The Royal Caribbean International’s Legend of the Seas made its inaugural call on the ports of Manila and Boracay last 26 – 27 October as part of the vessel’s 8-night Southeast Asia itinerary from Hong Kong to Singapore, with stopovers at Xiamen, China; Manila and Boracay, Philippines; and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. The Royal Carribean International, a Norwegian and American cruise line brand based in Florida, is one of the biggest and most famous cruise companies in the world. Its Legend of the Seas has a wide range of facilities which passengers can enjoy, ranging from a shopping center, golf course, rock-climbing wall, four-themed bars, casino, and theatre.
The Department of Tourism (DOT), in cooperation with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), extended its warmest reception to almost 2000 passengers from different countries on-board the vessel. They enjoyed a quick tour of Manila’s famous tourist spots such as Intramuros and the Rizal Park. Completing their final course in the country, passengers were also given ample time the following day to explore the white sand beaches of Boracay, recently hailed as “2012 World’s Best Island” by Travel + Leisure Magazine.
DOT Region VI Director Atty. Helen J. Catalbas, together with DOT Boracay OIC Mr. Artemio Ticar, Governor Carlito S. Marquez, Malay Mayor John Yap with wife Abigail, local tour guides, representatives from the media, private sector, and local government, were present during the simple program held inside the cruise ship. The Ati-atihan tribesmen in their vibrant costumes also welcomed and hyped everyone up at Cagban Port, Boracay with their drum beats as guests and crew disembarked the cruise ship through a floating pontoon provided by Southwest Tours.
“Ten months ago at the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Indonesia, I met with top executives of the Royal Carribean who hinted at commencing their Asia route to include the Philippines. I never expected it would be this soon. The arrival of the Legend of the Seas would hopefully mark the start of the arrival of more foreign cruise liners to the Philippines, bringing along with them more tourists which would give the country’s tourism industry a boost. With the country’s transportation infrastructure program all laid out to include building and repair of major sea and jetty ports and harbors, we envision more international cruise liners to arrive at our shores and make cruise tourism a viable tour option,” Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. enthused.
The cruise industry is one of the fastest growing travel sectors in the world. According to the latest industry figures, about 20 million passengers took a cruise last year with North America and Europe as the main markets. In the National Capital Region (NCR), the Philippines’ premier gateway, international cruise visits are starting to contribute significantly to the total foreign arrivals. More cruise ships are scheduled to call on Philippine ports calls in 2013.
SOURCE: Philippine Department of Tourism, Office of Marketing Communications