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Goya recalls ‘adobo’ seasoning for possible Salmonella contamination

SINT MAARTEN/SAN JUAN – Goya Puerto Rico has announced its voluntary recall of two varieties of its Adobo seasoning due to possible contamination with salmonella, which affects the gastrointestinal system, particularly in people with weakened immune systems.

Some 660 cases of these products were distributed in Puerto Rico through retail stores, according to the Food and Drug Administration, but no illnesses have been reported.

The recalled products are Goya Adobo with Cumin Seasoning packaged in 28-ounce plastic jars with a green cap and a best-by date of 10/18/22; and Goya Adobo with Pepper Seasoning, packaged in 28-ounce plastic jars with a red cap and marked with a best-by date of 10/23/22.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), salmonella is a bacterium that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems.

It can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain 12 to 72 hours after infection. Diagnosed by a laboratory test, the poisoning can last up to seven days but most patients recover without the need for treatment. However, some cases can trigger severe diarrhea that requires hospitalization. (CB)

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Deadline to register new political parties is Thursday November 23

PHILIPSBURG - The Electoral Council of Sint Maarten hereby reminds any prospective political party that in order to participate in the parliamentary elections on February 26, 2018, it is required to apply for the registration of the party and its reference with the Electoral Council no later than Thursday, November 23, 2017.

According to article 16 of the National Ordinance on Registration and Finances of Political Parties: new parties must submit a written application to register the party with the Electoral Council. Together with the application for registration of the political party, the following documents should be submitted:

  1. a) Notarial deed containing the Articles of Association of the party;
  2. b) Excerpt from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
  3. c) Statement containing the appointment of the party’s authorized representative and authorized deputy representative;
  4. d) Application for registration of the reference which is to be placed above the list of candidates.

Failure to apply for registration by the deadline will result in the party not being able to contest the upcoming elections.

In addition, the Electoral Council would like to remind existing political parties that wish to change the previously registered reference above the list of candidates, that they are required to do so no later than November 23, 2017.

Since the Electoral Council does not have an office, the Electoral Council will be available to receive applications to register new political parties and/or references on Thursday, November 23, 2017, from 2:00pm until 6:00pm at the Government Building, in Conference Room #1. No appointment is needed.

For more information, please visit the website of the Electoral Council, www.ecsxm.org, or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Sint Maarten Nature Foundation, Tour Operators Clean Great Bay Beach

PHILIPSBURG - The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation, together with volunteers from the Cruise Operator Sector, cleaned up a large portion of Great Bay Beach this week. Great Bay Beach is not only a critical nature area in terms sea turtle nesting but it is also the major tourism beach.

"We have been cleaning the beaches systematically and one of the most important is definitely Great Bay Beach.

“With the announcement that the first cruise visitors will start to arrive in December we placed Great Bay Beach on the priority list. Great Bay Beach is also the major nesting site for Sea Turtles on Sint Maarten,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, manager of the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation.

The Foundation has been using unemployed youth and volunteers to clean the beaches using funding from the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance.

nature inside

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Dozens of Schiphol flights delayed, cancelled due to air traffic control problems

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dozens of flights have been cancelled or delayed due to technical problems with the air traffic control systems at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

The disruption began around 11.30 on Tuesday morning and officials are unable to say when the problem might be fixed. By 15.30, KLM had cancelled at least 50 flights within Europe, while other flights from the Dutch flag carrier are being delayed by up to four hours.

British Airways and Flybe have also been hit by the disruption but Easyjet says none of its flights have so far been affected. Travellers are being urged to keep a close eye on departure boards to check the status of their flights.

‘We have put extra people on the job in an effort to end the problems,’ the air traffic control centre said. ‘We are well aware of the consequences this has for travellers, airlines and the airport.’ (DutchNews)

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Approximately 200 attend Successful Cruise sector Stakeholders Sessions

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Approximately 200 persons from the public and private sectors attended two-days of cruise sector stakeholder sessions last week organized by Port St. Maarten, in preparation for December cruise ship calls.

The stakeholder sessions attracted various companies from the private sector that included jewelers, taxi associations, tour companies, excursionists, dive shop operations, small hotel sector, restaurants, watersports, media, and many other hospitality related businesses that cater to the cruise sector. Employees from Port St. Maarten also took part as well as civil servants from several government departments including the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

The objective of the cruise passenger experience sessions were to prepare the aforementioned entities for December cruise ship post-Irma calls. 

“The sessions for cruise sector stakeholders were a huge success and underscores the destinations eagerness to return to business in the right manner.  The interests was very high and those who attended were upbeat and ready to welcome the first cruise passengers back to the island. 

“We need to maintain the momentum and we encourage everybody to continue to prepare for the first and subsequent cruise ship calls that are planned for December and 2018,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Monday.

Port St. Maarten organized two stakeholders’ cruise experience sessions on November 17th and 18th.  These sessions took place at the Port St. Maarten Cruise Terminal Building Conference room, and each session was 45 minutes.

Former cruise line executive Mico Cascais of Carnival Cruise Line, was the key presenter who provided information and tips to prepare cruise tourism stakeholders on the alignment of the cruise guest expectations with the current story and the experience they need to deliver when the first guests arrive, as well as the significance of the first cruise ship call which will shape future calls to the destination.

Mico Cascais, is a 30 year veteran of the Cruise Industry both in Ship Board Management and Corporate Management. The past 19 Years Mico was responsible for the Shore Excursion Programs, Carnival Cruise Lines offered to all its guests worldwide having had many interactions with current stakeholders in St. Maarten over the years.

Additionally, Mico was also Chairman of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s (FCCA) Shore Excursion Committee for the past 18 years, traveling vastly through the Caribbean as part of this Committee.

Mico is currently the Principal of Mico Cascais, Inc. a company focused on reshaping the story and experiences cruise guests will enjoy when sailing in the Caribbean.

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Children’s Rights amidst the Recovery Plan of the Country Sint Maarten

POND ISLAND - The month of November has always been a very special month in the lives of the children where as a country we have promoted the awareness of children’s rights for over three decades in collaboration with our counterparts of French St. Martin.

This year a unique occasion has been presented to us since the passing of Hurricane Irma to truly demonstrate our sincere commitment towards the wellbeing of our children.

The devastation of the Hurricane, I dare say challenged almost every article as presented in the International Children’s Rights Convention which has been ratified by 195 Countries including our beautiful island St. Maarten which forms part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

While two countries are yet to ratify this convention, history has proven that it is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty therefore placing great emphasis of its importance.

As we observe today, November 20th, 2017 International Day of the Rights of the Child in a very solemn way, as the Minister with this huge responsibility of safeguarding children’s rights, I ask you to join me in the continued commitment of placing children at the center of this community.

More than ever should we be committed in advocating legislations and reporting codes in the quest of combatting “Child Abuse”.

More than ever should we ensure that the basic standards are met in order to ensure the safety of our children at all times.

More than ever should we ensure that our children have access to health care without discrimination.

More than ever should we ensure that children remain within the family, which is the primary institution as the main source of their protection as separation is the least desirable outcome.

More than ever should we ensure that all children continue to receive an education and that this basic right is uninterrupted for as much as possible.

I must humbly thank all who came out in the aftermath of the disaster and aided in heralding the message that “Education could not wait” and worked tirelessly to ensure our children were back in the school.

Day Care Centers, afterschool- and sports programs as part of our Safety Net structures were placed on our priority list thus ensuring their unrelenting service within our community. Our efforts continued with the collaboration of the local and International Red Cross sponsoring a 3 months’ meals program for approximately 5000 students within the primary schools.

Joint programs with our counterpart government from the Northern side were also held for our children and youth in the area of sports during our annual St. Martin Day celebrations. A special highlight was our Youth Debate with a combined team of Youth Parliamentarians from both sides of the island who faced the team of the Hyacinth Richardson Debating Foundation.

All programs and efforts reflecting our countries commitment in safeguarding children’s rights as it relates to the articles of the convention which focuses on education, safety, protection, nutrition and expression.

We may not have been able to celebrate with all our stakeholders this year as we have done in the past but let this be a time of true reflection of our responsibility as a Country to provide the basic needs as outlined in the Children’s Rights Convention.

Our consciousness that business can never be the same in this ever-changing world as it relates to the wellbeing of our children, must propel us to endeavor in realizing our Ministry’s vision by ensuring that our children and youth are given opportunities to thrive and reach their full potential to become active citizens with a shared responsibility”.

MINECYS

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Kudos to teachers and students of the ROC Mondriaan International Hotel & Management School

THE HAGUE/SINT MAARTEN – Leader of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) Gracita Arrindell in a press statement on Sunday states, “November 11 last, while we commemorated St. Maarten’s Day locally, reportedly, on the other side of the Ocean, students and teachers of the well-known Mondriaan International Hotel and Management school located in The Hague, organized yet another successful fundraiser activity, for our Island.

A dinner, that included dishes with a local flavor, prepared and dished out by the students.  The well attended fundraiser dinner was held from five in the afternoon until 11 o’clock in the evening.”  

“The school has a very long standing working relationship with St. Maarten.  Popular among students who want to pursue their careers in the hospitality and tourism industry, numerous of our students returned home after attending and receiving their diplomas in one or more of the courses provided including how to start your own business. The school boasts a ‘state of the art ‘kitchen, bar, front desk, restaurant and other facilities, where students receive the best on hands practical training a long with the theoretical classes”.

Arrindell said; “The first success full fundraiser held weeks after hurricane Irma hit St. Maarten reportedly netted over 3000 Euros. We can’t say enough thank you to the staff and school for their continued support. 

“It was therefore a pleasure and an honor to visit the school while in The Hague recently and extend a personal thank you to all for their hard-work and excitement in preparing both fundraiser event.  It was a special occasion as well to meet and greet some of our own local St. Maarten students (see photo caption) and teaching staff who were having classes at the time of my visit.  Mr. L. W. Wandel Adjunct educational manager, and Ms. J. Coulombe, team leader/ councilor/ intake officer together with the students gave me a warm welcome and tour of part of the school.

“Students who were doing their apprenticeship while working at the front desk in hotels in St. Maarten returned to the Netherlands, to finalize their assignments at other hotels in the Netherlands.”

Gracita concludes: “the rebuilding and reconstruction plans are still on the drawing boards or -tables of the local authorities. Structural financial support is imminent. We must be mind full to include in these plans the opportunity to establish a structural training project through a Public Private Partnership concept.

“Our students who graduated from institutions such as the Mondriaan school in the Hague, similar schools in the US or elsewhere as well as those who attend and finish our local Sundial school and NIPA vocational establishments must be able to continue to receive on hands practical training from hotels, restaurants. 

“This is an excellent opportunity to further professionalize our local work- force especially in the restaurant sector now that many hotels are closed for a while to rebuild. Let us not focus on the debris, let’s stay focused and keep a keen eye and act on new opportunities.”

teachers mondriaan

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Nature Foundation Records Worrisome Red Algae Outbreak on Sint Maarten Reefs

COLE BAY - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has been continuously monitoring the reefs for their health and to assess the underwater damage caused by Hurricane Irma. During the reef surveys held at the beginning of November, several shallower dive sites started to show a worrisome outbreak of red algae species.

Especially on reefs shallower than 35 feet in depth large red algae blooms were recorded in the Marine Park and on other reefs around the island.

Blooms of red algae can hamper the regrowth of several reef species which were damaged due to hurricane Irma’s swells. Red algae are strong competitors and their fast growth rate will leave no space for important reef builders such as corals and sponges to recover.

Algae blooms can be an indicator for water quality, showing a decrease in the water quality on St Maarten reefs and surroundings. Certain red algae species can also be a health issue when very abundant and close to shore. The state of our reefs is especially now worrisome as already 50% of the reef has been damaged by Hurricane Irma.

An outbreak of red algae is probably due to increased nutrients feeding the algae and causing it to bloom. Increased nutrient input could be associated with hurricane passage or due to pollution such as sewage outflow. High hurricane winds mix the ocean water bringing nutrients from the deep, at a time when warm summer water are often nutrient depleted.

The nutrients spur algae to grow, creating large blooms of algae. However, the red algae outbreak could be also related to the recent pump out of the Great Salt Pond, causing polluted water with high nutrients to flow to our reefs.

The Nature Foundation would like to warn all people, businesses and establishments to be sure no sewage flows are going into the ocean or lagoon to prevent further water deterioration. 

PHOTO CULINE: Red algae blooms found at the dive site ‘Fort Amsterdam/Little Bay’.

Algae1 inside

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Royal Caribbean Confirms Holiday Cruise Schedule and is on track for December 17 return

PORT ST. MAARTEN – A Port St. Maarten delegation from the Cruise Business Unit met recently with Royal Caribbean International (RCI) representatives in Miami, Florida, to provide an update on the progress of current recovery efforts in destination Sint Maarten.

During the discussions, Royal Caribbean reiterated its commitment to the destination and provided a schedule of the vessels that will call on Sint Maarten starting in mid-December, just in time for the peak family travel season. 

Grandeur of the Seas will be the first cruise ship bringing guests to rediscover the marquee destination on December 17, followed by daily visits across six vessels, including two of the world’s largest cruise ships. 

The ships and dates are as follows: Independence of the Seas, December 25 and 29; Jewel of the Seas, December 26; Freedom of the Seas, December 27; Adventure of the Seas, December 31; and Harmony of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas on January 2 and 3, 2018 respectively.

Celebrity Cruises has also announced that Celebrity Eclipse will be returning to the island on February 4, 2018. For more information on Royal Caribbean’s and Celebrity Cruises’ most current Caribbean itineraries, visit RoyalCaribbean.com and CelebrityCruises.com.

The first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to return to the island, Grandeur of the Seas, debuted in 1996 and underwent a comprehensive revitalization in May 2012.  As part of the Vision Class, the vessel has 11 decks and carries 2,446 guests and 760 crew members.

The famed Oasis Class sister ships Harmony of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas -- sailing with nearly 6,000 new visitors each week -- will return to weekly calls on Sint Maarten in the New Year.  Touted amongst the world’s best family vacations, Harmony and Oasis will introduce a new generation of adventure-seeking travelers to Sint Maarten.

"Royal Caribbean is a true partner of St. Maarten. We continue to prepare with anticipation for the return of Grandeur of the Seas on December 17. Port St. Maarten, our merchants, tour operators, vendors, taxi drivers, all of us are grateful to RCCL for its continued commitment to St. Maarten and confidence in our product.

“We will be ready, we will be creative and we will re-invent our product to meet the expectations of cruisers, while still providing the best experience under the Caribbean sun," stated Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher. 

Port St. Maarten representatives, have had various discussions with cruise representatives over the past weeks with regard to the readiness of the island to receive cruise passengers and being able to provide the unique destination experience.

“Reassurance was given by Royal Caribbean about its vessels returning to the destination.  The Oasis Class ships are again visiting Sint Maarten in January, marking the return to full operations as the Island further enhances its offerings to cruise passengers.

“The Island has a unique opportunity to show the cruise lines how committed we are in assuring great and memorable experiences to passengers as we recover from hurricane Irma damages. The cruise line expects all of us to step up to the plate and offer the true Sint Maarten experience, which we will.

“Port St. Maarten will continue communicating with all key stakeholders throughout this process to share the feedback based on the continuous calls, emails and face to face meetings with cruise executives. As a destination, we have a great relationship with the cruise industry and will listen to their feedback to assure we maintain our status as a marquee port of call.

“The future within the cruise industry is promising, however we must push to re-invent and upgrade our product offerings which will translate into cruise passengers increasing demand to “Rediscover” Sint Maarten.  We commend the community and private sector for their efforts thus far, and we must continue the drive to keep pushing,” Port St. Maarten representatives stated over the weekend.

Royal Caribbean International sails 24 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to the most popular destinations in Bermuda and the Caribbean, Europe, Canada and New England, Alaska, South America, Asia, and Australia and New Zealand. Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 14 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards.  Media can stay up-to-date by following @RoyalCaribPR on Twitter, and visiting RoyalCaribbeanPressCenter.com. For additional information or to make reservations, vacationers should call their travel agent; visit RoyalCaribbean.com; or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN.

Royal Caribbean International is part of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) is a global cruise vacation company that owns and operates three global brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.  We are a 50 percent joint venture owner of the German brand TUI Cruises, a 49 percent shareholder in the Spanish brand Pullmantur and a minority shareholder in the Chinese brand SkySea Cruises. Together, these brands operate a combined total of 48 ships with an additional twelve on order.  They operate diverse itineraries around the world that call on approximately 535 destinations on all seven continents.  Additional information can be found www.rclcorporate.com.

Celebrity Cruises' iconic "X" is the mark of modern luxury, with its cool, contemporary design and warm spaces; dining experiences where the design of the venues is as important as the cuisine; and the amazing service that only Celebrity can provide, all created to provide an unmatchable experience for vacationers’ precious time. Celebrity Cruises' 12 ships offer modern luxury vacations visiting all seven continents. Celebrity also presents incredible cruise tour experiences in Alaska and Canada. Celebrity is one of five cruise brands operated by global cruise vacation company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL). For more information, dial 1-800-437-3111, visit www.celebritycruises.com, or call your travel agent.

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Friday was Alcohol Reduction Day

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Friday, November 17 marked the 2nd Annual Caribbean Alcohol Reduction Day under the theme, “Drink Less, Reduce your Cancer Risk.”

This awareness day has been organized by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) with the support of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The harmful use of alcohol, along with tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, is recognized as one of four major common risk factors for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), the HCC says.

HCC adds that, yet alcohol has received comparatively less attention than the other three risk factors. Alcohol contributes to cancer, liver and heart disease, mental illness, violence, accidents and injuries.

Alcohol consumption causes many cancers including: Mouth cancer, Pharyngeal cancer (upper throat), Oesophageal cancer (food pipe), Laryngeal cancer (voice box), Breast cancer, Bowel cancer, and Liver cancer.

Globally the harmful use of alcohol is linked to 3.3 million preventable deaths annually. Excessive drinking of alcohol is a major health risk, occurring particularly increasingly among Caribbean youth resulting in alcohol related violent deaths among the top five causes of death in the region and the commonest cause of death among young men.

Young women are especially vulnerable; alcohol consumption disproportionately increases the risk of breast cancer between menarche and first birth.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), calls on the community to minimize and monitor the contributing factors to their risks that may lead to cancer and increase their awareness and alertness on the risks of excessive alcohol consumption and other risk factors that may lead to cancer and other NCDs according to available health information.  It is recommended to take steps in monitoring and managing one’s intake and consumption that leads to living a healthy life – apply healthy lifestyle behaviours to minimize one’s risks of NCDs particularly cancer.

The HCC is a regional network of Caribbean health Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations with the remit to combat chronic diseases (NCDs) and their associated risk factors and conditions.

HCC membership presently consists of more than 65 Caribbean-based health NGOs and over 55 not-for-profit organisations and, in excess of 200 individual members based in the Caribbean and across the globe.

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