If I had my way, there wouldn’t be a Falmouth Pier. Heck, there wouldn’t have been even one cruise ship pier in Jamaica, period. But of course, no one asked me – they never ask the people, the ones who really matter. Anyway, it’s here now but believe me, there are more than a few disgruntled residents in Falmouth.
Falmouth, capital of the parish of Trelawny, is located on Jamaica’s north coast about 30 minutes from Montego Bay. The town is home to approximately 4,000 residents.
Falmouth was founded in 1769 by Thomas Reid, an English planter. During sugar’s heyday, the port was the major shipping point for sugar, molasses, rum, coffee going to England, and slaves coming to the island.
After the trade ended, the once booming town, which had piped water before New York City, fell on hard times. But with its extensive stock of Georgian buildings, the largest in the Caribbean, the town is experiencing new interest.
The Pier opened in 2011 following a nearly $200 million construction of a new deep water pier that can accommodate the largest ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. These 16-deck mega ships can transport 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew.
On cruise days – Tuesdays to Thursdays – sometimes two ships dock at Falmouth Pier. However, even with the many historic Georgian structures in the town, the majority of passengers are bussed to Montego Bay or Ocho Rios. A small number do a walking tour of the town.
The US$100 per person that cruise ships passengers were projected to inject into the local economy hasn’t materialized. And when construction is completed at the Pier, Royal Caribbean will have practically duplicated the historic town and even fewer of its passengers will need to leave the pier.
The building of Falmouth Pier changed the coastline and has caused considerable damage to the mangroves and coral reefs. When ships are in port, residents complain that there’s less water coming from the taps as they refill before leaving.
Despite how I feel about cruise ships, however, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to tour Falmouth Pier. I had to see it for myself.
On the day we went, no ships were in port – only construction workers and a few employees were around so we had unobstructed views. The pier has customs and immigration offices, stores, restaurants, and a Margaritaville, which is under construction. We were told that Falmouth residents will have access to Margaritaville when it opens.
Storyboards that tell the history of Falmouth line the main walkway and there’s a performance area where cultural groups to put on shows for passengers.
Of course, what I’ve written here was not part of the tour. But it’s difficult to see Falmouth Pier and not feel a bit sad. Once again, we’ve sold out our beautiful island and swapped one master — sugar planters, bauxite companies, other multinational organizations, etc. — for another.
What are your thoughts on cruise ships and the impact they have?
This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.
This week, I’m also linking up with the Friday Daydreaming series organized by Becca at Rwethereyetmom. Hope to see you there!