Port infrastructure seen as key to boosting cruise ship tourism

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 27 2018 03:54 PM | Updated as of Nov 27 2018 04:19 PM

Royal Caribbean International's cruise ship Quantum of the Seas will be sailing in Asia in 2019.

MANILA - Developing better port infrastructure is needed to attract more cruise ship operators to the Philippines, an official of Royal Caribbean Cruises said Tuesday. 

Royal Caribbean International (RCI), one of the world's largest cruise operators said the redevelopment of existing ports or development of new ones must come with considerations that include the growing sizes of modern cruise ships and passenger loads in the region.

"We have the largest ships in the region so we have to ensure that the ports that we go to provide great guest experience once they get off the ship," said Angie Stephen, Royal Caribbean managing director for Asia Pacific. 

Angie Stephen, Royal Caribbean managing director for Asia Pacific talks about the company's plans in the Philippines and Asia. ABS-CBN News

Stephen said she sees double digit growth in Asia's passenger numbers including the Philippines, with their cruise ships doing more port-of-calls next year in Subic, Manila, Ilocos and Boracay. 

"We've doubled the amount of business that we've seen in the last few years in the Philippines and we hope that growth continues," Stephen said. 

But for now, Royal Caribbean does not set sail from the Philippines, but from Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. 

The cruise ship operator also hopes to hire more Filipinos. 

"The Filipinos are some of the highest-rated in terms of guest satisfaction, the friendliness and the warmth that they give to our guests," Stephen said. 

At any one point, RCI hosts 15,000 Filipino workers on its ships globally, representing one-fourth of its 60,000 total workforce. 

RCI has training facilities here in the Philippines. RCI targets 71 sailings next year in Asia, on board its ships Spectrum of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas. 

Royal Caribbean made two "test" port-of-calls in July this year, first in Subic then in Manila, on the Ovation of the Seas, RCI's biggest cruise ship. 

Stephen said they received a lot of positive feedback from this, which is leading them to plan regular port-of-calls in the Philippines.