The Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is returning to the Philippines with several inter-regional cruises, including three new ports of call in the country.
In an email to the BusinessMirror, NCL Vice President and Managing Director Ben Angell said, while global destinations have become popular to Asian and Filipino travelers, they are choosing more voyages “closer to home,” especially within Southeast Asia.
“The charm of discovering nearby gems is palpable, and Asia, with its vibrant cities, diverse culinary scenes, and rich cultural tapestry, remains a top global travel trend for 2023,” he added.
The Asian region is a major destination for NCL and continues to be an important source market for tourists. The cruise line has, in fact, “seasonally deployed” more ships in the region, starting with the Norwegian Jewel in the 2023/24 cruise season and the Norwegian Sky, Spirit, and Sun in the 2024/25 season.
“As we introduce more itineraries tailored to the tastes and preferences of the Filipino market, we’re optimistic about this continued growth,” he said.
The cruise line will be returning to Asia this month after an absence of three years due to the pandemic, starting with the Norwegian Jewel sailing from Tokyo on October 19, with 14 Asian cruises that last from 11 to 14 days.
“In addition, we’ve added five brand-new ports of call in Asia—including Boracay, Puerto Princesa, and Salomague [Ilocos Sur] in the Philippines, together with Hualien in Taiwan and Bintan in Indonesia. This is a testament to the rising number of travelers interested in exploring different destinations through cruising,” said Angell.
“With its archipelagic nature, the Philippines offers many beautiful ports, and we relish the opportunity to showcase them to our guests.”
Among the major cruises that include the Philippines in the current season is an “inaugural voyage” from Manila, which will take passengers on an 11-day Asian trip which includes Singapore, the Philippines, and Vietnam and ends in Kuala Lumpur.
“Departing on November 30, it will take travelers on an unforgettable journey through the vibrant markets of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the multicultural landscapes and towering skyscrapers of Singapore, and the intricate caves of Puerto Princesa in the Philippines,” said Angell.
‘Go Local’ shore excursions
Data from the Department of Tourism indicated the arrival of close to 40,000 international cruise passengers in the country, with 139 scheduled port calls this year. (See, “Cruise tourists seen to bring PHL P216 million,” in the BusinessMirror, February 16, 2023). Recent data showed from January to September 29, there were 16,679 international tourists who arrived by sea, accounting for less than 1 percent of the 4-million total arrivals in the period.
Meanwhile, NCL underscored its focus on crafting unique and immersive itineraries for its passengers.
“Our cruise durations are crafted for flexibility, often ranging between 10 and 14 days, allowing guests to immerse themselves deeper into destinations with extended port stays, unique overnights, and fewer days at sea. Our Go Local shore excursions underscore our commitment to deep cultural connections and uplifting local communities. As the travel landscape shifts and competition intensifies, we view the present scenario as an opportunity for enriched innovation and sustainable growth,” Angell explained.
For the eight-month 2024/25 cruise season in Asia, NCL is offering 14 itineraries sailing from five ports including Manila, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, and Seoul aboard the Norwegian Spirit, from September 2024 to April 2025.
This includes a 12-day Asia trip that will sail from Manila on December 10, 2024 to Taipei (Keelung), and will visit 11 ports in 12 days, and include overnight stays in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
There is also a 14-day Asia cruise from Taipei to Singapore starting December 22, 2024, which includes Boracay Island. The Norwegian Cruise Line has been in business for 56 years, with a current fleet of 19 ships sailing to 400 worldwide destinations.
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