TEATT Minister Roger Lawrence (4th from left/centre) holding the award along with St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Director May-Ling Chun (left) and Port St. Maarten representative Lela Simmonds (right) while Seatrade Cruise Awards representatives look on.
PHILIPSBURG--Port St. Maarten Group is the winner of the 2021 Seatrade Cruise Award in the category #WeAreBack – Onshore at the 35th annual Seatrade Cruise Global. Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Roger Lawrence accepted the award.
The Seatrade Cruise Awards are the global cruise industry’s most distinguished award programme. The award ceremony took place on the last day of the Seatrade Cruise Global that took place at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida, September 27-30.
Winners were selected from more than 100 nominees evaluated by a panel of independent judges, featuring 14 leading industry professionals. The 2021 Seatrade Cruise Awards were presented in partnership with Oracle Hospitality, eCruises, V.Ships Leisure and Cruise Baltic.
Port St. Maarten Group was one of three finalists for the category, with Solent Stevedores (UK), and Global Port Holding-Valletta Cruise Port.
Lawrence stated that winning such an award takes tremendous dedication and commitment to the industry. “Port St. Maarten has tirelessly worked to position themselves as a top port of choice and as a trusted partner to the cruise lines,” he said. “This award demonstrates what can be achieved and signifies who we are as people. This award celebrates everyone in St. Maarten. We are ‘The Friendly Island’ and visitors always want to come back.”
Port Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexander Gumbs said the award is a testimony to the relationship with our stakeholders, being able to facilitate throughout the pandemic and the collaboration in having the port ready for business and alignment with stakeholders which help lead to us being the first port in the region to host commercial ships.
Gumbs said the team at Port St. Maarten Group (PSG) and direct stakeholders such as agents, taxi drivers, tour operators, health and immigration officials played a vital role in bringing this award home. “To them I say: ‘Thank you!’ The pandemic and business decisions internationally remain fluid. However, we remain in constant direct contact with our customers.”
The forecast for the fourth quarter in terms of vessel deployments looks great, said Gumbs, “but we are assessing the occupancy of the vessels. We are hoping for occupancies above 65 per cent for the high season.”
Gary Sternitzke and his wife are world travellers, they were on Celebrity Millennium, the first ship to sail from North America since 2020. The couple travelled to St. Maarten, among the first to sail. They nominated Port St. Maarten for this award and shared their love for St. Maarten and how the entire port experience was extremely smooth, noting the care the port took to make them feel safe and secure. “Kudos to Port St. Maarten on the win!” said Sternitzke.
Several others, including key industry leaders, also nominated Port St. Maarten.
“As we continue to propel forward, the award is realisation of the path forward that country St. Maarten will be taking as we start to reposition ourselves as a leading destination in the Caribbean,” said Lawrence.
Seatrade Cruise Global Group Director Mary Bond said, “In times like these, it’s important to showcase exciting projects and initiatives generating a positive impact on the development of the sector. Our 2021 Seatrade Cruise Awards winners represent the best in the international cruise industry, setting new standards for innovation, creativity and technology.”
St. Maarten participated in several panels where the port and destination were highlighted as examples in the form of case studies, commended for their approach with port agreements in a COVID-19 world, and virtual sessions where best practices were shared on rebounding from the cruise suspension.
“This further emphasised the partnerships which we believe were in fact strengthened during the pandemic and the confidence from our partners and the industry in our ability to stimulate the return to business of cruise,” Port management said. “These accomplishments give credit to the various stakeholders and efforts put forth where collaboration on all levels was essential.
“Various meetings have been held throughout the conference with the various lines with protocols and the ramp-up of calls being key focus points. In conclusion, we are very pleased at the port to have been recognised by Seatrade Cruise Awards, and we are very thankful to the staff, all stakeholders and the destination overall.”
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