On a sunny Sunday morning, Manila ushered in the summer vacation season as the historic Philippine capital becomes homeport to the flagship of one of the world’s largest cruise ship operators.
Sailing on the highly-spirited tide of enthusiasm for shared tourism, particularly between the Philippines and China, the luxury cruise ship Superstar Virgo came to homeport in Manila for its maiden voyage from Manila to Laoag-Kaohsiung, Taiwan-Hong Kong and back to Manila.
Joining the excited greeters were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Department of Tourism Sec. Wanda Tulfo-Teo and officials from Manila City Hall, and other agencies.
Teo said the increasing number of cruise ships visiting Manila, as well as Boracay, raises the possibility that the country may yet become an international cruise hub.
“As the first-ever cruise ship to homeport in Manila, Superstar Virgo will etch a milestone in our tourism journey, as both the ship and our shores will provide vacationers, including the locals, the convenience of not having to fly to either Hong Kong or Singapore to take a cruise,” said Teo.
Teo noted, "This event dramatizes the vision of the ASEAN and China Tourism Cooperation agreement forged recently."
Star Cruises president Ang Moo Lim echoed Teo’s optimism that a wholesome and ultimate tour experience for both, international and Filipino cruise passengers, offer families the bonding time.
Hong Kong-based Star Cruises’ flagship arrived to a rousing, fanfare-filled celebration at Manila’s South Harbor where hundreds of welcomers waited as early as 5am.
In behalf of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, City administrator Eric Alcovendaz presented the city’s symbolic key to the Star Cruises president.
The 13-storey, 900-cabin, 2,600-passenger capacity ship, docked at 7:30 am and the public was treated to a dazzling musicale at its Lido theater and then a tour of the ships features, including restaurants, bars, game room, shopping mall, gym, massage spa, and roof deck swimming pool.
DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon lauded the decision of Star Cruises and its parent company Genting to homeport its flagship in Manila as more cruise calls support President Duterte’s thrust to increase tourist arrivals into the country, and introduce its countless tourist destinations.
Bengzon noted that an extensive number of Filipinos are interested in a cruise of their own country, as well as a tour of Asia on a luxury ship.
Star Cruises is reportedly looking forward to add more Philippine destinations, such as Boracay and Cebu, in the cruise itinerary in the future.
Superstar Virgo, flagship of Hong Kong-based Star Cruises fleet, is the first-ever luxury cruise ship to homeport in Manila's South Harbor.
Present during the welcome ceremony were Department of Tourism Sec. Wanda Tulfo-Teo, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, officials from Manila City Hall, and other agencies.