Asia’s biggest cruise ship debuts in Subic

Passengers from MS Spectrum of the Seas do the obligatory selfie at landmarks fronting the Alava Wharf in the Subic Bay Freeport (Henry Empeño)

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Despite an overcast sky, the Subic Bay Freeport welcomed the arrival here on Friday of MS Spectrum of the Seas, the largest cruise ship operating in the Asian region today.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, who personally welcomed the disembarking passengers, said the event capped Subic’s stellar performance this year as the region’s emerging cruise ship destination and marked the start of the second phase for Subic’s cruise ship tourism program.

The Spectrum of the Seas is the first Quantum-Ultra-class cruise ship built for Royal Caribbean International, the world’s largest cruise line in terms of revenue and second largest by passenger count.

It carried close to 5,000 mostly Chinese passengers and some 1,550 crew members.

The ship is one of the biggest cruise ships to sail in Asia and reputedly the most expensive. It features Royal Caribbean’s first private enclave for suite guests, new stateroom categories and innovative dining concepts on top of amenities like outdoor and indoor pools, body and mind spa, fitness centre, rock-climbing wall, sports court, Splash-away bay, and an outdoor movie screen.

Eisma said she was optimistic that the bigger statistics would translate to greater tourism windfall for Subic and the outlying areas in Central Luzon.

“More than 20 tourist buses were fielded today for our guests, who would be touring various attractions in Subic and in the nearby communities,” Eisma pointed out on Friday.

“This is great news for the SBMA, which has been marketing Subic as a must-see destination for cruise liners, and this is also great news for tourism stakeholders in Central Luzon,” she added.

The arrival of Spectrum of the Seas is seen as the start of the arrival of bigger cruise liners, as Subic marks the third year of its budding cruise ship tourism program.

“Beginning January next year, we shall be seeing more and bigger cruise ships in Subic. The MS Spectrum of the Seas will come back for another visit on January 20, to be followed by its sister ship MS Quantum of the Seas, another behemoth that will arrive here on February 28,” Eisma said.

She added that with the arrival of bigger ships, the SBMA expects to post bigger tourism revenues for Subic and the neighboring areas of Olongapo City, Zambales, Bataan and Pampanga.

According to SBMA records, Subic received a total of 19 cruise ships in 2018, which marked the start of the agency’s cruise tourism program.  The arrivals yielded a total of 38,205 visitors, and earned the SBMA Seaport Department P8.4 million in direct revenue.

This year, the 15 cruise ship arrivals from January to October generated 38,985 visitors and an income of P8.07 million for the SBMA Seaport.

Eisma said the actual income earned by all the tourism players in Subic and neighboring communities would be bigger since this would include money earned by tour buses and taxis, entertainment groups, restaurants and shops, tiangge vendors, theme parks and resorts, as well as malls in Subic and nearby areas.

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