Falmouth, Jamaica welcomes cruise ships

The small Jamaican city of Falmouth is an historic landmark and considered one of the best preserved 18th Century cities in the West Indies. As capital of the Parish of Trelawney, Falmouth is situated on Jamaica’s north coast just 18 miles from Montego Bay. It 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.

Often compared to Williamsburg, Virginia, in the United States, part of the appeal of Falmouth is its traditional architecture, with most of original city still standing although it is badly in need of a substantial amount of renovation.

It was a meticulously planned British city from the start, with wide streets in a regular grid for it public buildings. It 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. Falmouth harbor often had as many as 30 tall-ships on any given day, delivering goods and slaves, and loading their holds with rum and sugar manufactured on nearby plantations and destined for England.     

Starting in 1840, with the decline of the slave trade in America, Falmouth also declined. All that remains today 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.

Falmouth can now welcome the big cruise ships after investing over $200 million in new port facilities that will be capable of handling one million passengers per year.

Already Oasis of the Seas, one of the largest cruise ships in the world, had docked in Falmouth for the first time.  This event exemplifies how vital the cruise industry is to the Caribbean islands. And this particular one has been a particularly challenging yet important one for Jamaica, for although the island has been a destination for cruise ships for many years. But it has never been one where a lot of cruisers choose to get off the ship and spend money locally.

Although the port facilities at Falmouth were a joint venture between Royal Caribbean and the city, Celebrity Cruises will also visit the city on a regular basis and Holland America also has several visits planned there in the coming years.

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