13-storey "Superstar Aquarius" debuts voyage to Puerto Princesa, Palawan

November 12, 2014 11:40 am 

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 11 (PNA) – Star Cruises, the leading cruise line in the Asia Pacific today, celebrated its maiden port-of-call in this city Monday afternoon with the arrival of the 13-storey ocean cruise liner M/V Superstar Aquarius that had recently homeport in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

With the inaugural cruise, the Star Cruises also introduced its “all” new 3-night destination sail package to Puerto Princesa, Palawan in the Philippines.

City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, Vice Governor Dennis Socrates, Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr., Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Siegfred Mison, other local officials and representatives from the tourism and cruise ship sectors in the city and province were all at the “Princess of Ports” Monday afternoon to welcome the 623-ft. 6 in. Dreamward class cruise ship as it cuts across the waters of the city bay to drop anchor for an overnight stay with over a thousand tourists.

Michael Goh, Star Cruises senior vice president for Sales, said “they are proud to have the city as one of the new destinations for Superstar Aquarius” considering its commitment to keep the environment pristine.

“During this deployment, Superstar Aquarius will make 14 port calls to Puerto Princesa, each time bringing travelers to this beautiful city. We are committed to promoting Puerto Princesa and the Palawan island province to travelers across the region and the world,” Goh said.

Obviously contented with the guarantee to help the cruise ship tourism industry in the city and province, Alvarez in his speech announced that his leadership was looking forward to “building more safe harbours in the province in the municipalities of Roxas, El Nido, Taytay, and Coron.

He said that it was his dream too, to construct a sea transportation link to the island municipality of Linapacan that had been included in October 2013 by the Daily News Dig (www.dailynewsdig.com) in the top list of 35 Waters to Swim Around the World Before One Dies.

The Daily News Dig, he said, described the waters of Linapacan as “so clear,” worthy to visit by anyone, who is always out to explore the natural beauty of the world.

Linapacan is the island municipality, where Asia’s most exclusive resort Ariara is located.

The governor also boasts of Balabac island town at the southernmost tip of the province, and only about 50 kilometers north of Sabah, Malaysia, and San Vicente in northern Palawan.

“Balabac is another island municipality in southern Palawan that is worthy of world travel attention because Maldives cannot even compare to its beauty. And lots of white sandy beaches, and delightful coves. San Vicente too, is a town to look forward to as it has over a hundred kilometers of beach that is incomparable to Boracay,” Alvarez said aboard the Superstar Aquarius.

In 10 years, he said the provincial government targeted a hike in tourist arrivals of 3.5 million to contribute to the tourism industry in the country.

”We hope that on your next port call, you will stay for 48 hours because there is a lot to see in the city alone,” Alvarez said, adding hopefully more longer stay in the future to allow travels to municipalities with their own tourism sites to offer.

Bayron, on the other hand, said the inaugural voyage of the Superstar Aquarius starts the journey for the city and province to make Puerto Princesa and Palawan both shine in the global tourism as “World Beyond Words.”

“Your maiden voyage here is very important to our tourism industry. We only have two industries here, tourism and agriculture with fishing. In behalf of the people of the city, we thank you for your patronage as we heard you will have 14 port calls,” he said.

The Superstar Aquarius’ maiden voyage saw the arrival of international passengers from Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Hongkong and other countries, as well as traveling local Filipinos.

Passengers, who disembarked to have a taste of the city, were welcomed with a spectacular live cultural dance performance.

Known as the “City in the Forest,” the city lived up to its reputation as one of the most environmentally-conscious cities in the Philippines, gently reminding passengers not to throw away garbage and other items anywhere except in trash bins found all over.

Benzon of the DOT said it took them a few months to get Star Cruises to come to Palawan with the Superstar Aquarius. Now that it is finally in the shores of Palawan, the tourism department is expecting the province to assist in creating greater awareness for the Philippines as ideal country to visit in Asia.”

”We are very confident that attractions in Palawan will further create awareness about the Philippines as one of the best countries in the world to visit. We are positive that the Star Cruises will help spread that ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’,” he said. (PNA)

RMA/CARF/EBP

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