Increased cruise calls likely for St. Maarten

CAYMAN ISLANDS–The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and cruise stakeholders have showed interest in increasing cruise calls to St. Maarten in the coming seasons as vessels get larger with limited ports in the region that can accommodate these vessels.

The Port St. Maarten delegation that recently returned from Aruba was informed of the pending increase in cruise calls at the FCCA Platinum Associate Membership Advisory Council (PAMAC) Conference.

There are immense opportunities for the Caribbean, but destinations were told at the conference they must increase their marquee value and appeal. The strength in regional development also ties in with the satisfaction of various destinations in the itinerary chain.

“If a key destination lags behind industry development, it can also be a threat to destination St. Maarten. The Caribbean must step up their game to better compete against other emerging markets such as Asia,” said Port reps on Thursday.

MSC Cruises announced they will be penetrating the Caribbean market and St. Maarten is one of the destinations that they showed interest in. MSC Cruises will have its inaugural call for their first Seaside class vessel in St. Maarten later this year.

FCCA President Michele Paige said the Caribbean continues to impress cruise lines and passengers, which has led to the industry’s planned capacity share increase next season. “Destinations like St. Maarten have helped this boost through attention to products, service and infrastructure, but though more passengers and bigger ships bring immense opportunities, they also bring new challenges,” she said.

Port management said it is actively engaging with the stakeholders to assure that the Port and destination is prepared for this new wave of vessels. Port management also agreed to participate in the upcoming BREA (Business Research Economic Advisors) survey cycle for 2018 which compares more than 30 destinations worldwide based on passenger and crew spending and economic contributions.

Port management said that they are continuing to develop the country’s product in order to maintain the destinations competitive edge in the Caribbean. St. Maarten is still one of the top-rated destinations which is frequently benchmarked by other Ports.

The evolving cruise industry estimates that nearly 26 million passengers will cruise globally in 2017. The Caribbean basin still accounts for the largest market share at 34 per cent followed by the Mediterranean at 19 per cent.

Representing the Port were Bertrand Peters, General and Government Affairs, and Ichel Moeslikan, Sales and Marketing, and Alexander Gumbs, Business Development Officer as well as a representative from the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, Cherinah Franken, Product Development Officer.

Source: The Daily Herald