PPA may freeze Manila cruises after disembarkation fiasco

PPA may freeze Manila cruises after disembarkation fiasco

THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is considering suspending cruise ship operations at the Port of Manila if third-party providers fail to adequately explain the disorganized disembarkation process affecting thousands of passengers.

“We are expecting the reply of these cruise ship agents and terminal operators today and… if they do not reply, we might cancel the arrival of the cruise ships here in the Port of Manila,” Eunice Samonte, PPA spokesperson, said in an appearance on One News on Monday.

The PPA gave the third-party providers to submit their explanation to PPA by Dec. 18, Monday, Ms. Samonte said.

“Our port facilities are equipped to receive big cruise ships,” she added.

On Nov. 30, passengers of the Norwegian Jewel, operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, experienced a chaotic disembarkation process, an incident that turned viral on social media.

The PPA had initially blamed the contracted transport service and the ship agent Ben Line Agencies, Inc. for not providing sufficient personnel to assist the disembarking passengers.

Separately, the Department of Tourism (DoT) expressed grave concern over the mishandling of arriving cruise passengers.

It noted that the Philippines currently holds the distinction of being Asia’s Best Cruise Destination 2023, “which was the result of hard work, convergence, and collaboration in the past year.”

The DoT said that it will continue to ensure the growth of Philippine cruise tourism.

“The incident is taken by the DoT with utmost seriousness as the positive experience of tourists in the Philippines is paramount, and can only be assured with the full support of, and collaboration with, the DoTr (Department of Transportation) and PPA to prioritize the convenience and safety of arriving passengers,” it added. — Ashley Erika O. Jose