Marigot Comes Around in Saint Martin

St. Martin is presenting a hopeful vision after the summer hurricanes. Their Smile Again slogan  highlights the island’s friendly, can-do attitude and focused efforts to build back better than ever.

The French side is not interested in competing with its Dutch neighbor, said Valerie Damaseau, vice president of the Saint-Martin Office de Tourisme, but is committed to attracting and keeping the high-end, small and mid-size cruise ship market.

After the storm, cruise officials on island were worried Crystal Cruises would pull out of a deal to homeport the 62-guest Esprit in Marigot, Damaseau said. But in November, 2017, while the devastation was still raw, Crystal Cruises started homeporting the Esprit for seven-day itineraries from Marigot’s Port of Galisbay.

Le Ponant also homeported from Marigot in December, 2017, for an 11-day cruise to Havana. Damaseau and other officials were elated.

While the catastrophic storms caused well-documented damage, they also focused tourism officials on priorities, and allowed for improvements that might have otherwise been ignored. One silver-lining initiative is to bury unsightly power lines: The island will not only avoid potential future power interruptions and storm damage, but will also clear remove the clutter that marred so many vacation photos.

Marigot itself is getting a facelift, as well as construction of new cruise facility. A new 400 meter long,  eight to 10 meter draft, berth dedicated to cruise is in the works, as well as general upgrades to the town’s tourism areas. Contracts are out to bid.

The hurricanes washed out most of this season in Marigot, where 27 small cruise vessels anchored bearing 2,500 passengers. For the season 2018, they expect 42 cruise call carrying 4,500 passengers.

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