Passengers disembark from the cruise ship World Dream and tour the Subic Bay Freeport after the vessel docked at the Alava Wharf on Dec. 11. Contributed Photo
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — More cruise ships are expected to arrive in this premier trade and tourism port next year, as the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) continues to upgrade maritime facilities to increase cruise tourism traffic.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the Subic agency has already listed 38 confirmed cruise ship arrivals and two tentative bookings next year.
On top of that, four confirmed arrivals and one tentative booking have been posted for 2021, she said.
“Beginning January next year, we shall be seeing more and bigger cruise ships in Subic. This includes MS Spectrum of the Seas, which will dock here on December 27 and then come back for another visit on January 20,” Eisma said.
“Then on February 28, its sister ship, the MS Quantum of the Seas, will be arriving in Subic,” she added.
The two ships, which are owned and operated by Royal Caribbean International (RCI), the world’s largest cruise line by revenue and second largest by passenger counts, are among the world’s largest cruise ships in operation today.
MS Spectrum of the Seas is set to arrive with 4,819 passengers, while MS Quantum of the Seas will bring in 4,905 passengers.
“These arrivals will also serve to provide additional income to the Subic community, as well as neighboring areas that cruise passengers visit upon arrival here,” Eisma said.
According to SBMA records, the 19 cruise ship visits in 2018 yielded a total of 38,205 visitors and direct revenue of P8.4 million for the SBMA Seaport Department.
This year, the 15 cruise ship arrivals from January to October generated 38,985 visitors and an income of P8.07 million for SBMA Seaport.
Eisma pointed out that the actual income earned by all the tourism players in Subic and neighboring communities would be bigger since this would include money earned by tour buses and taxis, entertainment groups, restaurants and shops, tiangge vendors, theme parks and resorts, as well as malls in Subic and nearby areas.
Eisma said the SBMA aims to generate more cruise ship traffic by retrofitting the Alava, Bravo, and Rivera wharves in the Subic Freeport to accommodate more arrivals.
“We’re also upgrading the Subic Bay International Airport to attract passengers who may opt for the sea-air connection available in Subic,” she said.
Eisma said that another measure the SBMA would look into is the issuance of implementing rules and regulations for Executive Order 72, which governs the admission and stay of foreign nationals in Subic as temporary visitors.
The latest cruise ship to arrive in Subic was MS World Dream, which arrived on December 11.
World Dream, which has a capacity of 3,376 passengers, was designed for the Asian cruise market and is now operated by the Dream Cruises line of the global entertainment and leisure firm Genting Hong Kong.