PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten Management met with Royal Caribbean Group (RCG) executives this week where they had strategic discussions in connection with further strengthening the partnership that has existed for several decades.
The deliberations focused on port infrastructure and cruise guests’ experiences. “Port St. Maarten is the #1 port in this part of the region, and the discussions centered on strategic and tactical strategies in maintaining this posture as a cruise destination.
“We looked at how we can further increase and enhance homeporting opportunities and other potential business based on the ports Ernest & Young High Level Strategic Plan.
“The RCG executives were also introduced to the Chief Operations Officer of the Princess Juliana International Airport with respect to the homeporting of Celebrity Millennium and what the logistics would entail for such an operation. All three parties have to be in sync and close collaboration is needed in order to make a success out of this opportunity.
“Port St. Maarten is committed to working closely with our partners in further enhancing the infrastructure, visitor experiences and building upon a solid foundation that has existed with the cruise industry. Additional discussions will be taking place in the coming weeks with respect to further extending current partnerships,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Thursday.
In the meantime, preparations for the homeporting of Celebrity Millennium from Celebrity Cruises which will set sail from the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility on June 5 is continuing.
The RCG executives were given a site tour of the facility which will play a primary role in processing cruise guests prior to boarding Celebrity Millennium and upon their return.
The 2.200-guest Celebrity Millennium will be offering seven-night itineraries departing through August. According to a recent press release from Royal Caribbean Group, the ship will sail with vaccinated crew and will be available to vaccinated adult guests and children under the age of 18 with a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of embarkation.
The Celebrity Millennium which carries 2.200 guests at double occupancy, is expected to sail with approximately 50% capacity in the initial stage due to the pandemic cruise industry regulations.
The vessel entered the cruise market in June 2000 and has a gross tonnage of 90,940; is 965 feet in length with a beam of 105 feet. Celebrity Millennium was part of the Group’s US$500 million fleet modernization program offering new features and onboard experiences for cruise guests.
Port St. Maarten Management said this would be the largest homeporting vessel to date to carry out operations at the country’s main seaport.
“This is the first time that we will be carrying out homeporting operations during the hurricane season and therefore will be taking additional precautionary measures to guarantee a seamless operation during the period the vessel is homeporting out of St. Maarten.
“The past homeporting experience, since 2013 - that the port has garnered over the years from this niche market, is based on the synergy of all staff along with management which was one of the contributing factors for the Royal Caribbean Group to select St. Maarten.
“The build back of the current homeporting facility will take approximately two weeks. The Port St. Maarten team is working at full speed ahead on the buildup in close collaboration with the Group in order to assure a smooth and efficient resumption of the cruise business to St. Maarten,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Thursday.
Homeporting generates more airlifts in and out of the destination via the Princess Juliana International Airport; brings additional business for local service providers where it concerns vessel provisioning and fuel supply; and creates the potential for pre- and post-cruise extension visits at hotels. In addition, spin-off of business activity for restaurants, tour operators, taxis, car rental companies, and many other varied small and medium-sized business operations and entrepreneurs.