MANILA-Some 1,400 tourists disembarked at the South Harbor, Port of Manila on Nov. 7 for a day tour of Metro Manila and the island of Corregidor, before resuming their cruise of Asia.
The cruise ship MS Volendam was the latest foreign cruise ship to call in the Philippines, as the Department of Tourism (DOT) positions the country as a major cruise destination in Asia.
In a statement to the BusinessMirror, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo said: “The continued influx of international cruise ships into the Philippines only goes to show that we’ve gained global recognition as an attractive and safe tourist destination.”
She added that about 191 ship calls in major ports of the country are projected for 2018, up from expected 105 port calls this year.
According to the Cruise Lines International Association report in 2016, demand for cruising has increased 68 percent from 2006 to 2016, with 700,000 alone coming from China, and 1 million from Australia—both close neighbors of the Philippines. As of 2015, Asia has a 2.2-million passenger capacity for ships deployed in the area.
Meanwhile, DOT Director Czarina Loyola said the MS Volendam, owned by the Holland America Line (HAL), came from Taiwan and arrived at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The passengers then went on a tour of the walled city of Intramuros and Rizal Park, as well as the American Cemetery in Makati. Others went to visit Corregidor, which has figured prominently in the Spanish-American and World War II.
She added that Volendam’s passengers were mostly Americans, Australians, Europeans, Chinese and Indians. As per the web site Cruise Mapper, MS Volendam is on a 28-night, one-way cruise from Yokohama, Japan to Hong Kong. The cruise, called “Japan, China and South Korean Collector Cruise,” started in Yokohama, with the ship leaving on October 13 and sailing through Shimizu, Osaka, Cheju (South Korea), Seoul, Beijing (China), Qingdao, Shanghai, Fukuoka (Japan), Nagasaki, Naha, Ishigaki, Keelung (Taiwan), and Kaoshiung (Taiwan) Manila is the second to the last destination of MS Volendam, and left for Hong Kong at 6 p.m., also on Nov. 7.
Built in 1999, the 237-meter MS Volendam has 716 cabins, with 10 decks, and has a crew of some 650. It can carry a maximum of 1,718 passengers, and runs at a speed of 43 kilometers per hour. It is the second Rotterdam (R-class) of HAL, which is now owned by Carnival Corp. and Cruises Plc. The passengers were warmly welcomed by performances by The Aegis of Zeus Tribe from Pandacan, Manila and the Banda Kawayan Phillippines.
The Duterte administration is currently drawing up plans to build a cruise port and terminal in Manila, at the back of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex, which would accommodate large international cruise ships that can ferry more than 2,000 passengers.
Under its National Tourism Development Plan for 2016-2022, the Duterte administration is targeting cruise passengers to reach 456,164 via 402 ship calls.