Bohol welcomes first cruise ship for 2024
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Philippines — The province of Bohol received its first international cruise ship this year with the arrival here of CMV Vasco de Gama, owned by the German cruise line Nicko Cruises, on Jan. 10.
Around 1,500 mostly German guests and 588 crew members were welcomed with a cultural festival showcasing traditional Filipino dances upon the ship’s arrival at the Tagbilaran City seaport.
The passengers visited tourist destinations in the province, including Chocolate Hills, historic churches, and Loboc River, before leaving the province on the same day at 4 p.m.
Vasco de Gama’s 22-day Asia Cruise had four stops in the country including Manila, Coron and Puerto Princesa in Palawan, and Bohol.
The ship was to sail from Bohol to other stops in Indonesia and Australia.
Cruise tourism in Bohol started in 2005 with the arrival of cruise ship Minerva owned by Swan Hellenic, a Cyprus-based company.
Since then, cruise ships such as MS Europa 2, L’ Austral, and MS The World have regularly made stops in Bohol.
From 2020 to 2022, cruise ships canceled their trips here due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It resumed last year when MS Silver Shadow of the Monaco-based Silversea arrived in Bohol on Feb. 11, 2023, with 382 American tourists on board.
More than capable
The provincial government, through the Bohol Provincial Tourism Office and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, provided support upon the ship’s arrival together with the Department of Tourism.
At least two more international cruise ships are expected to visit Bohol this year, according to the office of the governor.
Gov. Aris Aumentado said that CMV Vasco de Gama’s visit to the province proved that Bohol can host foreign tourists on cruise ships.
Aumentado hoped more tourists, not just those on board cruise ships, would visit Bohol, which has been named by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as its first and only global geopark in the Philippines.
Records from the Bohol Tourism Office showed that 742,990 tourists visited the province in 2023. This was higher than the 535,803 tourist arrivals in 2022 and the 179,781 visitors in 2021.
Most of the tourists came from China, South Korea, and the United States, among others.
In 2020, when COVID-19 broke out, the number of tourist arrivals in the province plummeted to 177,341.