Cruising in the Philippines is gaining recognition in the market based on the brisk demand for Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) first-ever offering of departure from Manila and its three new Philippine destinations.
The 2,376-pax Norwegian Jewel, boarding from Manila on November 30 is “already sold out or close to selling out already”, said Aileen Clemente, chairman and president of Rajah Travel Corp.
Mike Hain, groups manager, Corporate International Travel and Tours Inc (CITTI), expected this cruise to be a hit, just like Star Cruises’ series of cruises that boarded from Manila several years ago, because of Filipinos’ craving for the cruise experience and the senior market that finds it easier to travel by ship than by airplane.
Needing to only buy a one-way return ticket for the cruise, since it sails from the Philippines, is what makes it appealing, explained Hain. He added that Filipinos are still relatively new to cruising, unaware of “the value of full board, multiple docks visited” – however, once experienced, they “will long for the convenience and value-for-money offered by cruises”.
Returning to Asia after over three years, Ben Angell, vice president and managing director APAC, NCL, shared that by offering their first-ever departure from the Philippines and from South Korea, NCL hopes to enable more travellers from these countries “the chance to experience the NCL difference by cruising right from their doorstep”.
Angell told TTG Asia that of NCL’s five new ports of call in Asia, three are in the Philippines – Boracay, Puerto Princesa and Salomague – with open-jaw voyages from a variety of gateway cities.
Commenting on the open-jaw cruises, Clemente said: “(It’s) significant savings for those who want to go to another country and yet still enjoy their time on board and cruising. They only need to worry about baggage on their return since they don’t have to lug around their baggage while visiting multiple destinations. Also, because it is almost all-inclusive, they can plan their budgets better.”
Furthermore, NCL usually comes up with different offerings for its cruises – for Norwegian Jewel departing from the Philippines in November, free at sea options include the complimentary open bar, specialty dining, excursions, and Wi-Fi.