PORT ST. MAARTEN – The Old Year ended with the destination receiving over 1.6 million cruise passengers (1,631,537) and 565 cruise ship calls in 2019. This is an increase of 2.2 per cent (34,436) over 2018 when the destination received 1,597,101 passengers and 490 cruise ship calls.
Port St. Maarten for the past consecutive five years 2015-2019, has received annually over 1.5 million cruise passengers with the exception of 2017 due to the hurricanes, the number of passengers that year was 1,237,760.
“The destination has been maintaining over 1.5 million cruise passengers per annum. Competition within the Caribbean Basin has become more dominant within the past two years, besides the growth in cruise lines developing their own destinations. On top of the aforementioned, we have new emerging destinations in Asia that are growing very quickly.
“Therefore, it is very important as a destination, that we take a holistic approach in moving forward together in 2020. We need everyone to be part of the success.
“The cruise sector does not remain dormant. There are constant changes and trends. More than 66 per cent of Generation X and 71 per cent of Millennials have a more positive attitude about cruising compared to two years ago. Cruise lines are also responding to a shift in passenger demographics by offering studio cabins and single-friendly activities.
“We need to seriously look at the changing trends and see how we as stakeholders who are dependent on the country’s cruise sector can further enhance our cruise passenger destination experience. These must be authentic, appealing, exciting, interesting and memorable.
“It is essential that destination visitor appeal is maintained by our destination partners, stakeholders and the population at large, in order to continue the success of cruise tourism.
“According to CLIA, Generation Z is set to become the largest consumer generation by year 2020 – outpacing even Millennials. This generation like the one before, prefers experiences over material items and is seeking out travel.
“Being hospitable to our guests and always displaying that ‘Friendly Island’ smile that they have become accustomed too, will continue to move cruise tourism and the destination forward, but we now have to further enhance and offer much more authentic experiences and this can only be accomplished by working together,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Sunday.
In the meantime, the number of tourists who will take a cruise in 2020 is forecasted to grow to 32 million according to the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).
The Caribbean remains the largest cruise line deployment by region holding 32 per cent of the market.
Twenty-three new cruise ships are to debut in 2020 worth a total investment of over US$9.5 billion.