Not many destinations in a competitive market can report a 74 percent increase in cruise passengers and 24 inaugural ship visits planned for the 2015-2016 season. But those numbers are real for Martinique, which is seeing its cruise business surge.
“The upward trend began in 2011 due to the unremitting efforts of the Martinique Tourism Authority,” said Commissioner of Tourism Karine Roy-Camille. “Furthermore, our population is more aware of the importance of tourism. On top of these figures we have to bear in mind that homeport traffic has also been soaring.”
Homeport operations will account for around 30,000 passengers this season.
The destination has placed a number of English-speaking guides in uniforms in strategic places for cruise guests.
Roy-Camille has also been working with shopkeepers to improve signage to show currencies and languages.
“It is also worth mentioning that 200 shop assistants representing 90 shops and stores volunteered to attend an English course during the low season to ease up on communication with English-speaking cruise visitors during the high season,” she said.
The Creole Village shopkeepers located at the Pointe du Bout resort in Trois-Ilets have also taken service-oriented and customer-friendly initiatives to maximize the impact of the cruise visitors.
Following an upgrade in 2013 at the Pointe Simon terminal, Martinique has spent considerable money dredging the harbor for the Quantum of the Seas.
At Tourelles cruise terminal, changes have been made to improve turnaround operations such as luggage handling.
There is also construction of an express bus lane underway, to improve the flow of traffic in Fort-de-France.
At the same time, the plan for ground transportation at the Pointe Simon terminal has been revamped to handle more passengers.
Roy-Camille has her sights set on further growth, going from 280,000 passengers in 2015-2016 to her goal of 400,000 by 2020.
What are the keys to a successful cruise business in Martinique?
“Implementing as many exciting scenarios as possible to enhance cruise guests’ experiences,” she said. “Only constant guest satisfaction will drive growth.”