The fist cruise ship to fly the Philippine flag has made Subic Bay its home port, giving an added boost to this free port’s claim of being one of the country’s most spectacular tourism destinations.
Esteban Tajanlangit, chairman of the 7107 Islands Cruise, said the 370-passenger ship would now start its twice-monthly inter-island tours here, after cruise line officials saw Subic’s advantage as a nautical gateway.
“This is the Philippines’ first cruise ship and Subic Bay is the ideal home port for it,” Tajanlangit said when the ship first sailed to Subic on February 14.
He noted that Subic’s Alava Pier, where US warships used to dock, offers an instant panorama of the freeport zone, unlike in Manila where containerized cargoes blocked the view of the city.
“The 7107 Islands Cruise is committed to make Subic a takeoff point to our country’s 7,107 spectacular islands, and today is just the beginning,” he said.
On its maiden cruise to Subic on Valentine’s Day, the Filipino cruise ship brought close to 300 vacationers who spent a day exploring some of the top attractions in this freeport under tour packages arranged by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
The tour destinations included theme parks like Tree Top Adventure, Zoobic Safari, and Ocean Adventure, as well as duty-free shops and other leisure facilities in Subic’s central business district.
With the ship homeported at Subic, meanwhile, tourists from Central and Northern Luzon would now have the chance to join the ship’s island-hopping tours, said SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga.
“They can take the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) and be in Subic in no time for the scheduled tours,” Salonga said.
Tajanlangit said the succeeding 7107 cruise schedules would start from Subic, proceed to Manila to pick up additional passengers, then begin the hops to Puerto Galera, Boracay and Coron.
“The ship will dock one or two days in each destination before sailing back to Subic Bay,” he said.
The 110-meter long 7107 Islands cruise ship has 137 cabins with a total bed capacity of 370, a swimming pool, sauna and spa, poolside bar, and entertainment lounge with professional bands and guest artists.
The cruise line also has tie-ups with destination resorts for diving, snorkeling, boating and other water sports activities.
The entry of the 7107 Islands cruise line in Subic was the result of the aggressive promotion campaign by the SBMA Tourism group, which has been busy creating various tour packages for Subic Bay.
A private firm has also developed areas at the SBF for a passenger terminal and tourist complex, and built a Bali-type resort along the waterfront.
Salonga said the passenger cruise industry is expected to energize Subic’s tourism sector and provide some steam to port and maritime-related businesses here in face of the global recession.