Philippines Goes All-In on Cruises to Welcome Record Passenger Numbers

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Perhaps one of the most underrated cruise destinations in Asia, the Philippines is preparing for a busy cruise year, with an expected 300,000 cruise passengers scheduled to visit the country in 2024, and 44,000 cruise passengers having already visited the country in the first three months of the year. 

Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago, the Philippines expects a 275-percent increase in cruise passengers compared to 2023, when 80,000 cruise passengers arrived in the country.

“For the year we are expecting 300,000 cruise tourist arrivals, for the first three months of 2024 we have achieved 44,000 cruise tourist arrivals already,” Santiago said.

The surge in cruise tourism comes as the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is steadily investing in new and modern cruise terminals to welcome the increasing number of cruise ships that sail to one of the country’s 7641 islands.

The Philippines has long been left on the sidelines during cruise itineraries, with only the capital of Manila, Boracay, and Puerto Princesa seeing regular ship visits.

However, with the addition of a new cruise terminal in Siargao, the country’s surfing capital, which is scheduled to open around the third quarter of 2024, and a dedicated cruise terminal in Coron, Palawan, the Philippines is significantly increasing its capacity to welcome more cruise passengers.

Read Also: Carnival Cruise Looks at Career Opportunities in the Philippines

“Other than the ports we are improving, we have now co-constructed dedicated cruise terminals, those we have identified and ongoing cruise dedicated terminals, like in Siargao which hopefully by the third quarter our Siargao cruise terminal will be operational. 

Coron, Palawan also has a cruise terminal, there’s the one in Currimao Ilocos Norte, there’s the Salomague ports in Ilocos Sur and we’ve also constructed our dedicated cruise terminal in Buruanga, Aklan and we have many more locations to start for cruise destinations add to that the one in Camiguin that is lined up,” added GM Santiago.

On top of that, cruise ships now also regularly call to islands such as Bohol, El Nido, and Subic Bay

Why A Cruise To The Philippines Is A Great Idea

Besides the tens of thousands of Filipino crew members who would relish a chance to show their home country to guests onboard, the country is a match made in heaven for those who love the combination of culture, great food, island hopping, and stunning natural beauty.

The Philippines is home to a diverse range of ecosystems, from rainforests and jungles to stunning coral reefs and the stunning rice terraces of the Luzon mountains. Of course, the Philippines’ greatest trait, its people, are incredibly hospitable people, as many who have encountered Filipino crew members onboard can confirm.

Boracay island, Philippines
Boracay island, Philippines (Photo Credit: Pelikh Alexey)

The plans from the Philippine Ports Authority make visiting the islands a lot easier and make islands, many of which are hidden gems that are not on the radar of mass tourism yet, much more accessible.

However, while the country expects to welcome 300,000 cruise passengers in 2024, in 2025, the country will be seeing the busiest year to date. Manila will have 25 cruise calls in 2025, compared to just six more in 2024. Puerto Princesa will welcome five more ships in 2024, compared to a total of 16 ships scheduled already in 2025.

Amongst the companies that have ships sailing to the Philippines are Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Seabourn, Holland America Line, Azamara, and Hapag Lloyd.

The numerous other cruise ports around the country will also see a large increase between 2024 and 2025, signaling an increased interest from the cruise industry to explore a country that has been dubbed the best cruise destination in Asia.

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