PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan – Cruise tourism here looks promising next year with the expected arrival of nine pleasure voyages starting January.

This shows that Puerto Princesa is actively participating in the growth of cruise ship tourism in the country, which has grown more than 50 percent in the past years, said senior tourism operations officer, Michie Meneses, of the City Tourism Department (CTD) on Wednesday.

“We are thankful that our city continues to attract the tourist-cruising sector to further enhance our tourism industry growth,” said Meneses, adding six cruise ships had docked in Puerto Princesa since the beginning of the year.

The first to arrive on Jan. 30 was MV Seaborne Sojourn, a luxury cruise ship operated by Seabourn Cruise Line with a 450 carrying capacity. The last one was on Oct. 29 with cruise liner Silver Shadow, which had 382 passengers and 295 crew members.
“The PPA (Philippine Ports Authority) has informed us that so far, nine cruise ships are expected to arrive in the city, so we’re already preparing possible schedules for the passengers,” she added.

Three major destinations are usually offered to cruise ship passengers, and these are the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) in Barangay Cabayugan, Honda Bay in Barangay Sta. Lourdes, and the City Tour composed of visits to the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) in Barangay Iwahig and the Crocodile Farm in Barangay Irawan.

“Since the underground river has a carrying capacity, we offer them these three packages, and also some of our community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) sites, like the Maoyon River and the Batak Cultural Village,” Meneses stated.

The PPA and the CTD are expected to meet before the year ends to begin plans on accepting cruise liners. Coordination meetings will also happen a lot in January 2018, she said.

Meanwhile, Jan Elmer Badilla, spokesperson of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP), said “the underground river is always ready to welcome guests from the cruise ships.”

“We’re continuously ready because there is already cruise ship tourism, and many really want to see the wonders of the PPUR,” he said.

He said that by next year, PPSRNP management would pursue the establishment of a satellite trauma center, and the hiring of a doctor and nurses to ensure there will be immediate response to emergency needs of PPUR guests.

“We’re used to them, and we’re always in close coordination with the City Tourism Department every time there is a cruise ship,” Badilla said. (PNA)