Minister Johnson visits Lisbon port  possible extension of cruise ships hours

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Honorable Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication Stuart Johnson is advocating for large cruise vessels to remain in port during the evening hours, while on a working visit in Lisbon, Portugal last week.

Minister Johnson, TEATT cabinet staffers, and representatives of the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB) along with Port St. Maarten Officials received a tour of the cruise facilities of Lisbon when they attended the SeaTrade Med Cruise Conference in Portugal last week.

Following that meeting, Johnson said, “The need for travel was evident as it was to solidify further our country being ready for business post-Hurricane Irma and our ability to home-port smaller cruise vessels.”

According to Minister Johnson, “The delegation was able to see first-hand the check-in facilities, baggage handling, VIP room, retail area, and observation deck of the Port of Lisbon.” The Port of Lisbon accommodates home-porting with bridges connecting passengers directly to the cruise vessels.

Regarding the extended stay of Cruise Ships, Johnson said “It is time we allow the larger cruise vessels to remain in port in the evening hours which would require a change to our existing legislation. Imagine if passengers stay in the evening hours they will likely dine in our restaurants, take an evening island tour or even embrace our nightlife.”

“This will generate additional economic activity for the business community,” Johnson added.

Meanwhile, Johnson noted with great satisfaction that Seaborne will commence home-porting in St. Maarten starting at the end of November with a 450-passenger vessel.

“I look forward to the support of key stakeholders to fully realize these initiatives inclusive of homeporting, extended hours for cruise vessels and others yet to come,” Johnson concluded.