Jamaica’s Historic Falmouth Cruise Port Debuts Next Month

January 2011 will mark the opening of the controversial 32-acre, two-berth Historic Falmouth Cruise Port, a $220-million project developed by Royal Caribbean Limited (RCCL) in partnership with the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), for the berthing of the cruise line’s Genesis class ship. On January 7, the Navigator of the Seas will be the first to enter the port that will feature walking tours of the 240-year-old town, as well as access to 60 attractions in the surrounding area and in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.

Founded in 1769, the town of Falmouth is renowned as one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved Georgian-era towns. Featuring many late 18th-century and 19th-century buildings, the town has been recognized by the World Monuments Fund, making the fund’s Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites four times in the last decade. Sites in the area include The Cannon at Fort Balcarres, first built in 1811 to defend the harbor, Old Baptist Manse, created as a Masonic temple and later home to the Great Emancipator” William Knibb, the Albert George Market, built in 1896 and restored in 1989, and Glistening Waters, the lagoon right outside of Falmouth. Restoration of several sites is underway and will be continued in the future.

In town, cruise visitors are welcomed into an area that features restaurants, duty-free and boutique shops, a craft market, offices, and residences within walking distance. Nearby, just West of Falmouth in the hills, the Greenwood Great House offers daily tours of the property overlooking the sea, built by the Barrett family between 1780 and 1800.

The controversial new project—which is featured critically in the recent documentary Jamaica for Sale—was designed by thematic designer Idea Group of Orlando “to reflect the historic character of Falmouth Jamaica. Historic Falmouth Port will begin the revitalization of this town, now located in the booming touristic zone of the North Coast of Jamaica between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.  The buildings and attractions of Historic Falmouth Port are being designed in classic Georgian style.  As the phases of the port are implemented the new state-of-the-art port will blend into the old town.  It is anticipated that the remaining designated historic buildings in the community will gradually be restored.”

Critics of the project decry the Disneyfication of the are for the amusement of cruise ship passenger, the disconnection of local Jamaicans from their heritage, and the environmental impact of the use of the town and surrounding areas as a site of landing of tens of thousands of tourists a month. Locals have little access to the cruise business generated, which will be controlled by the cruise industry.

Some of the material above (the material that does not criticize the venture) appeared at http://www.travelagentcentral.com/cruises/jamaicas-historic-falmouth-cruise-port-debuts-next-month-25206

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