Port St. Maarten CEO Alexander Gumbs (third from right) and port officials presented a welcome gift to Captain of “Carnival Freedom” Roberti Costi.
PHILIPSBURG--Carnival Cruise Line resumed cruise calls to the island on Tuesday, October 12, when Carnival Freedom arrived in port with 1,700 passengers as the first destination of call on its itinerary. The last Carnival Cruise Line vessel on a regular cruise call was back in March 2020.
Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication (TEATT) Roger Lawrence said on Tuesday: “Today is a day of celebration. After 19 months we have received the first transit visit to St. Maarten from Carnival Cruise Lines. As we continue to move our country forward, it is a milestone like this that we need to acknowledge and celebrate. It is a pleasure to welcome the fun ships backs to our shores.”
Port St. Maarten Management and team members met Carnival Freedom Captain Roberti Costi and other representatives at the gangway where they received a warm St. Maarten welcome. Tokens of appreciation were exchanged on behalf of the port and the destination.
Costi told port officials that he had visited St. Maarten many times in the 1980s. “We are all extremely happy to be back,” he said. “This is a great destination.”
Crew members were not allowed to disembark during the port call. This is in line with United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and cruise line protocols.
Port St. Maarten Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexander Gumbs acknowledged the long-standing cooperation between the destination and the Carnival Cruise Line. “We are very pleased to welcome them back to the destination. They have [been – Ed.], and continue to be, a great partner and the island can expect to see other Carnival brands calling at the destination in the coming weeks.”
Port St. Maarten Group continues to work diligently with the cruise industry in their staggered approach to the resumption of cruising. “The port and the destination are at the cusp of a significant rebound as major cruise lines work towards the return of full fleets to cruising,” Gumbs said. “We are anticipating a steady rebound of business. Through the fourth quarter of 2021 up to the end of December, we are expecting approximately 125 cruise ship calls including the resumption of MSC Cruises and others to the destination from a transit perspective.”
According to the CEO, St. Maarten is in a transition phase to becoming a key cruise destination again as the industry continues to bring more vessels online as more travellers book cruises.
Cruise sector forecasting is currently indicating a strong rebound and the port is asking local stakeholders such as taxis, retailers, and tour operators to continue to maintain high service level standards along with local coronavirus COVID-19 public health and safety protocols.
Carnival Corporation has 24 ships that operate two-to-17-day voyages, departing from every coast in the US as well as other homeports.
Carnival Freedom was launched in 2006 and made its maiden voyage in March 2007. The vessel is part of the Conquest-class and has a gross tonnage of 110,000. It is 952 feet in length and has a passenger capacity of 2,980 and a crew complement of 1,150.