PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten Senior Management and staff met with Windstar Cruises Executive Sander Groothuis at the Cruise Terminal Building recently to assess the current situation on the Island in preparation for the upcoming 2018-2019 cruise season.
Groothuis expressed that he is surprised with the quick recovery throughout the Island and looks forward to homeporting their vessel during the upcoming cruise season. Windstar Cruises homeporting will commence on December 1st, 2018 using Wind Surf that will be offering a seven-day cruise out of St. Maarten.
Besides having the Wind Surf homeport on the Island weekly, Port St. Maarten Management are also looking at accommodating the Star Pride and Star Breeze vessels.
Windstar Cruises operates a six-ship fleet of small sailing and all-suite ships visiting approximately 270 ports in 2018 sailing throughout Europe, the Caribbean, Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, Asia, Alaska, Canada and New England, and cruising year-round in Tahiti.
Windstar’s fleet is the market leader in small ship cruising with a total of 1,242 passenger berths calling on off-the-beaten-path and popular ports in over 60 countries.
The boutique cruise line carries fewer than 310 passengers on its small ships and takes travelers on cruises that are 180 degrees from ordinary. They are known for their immersive and authentic experiences, unique, port-intensive itineraries, exceptional award-winning service, and innovative culinary program as the Official Cruise Line of the James Beard Foundation. Windstar Cruises is a part of Xanterra Parks & Resorts®, known for “Legendary Hospitality with a Softer Footprint.”
“We welcome this news especially catering to the homeporting segment of the cruise business. The spin off effect for the national economy will be great and we are happy to make this positive news announcement. It is the intention of the vessel to provision certain commodities on Island which is another benefit for attracting this type of business to St. Maarten,” Port St. Maarten Management said.
Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson in an invited comment welcomed the news of Windstar Cruises return and added, “Windstar Cruises offers high-end clientele and service along with an intimate experience. This is a niche market for destination St. Maarten.
“Destination St. Maarten has homeporting experience. We have the return of cruise ships, and now we must move forward in bringing back the homeporting business that we had before. The Port is on the right track as they strategically move to a pre-Irma homeporting status. This is another positive development for the country on the economic front and for the business community.”
SXM Airport representatives were also invited to join the meeting as the Airport operations has a huge role in the success of homeporting turn arounds for the destination.
Port St. Maarten Management said: “We have fostered a great relationship with our counterpart SXM Airport and look forward to working on this project together as we rebound the cruise segment. Strategically looking at the development of the homeporting segment, it can be anticipated that some cruise lines will opt for chartering flights to bring their cruise passengers to St. Maarten.
“A case which we have seen in the past with XL Airlines being chartered to bring Pullmantur passengers to the destination. The growth of this niche brings great opportunities not only for both ports of entry, but also the entire tourism and hospitality segment at large.”