SXM Travel News: Airline Schedule Updates, More Cruise Lines Coming in December as Economy Picks Up

As every day passes, more and more progress is being made in Saint Martin. Just this week we posted an update that showed a few hotels in Grand Case making great progress, another update showing the Lolo’s along Boulevard de Grand Case rebuilding, and we’ve also posted an update that showed the recovery effort happening in Marigot.

Viking Cruise Lines was the first to commit to returning to Sint Maarten on December 4, 2017. The hope from the Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs, Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher, was that other cruise lines would follow Viking’s lead. And sure enough, that’s happened.

Viking may be the first to come to port in Philipsburg, but Royal Caribbean is committed to bring six ships to Sint Maarten through December, with total maximum capacity of nearly 20,000 people. That’s a boost Sint Maarten sure can use right in time for the holidays.

Here’s the current cruise line schedule, along with capacity for each ship:

  • 4 December – Viking Sea, capacity 930, Viking
  • 5 December – Marella Discovery, capacity 2,076, Marella
  • 17 December – Grandeur of the Seas, capacity 2,446, Royal Caribbean
  • 25 December – Independence of the Seas, capacity 4,370, Royal Caribbean
  • 26 December – Jewel of the Seas, capacity 2,501, Royal Caribbean
  • 27 December – Freedom of the Seas, capacity 4,515, Royal Caribbean
  • 29 December – Grandeur of the Seas, capacity 2,446, Royal Caribbean
  • 31 December – Adventure of the Seas, capacity 3,114, Royal Caribbean

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Airline updates

Airline schedules have been bouncing around a lot lately. As the holidays sneak up on us, the schedules are starting to get firmed up. Well, at least for the next couple of months. Here is a link to the latest airline schedule update.

The biggest challenge when talking about increasing airline service is demand.

Demand for air travel is closely tied to availability of hotel rooms. Unfortunately, every single one of the larger hotels on the island were severely damaged by the hurricane. And while there are some smaller hotels and residences open, most of their facilities remain damaged and in disrepair.

So, while the port in Philipsburg will be welcoming cruise ships and passengers eager to enjoy the restaurants, bars, and shops that have reopened, overnight guests will not fully get back to the island until late 2018, at the earliest. In the end, the port has the biggest economic impact on the island, so getting it back up and functioning at or near 100% is going to yield strong financial results for the local economy.

Consider, in 2015 — the latest numbers we have — 1.9 million of 2.4 million visitors to the island came from cruise ships. That’s nearly 80% of total tourist visits to the island. Those tourists spent around $206 per person per day, generating $391 million. That’s compared to $304 million generated by overnight tourists.

You can read a complete analysis of the impact of tourism to the island here.

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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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