PORT ST. MAARTEN – Viking Cruises cruise ship Viking Sea made its inaugural visit on Monday which was also the first commercial cruise ship to call at Port St. Maarten post-Irma.
A delegation boarded the vessel for the welcome and plaque exchange ceremony mid-Monday morning. Minister of Tourism Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher presented a plaque of the Courthouse to Captain Mikael Hilden.
Captain Hilden said it was great to be back in Sint Maarten and he was sure that his guests will enjoy the island. Minister Arrindell-Doncher welcomed the Captain and his guests to the island and wished them an enjoyable stay.
Plaques and words of welcome were also exchanged between Port St. Maarten Chairman of the Board of Supervisory Directors Fernando William and Captain Hilden.
The delegation included representatives from the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and the cruise ship agent S.E.L. Maduro & Sons. After the plaque exchange, the delegation was given a tour of the vessel followed by lunch.
Viking Sea is homeporting out of San Juan, Puerto Rico and its itinerary is a 10-day Caribbean cruise which includes Barbados, St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, Antigua, St. Kitts, Sint Maarten, St. Croix and St. Thomas. Prior to calling at Port St. Maarten, the vessel traveled from St. Kitts and its next port of call will be St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The cruise ship was in port with 672 mainly American passengers and 472 crew. Viking Sea will continue its Caribbean itinerary up to and including March 2018 before it crosses the Atlantic to Barcelona, Spain where it will start its Mediterranean itinerary.
Early Monday morning, the first cruise passengers to step off the ship received a warm welcome from DOW’s Steel Pan Band, stilt walkers, dancers and Carnival Queens. This took place in the presence of Minister of Tourism Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher and members of Port St. Maarten’s Board of Supervisory Directors and Management who greeted the first passengers.
Port St. Maarten distributed complimentary #SXMStrong wrist bands to passengers who came ashore.
Activities also took place throughout the day on the Boardwalk near the Captain Hodge Wharf in Philipsburg that included a steel band; a mini-parade with the Youmay Drum Band, and DJ entertainment. These were organized by the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau. Another area of similar activities was at the Walter Plantz Square.
“We are very pleased with how the first commercial cruise ship call went, and we are looking forward to the next call which is on Tuesday, December 5 when Marella Discovery arrives with approximately 2,000 passengers. The onus remains on us to do everything we can to ensure a great experience for cruise visitors,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Monday.
Viking Cruises, is considered the leader in river and small ship ocean cruising, offers destination-focused itineraries designed for experienced travelers who have an interest in geography, culture and history.
Viking currently operates a fleet of 61 vessels, offering scenic cruising along the rivers and oceans of the Americas, Europe, Russia, Egypt, China, and Southeast Asia. By 2019 the company will operate six 930-passenger ocean cruise ships and will sail itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic, the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Asia, Australia, North America and the Caribbean.
Viking Sea was built in 2016 and has a length of 745 feet and a beam of 94.5 feet; and has a capacity to carry 930 guests.