Philipsburg.- St. Maarten, one of the Caribbean cruising’s most important destinations and one of the places hardest hit by Hurricane Irma announced that 80% of St. of the island port utilities are back.
According to port officials, more than 80% of St. Maarten’s utilities are back, 70% of Philipsburg’s Front Street is restored and the beaches are being cleaned and sanitized. Seventy percent to 80% of the water-based tours are ready, along with 55% to 60% of the land-based tours, with another 15% to 20% expected to be back up over the next three months.
The port itself is open to receive ships. Pier 1 sustained some damage to expansion joints, and concrete sections that were lifted by wave action are being replaced. By January/February all six berths will be ready. Royal Caribbean International’s Grandeur of the Seas is set to become the first cruise ship back on Dec. 17, and Carnival Cruise Line will resume calls starting Jan. 15 with Carnival Sunshine.
Port officials have met with local stakeholders including transportation companies, tour operators, restaurants and retailers. It’s vital, Gumbs said, to ensure adequate adequate tour capacity when the ships return. Before Irma, 1.8m passengers had been projected in 2017, and 1.2m had visited up until Sept. 4. Due to the storm’s impact, an estimated 550,000 passengers may be lost in the 2017/18 season; the January to April period is still a ‘work in progress.’
Source: Seatrade Cruise News