Port St. Maarten Group is forecasting one million cruise passengers to visit the island from November 2022 through April 2023, Caribbean Journal has learned.
The high season forecast arrivals are tied to the occupancy levels of cruise ships stabilizing over
the past months with consumer confidence and ratings higher than ever based on industry trends
and developments, Port officials said in a statement.
“It gives me extreme pleasure to say we are back,” said Tourism Minister Omar Ottley. “While we may have an opportunity to reach or even surpass our pre-COVID numbers, we cannot become complacent.”
“The goal is to constantly increase our tourism product until we are ranked the number 1 cruise
destination,” Ottley said. “This season we plan to diversify our tourism product and focus on our cultural
heritage. The theme should be what makes us unique. Once we are able to highlight what makes
us unique it becomes our job to share that uniqueness with the rest of the world.”
PSG Chief Executive Officer Alexander Gumbs said cruise lines are also experiencing higher passenger spending levels.
“Based on the passenger arrival forecast, more than 133,000 visitors are expected in November
2022; 196,000 in December 2022 and for the start of the new year, close to a quarter of a million
passengers – 230,000 in January 2023; followed by 157,000 in February 2023; 159,000 in March 2023
and 142,000 in April 2023,” Gumbs said.
“Based on the calendar year 2023, the numbers are still a bit under pre-pandemic levels due to
having a soft off season,” Gumbs said. “The off season is a point of focus for our team, but limited options are available due to less ships being in the region during that period as they switch to other cruise line itineraries in the Mediterranean and Alaska.”
“The hopes are that in the coming year or two, the Caribbean summer months will normalize
once again to post-pandemic levels,” he said. “The Caribbean cruise market remains with the largest market share of cruise passengers, but other regions are becoming more popular and competitive.”
The island is also seeing a boost in home-porting, part of a regional trend.
St Maarten will have seven cruise lines home-porting in St Maarten, the most in the port’s history.
“With one million cruise visitors forecast for the next six months, other than transit calls, we will
working diligently over the past months as we are now set to see the fruits of our labor come to
fruition,” Gumbs said.