~ Destination gets praise for recovery thus far ~
With some new products and services coming online in December 2017, St. Maarten’s Cruise partners at the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association conference in Merida, Mexico has identified mid-December as a better start date to resume port calls to the destination. Both Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean International committed to returning their vessels with close collaboration with the Port Authority and Ministry of Tourism and praised St. Maarten for its speedy recovery efforts thus far.
“Ministry of TEATT, St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and Port St. Maarten are all working together to ensure that we have a suitable product and experience that our guests can enjoy,” Minister of Tourism Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher said, adding that the devastation of Irma has presented St. Maarten with opportunities to re-invent cruise on St. Maarten.
The Minister said that various cruise executives have been highly impressed by the progress St. Maarten has made thus far in preparing the island to welcome its first cruise tourists. In a panel discussion including the top executives of Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and MSC Cruises, St. Maarten was lauded as being a very resilient island and having made remarkable progress.
“While we were aiming for an early November start, and the island has made remarkable progress in being ready for cruise tourism, our cruise partners have re-evaluated with our stakeholders to push more towards a December start date for cruise. These couple extra weeks will allow us to place the finishing touches necessary to have a cruise product that not only meets but even exceeds the guest expectations. It’s important to safeguard the quality of the experience in St. Maarten, ensuring a strong cruise season in the long-term,” the Minister said.
She added that the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau has always been focused on both Marketing and Product Development. “While the marketing plan has been established last week while at the Media and Marketing Tour in New York with the Chief of Staff Cecil Nicholas. More than ever, the Product Development aspect is at the forefront of exceeding the needs of cruise passengers. We look forward to the month of December for a full reopening, with some other vessels possible in November,” the Minister concluded.