POINTE BLANCHE–Grandeur of the Seas will be the first Royal Caribbean International (RCI) cruise ship to return to St. Maarten with cruisers since Hurricane Irma slammed into the island on September 6. The ship is scheduled to call on December 17.
Grandeur’s return will be followed by daily calls by sister RCI ships, including two of the world’s largest vessels, Oasis of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas, Port St. Maarten announced on Sunday. St. Maarten is one of only three ports in the Northeastern Caribbean capable of berthing these two behemoths. The other two ports are Puerto Rico and St. Thomas.
Cruise ship Independence of the Seas will call on Christmas Day, December 25, and December 29; Jewel of the Seas on Boxing Day, December 26; Freedom of the Seas December 27; Adventure of the Seas Old Year’s Day, December 31; and Harmony of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas on January 2 and 3, 2018, respectively.
Celebrity Eclipse will return on February 4, 2018.
A delegation from Port St. Maarten’s Cruise Business Unit met with RCI representatives in Miami, Florida, recently to update them on the recovery efforts. This visit was met with news about the return of the ships earlier than anticipated.
Royal Caribbean is lauded as a “true partner of St. Maarten” by Government and Port officials.
Caretaker Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher said in a port press statement: “We will be ready, we will be creative and we will re-invent our product to meet the expectations of cruisers, while still providing the best experience under the Caribbean sun.”
Port officials added: “The future within the cruise industry is promising. However, we must push to re-invent and upgrade our product offerings which will translate into cruise passengers increasing demand to ‘rediscover’ St. Maarten.”
The first cruise ship bringing passengers to the country post-Irma will be Viking Sea on December 4.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/71069-first-rci-cruise-ship-in-port-on-december-17