Luxury cruise ship now includes PH in travel route

A foreign cruise ship's itinerary is seen to be more fun, as it now includes the Philippines as one of its destinations in an Asian route, the Department of Tourism on Wednesday said.

The Royal Caribbean International's Legend of the Seas made its inaugural call on the ports of Manila and Boracay last Oct. 26 and 27 as part of the vessel's eight-night Southeast Asia trip.

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Aside from the Philippines, the Florida-based Norwegian and American line's cruise ship also has stops in Xiamen, China; Manila and Boracay, Philippines; and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

The government "extended its warmest reception to almost 2000 passengers from different countries on-board the vessel," the DOT statement said.

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Passengers were taken on a tour around popular tourist spots in Manila, such as Intramuros and the Rizal Park during their first day. They next day was meanwhile spent in the world-famous Boracay Island.

The Legend of the Seas' inaugural port call came sooner than he expected, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said, as he recalled that Royal Carribean hinted at an Asia route including the Philippines only 10 months ago.

He nonetheless welcomed the development as a vote of confidence for Philippine tourism.

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This, as he highlighted the country's ramped-up transportation infrastructure program which includes building and repair of major sea and jetty ports and harbors.

Such developments are seen to "make cruise tourism a viable tour option," Jimenez said.

"The arrival of the Legend of the Seas would hopefully mark the start of the arrival of more foreign cruise liners to the Philippines, bringing along with them more tourists which would give the country's tourism industry a boost," he added.

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