PORT ST. MAARTEN – Representatives from Port St. Maarten recently returned from a successful Seatrade Europe Cruise & River Cruise Convention in Hamburg, Germany.
The Port of St. Maarten continues to enjoy significant interests from its stakeholders in the country’s cruise product. Cruise destinations present attending the convention were cautioned by the cruise industry about the importance of enhancing the destination as a whole and the cruise passenger experience as the industry continues to evolve.
“As I have stated before, Sint Maarten has one of the closest relationships with the cruise industry. The destination has kept a proactive working relationship with the industry, and this has allowed it to maintain its competitive edge through this strategic partnership, which we expect to continue paying volumes as both the cruise industry and destination further improve,” said Michele Paige, President, Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).
“The high guest satisfaction rating validates this, and because of its constantly willingness to listen to industry input and constantly improve, Sint Maarten should continue to reap benefits as the cruise industry continues to grow - with an additional hundreds of thousands of berths and tens of millions of passengers projected to sail over the next eight years. We are proud to have had St. Maarten as one of our 14 partners at the FCCA’s highly trafficked pavilion for meetings and networking events at Seatrade Europe.”
“We have taken serious note with respect to what the cruise industry is looking at and expecting from destinations. Every destination must have a vision. St. Maarten was complimented about its superior product; however, we must not become complacent, but continue to boost the product experience in order to ensure we maintain our high rate levels of guest’s satisfaction,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Sunday.
“Cruise lines are looking for authentic experiences based on the heritage and culture of a destination. Every island has a unique story and we need to focus on that and bring that forward.
“An emphasis was also placed on sustainable tourism and how destinations should be more environmentally conscious. Destination St. Maarten offers a magical experience.
“It is indeed a port to remember with award winning cruise facilities. Once cruise passengers step ashore, St. Maarten is where your holiday experiences come alive and this has been emphasized in numerous cruise line customer satisfaction surveys,” Port St. Maarten Management added.
At Seatrade Europe, the destination St. Maarten/St. Martin, presented a united front at Seatrade Europe. A lot of emphasis has been placed on synergy between the North and South sides of the island where it relates to product enhancement and visitor experience and cruise line executives welcomed this approach.
Port St. Maarten officials were commended for their continued dialogue and approach with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and individual cruise line stakeholders, for listening to the industry and responding to the trends that are taking place and addressing the wants and needs of passengers.
The cruise passenger destination experience score of 9.3 out of 10 is testament to the hard work and dedication from partners in the hospitality industry on St. Maarten which has resulted in a welcomed increase in positive reviews from cruise passengers.
The cruise industry is continuing to build ships on an annual basis with orders up to 2027. The destination has maintained its competitive edge through continual research and development and strategic planning and the key partnerships with the cruise industry, stakeholders and leading players. Port St. Maarten has plans to extend cruise pier North in order to be able to accommodate the new vessels that will be setting sail in the coming years.
“There are approximately 100 new ships on order that will be built over the next 10-years, and berthing space will be needed to accommodate these vessels. They will need a place to go and as a port we have to put the necessary infrastructure in place to capitalize, but at the same time cognizant of the destinations carrying capacity,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Sunday.
Cruise line executives and stakeholders at Seatrade Europe were also informed about the new planned investment in a permanent homeporting structure with the aim to be operational by 2021. Homeporting stakeholders were very enthusiastic after hearing the news.
Homeporting has been pursued over the years with success. With some of the best cruise facilities in the region, a number of boutique cruise lines with small luxury vessels of 100 – 500 passenger capacity, have used the opportunity offered by Port St. Maarten as a home port base.
The destination financially benefits from home porting during the pre and post-stays. Between 20 to 25 per cent of home porting passengers stay on the island before and after their cruise.
Port St. Maarten was one of more 5000 stakeholders from the cruising community that attended Seatrade Europe.
Seatrade Europe is the leading cruise and river cruise fair that is held every two years at the fairgrounds in Hamburg. Hamburg is the ideal location for the fair due to its long traditional history as a port city and as the largest cruise port in Germany.
The world’s cruise lines industry decision-makers and professionals, regional and global cruise destinations and suppliers from all sectors of the ocean and river cruise industries attended Seatrade Europe to learn about new trends and expand their business networks.
Seatrade Europe was organized by Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH, in partnership with Seatrade (Informa Markets). The convention took place from September 11-13.