Hong Kong-based Star Cruises said Friday it has designated Manila as the first home port for cruise ship Superstar Virgo as part of a plan to increase the group’s exposure in the growing Philippine cruise tourism market.
Star Cruises president Ang Moo Lim said the company was looking forward to more trips to the Philippines aboard Superstar Virgo and the company’s other cruise liners.
“We are confident that this will bring a new kind of experience for the Filipino traveler. One thing we made sure of is the hassle-free documentation needed to ride the boat. No need for visas unless you to disembark in Taiwan for a longer stay,” he said.
The travel period for the months of March to May will kick off on March 19, 24 and 29 on a 6-day/5-night cruising departing from Manila to Laoag, Kaoshiung in Taiwan and Hong Kong and back to Manila on the gala or last night of cruise.
The cruise liner noted that the months of March to May were the best months of the year to ply the high seas, with less typhoons and tamer winds and current.
The company is giving an early bird discount for those who will book ahead starting from $490 per person on a twin-sharing accommodation. The third and fourth members of a group are also up for a 50 percent discount from $245 per person.
Star Cruises, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Genting Kong Kong, was the first major cruise liner to recruit Filipinos as crew 23 years ago.
“And now we are pleased to be the first international cruise line to welcome Filipinos on board Superstar Virgo as our guests from our homeport in Manila. Nearly 25 million people have enjoyed a cruise in 2016 and we are extending this opportunity for Filipinos to enjoy their time at an affordable price,” said Lim.
Star Cruises have scheduled 20 dockings in the Philippines. The dock is located at Pier 15 at the back of Manila Hotel.
The Philippine cruise industry jumped 62 percent in the last five years from 2012 to 2016, data from the Tourism Department show.
Tourism Assistant Secretary Ma. Lourdes Japson said the industry expects about 117 cruise calls in 2017 with an estimated foreign passenger count of 84,000.
“Ports most visited are Manila, Puerto Princesa and Boracay for the mid-sized and large ships. For expedition cruises, islands more visited are Coron, El Nido, Romblon, Camiguin, Kalanggaman, Limawasa, Cebu, Bohol, Hundred Islands and Siargao,” she said.