Saturday, October 5, 2013

Puerto Princesa - Palawan, Philippines - Cruise stop on the Legend of the Seas - Part 1

Puerto Princesa, Palawan Island, Philippines (Part 1)

The Republic of the Philippines is an island country in South East Asia. It has almost 100 Mil people, with about 300,000 sq km of land and more than 7,000 islands.  In addition, more than 10 Mil Filipinos live and work overseas.

The Philippines has a long and very rich history.  In the late 1960s, it was one of the richest, if not the richest and most developed country in South East Asia.  However, Philippines is not in an enviable state today, at least where economic growth is concerned.  In terms of GDP per capita, the Philippines has fallen far behind neighbours like Malaysia and Thailand. 

This stop at Palawan was one exotic cruise port of call during our Legend of the Seas Borneo Cruise in March 2013. This was the Legend of the Seas maiden call to Palawan and I certainly hope that the cruise line will want to call here more often in the future!

This map gives you a good idea where the island of Palawan is located.  This island is very near East Malaysia (Borneo)!

A closer look at Palawan.  Somewhere in the middle, you can see Puerto Princesa.  That was our cruise stop. Exotic, at least to us.

The highlight of this port of call was the Underground River -

Extracted from the official website:
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one of the most distinguished protected areas of the Philippines. It is located some 360 miles southwest of Manila, the country’s political and economic capital. It was established as a National Park in 1971primarily to protect and preserve the intact old growth forest, interesting wildlife, pristine white sand beaches, unspoiled natural beauty and one of the most impressive caves systems in the world.

The Park features a spectacular limestone or karst mountain landscape. It contains an 8.2 km long underground river that flows directly to the sea. The lower half of the river is brackish and subject to the oceans tide. A subterranean river flowing directly into the sea and the associated tidal influence makes it the most unique natural phenomenon of its type to exist. The presence of 11 minerals, scientifically and aesthetically unique speleothems, and a 20 million year old Serenia fossil embedded in the walls of the cave justifies the declaration of the Puerto Princesa Underground River as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Cruise ship arrival.  This was Legend of the Seas maiden call to Puerto Princesa.

A rather large welcoming party.  This was a container port.  I don't think many cruise ships call here.  This was Legend of the Seas maiden call at this port.

We were the only big ship in port that morning.  Very calm seas.

19 March 2013 - All Aboard Time was 4:30pm.  We would be taking a ship organized tour today.  We would be heading to see some underground river, apparently very famous.  We decided against a private tour because we couldn't find any good reviews of any private tour operators.  I think the local tourism industry may not be that well developed yet.  Therefore there was a much higher risk if we took a private tour as we may not be able to get back to the ship on time.

View of the Legend of the Seas from the port.  It must have been quite a sight for the locals.

The town did not look very developed.  Turns out that they were a rather poor city, though with a lot of potential.

The guide could speak relatively good English.  He told us that in their schools, they learn English from a very young age.  It helps that they are very American in inclination, therefore, the young would all want to learn English.

Ah, a McDonald's.  They are everywhere.

I think Jollibee is a Filipino fast food chain.

Some drug store.

Look at that vehicle!

See the cross up on the hill?  The Philippines have many Catholics.

Nice green countryside.

This was a rest stop, more like a rest hut.

The tour buses.

Queuing for the Ladies.  The facilities were very basic, but clean.

The Gents, faster turnaround, as expected.

Very rustic, isn't it?

Green countryside.  It was certainly a hot day.  30 Deg C.

Nice mountain.

Pretty view.

There was some Elephant Cave here.  We stopped only for a photo op.

Two tour buses.

We had lunch at this resort - Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa.

Pretty resort, though I'm not sure how many people come here to stay.  We hardly saw many tourists.

No time for a swim though.

Lunch buffet.

Outdoor areas.

The beach.  It was a beachfront resort. Very quiet, save for a few guests sun-tanning on the beach.

Very nice.


The buffet area.  There were so many of us, they laid out an indoor plus outdoor spread.

Some of the food we ate.  Asian food, decent in taste.

End of Part 1 - head on to Part 2 of this review!!

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