FALMOUTH, Trelawny – Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has embraced a suggestion from Captain Johnny Faevelen, Master of the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, to strategically engage crew members on cruise ships to aid in promoting the destination to attract more passengers to Jamaica.
The cruise ship with a maximum capacity for some 6,780 guests and 2300 crew members, was launched just five months ago by Royal Caribbean and made its inaugural visit to Falmouth, Jamaica on Tuesday November 22, 2016.
At a welcome reception onboard, Captain Faevelen strongly suggested that while focus must be placed on passengers the crew “are the people you must take best care of.”
He pointed out that it was the crew members who helped to promote the various destinations to passengers, which informed their decision to get off the ships to see for themselves.
He said they are the persons telling the guests about the different locations and being treated well by the people on land at the different ports augured well for how they promoted the island.
“The crew members are the most loyal customers you have,” he noted, reaffirming that “the most loyal people are the ones who come back not every other week on board the ship, not two months, not four months but eight months of the year and we love Jamaica. We love the friendliness, the happiness, the ‘no problem man’ attitude; we love Jamaica,” declared Captain Faevelen.
Underscoring the point, Minister Bartlett said “the Captain gave us a very interesting addition to the core of key first instance contact which we knew was there before but really it has not been brought to our consciousness in the way that the Captain did today, that the crew are indeed your first point of contact for the visitor coming into your destination.”
He endorsed the fact that “a lot of these visitors, while they are on board the ship, get their feeling about the destination, get their desire for the destination, get their allurement to the destination from the expressions and statements of the crew and the manner in which the destination is presented by them.”
The Tourism Minister added that “we take the guidance that he has given us and we will seek to engage the crew members in a more strategic way. I want to implore Jamaicans that wherever you see a crew member, take the best care of them because that’s truly your first point of contact to your destination.”
Minister Bartlett emphasised that cruise was a very essential part of the tourism offering that Destination Jamaica provided and the partnership with Royal Caribbean was very significant, resulting in the establishment of Falmouth as the largest port in the Caribbean. This development he said had made cruise tourism “rise to new heights” with 1.2 million arrivals last year in Falmouth alone while Montego Bay and Ocho Rios shared 500,000.
“This year, so far, we’re right on target; we’re actually 9 percent above last year and earnings have also grown. The period January to September 2016 saw a 9.6% increase in cruise passenger arrivals, with 1,223,608 recorded passengers, when compared to the same period last year,” he explained.
“We recorded cruise passenger earnings of approximately US$111 million, up from some US$98.3 million for the same period last year,” disclosed Mr. Bartlett.
Two other Royal Caribbean cruise ships, namely Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are already berthing in Falmouth and Captain Faevelen said a fourth ship, not yet named, was under construction and expected to also come here after it has been commissioned.
In welcoming Harmony of the Seas, he noted that it was joining its sister ships and Jamaica was happy to be the destination in the Caribbean to have the pleasure of welcoming the three largest cruise ships in the world. “So we’re excited about the continued partnership and the relationship with Royal Caribbean and to see continued growth. To have all three major ships coming here is very significant and will enhance the growth of the industry in Jamaica and by extension the Caribbean,” he said.
Mr. Bartlett gave an assurance that “we are committed to building out the experiences that the cruise visitors require,” adding, “we are dedicated to ensuring a safe, seamless and secure destination.” Consequently, “we have been investing along that line; our partners the Port Authority of Jamaica and the UDC (Urban Development Corporation) they have been collaborating to build out creative experiences that will enable not only the over 8000, including crew, that come on the Harmony of the Seas to have fun along the port but to be able to radiate throughout the town of Falmouth and to benefit from the culture of the people.”