With more than 7,000 islands throughout the archipelago, international cruise ship companies are looking at the Philippines as a possible cruise destination, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia said.

Three of the world’s leading cruise companies-Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines– have expressed interest to help develop the Philippines as a cruise ship destination in a meeting with Cuisia, the Philippine Embassy in the US said in a statement.

“The cruise giants were open to working with the Philippines in destination development while they discussed infrastructure requirements,” Cuisia said in the statement after meeting with senior officials of the three cruise industry leaders during a recent economic diplomacy mission to Florida.

Cuisia said officials of the three companies provided feedback on how the Philippines could become a cruise destination that would provide their guests with a unique and memorable experience.

During the meeting, Cuisia highlighted notable destination possibilities in the Philippines particularly Vigan in Ilocos Norte which is vying to be one of the New Seven New Wonders of the World.

Vigan, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines, has been described as “the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia” and is the only Philippine city on the list of heritage sites declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Cuisia said senior officials of the three cruise lines praised their Filipino crewmen who make up the majority of their employees on their ships.

The three industry leaders employ a combined total of 61,700 Filipino crewmembers and said they were planning to hire more seafarers from the Philippines as they acquire more cruise ships to support their expansion plans.

“They have nothing but high praises for their Filipino crew. They told us that service is in the Filipino genes,” Cuisia said.

“Carnival officials even commented that their company will not be what it is if not for their wonderful Filipino crew,” he said.

Carnival Corporation employs the largest number of Filipinos with 37,700 crewmen followed by Royal Caribbean with 16,000, and Norwegian Cruise Lines with 8,000. The most popular cruise destinations of the three cruise lines are the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico, Alaska, Canada, Hawaii, Bermuda, and the Panama Canal. ___

Photo Credit: Major cruise lines are considering making the Philippines, including Vigan in Ilocos Norte, a major cruise destination. Pictured are the waves in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. Doun / flickr.com