Cruise Ships Delaying Arrivals Until December (or Beyond) May be the Best Option For Sint Maarten

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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Jon Ferlise

I fell in love with the island of Saint Martin the first time I visited to celebrate my 40th birthday in May of 2009. Since then, I've spent most birthdays there, and have visited countless other times getting to know this wonderful place and the friendly locals that make it so special. I adore the culture, the people, the community, and the beauty of this stunning island. SXM Strong is a website that I started to support humanitarian relief efforts following Hurricane Irma. There was no plan, it just evolved as I witnessed the devastation that Irma caused the island and the huge need to communicate and disseminate information about what had happened and how people could help support this island and its people.

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