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PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - On Sunday, May 29th from 11am - 4pm, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club is hosting our annual TAG SALE with all proceeds benefiting our Youth Sailing Programs.

Come view and purchase vintage framed St. Maarten Heineken Regatta posters, Regatta binders and other Regatta goodies. SMYC polo shirts, hats artwork, burgees, flags, sailing gear, books, gifts and everything else we've been storing in the attic!

Items range from $1 - $100 in price. Special $1 items inside our little boat and a raffle for special edition St. Maarten Heineken Regatta prizes!

The Sint Maarten Yacht Club Bar & Restaurant is chiming in with $2.00 Heineken and $4.00 drink specials as well as 'happy hour' appetizer specials all day (full regular menu is also available.)

Come 'sail' through our Sint Maarten Yacht Club party!

Pembroke Pines, FL - Suppliers and travel agents will have a prime opportunity to increase their business with the cruise industry because some of the new features at the 23rd annual FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show.

Taking place in San Juan, Puerto Rico from September 26-30, the traditional series of one-on-one meetings, workshops and exhibiting and networking opportunities will be complemented by the Purchasing Initiative and an add-on travel agent event in partnership with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

"The FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show has traditionally been one of the best ways for cruise tourism stakeholders and key cruise line decision makers to interact and develop mutual understanding and benefits," said Micky Arison, chairman of Carnival Corporation & plc and the FCCA. "These new features will broaden the scope to include more crucial sectors that help drive the cruise industry, leading to more successes for all."
"We could not be prouder to offer these new features at our keynote event, the FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show," said Michele Paige, president, FCCA. "It is always rewarding to watch this event continue to grow, but it is more gratifying to enhance our primary mission of developing bilateral relationships between the cruise industry and stakeholders to create win-win scenarios."
For anyone looking to supply products to cruise lines, the new Purchasing Initiative will put them direct to customer, with a booth within the first-ever Purchasing Pavilion, specialized one-on-one meetings and networking events with supply chain and purchasing cruise executives, and a workshop focused on sourcing and purchasing.
The Initiative represents the FCCA's efforts to strengthen its purchasing efforts within cruise destinations, under the direction of Michael Jones, vice president of supply chain management of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and chairman of the FCCA Purchasing Committee, who will participate at the event, meetings, and workshop along with a number of other procurement executives from the 19 FCCA Member Lines.
The Travel Agent/Destination Summit will gather more than 200 CLIA member travel agents at the tail end of the FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show, allowing them to target the more than 100 cruise executives that attended the event, learn from and about San Juan, and create synergies and opportunities with the other stakeholders participating in and exhibiting at the event.
"This event is a first for CLIA and offers our membership another opportunity to spend quality time with destination experts, experience ship inspections and learn from industry leaders," said Cindy D'Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA.

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten will welcome the Oasis class vessel Harmony of the Seas, now considered the world’s largest cruise ship of Royal Caribbean Lines (RCL), in November when the vessel makes its inaugural call.

Harmony of the Seas cost more than US$1 billion to build and is the lines 25th ship. The vessel made her world debut on May 17 when it sailed into the British port of Southhampton.  The arrival marked a milestone for RCL.

Port St. Maarten Supervisory Board of Directors, Management and Staff would like to extend its congratulations to the RCL family for its forward and innovative thinking in building such a massive vessel which is bigger than the Eiffel Tower in height and is also the widest and heaviest cruise ship ever built.

“Harmony of the Seas will showcase groundbreaking vacation amenities onboard to allow vacationers to have a great holiday at sea for all the family.  Cruising is changing, as noted by executives from the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) recently to Members of Parliament (MPs) and to the St. Maarten Economic Cruise Association (SECA).

“Destination renewal and reinventing our cruise product is needed more than ever.  We are all aware of all-inclusive resorts on land, well this has now been replicated on the high seas and Harmony of the Seas is a clear example. 

“Reinventing Cruise St. Maarten has to take place today and the challenges pointed out in those recent meetings by cruise executives to MPs and several representatives of the business community, have to be addressed in the coming weeks and months.

Port St. Maarten has taken the lead and all hands are needed on deck.  A roadmap to recovery has been drafted, and the Port will be visiting all decision-makers in both cruise and cargo sectors with respect to the actions that need to be taken for 2017-2018.  Mid-June, the Port’s 2021 Investment Plan will be completed which outlines the vision to enhance further business development,” Port Management said on Sunday.

The vessel is built with more than 500,000 individual parts and is nearly four football (soccer) fields long. Harmony of the Seas will depart Southhampton, U.K. on a series of short getaways to Northern Europe before embarking on her maiden cruise on May 29, arriving in Barcelona, Spain.

Harmony of the Seas in November, will homeport out of Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from where the vessel will offer seven-night eastern and western Caribbean sailings.  Between now and then, the cruise ship will homeport out of Barcelona, Spain and embark on the first of 34 seven-night sailings in the western Mediterranean on June 7.

Harmony of the Seas is the world’s largest cruise ship with a bold and unexpected lineup of experiences found nowhere else on land or sea. An architectural marvel, Harmony of the Seas combines the distinct seven neighborhood concept that Royal Caribbean's Oasis class of ships are known for with some of the most modern and groundbreaking amenities.

Innovative features include The Ultimate Abyss, a thrilling slide 10 stories high – the tallest at sea, robot bartenders, virtual balconies with real-time views of the destination for interior rooms, and VOOM – the fastest internet at sea – so that guests can stay connected, stream their favorite entertainment and share their adventures; 23 swimming pools, whirlpools, two FlowRider surf simulators, and waterslides, including the Perfect Storm, a thrilling trio of waterslides, and the Splashaway Bay waterpark for young guests.

Harmony of the Seas carries 5,479 guests at double occupancy and feature 2,747 staterooms; 2,394 crew; has a gross tonnage of 226,000 is 1,187 feet in length; max beam is 154 feet; 16 guest decks; draft 30 feet and a cruising speed of 23 knots. The vessel was built at the STX France at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire over a 32-month period.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Now that Carnival has ended, all sights are set on the upcoming 3rd annual Island Water World Mahi Mahi tournament which is set to be hosted on Saturday May 28th, 2016 at Bobby's Marina in Philipsburg.

Fishing team Yellow Whip, winners of last years event, wasted no time by confirming to organizers that they will be back to defend their 2015 crown.
Organizers have given this already intriguing tournament a special twist by adding a Bill-fish challenge to the list of prizes to be had. This will allow fishermen practicing for next month's Sint Martin Bill fish extra incentive to part take in this event.
The winner of our bill-fish challenge will receive a paid invitation to the Sint Martin Billfish  (June 16-18). Skippers briefing will be held at the Pasangrahmn Hotel on Friday May 27th from 18:00-19:30hrs.

It should also be noted that Island Water World has guaranteed prizes with a value of US $ 6500 in cash and fishing gear, a weekend stay at Pasanggrahan, a fuel voucher from Sol - plus for the winner of the Billfish Challenge  with the US $ 1000 entry fee into the St Martin Billfish Tournament. The Sport-fishing Organizations from St Martin and St. Maarten are working hand in hand, a first in the Sport-fishing Tournament organization on the island.

The Prize giving and party with a DJ will start at 4.00pm in front of Island Water World and is co-sponsored by Antillean Liquors. There will be special drinks and special prices.

Attached as a PDF file ready for download at the bottom of this story, you will find the rules, regulations and prize categories for this fishing tournament.
Early registration is possible at any of the three Island Water World stores on the Island. (Philipsburg, Cole Bay, Marigot)
Lets see who is crowned the 2016 Mahi King.

JACKSONVILLE, Florida – The captain of the doomed freighter El Faro told a colleague just before the ship’s final voyage that he was aware of a storm brewing at sea, but that he had a plan to go under it, testimony at an investigative hearing revealed on Monday.

Eric Bryson, the pilot who sailed the El Faro out of the Port of Jacksonville on its final voyage, testified before the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation that is probing the disaster. Monday kicked off a second round of hearings looking into the accident. Bryson, a specialist who pilots the ships through Port of Jacksonville, gets off onto a tug before the vessel heads out of port.

Bryson said he remembered no irregularities with the 790-foot cargo ship, and that its crew was acting normally as it prepared to sail Sept. 29 to Puerto Rico.

Asked if there was any discussion of the brewing storm in the Caribbean, Bryson said El Faro Capt. Michael Davidson addressed it.

“Capt. Davidson said ‘We’re just going to go out and shoot under it,'” Bryson said.

The ship lost propulsion and sank Oct. 1 after getting caught in a Category 4 hurricane while sailing between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico.

All 33 aboard died in the worst commercial maritime disaster for a U.S.-flagged ship since the Marine Electric sank off the coast of Virginia in 1983. Most of the crewmembers were from Florida, and others were from Georgia, Maine, Virginia, Delaware, Tennessee, Massachusetts and New York. Other crewmembers were from Poland, according to the Coast Guard.

Search crews recently discovered the El Faro’s voyage data recorder at the wreckage site near the Bahamas in 15,000 feet of water, but they still have not recovered it. It may contain recordings from the ship’s bridge that will paint a more accurate picture of why Davidson chose a faster, but less safe, route despite knowledge of the storm.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which will also participate in the hearings, said it is still planning a recovery mission for the device. (AP)

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has been cooperating with Government, Marinas and Dredging Companies on a Dredge Hole Remediation Project in the Simpson Bay Lagoon.

Dredging can have significant environmental impacts on the environmental health of the Simpson bay lagoon, resulting in siltation, sedimentation and the removal of important seagrass beds critical to the already severely damaged health of the Lagoon.

There are various areas in the Simpson Bay Lagoon where large amount of sand and seagrass was removed for various projects over the years.

The areas have formed deep holes where very little grows and where there is significant sedimentation occurring, affecting nearby seagrass beds.

The Foundation has been partnering with Government, Marinas and Dredging Companies to reintroduce dredge spoils into the so-called dredge holes, filling back the bed of the Simpson Bay Lagoon with sufficient Habitat for seagrasses to again establish and seed the area.

Over the next few weeks various holes in the Lagoon will be filled to remediate the damages done over the past decade.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation is inviting Organizations, Groups and Individuals who are interested in volunteering or participating in the 2016 Nature Foundation Sea Turtle Nesting Conservation Project to attend a short workshop at the Divi Little Bay Resort on Thursday May 19th 2016 starting at six in the evening (18:00).

During the workshop important information will be given on the handling, reporting, observation and protection of St. Maarten’s resident and nesting Sea Turtle Population. “Recently there has been a great deal of interest in hatchling sea turtles; however the population needs to be aware of the way in which the animals should be handled and taken care of, who to contact, what to do etc.

In the past we have had people who were very enthusiastic seeking to help the animals but oftentimes they create more harm than good. Now with the generous support of Divi Little Bay we have the opportunity to educate the public and at the same time build a solid volunteer group to assist us with monitoring,” commented Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.

The St. Maarten Nature Foundation actively manages the sea turtle population on St. Maarten, particularly during the nesting season and conducts various activities with regards to nesting females including beach surveys, nest excavations, tagging activities, and nest success research. The Nature Foundation welcomes any volunteers who might be interested in Sea Turtle research. Beach communities in particular are in the best position to help ensure that females nest safely, that nests are left undisturbed and that hatchlings make it safely to sea. The Nature Foundation asks that people do not drive on the nesting beaches and that they walk their dog on a leash.

Sea turtle population numbers have plummeted to dangerously low numbers throughout the past century due to human impacts, bringing many species close to extinction, causing them to be listed as critically endangered. In order to reverse this trend, all sea turtle species are now protected by international laws and treaties as well as local laws.

Based on ARTICLE 16 and 17 of the Nature Conservation Ordinance St. Maarten it is illegal to kill, wound, capture, pick-up, have animals that belong to a protected animal species, to directly or indirectly disturb their environment resulting in a physical threat or damage to the fauna or to commit other acts which result in disturbance of the animal. It is also forbidden to upset an animal belonging to a protected species, to disturb, damage or destroy its nest, lair, or breeding place, as well as to take the nest of such an animal. Also, it is forbidden to pick-up or to destroy the eggs of animals belonging to a protected species.

To register for the workshop or to report nesting activity or illegal activity, please call the Sea Turtle Hotline 9229 or call the Nature Foundation office at 5444267 or email the Foundation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao - The Caribbean Coastguard (KWCARIB) in cooperation with CITRO On Thursday May 12 conducted a medical evacuation from a drilling vessel, the Deep Sea Metro II.

A crew member became ill, could not move and had to be transported urgently to hospital. The "Deep Sea Metro II 'was at that time anchored in Boka St. Michiel.

The message came Thursday, May 12th around 7:40 pm from Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) of KWCARIB. CITRO was informed about the situation and decided to bring a doctor from CITRO Mediko to the drilling vessel to assist the man.

With a Super-RHIB from the Centre of Curacao they sailed to Boka St. Michiel. Upon arrival, the doctor went on board the drilling vessel and attended to the patient.

After the diagnosis he was placed on a stretcher. Given his medical condition the doctor could not perform further medical treatments on board.

Using a crane the stretcher was hoisted aboard the Super-RHIB. Once on board the Super-RHIB sailed to shore where the Ambulance Service was ready.

The man was transferred by the staff of the Ambulance Service to the hospital.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation recently concluded its annual Pelican Monitoring Project where it focused on the nesting and breeding sites of the National Bird.
The Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is one of St. Maarten’s national symbols, the depiction of which can be found on the island’s Flag and Coat of Arms.
Despite this there was previously very little information publicly available on the status of Pelicans on St. Maarten.
The Nature Foundation therefore decided that in order to properly conserve and manage this culturally and ecologically important species there was a need to collect vital information on nesting areas, how many pelicans we still have left, and what type of threats the bird faces.
Results have shown that despite the pelican population severely decreasing over the last few decades, conservation measures seem to indicate that the bird might be recovering.

At the primary nesting location located at Fort Amsterdam numerous nests with both young chicks and fledgling young were counted. Numerous adults were also counted and added to the Dutch Caribbean Nature Database. “One of our major activities is managing the breeding population of sea birds but especially pelicans on the island, considering not only their ecological but also their cultural significance. We were happy to see numerous breeding locations in especially Fort Amsterdam which of course gives it an additional cultural dimension. We would also like to thank Divi Little Bay Resort for placing warning signs at the breeding locations warning people to stay away from breeding locations,” commented Tadzio Bervoets of the Nature Foundation.

Popular North American General Interest Magazine Reader’s Digest recently named St. Maarten as one of the Top Ten destinations in the Caribbean for Bird-Tourism. The magazine highlighted Sint Maarten as a “A hot spot for migrating sea birds with a burgeoning bird watching scene”. Specific mention was also given to the National Bird of St. Maarten, the Brown Pelican.

The Nature Foundation often responds to incidents where pelicans are caught in fishing line or hooks, fishing nets, plastic bags, or soda can holders. “Considering the significant pressure on these animals despite an increase in population it is very important that we not only take the importance of birds to our island’s ecology and culture into account but also acknowledge the importance they are for Sint Maarten as a tourism product. Birding tourism is a very large business and with news of challenges in the tourism industry the Nature Encourages stakeholders to look into Birding Tourism as a significant boost to our Tourism Product. And we can only successfully offer Birding Tourism if the animals can exist in a safe and clean environment without them or their habitat being severely threatened,” concluded Bervoets.

PORT ST. MAARTEN On Monday afternoon at the Cruise Terminal Building at Port St. Maarten, President of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Michele Paige, and Cruise Line Executives briefed business officials who were invited by Port St. Maarten under the umbrella of the soon to be established St. Maarten Economic Cruise Association (SECA).  SECA should be formally established later this month.

Port St. Maarten Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo said that it was very important to have such an entity that collectively represents the interests of the economy and would work along with Port St. Maarten and other stakeholders in re-inventing cruise St. Maarten, and in addressing the challenges currently being confronted by the country’s cruise sector.

“As I have stated in the past, Port St. Maarten cannot do it alone!  There are many stakeholders, and everybody has a role to play.  We have taken the lead and will continue to do what is necessary.  We are now at the cross-roads and we need to deal with the challenges post haste.  This is a wake-up call!  We need to have the St. Maarten Tourism Authority yesterday. 

“It was Port St. Maarten back in 2014 when we hosted the 21st Annual FCCA Conference and Trade Show under the theme, ‘Reinventing Cruise St. Maarten,’ where we needed to get our act together and address the challenges.  We are now almost two-years down the coast, and things are different now as we are at a cross-road.

“I was very pleased with the SECA meeting between the aforementioned and the FCCA.  It was an eye-opener for those present. We know what the situation is, and now we need a plan of action in moving forward.  We need to deal with certain challenges within a month or two, and not nearly two-years down the road.

“FCCA President Paige said now is the perfect moment to re-invent and fix the challenges and I fully concur with her. The platform for growth is there, but we have to identify the opportunities and invest in them in order to grow once again as St. Maarten remains a fantastic destination as was said by the Cruise Line Executives during the meeting,” Mingo said on Tuesday.

The business community representatives who were present were very pleased for the dialogue session with the FCCA where information, concerns and challenges were shared.  Everybody was in conformity that St. Maarten’s uniqueness needed to be harnessed.

FCCA President Paige gave a synopsis of what she had briefed the parliamentary committee about earlier in the afternoon on Monday.  This concerned growth of the cruise industry; globalization; the relationship between cruise lines and destinations; new cruise passengers; cruise passenger experience etc.

FCCA President Paige pointed out that the ‘wow’ factor needed to be brought back into play for St. Maarten as the destination now ranked in passenger experience where tours are concerned, 20 out of 25. She added that it was very important for private sector participation, and the aforementioned had the power to turn things around while the role of government is to facilitate the private sector besides its responsibilities for infrastructure etc.   

Business representatives were told that a lot of destinations had emulated the St. Maarten success besides developing their own niches.  Even cruise lines have been reinventing themselves by offering new products and services onboard.

In order to move forward, it was pointed out that open dialogue forums were needed in order to work to achieve the goals of stakeholders in the cruise industry.

Some of the challenges were: traffic congestion; infrastructure quality; cruise ship/passenger congestion; guest’s satisfaction; new authentic attractions/tours; harassment at the beaches and other areas; aggressive vendors as perceived by guests; cultural experiences; telling the St. Maarten Story consistently; educating/informing about the destination; motivating repeat passengers to get off the ship and enjoy the destination; port calls/berthing preference of cruise lines; fuel optimization and itinerary planning; coming up with ideas to drive cruise passengers to purchase organized tours; high volume and niche tours needed; involvement of new and innovative entrepreneurs/people and opportunities with talent and passion; understanding your passengers (demographics) as destinations have to provide the experiences for guests; and understanding business models of tours were some of the matters discussed.  

Also present for the meeting were Port St. Maarten’s Supervisory Board of Directors Humphrey Mezas, Renald Williams and Jason Rogers.

The FCCA represents 19 member cruise lines operating more than 100 vessels in Floridian, Caribbean and Latin American waters.  It was created in 1972, and the mandate of the FCCA is to provide a forum for discussion on tourism development, ports, safety, security and other cruise industry issues.

By fostering an understanding of the cruise industry and its operating practices, the FCCA seeks to build cooperative relationships with its partner destinations and to develop productive bilateral partnerships with every sector.

The FCCA works with governments, ports and all private/public sector representatives to maximize cruise passenger, cruise line and cruise line employee spending, as well as enhancing the destination experience and the amount of cruise passengers returning as stay-over visitors.

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