In the mid-50s it was recognized by the late Dr. A.C. Wathey that tourism could be one of St. Maarten's economic pillars and over the years the constant, and unprecedented growth of the industry has resulted in tourism being the foundation for the island's economy.
In 1980, 105,000 cruise passengers visited the island. Nine years later that number had recorded a six-fold increase to 616,910 and with close to 900,000 cruise passengers visiting St. Maarten in 2000, the 'magic million' mark was reached on the 17th December 2002.
The entire complex is named Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facilities. The new cruise pier is also named The Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise Pier in honor of Dr. A.C. "Claude" Wathey. Dr. "Claude" Wathey can be credited for transforming St. Maarten from "just another island" into one of the leading tourist destination in the Caribbean with one of the highest standards of living in the region.
It was his visionary leadership, which led in 1964 to the opening of the island's first deep water pier, rightfully named in his honor "The A.C. Wathey Pier" or affectionately ' The Big Pier". He continued pressing for much larger harbour facilities to cope with the demands and potential of a rapidly growing island.
On Tuesday March 21st 1989, addressing a large crowd who had turned out at the Maho Resort for the presentation of the blueprint (then) of the new port facilities, "Claude" stressed: "Moving ahead with the port improvement project IS A MUST."
Regrettably he did not live to see the new harbour materialize.
The new Cruise Terminal Building is named The John Craane Cruise Terminal in honor of Mr. John Craane better known as "Boochie". Mr. Craane worked for the Island Government of St. Maarten for 33 years. In 1963 he became Assistant Harbour Master and was promoted to Harbour Master in 1978. He retired in 1987 following injuries sustained on the job.
The new cargo section is named The Captain David Cargo Quay in honor of Mr. Vance Th. James, better known as Captain David. Captain David can be considered one of St. Maarten's first cargo handlers and importers/exporters. During the Second World War he sailed between St. Maarten and St. Kitts carrying passengers and cargo, keeping the island supplied with all the necessary goods, which at that time came from St. Kitts. In 1962 he retired from sailing and started a beverage import business. In addition to being a successful businessman Captain David was also committed to a life of "honesty, integrity and service to others above self": his life's motto.
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