Carnival Corporation & plc celebrated the official grand opening of Rainforest Adventure’s Rockland Estate eco-park attraction on April 11 in St. Maarten. To mark the occasion, a ceremony was attended by esteemed government officials, including Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and Governor Dr. Eugene Holiday, as well as Rainforest Adventures president Josef Preschel and key Carnival Corporation officials, including David Candib, vice president of development and operations for the global port and destination development group.
With financing from Carnival Corporation and built by Rainforest Adventures, Rockland Estate is a one-of-a-kind attraction expected to quickly become one of the most popular in the Caribbean. It has something for everyone – thrill-seeking adventures, including the world’s steepest zip line and a mountain chair lift with breathtaking views and a heart-racing tube ride, as well as a museum that showcases the rich history and culture of St. Maarten and its people. Guests from eight of Carnival Corporation’s brands with itineraries visiting the island will have the opportunity to experience the new shore excursion, recently named by USA Today 10Best as a top Caribbean attraction.
“We are proud to be part of the Rockland Estate development, and we are excited that this new attraction will surely become a bucket-list item for visitors to the island, whether they’re looking to take in incredible views, experience one-of-a-kind rides or gain perspective on the rich history and culture of the island,” said David Candib, vice president of development and operations for the global port and destination development group at Carnival Corporation. “St. Maarten is already a beloved destination by guests across our eight cruise line brands that visit the island, and we’re confident that Rockland Estate will create an even more compelling reason to visit the country on a cruise vacation.”
Rockland Estate is considered an eco-adventure park committed to preserving native eco-systems while ensuring the sustainability of the estate’s physical and intangible attributes. The overall goal of the Rainforest Adventures team in building the attraction was to enhance and preserve St. Maarten’s natural and built environments and endorse its cultural and historical significance, while also promoting education through adventure.
Said Preschel, president of Rainforest Adventures: “In constructing the park, one of our goals was to uphold our commitment to environmental conservation, with less than five percent of the Emilio Wilson Estate impacted by the new Rockland Estate eco-adventure park. Our other key goal is to educate visitors on the importance of ongoing conservation in this area and to celebrate local history and culture, while also providing thrilling rides and relaxing activities.”
“St. Maarten continues to be one of the Caribbean’s most popular vacation destinations, and providing new offerings is key in attracting interest in our beautiful and friendly island from both new and returning tourists,” said Cornelius de Weever, acting minister of tourism, economic affairs, transportation and telecommunications for St. Maarten. “Rockland Estate is one of the most important attraction developments in St. Maarten in a decade, and we are confident that it will boost tourism. We’re excited for more and more visitors to experience all that the park has to offer – from a look into the rich history of St. Maarten to exciting rides that provide breathtaking views of the island.”
Located on the historic Emilio Wilson Estate a short ride from St. Maarten’s Port of Philipsburg Cruise Terminal, Rockland Estate eco-park encompasses the widest variety of thrill rides and attractions in the Caribbean. The lineup features:
– Soualiga Sky Explorer: Soualiga Sky Explorer encompasses 68 four-passenger chairs that take guests to a transfer station for zip line and tubing rides, and then on to the top of one of St. Maarten’s highest points at 1,125 feet where they can take in spectacular panoramic views.
– Sentry Hill Zip Line: From the transfer station at the midpoint of the Soualiga Sky Explorer, guests can experience the exciting Sentry Hill Zip Line, where riders traverse a 1,600-foot, four-span line that provides unforgettable vistas of the mountain ridge.
– Schooner Ride: The Schooner Ride at the midway point of the Soualiga Sky Explorer gives guests the chance to surf down the mountain in large 40-inch inner tubes across a specially designed 657-foot track of heart-pounding curves mixed with fast straightaways.
– Top of Sentry Hill: One of St. Maarten’s highest elevations, Sentry Hill, offers walkways and platforms that encircle the mountaintop, showcasing 360-degree vistas of the island with views of neighboring Saba, St. Barts, St. Eustatius and Anguilla.
– Flying Dutchman: The Flying Dutchman is Rockland Estate’s main attraction and the world’s steepest zip line. It guarantees thrill-seekers the ride of a lifetime while securely harnessed in a chair, dropping them 1,050 feet in elevation from the top of Sentry Hill down the mountain over a 2,800-foot span.
– Emilio Wilson Museum: Originally built as a plantation home in the 1700s, the museum tells the powerful story of Trace Wilson, who was born into slavery on the property, and her direct descendant, St. Maarten pioneer and preservationist Emilio Wilson. It also highlights the customs, traditions, lifestyle and stories that have earned St. Maarten the moniker “The Friendly Island.”
St. Maarten is a popular destination for cruise guests, with 1.66 million cruisers visiting the island in 2016. The country’s port has been recognized several times by the readers of Cruise Fever as the best cruise port in the Caribbean, and was chosen by cruisers as the number two Eastern Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda port of call in Cruise Critic’s Cruiser’s Choice 2017 Destination Awards. Additionally, cruise tourism plays an important role in the country’s economy, representing one third of its gross domestic product (GDP).
Carnival Corporation also partnered with Rainforest Adventures to develop Rainforest Adventures Jamaica at Mystic Mountain in Ochos Rios – a mainstay of Jamaica rain forest activities where guests can travel from the seashore to 700 feet above sea level at the top of a mountain, stretching over 100 acres. Additionally, Carnival Corporation worked with Rainforest Adventures to design and build the Magical Flying Beach Chair at the cruise company’s Mahogany Bay Cruise Center in Roatan. The chair lift system takes cruise ship guests from the welcome center to Mahogany Beach via a six-minute ride across nearly 1,200 feet of suspended cables, providing not only convenient beach access, but also views of the lush countryside as well.