Port St. Maarten Management recently met with representatives of a number of cruise lines regarding the resumption of cruises. The Port was informed that the destination remains a favorable port of call for the cruise industry in connection with regular scheduled destination port of calls throughout the week.
Port Management said that scheduled port calls are important to the destination as it will allow passengers to explore the Island in a safe manner for a couple of hours as was done pre-COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated guidelines also now hint towards lines being able to allow passengers to explore cities at their own discretion in line with the given country protocols for fully vaccinated passengers.
The CDC guidelines also include reduced social distancing, no masks onboard the cruise ships, and this is in alignment with other industries. This means that cruise ships can now carry a full complement of passengers and this is very good news for the Caribbean and destination St. Maarten in particular.
The CDC is also allowing cruises longer than seven days out of U.S. based homeports, and this is also very beneficial for St. Maarten bringing regular cruising closer to normalcy for the destination when the vessels begin to make port calls in the coming weeks and months.
Destination St. Maarten is preparing for the resumption of the cruise business, and Port St. Maarten is elated with the latest developments such as fully vaccinated passengers, and cruise ships can now carry their full complement of visitors which opens up other opportunities for the destination.
Therefore, it is essential that the majority of the population is vaccinated. This will send a strong signal to the tourism and travel trade including the cruise industry that destination St. Maarten is a safe destination to visit.
The cruise industry is moving full speed ahead in making all necessary preparations for the resumption of cruises, however, there are some challenges where homeporting is concerned within the Caribbean Basin.
A number of homeporting Caribbean destinations have different public health safety protocols in place in order to manage the COVID-19 virus, and these therefore need to be simplified whereby all destinations have a similar protocol in place, Port St. Maarten Management were informed.
Port St. Maarten Management are in direct contact with the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT), and Ministry VSA, as preparations continue at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facilities to welcome passengers and crew through the award-winning port dubbed as one of the best in the Caribbean.
Port Management has been closely following guidance from the CDC, one of the major operating components of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services protecting Americans from health and safety threats, both foreign and domestic.
The cruise industry is currently preparing to sail from U.S. ports as early as June according to market indicators.
In the meantime, Port St. Maarten continues with its dialogue with the cruise industry keeping them apprised of destination developments and vaccine rollout.