Earlier this week, at the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association conference in Merida, Mexico, both Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines announced that they would not be coming back to Sint Maarten in early November, as previously announced. Originally, the first ship was set to dock in Philipsburg on November 5.
In a post by the government of Sint Maarten (here), the implication in the leading line of the article is that the cruise ship companies were pushing the arrival date due to “some new products and services coming online in December 2017”. But make no mistake, that is far from the reason they won’t be arriving in November.
Indeed, there is still a lot of work to do on the island to get things back up and running again. In fact, a December due date may just mean the cruise companies are kicking the can down the road, giving the government more time to get things in place for cruise passengers to arrive again.
The hope is that the December arrival date actually comes to fruition. There’s no question that the island needs their main industry, tourism, to resume as soon as possible. The concern is having people pay gobs of money to go on cruises only to port in places that are struggling to bounce back from the most devastating storm in their history.
It’s a conundrum, to say the least. In the end, the product that is Sint Maarten is of utmost importance here. The last thing anyone wants — or should want, at least — is to bring tourists to the island before it’s ready to host them. In the past, cruise passengers would arrive at Sint Maarten, enjoy their time, and wonder why they’d never been there before. With many planning return trips in the future.
So, while getting the tourism industry back up and running is clearly vital for the island, doing it right, and not rushing, is also very important. If there is a rush to get tourism dollars back to the island before the island is ready, the long term impact may outweigh the short term gain.
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