

“It's like a mad rush right now!” she stated.

A Port Authority of Jamaica worker who also asked not to be named, revealed that while the first ship —a European cruise line — is scheduled to dock tomorrow, the actual opening of the site is in March.

“The information we have is that one ship will come every month for a year. The floating dock is the first one in the Caribbean and it's really just a test run. Royal Caribbean Cruises has interest, but they just want to see how the floating dock works before they make Port Royal a port of call,” he stated.

In giving details about the logistics of how the pier is to be structured he said that the US$45 million 360-metre pier can hold up to 3,000 people at a time.

“The ship can anchor on the mooring that stays out and the pier will make its way out to the ship so the guests can walk off the ship to land. So it's really like a floating gangway, which will make its way out to the ship. They call it a 'sea walk' but it's really a floating dock that is run by an engine or a hydraulic operator with two thrusters,” he noted while explaining how the pier differs from that of a regular one.

While other Port Royal residents lamented that they won't directly benefit from the development of the pier, the source stated that he believes that there will be increased business activities in the community.

“As far as I know, the plan is to involve Port Royal in all of it. However, there is a rush now to get everything done. It's the first floating dock and the first time a cruise ship is coming to Port Royal in years, so it's a lot of preparation and planning,” he said.

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