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HK-based cruise ship homeports in Manila

Photos by Philippine News Agency show Sunday morning's homeport deployment of Superstar Virgo in Manila. PNA PHOTO means BUSINESS

MANILA - Hong Kong-based cruise line Star Cruises on Sunday began its three-month homeport deployment of one of its lines, Superstar Virgo, to Manila for the first time.

With a 2,400-passenger capacity, the 13-storey Superstar Virgo will give a six-day, five-night cruise from Manila on Sunday then proceed to Laoag, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong and will sail back to Manila on Friday.

The ship has over 10 restaurants, entertainment and karaoke, an outdoor pool and a 100-meter mega water slide, mini-golf, gym and sauna. Passengers onboard this voyage were able to avail of an early bird discount of USD490 per person for cruise departures on March 19, 24, and 29, 2017; third and fourth persons can avail of an additional 50 percent off, USD245 per person excluding port and gratuity charges.

Star Cruises President Ang Moo Lim, in an earlier press conference, said that Filipino passengers can enjoy the visa-free cruise with no baggage allowance.

At present, the Cabotage Law or Republic Act No. 10668 allows foreign vessels to transport and co-load foreign cargoes for domestic transshipment and for other purposes.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) led the inaugural ceremony for the first-ever home-port deployment of Star Cruises on Sunday morning.

DOT together with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) are currently looking at relaxing regulatory rules on visa requirements as part of its cruise tourism development strategy.

In 2016, the Philippine welcomed 72 port calls. This year, the agency is eyeing around 117 port calls.