Chinese cruise port to connect with Subic Bay

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT -- Plans are afoot to connect the Subic Bay Freeport, an emerging cruise ship destination in Southeast Asia, to the Zhoushan International Cruise Port (ZICP), which is one of the five major cruise ports in China today.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma Eisma, said Zhoushan port authorities, cruise line executives, travel agents, and representatives from China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism visited here on Monday to look into prospects of connecting ZICP with Subic, along with Clark International Airport.

“ZICP targets more than 200 international cruises every year after opening their cruise port in 2014,” Eisma said.

“Now they are looking at Subic Bay as their next target,” she said.

Eisma said that it would be logical for ZICP to connect with the Port of Subic “because the Subic Bay area is getting to be a popular cruise ship destination for Chinese tourists.”

Zhoushan, which is located in China’s Zhejiang province, is the only archipelago city in China and is considered the gateway to East China Sea.

Since its opening in October 2014, the ZICP became a departure point for cruises to Taiwan and other Asian destinations. Phase 1 of the ZICP development involved reclaiming land from the sea and building a berth for megaships. Total investment to date is reported at around $74 million.

Eisma said Subic could gain much from the proposed connection, as the Chinese cruise industry is expected to become bigger in the years to come.

“The link between Zhoushan and Subic would be mutually beneficial, since both areas have great offerings for cruise ship passengers and the potential to serve as jump-off points for other destinations in the region,” Eisma said.

“This could be the start of our version of a maritime silk road here,” she said.

At least 20 cruise ship arrivals have been calendared in Subic for this year, and some bookings have been made for 2019 and 2020.

These include three arrivals each for the month of June, July and August this year.

Eisma said that another giant Royal Caribbean vessel, the Voyager of the Seas, has been scheduled to arrive here in August. Its sister ship, the Ovation of the Seas, which is the biggest cruise ship in operation in Asia, has called at the Port of Subic last June 8. (Ric Sapnu)


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