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CRUISE LINE TO MAKE INAUGURAL CALL IN BORACAY ON VALENTINE'S DAY
[RELATED: Manila now a cruise home port]


FEBRUARY 4 -Celebrity Cruises. (Manila Bulletin)
Another ship of the international cruise line company, Celebrity Cruises, will make its inaugural call in the resort island of Boracay this coming Valentine’s Day. The MS Celebrity Constellation is expected to bring in more than 2,000 cruise passengers and more than 1,000 crew members. To mark its inaugural call here, an exchange of plaques between Aklan’s provincial government, Western Visayas’ tourism office, and Malay’s local government, and officials of MS Celebrity Constellation will be conducted on board the luxury ship, according to Jean Pontero, special operations officer of the Caticlan Jetty Port. READ MORE...RELATED,
Manila now a cruise home port...

ALSO: A Quick Stop in Roxas City


FEBRUARY 11 -Bibingka
President’s Hotel, Roxas City—As a chef one of the most fascinating places in terms of ingredients, particularly seafood, would be Roxas City. We got to check in right in the center of the business area in a charming and friendly hotel called President’s Hotel on Roxas St. where there is a rather large collection of nostalgia and vintage pieces with every room being named after a President. Roxas City Public Market—The Roxas City Public Market is quite an exciting place to drop by daily because one will never know what is sold since the variety of seafood would range from small to big catches and harvests. On a first visit we were able to buy a lot of scallops and large brackish to freshwater eels. A rather rare mangrove snapper called Manga-gat though dark and rather ugly is known for its delicate, oily, and soft sweet flesh. READ MORE...


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Cruise line to make inaugural call in Boracay on Valentine’s Day


 Celebrity Cruises. (Manila Bulletin)

MANILA, FEBRUARY 13, 2017 (MANILA BULLETIN) Published February 4, 2017, 9:02 PM By Philippine News Agency -

Another ship of the international cruise line company, Celebrity Cruises, will make its inaugural call in the resort island of Boracay this coming Valentine’s Day.

The MS Celebrity Constellation is expected to bring in more than 2,000 cruise passengers and more than 1,000 crew members.

To mark its inaugural call here, an exchange of plaques between Aklan’s provincial government, Western Visayas’ tourism office, and Malay’s local government, and officials of MS Celebrity Constellation will be conducted on board the luxury ship, according to Jean Pontero, special operations officer of the Caticlan Jetty Port.

READ MORE...

Boracay is included in the Asian tour of the cruise ship, which will start its journey on February 5 from Singapore.

From Singapore, it will sail to Vietnam, Hong Kong, and then the Philippines. It will first dock in Manila on February 13 prior to its Boracay visit.

After Boracay, it will proceed to Malaysia and back to Singapore.

The MS Celebrity Constellation will be the second cruise line to visit the island this year, and 13 more are expected within the year.

This February, at least four cruise ships are expected to dock in the island.

---------------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Manila now a cruise home port By Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo (philstar.com) | Updated January 14, 2017 - 3:51pm 42 1233


Superstar Virgo Star Cruises/Released

MANILA, Philippines — For the first time ever, families in Manila no longer have to fly to Hong Kong or Singapore to hop on a cruise.

Major shipping line Star Cruises announced in a press conference in Manila this week that one of its premier cruise ships for families, Superstar Virgo, has made Manila one of its home ports.

Star Cruises president Ang Moo Lim explained they chose Manila as home port, in addition to five other Asian cities, since Filipino seafarers have been a part of their company’s DNA for the past two decades.

“Star Cruises was the first major cruise line to recruit Filipinos 23 years ago for our cruise ships, and now, we are pleased to be the first international cruise line to welcome Filipinos on board Superstar Virgo as our guests from our home port in Manila,” Lim adds in a statement.

As home port, Manila will not only be the start and end of Superstar Virgo’s Manila-Laoag-Kaohsiung-Hong Kong route. It also puts Manila on the Asian cruising map currently dominated by Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, followed by Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan, says Michael Goh, Star Cruises’ senior vice president for sales.

So far, Star Cruises is the only company that has made Manila a home port as other cruises only have port calls in Manila, said Andrea Manzano, the company’s assistant vice president for sales.

The announcement came just in time for the completion of the National Cruise Tourism Strategy of the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DoT), said DoT assistant secretary for tourism and development planning Maria Lourdes Japson. She believes this will help make the Philippines a major player in the cruising industry.

She added that in the last five years, there has been a 52.5-percent increase in cruise calls in the Philippines, where among the favorite destinations are Manila, Boracay, Palawan, Bohol, and Siargao.

100 CRUISE CALLS THIS YEAR

This year, the country expects more than 100 cruise calls, she said.

The DoT, according to her, continues to improve the country’s facilities to make it more cruise-friendly. The department also partners with businesses and other organizations to highlight natural and cultural attractions in more remote places in the country.

“We’re confident that the Philippines will become a cruise destination all the more,” she said.

No visa, hassle-free, all-inclusive, duty-free shopping, and unlimited baggage allowance – these are just some of the perks of the new Manila-Laoag-Kaohsiung-Hong Kong route developed for Superstar Virgo’s initial 15 voyages that will run from March 19 to May 23.

Goh said the sailings were scheduled in summer to coincide with school break and Holy Week. Summer, he added, is the best time to have a cruise for the pleasant weather and calmer seas.

Since Filipinos are largely Catholic, Goh said they included Laoag, Ilocos Norte’s capital known for its baroque churches, in the itinerary. Laoag also boasts of Spanish colonial buildings and white-sand beaches.

Next stop is Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan, the island’s largest industrial center and second largest city. Besides shopping, Kaohsiung is popular for its temples, museums, street food and other culinary adventures.


Kaohsiung, Taiwan Star Cruises/Released

Normally, Filipinos need a visa to go to Taiwan, but the cruise has made arrangements to make the trip visa-free for Filipinos, Goh explained.

The final stop is Hong Kong, specifically, in the futuristic Harbour City in Victoria Harbour, world famous for its shopping, dining, entertainment, and nightlife.

But the trip’s real destination, said Goh, is the almost 20-year-old ship itself that has been well-maintained to still look fresh and assure safety for its passengers. Among its amenities are more than 10 restaurants, spa, gym, a duty-free shopping center, suites with balconies, a slide pool with a view of the open sea, and a theater that plays full productions that include magic shows and acrobats.

The six-day, five-night itinerary covers accommodation, on-board meals of at least six times a day, and nightly entertainment culminating in a grand gala dinner.

While waiting in the airport and traveling by plane take half day out of one’s traveling time, a cruise ship takes you to the next stop while you sleep, so there is no time wasted, Goh enthuses. For this reason, he believes cruises are the future of travel.


MANILA BULLETIN

A Quick Stop in Roxas City 23 SHARES Share it! Published February 9, 2017, 12:05 AM By Chef Gene Gonzalez


Bibingka

President’s Hotel, Roxas City—As a chef one of the most fascinating places in terms of ingredients, particularly seafood, would be Roxas City.

We got to check in right in the center of the business area in a charming and friendly hotel called President’s Hotel on Roxas St. where there is a rather large collection of nostalgia and vintage pieces with every room being named after a President.

Roxas City Public Market—The Roxas City Public Market is quite an exciting place to drop by daily because one will never know what is sold since the variety of seafood would range from small to big catches and harvests. On a first visit we were able to buy a lot of scallops and large brackish to freshwater eels.

A rather rare mangrove snapper called Manga-gat though dark and rather ugly is known for its delicate, oily, and soft sweet flesh.


jumping shrimp (pasayan)

READ MORE...

Bulgan (barramundi)!

And a delicious firm and white fleshed fish called Ilawan that we had filleted was plentiful. Large white prawns (suajeputi) which are more tender than the cultivated black tiger prawns abound. The vegetable scene is quite interesting as several varieties of spinach like red and green amaranth were available and souring ingredients such as batuan fruit and libas leaves for sinigang put the classic signature for what people from Panay love to eat.

Tomatoes here are more green than ripened and their chilies which look like cayenne but are milder and more flavorful when they are red and ripened shows lots of potentials for Asian and Mediterranean cooking.


steamed manga-gat (mangrove snapper)

The early Sunday market scene is very rustic in atmosphere with live young pigs weighed, sold, and carried off with their shrill squeals. Women lay out shellfish and jumping shrimps with pre-brushed fresh oysters as many are stripping and cleaning takway or young taro shoots.

The scent of ricecakes, caramelizing coconut mixes with the wood smoke emanating from the bibingka makers who carry a metal drawer they top this oven with wood that smolders on the early chill of the morning.

The bibingkas differ from maker to maker such as some are doughy and bready while some are chewier because of the caramelization of shredded buko or fresh coconut on their “secret family” batter. This market certainly has a unique character of its own that represents the people on this side of Panay.

Coco Veranda Restaurant—There are several restaurants along the dark sand beach line all probably serving almost the same offerings and market or daily catch specials for the day.

The highlight of the lunch were the baked scallops, oysters shocked by hot water to make them open, the steamed Manga-gat that had wonderfully oily, delicately soft but large flakes, and sweet tender flesh in contrast to its looks.

What are very homey is their adobong takway or young roots and runners of the taro plant that has a unique texture of its own.


adobong takway

R M L Manukan—across President’s Hotel on Roxas St. was a chicken inasal place that encourages one to eat with their hands as spoon and forks are only given upon request. The chicken inasal is delightfully redolent of wood smoke and has some crispy skin once it is served and finished on the grill. The customary annatto oil made from chicken drippings puts one out of control with getting another order of rice.

You can email me at chefgene88@yahoo.com  or follow my Instagram account at chefgenegonzalez



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Sol in 1997 Photo: PHNO Editor/Travel & Leisure page
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