January 2011 will bring the first of many cruise ships to the 32-acre, two-berth Historic Falmouth Cruise Port as the Navigator of the Seas arrives on January 7. The Port is a US$220 million project under development by Royal Caribbean Limited (RCCL) in partnership with the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) for the berthing of the cruise line’s Genesis class ship, the newest and largest class of cruise ships. Historic Falmouth will offer visitors a new port experience, featuring walking tours of the 240-year-old town. Additionally, passengers will have access to 60 attractions in the surrounding area and in nearby Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.
“Historic Falmouth is the first cruise port to become an attraction in its own right, and is poised to transform the town into a host city for Jamaica’s growing cruise industry,” said Jamaica’s Director of Tourism John Lynch. “Smart planning and superior berthing capabilities will attract an increased number of large vessels, and will significantly boost visitor arrivals. Historic Falmouth Port will additionally showcase Jamaica’s diverse range of attractions.”
Points of interest in the historic town of Falmouth include:
• Water Square – the site of one of the first public water systems on the island. Falmouth residents had piped water before New York City.
• The Cannon at Fort Balcarres – one of the original two that remain of the 1811 fort built to defend the harbor.
• The Armoury – Fort Balcarres – a 15-square-foot structure with walls four to five feet thick.
• St. Peter’s Anglican Church – the first church in Trelawny, built in 1796.
• Tharp House – built in 1785, this was one of three houses owned by John Tharp, the largest land and slave owner in Trelawny during the sugar era.
• Old Baptist Manse – originally built as a Masonic temple, this later became the residence of the “Great Emancipator” William Knibb.
• William Knibb Memorial Baptist Church – the second Baptist chapel in Falmouth built 1837 by William Knibb, which essentially acted as the headquarters of the anti-slavery movement on the island.
• Glistening Waters – just east of Falmouth, this luminous lagoon is one of Jamaica’s most spectacular natural wonders.
• Court House – built between 1815 and 1817, this served as host to many town gatherings, from balls to poetry readings, and now houses the Parish Council offices.
• Barrett House – the townhouse of Edward Barrett of Cinnamon Hill, on whose land much of Falmouth was built.
• Albert George Market – originally built in 1896 and refurbished in 1989, this market was named after Albert, Duke of Clarence, and the future King George V who visited Jamaica in 1882.
• Phoenix Foundry – an original structure built by a field engineer around 1810. It was used as an interpretation centre and museum in the late 1970s.
Restoration work on a number of these historic sites has begun and work will continue on others in years to come.
Among the nearby attractions is the Greenwood Great House; located just west of Falmouth in the hills overlooking the sea, this house was built by the Barrett family between 1780 and 1800, and now offers daily tours. Chukka Caribbean will also be offering an additional 20 attractions to visitors to the area. Known for creating exciting experiences that include ocean safaris, ATV tours, dogsled rides, and even a bus ride to the birthplace of Bob Marley, Chukka Caribbean will launch Jamaica’s longest zip line at the Good Hope Great House Estate. Dune buggies and river tubing will also be available at the site, and diverse attractions can be explored in neighboring Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.
Local Community Involvement
The Historic Falmouth project was planned as an extension of the local community, providing a comprehensive list of services and activities for tourists and locals. In addition to the authentic historic attractions and points of interest, Falmouth Cruise Port will include restaurants, duty-free and boutique shops, a craft market, offices, and residences within walking distance.
The restoration and preservation of several historic buildings in Falmouth is being undertaken as a multi-government-agency project involving both private and public sectors. It is expected to generate 300 new jobs in addition to the several hundred created during the construction stage.
Falmouth was founded in 1769 and is considered one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved towns from the Georgian era. Its historic district is a National Heritage site with many late 18th-century and early 19th-century buildings still standing. Also recognized by the World Monuments Fund, Falmouth has been listed on that organization’s Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites four times in the last decade. This rich architectural heritage gave inspiration to the design of the project, which will support a natural integration with the historic town of Falmouth.