Port of St. Maarten Not Listed in Cruise Law News Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World Destination must remain safe, secure and hospitable

POINT BLANCHE, St. Maarten – Chief Executive Officer of the St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies Mark Mingo said on Tuesday that the country as a cruise destination must continue on the track of being a safe, secure and hospitable port of call for the cruise industry in order to continue to reap the fruits from the sector.

Jim Walker's "Cruise Law News," a breaking news and legal commentary regarding cruise ship passengers and crew members around the world, in a posting of April 21, 2014, listed the "Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World."

The posting states the following" "The last thing that a family going on vacation wants to think of is being victims of crime. Cruise lines spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year creating idyllic illusions of tropical vacations on beautiful Caribbean beaches. But behind that slick marketing façade lies danger.

"The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime recently released a Global Study on Homicide 2013. The Huffington Post posted an article based on the study entitled the 10 Countries With The World's Highest Murder Rates.

"The most dangerous countries mentioned in the study read like a cruise line itinerary: Honduras (No.1), Venezuela (No.2), Belize (No.3), El Salvador (No.4), Guatemala (No.5), Jamaica (No.6), St. Kitts & Nevis (No.8), and Colombia (No.10). The UN executive summary says that Caribbean countries are home to 8.5% of the world's population, but they account for about 27 per cent of world crime.

"I have made my own list of the most dangerous countries you can cruise to. No, it's not scientific in nature based on empirical evidence. It's anecdotal in nature based on information we receive from cruise passengers who contact us and complain about being victim in a port of call.

"99% of the people who contact us, both passengers and crew, are victims of crime in the Caribbean countries. A few people complained of being pick-pocketed in Italy. But we have received no reports of guns or knives from people visiting European or African ports ever. Of course, ports in Australia and New Zealand are fabulously safe. We have also never received a complaint about crime in the Asian ports."

Jim Walker's "Cruise Law News," list are St. Lucia (10), El Salvador (9), United States Virgin Islands, St. Thomas (8), Antigua (7), St. Kitts & Nevis (6), Mexico (5), Guatemala (4), Venezuela (3), Honduras (2), and The Bahamas (1).

Jim Walker is a maritime lawyer in Miami, Florida who has attended more than a half dozen United States Congressional hearings about cruise ship crime and passenger safety. He has also been involved in cruise ship law and maritime litigation since 1983. Jim Walker represents passengers and crew members injured or assaulted on cruise ships around the world, and are considered the go-to cruise law attorney who has been featured in over 150 television, cable news, radio, documentary, magazine and newspaper articles and programs about cruise ship accidents.

"Country St. Maarten has to protect its cruise sector at all costs from challenges that could negatively impact the sector. Other destinations within the region have seen cruise lines pull out their ships because their customers, cruise passengers feel unsafe. A cruise line will not continue to take its customers to a destination where they feel unsafe," CEO Mingo pointed out.

During the 2011/2012 cruise year (12-month period running from May 2011 through April 2012), cruise tourism generated significant economic benefits to the 21 participating destinations. Nearly two billion US dollars in direct expenditures was generated, employing 45,225 persons and generating US$728 million in employee wages among the 21 destinations included in the study.

Five destinations had direct cruise tourism expenditures of US$100 million or more, and country St. Maarten is one of the top five; nine destinations had direct expenditures between US$25 million and US$100 million while seven had direct expenditures less than US$25 million.

The Port of St. Maarten was second in the top five destinations with US$356.2 million in expenditures by passengers and crew. The top five destinations have US$1.43 billion in direct expenditures, accounting for 72 per cent of the total cruise tourism expenditures among the 21 destinations.

"The cruise sector is a key strategic economic pillar of the country's economy, generating a total of 8,123 jobs with a wage income of US$160 million. All residents have a role to play in protecting our cruise sector from any negative challenges. We have done a great job so far, and we must continue to make sure our cruise passengers and crew feel safe and continue to enjoy the St. Maarten hospitality," CEO Mark Mingo concluded on Tuesday.

The Port of St. Maarten in 2013 received 1,785.670 cruise passengers, 32,455 passengers more than in 2012. Cruise passengers arrived on 631 vessel calls for 2013. Overall for 2012, the destination received 622 ship calls with 1,753,215 cruise passengers.

In 1980 the destination only received 105,000 cruise passengers for the entire year. This grew to 564,251 in 1995 and to 1,055.040 eight years later in 2002.

The Port of St. Maarten maintains a prime position in Caribbean Cruise tourism.

PHOTO COURTESY Roddy Heyliger

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