Cruise partners announce Dec. return of cruise ships

Cruise ships at the Port. (File photo)


MEXICO-PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten’s cruise partners at the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) conference in Merida, Mexico, have identified mid-December as a better date to resume port calls to the destination, according to a press release from the Ministry of Tourism on Tuesday.

  Both Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean International committed to returning their vessels in close collaboration with the Port Authority and Ministry of Tourism. “The Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (TEATT), St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and Port St. Maarten are all working together to ensure that we have a suitable product and experience that our guests can enjoy,” Minister of Tourism Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher said, adding that the devastation of Irma has presented St. Maarten with opportunities to re-invent cruise in St. Maarten.

  She said various cruise executives have been highly impressed by the progress St. Maarten has made thus far in preparing to welcome its first cruise tourists. In a panel discussion including the top executives of Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and MSC Cruises, St. Maarten was lauded as being a very resilient island and having made remarkable progress.

  The Ministry prematurely announced earlier this month that cruise ships would be returning to the island in November, but the FCCA decided to inform the island representatives of the December date at the conference in Mexico this week. The Minister addressed it by stating in the release that she looks forward to the month of December for a full reopening, with some other vessels possible in November.

  “While we were aiming for an early November start, and the island has made remarkable progress in being ready for cruise tourism, our cruise partners have re-evaluated with our stakeholders to push more towards a December start date for cruise.

  “These couple extra weeks will allow us to place the finishing touches necessary to have a cruise product that not only meets, but even exceeds the guest expectations. It’s important to safeguard the quality of the experience in St. Maarten, ensuring a strong cruise season in the long-term,” the Minister said in the press release.

  She added that the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau has always been focused on both marketing and product development. “While the marketing plan has been established last week while at the Media and Marketing Tour in New York with the Chief of Staff Cecil Nicholas, more than ever, the product development aspect is at the forefront of exceeding the needs of cruise passengers,” she concluded.

Source: The Daily Herald