A Record High 27.2 Million Passengers to Cruise in 2018

The Port St. Maarten delegation and Cruise Executive Valentina Pietropaolo, Manager, Shore Excursions from MSC Cruises (3rd from right seated) with Minister Cornelius de Weever (standing).


PORT ST. MAARTEN – Based on discussions at the recently concluded Seatrade Cruise Global Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Port St. Maarten Management discussed the industry outlook along with the forecasting for St. Maarten specifically.

“Though in its infancy stage, the cruise industry will see approximately 27.2 million passengers cruise in 2018 globally. Port St. Maarten will play a pivotal role in the overall Eastern Caribbean offering great experiences post hurricane Irma.

“Demand for cruising in general increased by 20+ per cent over the last five years whereas the Caribbean as a region remained relatively stagnant in terms of market share.

“Key partners within the Eastern Caribbean region will be meeting in the near future to strategize on luring more passengers to the Islands damaged by the last hurricanes, once again demonstrating the Caribbean is open in line with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) multimillion dollar industry campaign.

“Both marque ports in the Eastern hemisphere namely St. Maarten and Puerto Rico topped the highest expenditure ranks with the last BREA (Business Research Economic Advisors) study for $191.26 per passenger and highest crew expenditure of $149.66,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Tuesday.

Port St. Maarten management during the leading annual global business-to-business event for the cruise industry last week, spoke with the representative from the BREA study and discussed the updated BREA report which will be released later this year.

BREA anticipates a more compressed number across the region because of the 2017 hurricanes that damaged a number of cruise destinations in the North Eastern Caribbean.

Port management pointed out that as a destination, “We must preserve our image of being a friendly and welcoming Island having passengers shop at ease with the leisure to go into shops of their choice unhindered. The approach of aggressive sales tactics by individuals on the island will hamper the reviews online which in turn may lead to lower demand for the destination and the stores.

“We are a rebounding Island and Port St. Maarten has assured the cruise industry that the destination is building back better with more emphasis on the ‘Top Cruise Trends for the Coming Years. One of the top three trends identified by FCCA are All Budgets Will Cruise.  The 2018 Cruise Travel Report found that while cruising does skew a bit more to the affluent consumer than other types of vacations, almost all levels of income enjoy cruise vacations.

“The second trend is, Transformational Cruise Travel.  This has been described as the next evolution of experimental travel that sees travelers taking a step further and seeking ‘transformational experiences,’ from cultural immersion and voluntourism to extreme adventures.

“The third top trend is Sustainability at Sea.  In the coming year there will be an even greater focus on sustainable tourism, with travelers participating in practices from recycling to voluntourism both on board and on land.

“As a destination we have to take the aforementioned into consideration and look at developing and offering niches in those travel trends in order to be able to continue to meet the demands of the cruise traveler,” Port St. Maarten Management concluded on Tuesday.

Seatrade Cruise Global was held at the Broward County Convention Center from March 5-8. Seatrade Cruise Global was held in partnership with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the FCCA.

Local stakeholders that were part of the Port St. Maarten delegation were the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry, SXM Airport, and the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

Seatrade Cruise Global also brought together buyers and suppliers for the four-day conference and three-day exhibition.  The conference in 2017 saw more than 11,000 registered attendees, over 700 exhibiting companies from 113 countries and more than 300 international journalists.

Experts, leaders and thought-makers of the cruise industry from the world’s largest cruise companies were the highlight of the conference.