We’re looking ahead with the new cruise port in Puerto Princesa

Cruise ships, just like airlines, are down these days because of the pandemic. People around the world are not travelling because of the strict requirements at airports about visitors possibly carrying the coronavirus. We remember only too well that our first two COVID cases in the Philippines were a visiting Chinese couple in early 2020.

At the start of the pandemic, two cruise ships were compelled to stay away from ports because so many people on board had become victims of COVID. Then, there was the American aircraft carrier where so many crewmen had fallen ill. The shipboard infections must have been spread by the air-conditioning. But it was not known at that time that the virus traveled easily on streams of cold air blowing out from air-conditioning units, as well as in the very breath of persons standing close by.

The pandemic is not quite over yet. But it will, inevitably. This is why only last Monday, Secretary Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) inaugurated the P3.5-billion Puerto Princesa Cruise Port and facilities. There are not many ports in the world capable of accepting huge cruise ships with hundreds of thousands of passengers. We now have one in Palawan, a part of the country largely left untouched by developments in the more thickly populated parts of the country.

Palawan lies so far west of the Visayas that it is considered part of Luzon. It is more easily reached by land transportation from Mindoro just south of Batangas. It is hardly visited even by our own tourists. With the new port, it will join the few international ports capable of accepting huge cruise liners. The terminal building is a huge structure capable of accepting 2,500 persons at a time.

Palawan is still undeveloped as a tourist attraction, yet it has a rare underground river in Puerto Princesa, which was listed as a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Heritage Site in 1999. It was voted one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2012.

With the new Puerto Princesa Cruise Port, it is bound to be a favorite international cruise destination when world tourism resumes after a year of the pandemic. That may still be sometime in the future as the pandemic slowly dies down, but our officials, especially in the DPWH and the Department of Transportation are to be commended for looking ahead when most other officials are still grappling with the problems of the pandemic.