Yearning to cruise? Many are, enjoy PTZtv's Port Miami Webcam a moment. Nice ambiant audio to boot.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is extending the "no sail" mandate for an additional 100 days unless contraviened by another authority. This effectively means crusies on ships carrying more than 250 people are over until at least mid-July. Even a July re-start presumes response planning by the cruise industry is approved by the CDC and the state of the pandemic allows for it. The cruise lines are continuing to be generous with rebooking options however.
The Norwegian Epic suffered a partial loss of power resulting in two stops in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands. That's bad. Worse was the attempt to dock in San Jaun as the ship made its way back to Florida. The wind overcame two tugs and bow thrusters resulting in two mooring points being knocked over as their edges scrapped dents in the Epic's hull. As seen in a growing number of Youtube videos recorded by passengers onboard the Norwegian Epic, Celebrity Edge and pier side the incident surely will be the highlighted sea story passengers on both ships tell for a very long time! There were no injuries and the Epic completed the full seven day cruise save for the missed ports of call. Predictably passengers were posting on social media demanding full refunds for their "ruined" vacations. Norwegian offered 50% refunds for the trouble, which on any other such occasion would be generous at the least. One of the very first things any travel agent tells you or that the fine print of every cruise contract states, ports of call are NOT guaranteed. No ships services were compromised and the cruise was not cut short. I don't know of any examples of full refunds being made in an instance such as this.
Nobody was hurt. The ship didn't suffer more than cosmetic damage. Grand Bahama island did not sink. However a harbor pilot is going to have a really bad annual review and the Mickey Mouse forever hanging off the back of the Diseny Dream will have some serious work to do following the ship backing into the pier this week. There are limited pictures of the incident but the tireless staff at CruiseAficionados.com have given us this artists image based on first hand accounts.
It appears the ship was driven into the pier by a harbor pilot by the name of captain Kado Oquoné, seen here in this file photo.
The following YouTube video was posted online, however we have not been able to independantly confirm the authenticity. Are we the only ones getting sick of watching video recorded by people with phones who can't be bothered to turn the device sideways, seriously get a clue folks, it isn't cute anymore.
Falmouth is a newer port of call in the Caribbean. The cruise port at Falmouth was built as a partnership between the Port Authority of Jamaica and Royal Caribbean International and opened in 2011. It added to Jamaica a custom built port that mirrors the model being seen increasingly across the caribbean. The port includes purpose built piers able to accommodate even the largest cruise ships, with a large, modern, duty-free shopping mall through which all passengers filter. The stores in the mall are rented by many different types of business'. These range from the obligatory Diamonds International to small family owned shops. At the edge of the port is a purpose-built bus terminal used to board passengers onto bus' for their pre-planned excursions. The intent here as elsewhere, is to create a controlled, quality environment in which passengers can make smooth exits to their planned excursions or simply enjoy some hours shopping without chaotic taxi stands and vendors pursuing people.
Like most such newer port terminals, Falmouth features some space within the duty free mall for local merchants. These tend to be limited in space as compared to the larger company and privately owned stores in the ports buildings. These areas tend to be called "artisan villages" or shops and In some cases the merchants are indeed local and sometimes actually the artists who created what is being sold. They are selected merchants and not random to be sure. Since the establishment of the port local vendors from within the town of Falmouth have sought to setup stands just outside of the gates.
According to the local media in Falmouth and Jamaica, the local vendors are going to have access to a new space being built for opening in October 2017. The space is intended to reduce or eliminate the "tarpoline village" outside of the port. Local vendors have mixed feelings on the new stalls. They are happy to have them at all on the one hand but complain they are too small. Local officials have responded by saying the merchants should not expect or intend to stock everything they have but be more selective and focused in what they attempt to sell.
The new local vendor stalls come as Falmouth is reported to be under growing pressure by Royal Caribbean and Carnival to improve conditions across the board at Falmouth. Little specifically has been said, though some media reports have interpreted talk of reduced visitations as being the elimination of the port or to over state dissatisfaction with conditions at Falmouth. However passenger reviews and comments in the last couple of years have indicated the conditions at the excursion bus terminal, nearby road conditions and the quality of shops have faltered in recent years. Given the importance of the port to Jamaica's future and the amount invested into the project by the cruise industry, it is likely improvements will be quick in coming.