Cruise grows by 4.6 per cent between January to April

CEO Mark Mingo


PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten recorded growth in the number of cruise visitors for the first four months of 2017.  The destination saw the number of cruise passengers grow by 4.6 per cent from January to April to a total of 833,755 via 324 vessel port calls.  For the same period in 2016, the destination received 796,957 cruise passengers.

2016 ended with the destination receiving close to 1.7 million cruise passengers, 1,668,863 via 602 vessel calls.

The month of April out performed itself with visitors growing by 35 per cent more than the projected figures for that month.  The destination is now moving out of the high season and Port St. Maarten Management expects that the year will close with positive numbers.

“The projection for the off season is similar to the same period in 2016, however we are hoping for a continued above average occupancy on the cruise ships. Vessel size and occupancy determine actual numbers versus forecast. Port St. Maarten also received performance indications for the destination from the cruise industry that St. Maarten is performing well.

“Items that were rated for various destinations are the appeal, satisfaction, safety and cleanliness amongst others.  Other Caribbean islands in the region are also facing a decrease in total calls in the Eastern Caribbean.  Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reports continued growth for the industry after consumers show a popularity for a cruise and this will translate in growth for port and the destination,” Port St. Maarten Chief Executive Officer Mark Mingo said on Sunday.

CLIA just recently released its first Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook of 2017 that revealed traveler insights, outlook, and attitudes regarding cruising and land-based travel.

Cruise travel is becoming more popular and awareness more favorable among all types of travelers. Of those asked, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) said their overall awareness of cruise vacations has improved within the last two years. Within the last four months alone, 30 percent of respondents said their awareness of cruising and ship-based excursions “increased greatly” compared to year or two ago. In terms of perception, the overwhelming majority of travelers have a positive attitude toward cruising.

The cruise industry is feeling the positive traveler attitudes toward cruising the Consumer Outlook 2017 report says. The number of vacationers who are interested in taking a cruise vacation is up to 63 percent. According to the report, travelers have a solid interest in both ocean cruising (50 percent) and river cruising (30 percent).

Those travelers aren’t just dreaming of a cruise vacation, they are planning to embark. More than half (over 50 percent) of people say they will or probably will take an ocean cruise, and soon. Eight out of ten (80 percent) people say they will board a cruise ship in the next 12 months, the Consumer Outlook 2017 report points out.

Mingo adds: “The region has to step their game up to attract more demand.  Cruise executive itinerary planners plan two years plus in advance. I am appealing to industry partners in the Eastern Caribbean to improve their products so we as a region overall can compete against the other emerging markets.

“Cruise principles don’t plan itineraries based on one or two good destinations. The chain of destinations on the route must be satisfactory to the lines but most important their esteemed passengers.

“The developments at the Rainforest marque tour will be positive for our growth prospects moving ahead. The fact that the park may also create a record (s) by being the steepest in the world will also create positive attention for the destination,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Mingo said on Sunday.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, in its 2017 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, pointed to an increase in cruise travel to continue throughout 2017, with an estimated 25.3 million passengers expected to sail in 2017, a strong surge from 15.8 million just 10-years prior (2007).  More ships will set sail in 2017 as well.

CLIA reports that cruise lines are scheduled to debut 26 new vessels in 2017 for a total investment of more than US$6.8 billion; and from 2017-2026, the industry is expected to introduce a total of 97 new cruise ships totaling an estimated investment of US$53 billion.