BACOLOD CITY – Travelers from Bacolod and Iloilo may now get a direct trip to and from Batangas, following the first ever Batangas-Iloilo-Bacolod-Batangas route launched here by the Starlite Ferries Inc. on Sunday.
The brand new M/V Starlite Venus, a roll off-roll on (Roro) vessel, arrived at the Bacolod Real Estate Development Corp. (Bredco) port here around 9 a.m. Trips are scheduled every Sunday and Wednesday.
Shane Anthony Arante, general manager of Starlite Ferries Inc., said it was the biggest Roro vessel that the company has acquired since its incorporation 25 years ago.
It was specifically designed for the Philippine waters, and will perform well even in rough sea condition, he added.
The vessel was recently delivered from Kegoya, Japan, with an overall length of 97.8 meters and 5,185 GRT, Arante said.
Kegoya Dock completed the construction and delivery of the vessel in August despite the challenges of the global pandemic, he also said.
Arante said the vessel has a passenger capacity of 688, and mixed rolling cargoes of 28 units of trucks, buses, and private cars, the largest capacity in the Starlite Fleet.
Arante noted that Starlite Venus was the only Starlite vessel, which has different accommodation types, ranging from reclining seats to economy bed bunks, tourist bed bunks, cabin rooms, and family rooms, designed to make the passengers feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed during long voyages.
Arante said the company decided to launch this new route amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic because they saw the urgent need of locally stranded individuals (LSIs), Authorized Personnel Outside Residence (APORs), and returning overseas Filipino workers (ROFWs) to have other options to travel directly to Iloilo and Bacolod as a faster and more convenient sea travel route.
In fact, 73 LSIs and APORs boarded the maiden voyage of the M/V Starlite Venus from Batangas. Some of the passengers were already offloaded at the Iloilo port before the vessel set sail to Bredco port.
With the said development, Arante said that this will also lower the cost of the local government units (LGUs) in Iloilo and Bacolod in picking up their LSIs from Caticlan Jetty port.
He also said that the new route will provide alternative transportation option for logistics companies and passengers coming from Western Visayas provinces of Panay and Negros to Calabarzon area.
With this, they look forward to seeing an improved trade and commerce relationship between the Western Visayas and South Luzon markets.
Meanwhile, Commander Ludovico Librilla Jr., head of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Negros Occidental, said it is a good development, as it can lessen the travel time of travelers to 16 hours.
He also said they will enforce their mandate with regards to maritime safety and security, and marine environmental protection.