Philipsburg – The cruise vessel AIDAdiva of AIDA Cruises was scheduled to berth and disembark its passengers at Port St. Maarten on Thursday, however, due to protocol infringements, the vessel was not allowed to do so. The Government of Sint Maarten did grant permission for the vessel to replenish its fuel supplies and the vessel departed for its next port of call.
A decision was taken by Prime Minister and Chairlady of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs on Wednesday night to deny the vessels request to make its scheduled port call due to the lack of proper procedures being followed during the past 24-hours based on existing protocols related to maritime health declarations.
AIDAdiva’s maritime health declaration as submitted did not indicate the presence of any infectious disease on board of the ship.
Port St. Maarten regrets what has transpired and is looking into what can be immediately put into place to avoid a future occurrence. “These are very challenging times especially for cruise destinations like ours who are dependent on the cruise industry.
“Cruise tourism is very important for the national economy as it accounts for approximately one third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We are currently in the high season, and 2020 was already going to be a challenging year, and with the onset of the Coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic, things have become even more grim for the global cruise industry.
“Port St. Maarten is cognizant of the importance of cruise tourism to the destination as it is our business to make sure that the island has the necessary infrastructure in order to accommodate these large vessels and also complies with local and international protocols in order to maintain and grow cruise tourism.
“The port will discuss with government, its cruise partners and local stakeholders such as cruise ship agents with respect to identifying any gaps and looking at additional measures that need to be taken in order to avoid a similar occurrence in the future.
“The port has been a partner and working closely with the Government to ensure the protection of the local population where it concerns infectious diseases. These maritime health declaration protocols have been in place for years and is standard practice under International Maritime Organizations treaties at ports of entry,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Thursday.
Port St. Maarten has been closely working with its cruise industry partners such as the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and cruise lines with respect to protocols being in place for the safety of cruise passengers and crew where it concerns both pre-boarding measures and onboard protocols for handling infectious disease.
AIDAdiva is a Sphinx-class cruise ship and has a tonnage of 69,203 gross tons. It has a passenger capacity of 2,050 and a crew complement of 646. The cruise ship was launched into service in April 2007.