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‘There’s no better time to cruise’: Royal Caribbean Group’s Capt. Zini

PHOTO: HOLLY PAYNE CRUISE_SCG_port_agreements .jpg
From left, St. Maarten's Keevan Gipson, Royal Caribbean Group’s Capt. Hernan Zini and moderator Roger Blum of Cruise & Port Advisors. Five Senses Consulting & Development’s Ioannis Bras appeared virtually from Crete
‘There’s no better time to cruise,’ said Capt. Hernan Zini, VP worldwide port operations, Royal Caribbean Group. ‘The level of service and space and enjoyment is very unique. From a consumer perspective, this is not a bad time for cruising.’

Zini's comments came on the first day of Seatrade Cruise Global during the ‘Port Agreements in a COVID World’ panel discussion. Referring to adaptations made by the sector since the start of the pandemic, Zini explained that a 'level of consistency’ is needed, noting, ‘We are still building the confidence of the consumer ... being able to deliver what is promised. It’s not without pain, but we’re making it happen.’

More destinations urged to open

He went on to highlight the success of ship and port protocols in keeping infection rates to a minimum and implied the need for further destinations to begin opening, ‘The cruise industry is back, the protocols are working ... We need to work with destinations that haven’t opened up yet.

‘We have supported nearly half a million passengers and less than 150 cases and the majority are asymptomatic.’

‘Tourism is back’

Keevan Gipson, government of St. Maarten policy advisor for the Cabinet of the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications, had an equally optimistic outlook for ports. He spoke of lessons learnt after the unexpected arrival of a vessel in St. Maarten last March early in the outbreak, which resulted in the need to fast track a port community system and align the stakeholders.

‘My experience with COVID was night and day,’ he explained. ‘I didn’t know what we were dealing with. But issues bring forth opportunities.’

The country relies on tourism, which makes up 80% of GDP.

‘I’m optimistic,’ Gipson added. ‘Tourism is back.’


Speaking live from Crete, Ioannis Bras, CEO, Five Senses Consulting & Development, alluded to the concept of ‘Interportability’ — a harmony between ports that results from improved communication and cooperation.

Access this and many more sessions live and on demand by registering for Seatrade Cruise Global today. Extending further than ever before, Seatrade Cruise Global live is also virtual until Sept. 30, followed by Seatrade Cruise Global 2.0 running Oct. 4-31, including brand new content during the Power Networking week. Learn more and register at

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