By Dana Niland
As St Maarten’s tourism comeback, one sector is already performing better than ever: the cruise industry.
Port St Maarten reported over 1.5 million cruise passengers in 2018, according to new data from the port.
Over the course of 489 cruise calls, 1,597101 cruise passengers visited the port, reflecting a sizable 29 percent increase in visitor arrivals year-over-year.
“St. Maarten’s cruise port has always been one of the best in the Caribbean,” said St Maarten Director of Tourism of St. Maarten, May-Ling Chun. “These arrival numbers don’t only reflect that fact, but also highlight how quickly the island has bounced back.”
The port saw a 30.3 percent increase from May through July, when cruise visitations are typically slower.
The latter half of the year also brought about the return of pre-Hurricane Irma arrival numbers.
Port St. Maarten welcomed 646,431 passengers from September to December, indicating a 17.87 percent increase in arrivals from the same time period in 2016.
“St. Maarten as a tourism product is set to come back even stronger and better than ever,” said Stuart Johnson, St Maarten’s Minister of Tourism. “We look forward to continuing to welcome cruise passengers back to our shores with classic St. Maarten warmth and hospitality throughout 2019.”