SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — After a total of 30 cruise ship arrivals here since February last year and more visits expected before the yearend, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) plans to develop a cruise ship-handling protocol to sustain the growth of this booming industry.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said she had instructed the agency’s Cruise Ship Committee to produce a manual or guidebook for better management and sustainability of cruise ship arrivals.
“We have been successful so far in carving a new tourism niche in Subic with this booming cruise industry, and in order to sustain this growth we have to incorporate best practices into a structured system,” Eisma said.
“We also have to institutionalize the process of handling cruise ships so that we can provide quality service and effective assistance to the passengers and crew of the visiting vessels, as well as their ship agents,” she added.
According to the SBMA Tourism Department, a total of 19 cruise ship arrivals were recorded here last year, with the Italian-flagged Costa Atlantica setting the record at 14 visits. The rest were made by three other cruise ships: twice by SuperStar Gemini , which is operated by Star Cruises; once by Ovation of the Seas, which is owned by Royal Caribbean International; and twice by World Dream, operated by Dream Cruises.
Each of the arrivals brought in an average of 3,500 tourists who disembark in Subic and then go on tours of various destinations in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, as well as the neighboring communities of Olongapo City, Clark Freeport, and the provinces of Zambales and Bataan.
Last year, the Central Luzon Regional Development Council cited the SBMA for developing Subic into a premier cruise ship destination in the country and noted that cruise ship arrivals in Subic had generated more than P85-million worth of economic activity in the first eight months alone.
Meanwhile, 11 cruise ship arrivals have been recorded this year: seven for World Dream and four for Costa Atlantica. The latest was on May 16, when Costa Atlantica docked with with 2,000 passengers and 800 crew and officers.
Eisma also said that the SBMA’s successful initiative to develop complementation programs with nearby communities to offer curated experiences to tourists now make it necessary to develop a protocol for handling cruise ship arrivals.
SBMA Senior Deputy Administrator for Port Operations Marcelino Sanqui, who is also chairman of the SBMA Cruise Ship Committee, said that they will produce a handbook that will contain step-by-step procedures from the moment a cruise ship enters Subic Bay, drops anchor at Alava Wharf, disembarks its passengers, and so forth.
“The handbook may also help inform the passengers of the do’s and don’ts in Subic, such as our No Smoking and No Littering policies. This will also include road directions and emergency numbers,” Sanqui added.
The handbook, Sanqui also said, may be uploaded on the SBMA webpage so that would-be visitors to Subic may get to know the attractions in and around Subic Bay area and learn how to conduct themselves while in the area.