The Liveaboard Industry Comes Alive in the Philippines.
The Tubbataha reef dive season is open and this year should be a record year for the reef. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a 97,030-hectare Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Palawan, the westernmost Philippine province. It is located 150km southeast of Puerto Princesa City, at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the global center of marine biodiversity. The park management has issued 12 permits covering 15 liveaboards for the 2016 dive season which last only about 3 weeks.
This year seems to be a potential milestone for the Philippine Liveaboard industry. In addition to a record number of liveaboards, seven of them will sail year round, adding other itineraries when the season closes on Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. The Philippines has a number of outstanding dive destinations, of which Subic Bay is one of them. The liveaboards will be able to bring divers to dive sites that are beyond the range of dive centers. Two of the liveaboards that stand out are Philippine owned and operated.
The M/V Discovery Palawan is an older vessel with 20 cabins, that had a 1.5 million dollar upgrade two seasons ago. On the Tubbataha reef trips she will carry 32 divers. On the other routes she will only carry 16 divers and between 24 – 26 non divers. They have developed a non divers program to make this an attractive liveaboard for those traveling with non diving companions. The people behind this fleet has considerable experience in diving and managing dive resorts. Many of them also have experienced with a earlier fleet that sadly was impacted by the economic crisis a number of years ago.
This year they are adding the M/V Discovery Adventure fresh from dry dock for dive trips to the Tubbataha reef program.
M/V Atlantis Azores
There are two Atlantis hotels each with 40 rooms, one in Dumaguete and the other in Puerto Galera. These are considered among the best upscale dive operators in the Philippines.
Philippine Siren and Solitude One are two well known liveaboards fleets that are adding the prestige of their names to the Philippine diving industry. The Philippine Siren is a vessel of the Siren Fleet and will sail in Philippine waters year round. The Solitude One is the first ship of a fairly new fleet, but one that instantly gain an outstanding international reputation.
The addition of these international liveaboards and the expansion of the domestic fleets shows that the dive industry in the Philippines has reached the point where they are recognized as a international quality destination. These new year round vessels will show that the Philippines is in fact not only world class but also a year round destination.