The Island Province of Batanes recently played host to its first cruise ship from Zegrahm Expedition – the M/S Caledonian Sky last March 17, 2017.
Having gone around the Philippines for years now, it is the first time that the Caledonian Sky dropped its anchors along the shore of the Northern Philippine Islands of the Cagayan Valley Region.
M/S Caledonian Sky carried 76 foreign guests and 13 crew who all tried their hands in the activities offered by the local government units of Batanes. Expedition Director Mr. John Nicholson was the team head for this expedition.
Traveling by night from Calayan Island to Batan Island in Batanes, the guests and crew were welcomed at the Basco Port by the reception party with a drum and lyre parade.
They enjoyed the spectacular landscapes and seascapes of the province traveling to Naidi Hills and walking along the town center and shopping for gifts to bring home at the Basco Park in the morning. They also visited the Racujauidi settlement fishing village in the town of Mahatao to learn about the fishing industry of the Ivatans and enjoyed riding the local jeepney.
The guests were also treated to a simple program featuring the Ivatans’ traditional Rondalla musical, Palu-palo dance and heartwarming talks from Ivana Vice Mayor Romeo Emilio Fidel and Batanes Vice Governor Ronald Aguto.
Vice Governor Aguto, who has supported exploratory talks on the cruise tourism program of the Department of Tourism since 2015 said, “the arrival of M/S Caledonian Sky is a dream come true”.
In the afternoon, the group went to Sabtang Island and were treated with a ride in the local tricycle and the Vakul Kanayi cultural dance. The participants were encouraged to get their partners to dance and the best couple was given local shirts for a prize.
In all the island stops, the guests and crew were ferried from the cruise ship to the island ports using Zodiacs where the reception party awaited them.
DOT Regional Director Virgilio Maguigad has expressed his appreciation for the support extended by the local chief executives in the Northern Philippines Islands. He commended as well, the efforts extended by the local stakeholders to the National Cruise Tourism Development (NCTD) Program of the Department of Tourism.
Dir. Maguigad also expressed his appreciation for the support of its DOT accredited stakeholders like travel agency operators who acted as handlers for the foreign principals, tour guides and transport operators.
Sharp Travel Services Philippines (STSP) was the Philippine-based travel agency responsible in handling the negotiations with Zegrahm Expedition. On May 7, 2017, STSP will again handle the port call in Batanes of M/S BREMEN, a German Luxury Expedition Vessel under Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. The M/S Bremen can carry a maximum of 164 guests at a time and offers the guests the chance to discover destinations renowned for their natural beauty.