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Martinique recaps cruise investments, airport upgrades, new tours

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The Pointe Simon Cruise Terminal in Fort-de-France is now the island’s most frequented facility
Martinique plans to be out in force at Seatrade Cruise Virtual this week to share updates in areas from health safety and airport upgrades to new shore excursions.

The island reports the 2019/20 cruise season drew 360,761 passengers — 21% American — via 174 calls.

'Cruise tourism has become an important segment of our tourism product. Seatrade Virtual will be an excellent opportunity for the Grand Port de la Martinique to join with other stakeholders in valuable discussions on how to safely bring cruise ships back to Martinique,' said Jean-Rémy Villageois, CEO of the Martinique Port Authority.

Participating partners at Seatrade Cruise Virtual include the Grand Port de Martinique, a finalist for the 2018 Seatrade Cruise Awards' Port of the Year; Aimé Césaire International Airport, ship agents, incoming agencies and union taxi representatives.

Health protocols in place

In agreement with the cruise companies, the national health authorities have established a reinforced health security system for each disembarking passenger in collaboration with the Grand Port of Martinique to ensure the protection of both cruise visitors and the local population. Martinique’s stakeholders have already implemented sanitary protocols for stay-over visitors and the local population. European and Caribbean guidelines and protocols will be followed upon resumption of cruises.

Decade of investments

In the past decade, Martinique has heavily invested to improve, expand and upgrade its cruise facilities. Fort-de-France — the island’s capital, offers the modern passenger cruise terminals of Pointe-Simon and nearby Les Tourelles.

'We are very proud that our substantial efforts have led to significant results, not only for our own cruise industry and for the cruise lines whose ships come to call or to homeport from Martinique, but perhaps more importantly for our guests. We have developed and improved accessibility, modern amenities and resources for passengers to offer them a safe and memorable experience,' said Karine Mousseau, Martinique tourism commissioner.

The Pointe Simon Cruise Terminal is now the island’s most frequented facility. It is attached to a seaside promenade, Le Malecon, that leads directly into the heart of the capital city. The inauguration of the Plazza shopping center has also enhanced the appeal of this terminal.

The Tourelles Cruise Terminal also received an upgrade, with expanded facilities, additional security lines and a new VIP room for larger homeported vessels.

In addition, Martinique offers various anchorages from north to south to welcome luxury/boutique vessels. Locations include Anses d’Arlet, Le Marin, St. Pierre and Trois-Ilets.

Lift for homeporting

A key player for homeporting is Aimé Césaire International Airport. Since reopening in March for specially authorized flights and in May for commercial flights between the island and mainland France, protocols have been put in place for safe transit. To grow cruise homeporting, SAMAC — the airport’s authority — has also embarked on major improvements that will be ready in 2022. These include a new short-haul terminal, three additional security checkpoints and an enlarged boarding area.

In 2022 the airport will also welcome a new hotel with more than 100 rooms, an added convenience and option for arriving and departing cruise passengers.

New excursions

'Our goals are to continue to improve the synergy and passenger welcome between the Aimé Césaire International airport and the Port of Martinique,' Mousseau said. 'Another is to continue to develop and provide our guests with new, safe and exciting excursions, These include guided tours for turtle discovery, snorkeling in a bat cave, diving, tricycling in Fort-de-France and culinary discoveries. These join existing tours such as Saint Pierre, the 'Little Pompeii of the Caribbean'; the rain forest, botanical gardens and historic rum distilleries.

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