POINTE BLANCHE–The first cruise ship bringing passengers, not humanitarian aid, is expected back in port on St. Maarten Day, November 11.
“Though it is possible to welcome a ship as per November 1, the Port has identified the symbolic date of November 11, St. Maarten Day, to welcome the first ship back to St. Maarten,” Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher said.
She said in a statement to The Daily Herald that she hopes this will be enough time to have Philipsburg, in particular, properly cleaned up, the beach replenished and for tours with chosen routes.
“The importance of our cruise product cannot be underestimated and we will lend whatever support that we must to get the Port fully operational sooner rather than later,” the Minister said.
The damage inflicted on the Port by Hurricane Irma was described as “heavy” by the Minister and are estimated “in the millions.” However, Port management is busy normalizing operations at the facility.
The damage to the older of the two cruise piers is being addressed. Pier 2 was not damaged by the hurricane.
The home porting terminal has been severely damaged.
Ninety per cent of the perimeter fence, one of the two mobile passenger screening kiosks, the security command centre and several retail units were destroyed in the hurricane.
Damaged are all light poles on the piers, both Gottwald Mobile Crane and various units at Harbour Point Village.
The roof of the Cargo Terminal Office was blown off.
The Walter Plantz Square survived Irma in fairly good shape. Besides some blown-in windows, the units sustained minor damage and all roofs remain in fairly good shape. The water fountain and other amenities are being tested to determine damage, if any.
The Simpson Bay Causeway sustained technical damages. This prohibits the bridge swing from opening. Technicians have assessed damage and repairs will be executed as soon as their advice is received. Light poles and traffic lights on the Causeway were also damaged.
The John Sainsborough Lejuez Bridge (commonly called Simpson Bay Bridge) was not damaged by Irma.
Port officials have had a general assessment meeting with private tour operators, concessionaires and non-concessionaire operations. Of the water based tours, 62 per cent are operational. Of the land based tours 80 per cent are operational.
Port Management will brief the Council of Ministers today, Wednesday, about recovery progress to date and the outlook. Management has already briefed the Minister and her Cabinet on more than one occasion.
The Minister commended the Port team for immediately swinging into action to reopen the facilities for business via the cargo pier and getting a target date to welcome back cruise guests.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/69678-first-cruise-ship-back-on-nov-11