Falmouth, in the parish of Trelawny, Jamaica, erupted in a carnival-like atmosphere as hundreds of locals turned out to greet the arrival of the first cruise ship to dock at the newly constructed pier. The cruise liner, Voyager of the Seas, made history as it pulled into port at about 8:00 AM on Thursday 17th, February 2011, kicking off the business of cruise shipping in this small Jamaican town.
There was the expected formal welcoming ceremony with tourism officials at the dock, but the excitement of the locals who gathered from early in the morning to welcome the huge vessel carrying over three thousand passengers was the real surprise of the day. People from every walk of life, including school children on class outings, jockeyed for position to see the Voyager of the Seas and wave to the tourists as they stepped on shore. For many, it was the first time they had seen a cruise ship or anything like it.
Jamaican reggae music filled the air and kept the crowd in a party mood. There were art and craft booths, food stalls, a marching band, and Jonkanoo dancers performing to the sounds of African drumming. Even the beauty queen, Miss Trelawny, was on hand to welcome visitors, introduce them to Falmouth and answers their questions.
The Falmouth cruise ship port is a spectacular development in which the Royal Caribbean Cruises and the Jamaican Government partnered to reclaim more than thirty acres from the sea. Falmouth, an old town, long faded from its past glory when sugar cane was king, is therefore being rebuilt in parts and refurbished to bring it up to a standard that will see visitors eager to stroll its pedestrian-only streets and explore its Georgian architecture.
Cruise ships calling at Jamaica routinely dock at Ocho Rios or Montego Bay. But now, Falmouth, approximately halfway between these two towns, adds a new dimension to the island’s offerings as there are many attractions and beauty spots in this area which is a lot less developed. Visitors will be able to tour plantations, hike in the mountains, raft or kayak down rivers, zip along canopy tours, swim with dolphins, explore the Cockpit Country where runaway slaves hid from the British colonizers, and of course enjoy the beautiful beaches and Caribbean Sea with all their activities.
After the Voyager of the Seas docked and the excitement died down a bit, two children appeared with a dressed-up donkey, sporting a straw hat and baggy trousers with rum bottles in its back pockets. This amused the crowd which lost interest in the cruise ship and followed the donkey around, taking pictures and telling jokes. What started out as a jubilant welcome for the Voyager of the Seas, the first cruise ship to dock at Falmouth, Jamaica, turned into an exciting social affair for the locals in the town.
As the day drew to an end and the sky turned crimson with the rays of the setting sun, the Voyager of the Seas weighed anchor and bid farewell to Falmouth and its friendly inhabitants.