Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First Filipino cruiseliner chooses Subic Bay as homeport

SUBIC BAY FREE PORT—For want of a spectacular view each time its ship sails, the first Filipino cruise ship company has decided to make its homeport here.

The 7107 Islands Cruise ship will now raise anchor from this free port and take its passengers to island destinations like Puerto Galera, Boracay and Coron, said the firm’s chairman Esteban Tajanlangit.

Tajanlangit, who joined the ship’s recent Valentine’s Day cruise to Subic, was swept off his feet by the panoramic vista of mountains and seas here—a far cry from Manila’s harbor where stacks of container cargo block the view, he said.

“This is the Philippines’ first cruise ship and Subic Bay is the ideal homeport for it,” Tajanlangit said during his visit here.

“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 added.

Tajanlangit said the next 7107 Islands Cruise ship tour sails from Subic to Manila, pick up more passengers and sail on to Puerto Galera, Boracay and Coron.

The firm’s web site also advertised other destinations like the islands of Ditaytayan, Malcapuya and Culion, as well as the Calauit game preserve in Palawan and the Apo Reef in Mindanao.

For the regular cruise schedule, the ship will dock one or two days in each destination before sailing back to Subic Bay, Tajanlangit said.

The 110-meter long 7107 Islands Cruise ship has “five-star hotel comfort” with 137 cabins that could accommodate up to 370 guests.

It also has a swimming pool, sauna and spa, poolside bar, and an entertainment lounge that re-gularly features professional bands and guest artists.

Tajanlangit said the cruise line has partnered with destination resorts for diving, snorkeling, boating and other water sports activity.

On its maiden cruise to Subic on February 14, the 7107 Islands brought close to 300 tourists who spent a day exploring some of the top attractions in this free port.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Feliciano Salonga said the passenger cruise industry could energize Subic’s tourism sector and “provide some steam to port and maritime-related businesses here in the face of the global recession.”

But Salonga noted this development also brings tourists away to other destinations.

Residents of Central and Northern Luzon now have the opportunity to join the ship’s island tours in the Visayas area, he said.

“Remember that the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway [SCTEx] now makes it easy for residents of Luzon to be in Subic in no time at all,” Salonga said.

The SBMA official also said Subic had long been ready for cruise liners, with various tour packages now available for various markets.

To support this marketing initiative, the SBMA has developed berthing facilities for cruise liners at the Alava pier and the former ship repair facility, while a private firm builds a passenger terminal, tourist complex and a Bali-type resort along Subic’s waterfront.

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