Palawan to Become a Cruise Destination with Its Port Under Development

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Palawan is set to become a more established tourist destination once its cruise port facility opens. Optimistic about improved tourism activity, the government also expects a boost in trade and commerce.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said that the construction of the Puerto Princesa terminal is in full swing, with the third and fourth phases of the project to be completed this year, as shown in a Business World article. The agency expects that the infrastructure will put the province in the list of world-renowned cruise destinations.

Implemented in seven phases by DPWH’s Region IV-B, the P1.5 billion project involves the construction of a 500-meter wharf, docking facility, passenger terminal, and access road. 

Once completed, the facility will be able to take in Quantum-class cruise ships with 7,000 to 10,000 passengers on board, the Philippine Information Agency reported a while back. Aside from the thousands of passengers, 5,000 crew members are also expected. Mayor Lucilo Bayron shared in his last State of the City Address that with these crowds of people spending time in the city, the opportunity to boost profits for the locale is promising.

Puerto Princesa is a strategic location for the cruise port, as it houses the Underground River, also known as the Subterranean River National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the same time, it’s considered a convenient entry point to famous vacation spots, including El Nido, San Vicente, and Taytay.

According to Palawan News Online, the first cruise ship that arrived in the city was MV Europa, docking on January 11, 2020. It had 333 passengers. In February, there will be two more vessels, namely AIDAvita and MV Seabourn Sojourn. Other ships expected to visit the port this year include MV Explorer Dream, Star Breeze, MS Noordam, and Celebrity Millenium. Next year, some of them will return, along with new ones, such as Silver Spirit, Maasdam, Arcadia, MS Queen Elizabeth, and MV Seabourn Ovation.

Build, Build, Build Ports

Around the country, the government is constructing and rehabilitating ports designed for commercial and tourism use. Up north, the recently developed Salomague Cruise Port in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur already opened doors to the public, as reported by Business World. The facility serves as an alternative terminal in Region I. It’s situated in a great location, being near beaches and vacation spots in the province, as well as the home ports of Hong Kong and South China.

A partnership project between Bloomberry Cruise Terminals, Inc. (BCTI) and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), the port facilitates cruise operations throughout the year.

Another notable project the government has completed recently is the biggest passenger terminal building at the Port of Cagayan de Oro. According to Manila Bulletin, the two-story building, inaugurated last July 2019, has a floor area of 5,597 square meters, accommodating 3,000 passengers, triple its previous capacity. 

The facility also has new amenities designed to improve the safety and security of the passengers. This includes checkpoints with X-ray scanners for baggage, CCTVs, body scanners, boarding stations, collector’s booth, and public assistance desk. The building also has green spaces and offices for passenger-related departments, such as quarantine, tourist police, and the Coast Guard.

Aimed at improving comfort for tourists, there’s also a play area for kids, child care station, urgent medical room, drinking fountains, food kiosks, pasalubong centers, and a special boarding lane for senior citizens, pregnant women, PWDs, and women traveling with kids aged two below.

Meanwhile, over in Visayas, there was the rehabilitation of Tubigon port in Bohol. The facility reopened early last year after the damages from the 2013 earthquake were fully repaired, the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported. 

Among the repairs done were the pedestrian covered walkway, lighting system, security fence, and gate. The port access road was also improved. The port itself can currently hold 28 sea vessels, a huge improvement from the 10-ship capacity previously. It features three roll-on, roll-off wharfs for docking landing craft tanks and barges.

The passenger terminal building, meanwhile, can accommodate 4,000 passengers every day, in contrast to formerly serving only 1,500. It has amenities providing increased comfort for the public, such as child care stations. Security facilities were also improved, with a new baggage X-ray machine and a walk-through metal detector.

To increase convenience in operations, there’s a one-stop-shop for clearing and payment of port charges.

The port serves as the main harbor for ships traveling the Tubigon-Cebu City route. It’s also an alternative transportation system for tourists going to and from the two provinces. It’s a more convenient way to travel, as the trip duration is shorter.

Sources: Business World, The Philippine Information Agency, Palawan News Online, Manila Bulletin, Philippine News Agency
Main photo via the Department of Public Works and Highways

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