Port meets with Several European Cruise Lines at Seatrade Europe;

MSC Commits 120,000 passengers for New Season

Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Ted Richardson and St. Maarten port officials met with several cruise lines on Monday during the first day of Seatrade Europe currently taking place in Germany.


The meeting with the European cruise lines was to get their commitment and to explain to them about the latest Shore Excursion Developments. MSC Cruise Line executive team updated the Minister and port management that with their new vessels currently online the cruise numbers for the Port of St. Maarten will increase. Last year the port received approximately 30.000 passengers from MSC while for the next season this will go up to 120.000 passengers, which is almost a four-fold increase.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo said on Monday out of Germany that this is great news for the destination however, "We need to a have a clear Destination Strategy in order for us to sustain this and to make sure that other nearby destinations don’t start edging ahead because we forgot the fundamentals of the success of our vibrant cruise sector. I can state that the games have changed and the decision makers have also changed."

The delegation from the Port of St. Maarten are attending workshops, which provides insight into the options for the future in Environmental Advances such as waste, opportunities and challenges for suppliers and service providers, Itineraries and deployment drivers, which include new shore regulations and also very important the changing face of on-board revenue generation.

Mingo added that the information received so far: "All in all it confirms that the Port of St. Maarten with its stakeholders, are on track, however a clear strategy must be developed for the destination as a whole especially when the same travel agents also determine where guest are going on their next cruise."

During the State of the Industry address a lot of focus was placed on New Green Shipping Technologies and its impact on Ports and Shipping Lines.

During the address the following topics were discussed, the investment of cruise lines and their new builds, this according to St. Maarten harbour officials is looking great. The German market has shown strong signs of rebounding.

Smaller niche markets are also showing signs of stability. In 2003 the Port of St. Maarten indeed had focused and emphasized on the European market but port officials felt more needs to be done with product offerings and enhancements.

"What we did a few years back we tried to adjust to the European customers, and we even organised a "German Night." We need to think and be innovative about what we are offering cruise passengers and stay-over visitors. Some might be big investments but smaller ones are just as good, but we have to think outside the box, be creative and make use of our rich cultural heritage," CEO Mark Mingo pointed out.

During the first day of the conference a lot of attention was paid to huge product offerings, a changing Cruise Industry and movements of passengers. With the new Green Shipping Guide 2013 which was handed over to conference delegates during the opening, port officials learned about the new challenges and technologies.

With the implementation of new ECA rules, cruise lines will have to retrofit their vessels to comply in connection with hull air bubble systems, new paints/coatings being used, as well as scrubbers. New LNG/LPG pilot projects have been implemented and it is evident that the supply chain for fuel suppliers will change also in the near future.

Carnival Cruise Lines for example will retrofit a few of their vessels with scrubbers, and will run a pilot project in 2014 to retrofit a vessel with LNG technology.

Currently the Port of St. Maarten has received approval from the Government to finalise the TNO Fuel Mapping Report for country St. Maarten, CEO Mark Mingo disclosed. "This will make it clear how we need to deal with fuel matters and challenges and prepare us strategically in this matter," Mingo said on Monday.

The 7th Seatrade Europe Cruise & River Cruise Convention is being held in Hamburg Messe, Germany and runs through September 26.

PHOTO CUTLINE: MSC Cruise executives represented by Captain Luigi Pastena in discussion with Minister Hon. Ted Richardson (2nd from left), CEO Mark Mingo (1st from right), and Port Supervisory Board Chairman Humphrey Mesas (1st from left).