The Philippines continues to establish its position as one of the emerging cruise destinations in Asia as the Legend of the Seas, the huge luxurious cruise ship of the Royal Caribbean International (RCI), made its way to Manila early this month.
Over 2,000 passengers were greeted with the warmth and enthusiasm unique only to Filipinos when the ship docked on May 6. The local music of Banda Kawayan and performances by the Ati-atihan dancers provided a festive atmosphere, as passengers disembarked from the cruise ship during its call at the port of Manila. Officials of the Department of Tourism (DOT), Philippine Ports Authority, and the Asian Terminals, Inc. were at the reception line to welcome the passengers.
The cruise call in Manila was part of the vessel’s 18-day Southeast Asia itinerary from Australia to Hong Kong, with another stopover in Puerto Princesa. Buses of eager passengers departed for tours to farther cities like Pagsanjan, Tagaytay, and Quezon.
Other passengers opted to stay in Manila, taking the tranvia tours of Intramuros and Rizal Park, provided through the assistance of Intramuros Administration. Moreover, to increase accessibility to major tourist destinations for all passengers, the DOT National Capital Region Office launched a special wheelchair tour service for persons with disabilities for cruise visitors through the use of Wheelmobiles.
The Legend of the Seas first visited the Philippines in 2012.
“Since then, the Philippines had been a part of the regular itineraries to Asia. With the recent launch of the ASEAN Cruise Brand and the recently completed National Cruise Tourism Strategy, efforts are strengthened towards attracting not only more cruise lines to include our country in their programs, but also more frequent schedules from regular cruise company clients. In this way, we are bringing a steadily growing stream of revenues for millions of Filipinos in the tourism industry,” Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. said.
The Legend of the Seas has a twice-a-year schedule to the Philippines, with this year’s second call to be made in October. The RCI is a Norwegian and American cruise line based in Florida and touted as one of the world’s largest cruise firms.
“This shows that more big ships are taking to our shores. Slowly, the country’s sea connectivity has been improving through the repair of terminals, harbors and ports. The DOT has stepped up its promotional activities to increase awareness of the country’s offerings as a cruise destination. Cruise tourism is part of the strategy for the Philippines to get a slice of the tourism luxury market. Having an archipelagic configuration is our edge and brings to the table many cruise possibilities. Public-private partnership is key here in developing this burgeoning industry,” DOT Undersecretary for Tourism Development Benito C. Bengzon, Jr. said.