Representatives of Port St. Maarten management on hand as cruise passengers and crew from “Celebrity Edge” receive a warm St. Maarten Welcome on Wednesday.
POINTE BLANCHE–Port St. Maarten management on Wednesday morning met with Celebrity Edge Captain Kate McCue at the gangway upon arrival of the cruise ship to destination St. Maarten, the first transit call to the country since the onset of the pandemic, and presented a token of appreciation on behalf of Port St. Maarten and the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.
This was shared in a press release on Wednesday.
“Captain Kate was ecstatic when it was mentioned that coincidentally Celebrity Edge was the last commercial ship that visited the destination back in March 2020,” said the release.
Port management in collaboration with the captain handed over port and destination merchandise from the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau to one of the first families to disembark. The family actually took the cruise to mourn the death of their recently passed son and saw the cruise as an outlet for the family.
The family booked a tour of the island and were looking forward to enjoying the destination and what experiences it has to offer. The family said they had visited the island many years ago and wanted to see how it had developed since then.
Celebrity Edge is currently sailing with more than 1,500 guests and crew, of whom 95 per cent disembarked on Wednesday to enjoy the island. The guests on Wednesday were greeted to the vibrancy of steel pan performances by Ebony Steel Orchestra and entertainment by Funtopia.
Port management said the entertainment added to an exciting atmosphere and it was amazing to see passengers once again dancing along to Caribbean music while preparing to embark on tours and other activities offered by taxis, tour companies and other micro and small businesses on the island.
“This is a monumental point for us with the return of transit business, however, the situation globally still remains fluid and we are closely monitoring these developments in order to be able to take the appropriate action when needed.
“We are having ongoing discussions with different lines in terms of their on-board stringent protocols along with the protocols set forth by the destination. Cruise industry vessels departing US cruise ports such as Miami and others are still operating under the Conditional Sail Order of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is expected to be tailored down in the coming months,” said Port St. Maarten management.
“It’s paramount for us all to maintain close contact with our cruise industry partners as they go through the next transitional step out of the sail order. As a leading port in the region, we will continue having proactive dialogue with our international stakeholders along with the local authorities looking at the alignment moving ahead, bridging the gap with the guidelines as business ramps up in a staggered and safe manner in the coming months,” management continued.
President of the Harbour Point Village at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise and Cargo Facility Andi Siegers expressed gratitude on behalf of the tenants, who were excited to receive the first transit cruise call passengers after 15 months’ suspension of business.
Siegers described the experience on a scale of 1-10 as a 10 because the passengers came off the vessel effortlessly and enjoyed the fact that they could wander, and it was a great experience overall for the guests and the tenants.
Tenants were thrilled, having made their first sale in over a year and a half, and are looking forward to receiving more cruise calls as we move forward as a destination.
Dutch Taxi Association President Conrad Richardson said taxis were extremely happy that the passengers were allowed to flow freely through the Port to immerse themselves into the destination. Some 300-plus passengers were ferried around the island on tours by 70 taxi drivers throughout the day.
Celebrity Edge has a gross tonnage of 130,818; is 1,004 feet long; has a beam of 128 feet, a draft of 28 feet and 15 decks.
Cruise passengers disembark “Celebrity Edge” on Wednesday for a fun-filled day of exploring the island.
Business owners in Front Street were ready on Wednesday morning to welcome the cruise passengers into their stores