Over 1.5 million cruise passengers expected
Due to a change in the marketing approach by the Port of St. Maarten, the island as a cruise destination will see an increase in cruise passenger numbers for 2010/2011 cruise season with over 1.5 million cruise passengers expected to visit the island.
Commissioner of Harbour Affairs Theo Heyliger had been in discussions with port management with respect to personal direct marketing efforts with cruise line executives and itinerary planners.
This personal strategic marketing move by Commissioner Heyliger and port management has resulted in a 20 per cent increase in cruise numbers for the island as a cruise destination.
Chief Executive Officer of the St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies (CEO) Mark Mingo says that cruise executives in the current global recession are busy looking at ways and means to increase business and rely mainly on onboard surveys and market feedback when determining which cruise destinations to add to their itineraries.
Mingo added that the recent meetings with cruise executives coined as the ‘personal executive direct approach’ lead by Commissioner Heyliger’s direct marketing approach was necessary in order to provide information about the latest developments with the port where the expansion is concerned and overall activities on the island including infrastructural improvements and future plans.
"The week of October 5 was very successful, not only the results but the approach towards the cruise lines. This personal approach will be done on a regular basis in order to keep the Port of St. Maarten as the premier destination in the Northeastern Caribbean.
"Itinerary planners are very much interested in learning about the latest tours, shopping, and activities for their guests, infrastructural improvements and future developments and about passenger distribution.
"Handling and distribution of passengers were a key point in the discussions with the lines and they were very pleased to learn about the infrastructural improvements on the island. They were very pleased to learn about the additional tender jetty that has been constructed near Sea Palace hotel," CEO Mark Mingo explained on Sunday.
The Port of St. Maarten delegation headed by Commissioner Heyliger, also included Cruise Manager NZinga Lake. The trio which included CEO Mark Mingo visited Princess Cruise Lines, Holland America Line’s and Carnival Cruise Lines.
Princess Cruise Lines will increase their calls in 2010 to 50 when compared to 32 in 2009. Fifty calls are also expected from the line in 2011.
Holland America Line (HAL) will increase its number of visits in 2010 to 28 calls and this number will jump to 35 in 2011. For 2009, HAL will make 23 calls.
"Due to having strategic agreements in place, these results in more business for the island, however, we must continue in our efforts to improve services. Our personal direct marketing approach will continue," Commissioner Theo Heyliger assured due to its success.
Port calls by Carnival Lines in 2009 will be around 95 and this will jump to 112 in 2010 which means that there will be a vessel year-round and more calls during the off season which is very important for the business community on the island especially those in Philipsburg, Commissioner Heyliger added.
Commissioner Heyliger and Mingo also discussed fuel prices with the cruise lines as this is also a factor when determining itineraries. Cruise lines use IFO 380 fuel. Heyliger and Mingo have promised to look into how this issue can be dealt with which would keep St. Maarten as a premier cruise destination at the top.
2009 2010 2011 estimate
Princess Cruise Lines 32 50 50
Holland America Lines 23 28 35
Carnival Cruise Lines 95 112 112
Cruise passengers for 2009 projected at 1.220.000
Cruise passengers for 2010 projected at 1.500.000