Asia is hot for cruising, and The Phillipines wants a piece of the pie. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., the Philippine Ambassador to the United States, recently met with senior officials of the three major cruise companies -- Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line -- on a visit to South Florida.
Cuisia talked with the officials about the Phillipines' desire to become a more robust cruise destination and to provide memorable experiences for guests. During a face-to-face meeting, Cuisia said he told the executives about options.
Perhaps most notable is Vigan City in Ilocos Sur province, a northern Phillipines tourist destination. It's considered one of the best examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in Asia. It's the only Philippine city on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Agents can read the Ambassador's press release here: http://www.philippinesusa.info/news/4077/300/CRUISE-LINES-INTERESTED-IN-HELPING-DEVELOP-THE-PHILIPPINES-AS-CRUISE-SHIP-DESTINATION/d,phildet/
The Phillipines, one of the few countries that avoided a recession in 2009, boasts an economy that grew 6.6% in 2012, the highest in Southeast Asia; that's an average of 6% during the past three annual reporting periods. The country's U.S. ambassadorial Web site said "healthy economic growth is expected to be sustained with growth rates of 7-10% possible in the next 10 years."
Cruise companies have moved into Asia in a big way. For example, Royal Caribbean International (www.cruisingpower.com), will position its newest vessel, Quantum of the Seas, in Asia for year-round cruises from Shanghai. That ship will begin a 52-day Global Odyssey voyage to China on May 2, 2015.
While the Phillipines may not be on the radar as yet for regular calls, luxury and upper premium lines do call there on World Cruises and other extensive voyages. As the lines forge new routes and itineraries -- having based significant tonnage there -- they may be seeking new destinations for both "been there, done that" cruisers and first timers to visit.
Certainly, the big three lines understand the Phillipine concept of friendly service, employing nearly 62,000 Filipinos. Carnival Corp is the biggest employer with 38,000 Filipino crew members. "They have nothing but high praises for their Filipino crew," said Ambassador Cuisia, noting "They told us that their company will not be what it is if not for their wonderful Filipino crew."
At Carnival, the Phillipine Ambassador met with Giora Israel, senior vice president for global port and destination development and many others. At Royal Caribbean, the meeting involved primarily human resources executives. At Norwegian, Cuisia met with Crane Gladding, senior vice president for revenue management and passenger services and others.