St. Maarten, one of the most popular cruise destinations for cruise ships worldwide, has seen a speedy recovery post-pandemic. With more than 15,000 cruise ship passengers arriving on six ships in one day, the island has seen its busiest day this winter cruise season.
Although the global pause in operations played havoc on local businesses and the local economy, the arrival of this many passengers shows that St. Maarten has fully recovered. The island expects the impact on the economy to rival that of the record-breaking year of 2019.
Six Cruise Ships and 15,000 Passengers in One Day
It’s been a difficult two years since the global pause in operations of the cruise industry in 2020 for St. Maarten. But those times now seem to be well behind us as St. Maarten saw a massive 15,000 cruise ship passengers arrive on one day on November 23.
These cruise ship passengers arrived onboard Star Pride, AidaLuna, Grandeur of the Seas, AIDAdiva, Voyager of the Seas, and Carnival Magic.
“We had a perfect first day of six cruise ships back at the port, which is a good feeling. It is something we have been working diligently for as we rebound from a difficult two years and seven months of very little economic activity,” said acting Minister of Tourism Omar Ottley on Wednesday evening.
November is typically the quiet period before the winter cruise season starts in earnest during December and January. The fact that St. Maarten is seeing this many cruise ship bookings this early in the season spells good news for the coming months.
Positive Economic Impact of Cruise Ships
The Tourism Minister said that besides the ships that typically visit the ship on their regular itineraries, the island expects to welcome six ships that have never visited before. At the same time, the majority of vessels that are coming are booked well above 100% occupancy and even up to 120%.
The economic impact these many arrivals have on the local economy is not to be underestimated. St. Maarten is an island nearly entirely dependent on tourism, both by air and sea. In 2019, St Maarten recorded 1,631,537 cruise ship passenger arrivals who came to experience European sophistication and the warm laid-back nature of the Caribbean on the small and beautiful island.
If that number is matched this year, it means hundreds of millions of dollars of additional income compared to 2020 and 2021.
Tourism Minister Ottley: “I wanted to get first-hand information from the vendors and the visitors about the return of the cruise ships in such grand style. I am pleased to say that the feedback was positive from the vendors and the visitors were more than thrilled to be able to visit our beautiful island and people.”
In November, St. Maarten expects to welcome a total of 51 ships, while in December, that number grows to 85 cruise ships, with six cruise ships scheduled for both December 20 and 27. January will see an equally busy schedule with 87 cruise ships sailing to St. Maarten.
January will also see the busiest day of the season, with seven cruise ships scheduled to arrive on January 18. Explorer of the Seas, Oceania Riviera, Carnival Magic, Costa Deliziosa, Rhapsody of the Seas, AIDAPerla, and Celebrity Equinox will all be in port on the same day.
While in port, cruise passengers not only spend money on retail purchases but also on shore excursions, drinks, and dining, along with transportation for attractions further afield. With this many cruise ships returning to St Maarten, the island has well and truly recovered.