Tourists having their group photo taken after alighting early Thursday morning from MS Westerdam at the port of Puerto Princesa.

The return of cruise ships calling at Puerto Princesa City’s port is expected to boost the city’s tourism economy.

City Tourism Demetrio Alvior Jr. said the arrival of Westerdam cruise ship, which has 1,933 passengers and 783 crew members, is the first of four cruise ships scheduled to visit the city this March that will bring not less than 5,000 tourists.

“So far maayos ang naging biyahe nila papunta dito, nakisama ang panahon, at hindi malakas yung hangin,” Alvior, who led the welcoming party, said.

“Aside from this, we are also expecting another ship, which is bigger on March 4 and then on March 5 and 7,” he added.

The list of cruise ships scheduled to arrive this month includes MV Arcadia with 2,000 passengers, MS Nautica with 824 passengers, and MS Seven Seas Mariner with 700 travelers. Seabourn Encore, the first cruise ship to visit the Philippines after pandemic, arrived here last February 9 with 512 passengers aboard, signaling the return of cruise ship tourism after a two-year hiatus.

“This is actually also the 2nd of a total of 21 ships scheduled to arrive this year but we were informed that there might be additional. So we are glad that our place is among the first to be visited by cruise ships because it will surely bring in more tourists that will benefit our tourism industry,” Alvior further stated.

“So we are expecting around 55,000 tourists from cruise ships alone, including the crew,” he said.

Westerdam sailed all the way from Singapore and will proceed to Boracay tonight.

Cruise ships generally travel on an excursion tour so they really don’t stay long in one place,” Alvior said.

Passengers visited destinations in the city such as Puerto Princesa Underground River while others went for island hopping in Honda Bay.

“Some even opted to just roam around the city which is really good for the small players and frontliners who directly benefited from them,” Alvior noted.