Falmouth Review

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Gainesville, FL
680 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
by 60yr old seasoned cruiser

Most everyone reading this knows that Royal Caribbean's port at Falmouth Jamaica is way behind schedule. Our balcony on the Navigator March 10 gave a great view of construction at the port. Also looking above or through fenced off areas gave good idea of progress and what Falmouth may be like when complete. At the future cruise terminal building, metal trusses were being finished and placed for the roof and overhang, The inside walls were still rough concrete. Outside, what seemed to be either water or electrical conduits were being put in trenches. For a long time workers tried to assemble what appeared to be pre-fab forms for a concrete water fountain. In other areas, ground pavers were being laid. Exteriors of many buildings are painted and appear complete. It seemed like more than half the port area is not yet open to the public. They will really have to hustle to be complete Falmouth by the Grand Opening March 22, 2011 when Oasis is scheduled to dock.

The band that greeted passengers who disembarked early in the day had either gone or was on break when we left the ship. Fences herded cruisers past a few food and drink trailers and booths in the plaza, through the open shopping area and towards the taxi, tour and transportation area. Crowd control was good. Rumor has it that port vendors here had required training in dealing with cruisers. Whether true or not, it was a very pleasant and different surprise from stops at other ports in Jamaica. We were not approached by pushy or aggressive merchants, and did not feel accosted, threatened, or followed. Busses took people on excursions or to Rose Hall for shopping. Taxis allowed in the compound had rates posted.

A 35 minute open-air trolley tour of Falmouth costs $10, and yes, there is a police escort. The reason given is that the trolley is wide and traffic may have to be directed to allow the trolley to pass. Passing the guards at the gates to the port, a crowd of perhaps 20 mostly younger local men lined the street and approached some who ventured outside the gate. After a few blocks the trolley passed local businesses, many with men in chairs sitting outside watching us as intently as we watched them. It was refreshing that none of the businesses had glaring signs, t-shirt sales, or the glitz and glare associated with most cruise ports. Yet anyway. The trolley guide pointed out historical sites, municipal buildings and churches of various religions. During a brief stop at one church, several vendors had their wares spread on the ground. They had the same pleasant demeanor as those we interacted with in the port. The ride back to the port passed a park, a hospital, and other significant sites.

The 'downtown' Falmouth area is really small, but as we re-entered that area there were more, mostly younger, groups of cruisers on the streets. Arriving at the gate to the port compound, seapass cards were (somewhat) checked. The plaza had a different band playing, and the same vendors, trailers, and booths as earlier in the day. Work on the port area behind the fence appeared to continue at the same slow pace. Before crossing onto the dock to return to the ship, we had to pass through a possibly Jamaican security checkpoint, emptying pockets, and being frisked. Then on to the dock for entry to the ship, with usual seapass security, x-rays etc.

One article said Falmouth could could see 400,000 cruise passengers a year spending over $100 each per day. The Historic Falmouth port area will probably have the usual diamonds, tanzanite and jewels like every other port. The strategic location for already established excursions like Ocho Rios, Dunns River Falls, Montego Bay, Martha Brae, etc. will provide an equally profitable goldmine.

Honestly, Falmouth itself isn't such a great tourist destination. It's a poor, quiet, sleepy area with wonderful people. There is no great beach. There is less crime here than some areas in Jamaica. There's just not a lot to do in Falmouth. Therein lies its beauty. It is different from what most people think of when when they hear "Jamaica". But for how long?

One thing glossed over about Falmouth was the way fortunes were made. Many had money, got land and slaves, produced sugar and rum, and
engaged in trade related businesses to make more money. Have things come full circle?

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6 Posts
Joined Jan 2011

My family and I just returned on a Carnival Cruise from Jamaica. We heard talk from our driver about the new port you speak of. Sounds like they have some major work ahead.

Without beating about the bush.......My family will NEVER return to that dump of an island. I've been through some of the roughest parts of the US and I've never felt so nervous/uncomfortable in my life. The trash, begging and life in that town are horrible.

Our driver also told us they had cruise ships 7 days a week several years ago and now it's down to only two days a week. Most folks we talked to on the cruise after the visit felt the same way. Not sure what the future holds for Jamaica.
Southern California
934 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Thanks for your review of Falmouth. Very imformative.

For the trolley tour, is this something that you just line up for at the port? If so, are there signs directing you where to go?

Gainesville, FL
680 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
The trolley tour left from inside the port. Signs directed us to trolley, and there was a canvas covered ticket sales and seating area. No pre-registration required, and trolley ran about every 45 minutes.
Charlotte, NC 28277 USA
1,189 Posts
Joined Jul 2002
We read about an independent tour through Jamaicaforaday to the AI Hilton at Rose Hall.....did you hear of anyone doing that? An earlier posting hinted independent tours were hard to do in Falmouth....any thoughts on this? We had planned to book JFAD including transfers......
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Gainesville, FL
680 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
Actually I did talk with a gentleman in the Diamond Lounge who did that. He arranged the trip himself for his group-seems he said about $75 pp all inclusive. They took a taxi from the port, and the Hilton arranged the taxi back so they wouldn't miss departure. He said it was wonderful. Great food and drink. Beautiful setting.