Falmouth Jamaica; Still Not Ready for Ships?
Still Not Ready for Ships?
Collin Gager, Mayor of Falmouth, Jamaica, doesn't believe the town's businesses are ready for the first cruise ship arrival, Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas, scheduled to dock at the newly built Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier on January 7th, 2011.
Royal Caribbean has especially high hopes that Falmouth will be able to offer an appealing stop for cruise ships soon, but Holland America and P&O Cruises have already canceled port calls that were scheduled there for last November and December.
Considered an historic landmark and one of the best preserved 18th Century cities in the West Indies, Royal Caribbean had planned to use Falmouth as a featured destination for its flag ships, Oasis and Allure of the Seas, starting next week. But the scheduled stops for those two mega-ships have been postponed until May, 2011.
Falmouth is close to the Dunn's River Falls and a new attraction called Dolphin Cove, both of them located near Ocho Rios, another Jamaica port of call, but one with far less local charm.
Falmouth, capital of the Parish of Trelawny and situated on Jamaica's north coast near Montego Bay, was founded by Thomas Reid in 1769 when Jamaica had become the world's leading sugar producer. The town was named after Falmouth, Cornwall, in England, and is known as one of the Caribbean's best-preserved historic towns, often compared to Williamsburg, Virginia in the United States. Part of the appeal of the town is its traditional architecture, but that is in need of a substantial amount of repair.
Another Falmouth tourist attraction is Martha Brae River Rafting. This river ride is a 90 minute journey along the Martha Brae River (originally called the Matibereon River by the Arawak Indians) which was once used to transport sugar cane to the sea on 30–foot bamboo rafts. Legend says that an old Arawak witch changed the course of the river to drown a group of Spanish treasure hunters who tried to make her lead them to the Arawak gold.
Falmouth Mayor Gager says local businesses need to start preparing right away for the arrival of Oasis and Allure of the Seas starting in May. One will be calling every Wednesday and the other every Thursday. Together, the two ships will bring 600,000 visitors annually. The mayor says visitors are expected to spend a projected $100 each (U.S. Dollars), earning the parish approximately $5 billion annually.
The government is doing its part with the the restoration of the many public buildings in the main square, which was one of the first pre-planned communities in North America, and still has much of the original construction, although currently dilapidated.
Falmouth was meticulously planned from the start, with wide streets in a regular grid for it public buildings and actually had a pumped water system before New York City had one. From 1790 to 1840 Falmouth was one of the busiest and wealthiest ports in Jamaica, serving nearly one hundred plantations producing sugar and rum for England.
The visit by Navigator of the Seas on January 7 will be a trial balloon to see how far along the town has come in its restoration efforts, and whether it is ready to be used as a dispatch center for other Jamaica attractions.
In Falmouth Harbor as many as 30 tall-ships could be seen on any given day, delivering goods and slaves, and loading their holds with rum and sugar manufactured on nearby plantations.
Starting in 1840, Falmouth declined. All that remains is the Falmouth Historic District with the largest intact collection of Georgian buildings in the entire Caribbean. Market Street is lined with colonnaded commercial buildings.
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