SUBIC BAY FREEPORT―The Italian-flagged cruise ship MV Costa Atlantica returned to the Port of Subic Thursday after its successful maiden port call here last month, marking its second in a series of 13 trips here that are scheduled until August this year.
The 85,619-ton, 292.56-meter cruise ship docked at Subic’s Alava Pier early in the morning, bringing its 2,500 passengers and crews for a one-day tour of the Freeport and neighboring communities.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, who led employees and residents in welcoming the tourists, said the return of Costa Atlantica only manifests the capability of the SBMA to handle cruise ships and the vibrancy of local tourism.
“We have been dreaming of becoming the next cruise ship playground in Asia, and we can see that the dream is being realized right now,” Eisma said.
“We are hoping that this initiative by the SBMA to attract cruise ships would further boost the development of the Subic Freeport and the communities around it,” she added.
Most of the cruise ship passengers were taken by buses to various tourist destinations in the Freeport, including the Ayta indigenous park in Pamulaklakin, Ocean Adventure and Zoobic Safari.
Some of the passengers, meanwhile, preferred to walk around the Freeport area, and venturing as far as the souvenir shops and public market in Olongapo City.
SBMA Cruise Ship Committee chairman Marcelino Sanqui noted that while the Subic agency merely earns a pinch compared to what it spent to ensure that cruise ship passengers would have a safe and enjoyable stay in Subic, it makes sure that the businesses inside and around Subic profit from the ship arrivals.
“It is not our business to make profit from what we do; our mandate is to give business to our stakeholders,” said Sanqui, citing the beneficiaries as the local restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops and even vendors and taxi drivers.
“If one cruise ship passenger would spend just US$10 while in Subic, that would mean a total income for Subic of US$25,000 or P1.25 million for just one day,” he stressed.
Sanqui added that the SBMA is “helping our stakeholders to earn, and at the same time, we promote Subic as a new major destination for international cruise ships.”
“I strongly believe that we are on the right track,” he also said.
The Costa Atlantica, which is operated by the Italian company Costa Croceire, has 11 passenger decks elegantly adorned with Italian-inspired decors of arts and furniture. Each is named after a movie made by Italian movie director named Federico Fellini.
Other cruise ship companies that had already confirmed their schedule in Subic are MV Superstar Gemini, which will arrive here on March 13 and 21, and MV Glory of the Sea, which will dock here on March 31. Both are operated by Star Cruises/Genting Hong Kong.
Two mammoth cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines are also stated to arrive in Subic this year. These are the MS Ovation of the Seas, which will arrive on June 9, and MS Voyager of the Seas, which is set to arrive on August 26.