MIAMI-BASED cruise company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) will build a homeport in either Caticlan or Boracay, the Department of Tourism (DoT) announced on Thursday.
DoT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. signed an agreement with Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores and RCCL vice president for New Commercial Development John Tercek, stipulating that the cruise company will provide “all the necessary technical and financial support towards the building of a purpose-built terminal either in Caticlan or Boracay,” the DoT said.
However, it is still under negotiation if the homeport will be open to other commercial vessels too, the DoT noted.
“The Philippines is the future Caribbean of Asia,” Tercek said.
Bengzon is currently in Fort Lauderdale in Florida in the US as head of a Philippine delegation to the Seatrade Cruise Conference in that city.
SCC is the leading annual global business-to-business event in the cruise industry, which provides a platform to discuss topics and issues in cruising led by top executives, industry experts and thought-leaders.
The Philippines’ ninth year at SCC features a mixture of old and the latest cruise destinations in the country, such as the Hundred Islands in Pangasinan, Kalanggaman in Leyte, Coron in Northern Palawan, Romblon, and the Bicol Region for expedition cruises that carry less than 300 passengers, the DoT said.
“We are seeing a major shift in the major cruise market. There will be more ships to be deployed in Southeast Asia, and we are hoping that the Philippines will get more than its fair share of the market,” according to Bengzon.
“The big news for us this week is that we will finally have the major cruise ship, the Superstar Virgo of Singapore’s Star Cruises, homeporting in the Philippines. And we are hoping this will be the start of other homeporting of cruise vessels in the region,” Bengzon added.