Star Cruises eyes return to Currimao port

LAOAG CITY — Following its maiden voyage to Currimao seaport in Ilocos Norte province last March, Star Cruises, a cruise line in the Asia Pacific, is set to return in December.

Provincial tourism officer, Ianree Raquel, said Tuesday the provincial government and other tourism stakeholders here are gearing up preparations for the return of the 13-storey Superstar Virgo to ferry passengers from its home port in Metro Manila to China and Hongkong.

Raquel said talks are underway for the improvement of the Currimao seaport to ensure greater convenience and safety of passengers.

Expecting thousands of Asian tourists aboard the ship, the management of Superstar Virgo aims to make the Philippines a permanent hub.

Rising to the challenge, the Ilocos Norte government, along with the Department of Tourism (DOT), Philippine Ports Authority and other private tourism stakeholders here, organized themselves as a group to take advantage of the opportunity.

A cruise industry is expected to bring in 10 to 15 times more economic benefits to its home port.

From the port of embarkation in Manila, Superstar Virgo is also planning to introduce more routes, which include Kota Kinabalu, Brunei, Ho Chi Minh, Okinawa and Thailand.

Over the years, the DOT and the Ilocos Norte government have been working on the promotion of cruise tourism.

To sustain its efforts, the province hopes the national government would allocate more funds for the development of a dedicated cruise terminal for big ships to land directly at the seaport without using tender boats.