Cruise ship tourist arrivals skyrocketed by 1,953% to 9,156 passengers in January from only 446 in January of last year.

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said in a statement that more than half of the January volume, or 4,520, was recorded in the port management office (PMO) in Northern Luzon, with renewed interest of Hong Kong-based Star Cruises at the Port of Currimao as one of its cruise routes. Other areas which posted positive cruise tourist arrivals include Coron, Boracay and the Manila South Harbor, the DoTr and PPA said.

On Monday, Mar. 5, the Manila South Harbor, managed and operated by Asian Terminals, Inc., (ATI) registered four cruise ships docked at the ports, a record high. These cruise ships are the SuperStar Virgo of Star Cruises, Costa Atlantica of Costa Cruises (Costa Crociere S.p.A.), Amsterdam of Holland America Line, and Silver Shadow of Silversea Cruises (Silversea Cruises Ltd). SuperStar Virgo is making Manila its home port for this summer.

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said the numbers show that efforts of his agency are paying off.

“On the part of the PPA, we have been injecting so much effort to improve the cruise facilities of our ports particularly in areas like Puerto Princesa in Palawan, South Harbor and North Harbor in Manila, Bohol in the Visayas, and Currimao in Northern Luzon,” Mr. Santiago said in a statement.

Travel publication Condé Nast Traveler in 2015 named the Philippines the next top cruising destination after the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

In 2013, the PPA identified Davao, Bohol, Boracay, Cebu, Metro Manila, Puerto Princesa, Subic, and Zamboanga as the main gateways for cruise liners. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo