CRUISE: Loboc resumes its activities and promises a whole new experience with refurbished boats and even more comfortable facilities. (photo added)
BOHOL’s popular Loboc River cruise is once again welcoming guests after intensive rehabilitation after Typhoon Odette.
According to Lourdes Sultan, head of Travel Village Tours, an operator of cruises on the Loboc River, the floating restaurants have also resumed buffet lunch service.
Sultan said cruising resumed briefly in the last quarter of 2021 as pandemic restrictions slowly eased. However, the super typhoon severely damaged ships as it passed through parts of the region in mid-December 2021.
Department of Tourism (DOT)-Central Visayas Director Shahlimar Hofer Tamano announced that the Loboc River cruise is among various tourism activities that are “rebooting” as the country reopens borders amid the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 and Odette.
On March 1, 2022, four cruise ships were launched at their maximum capacity of 50% passengers, or 30 to 35 passengers per ship, in accordance with protocols prescribed by the Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) . Other vessels are currently being rehabilitated. Four other boats will be usable by the end of March 2022.
The cruise promises an enriched heritage experience. Refurbished boats are outfitted with details in vernacular Visayan architecture. Guests will enjoy a more stylish and culturally appropriate journey through the waterway. Boats are now wider. Polished wooden floors, stained glass, capiz and callado details were installed on the ships.
Cruise operators, Sultan said, saw the opportunity to implement the aesthetic improvement with the repair of motorized double-hulled vessels. The upgrade is in line with the Bohol Provincial Tourism Council’s direction for tourism facilities to adopt the vernacular Visayan theme.
As tourist activities came to a halt with the declaration of the pandemic in 2020, the local government of Loboc and cruise lines scrambled to plan the conduct of this beloved river journey.
They started by assigning separate entrance and exit buildings within the river cruise complex. The air-conditioned two-story entrance facility houses ticket counters and waiting areas for up to 150 people taking into account the IATF distancing protocol.
Tourists appear to have only been waiting for the pandemic restrictions to be lifted.
Sultan said an average of 150 daily visitors took part in the river cruise during its first four days of operation. About 25% of this number are non-Filipino.
“DOT-7 reiterates its commitment to industry players across the region. We commend Bohol Province, LGU Loboc and our floating restaurant operators for the initiative to improve Loboc River cruising and for the successful restart,” Tamano said.
Loboc is now “back in business,” Tamano said.
The operators accept advance reservations for the river cruise. Reservations are also being accepted for other sites in the province. Visitors must present proof of vaccination – vaccination cards, certificates or passports – at the entrance. (PR)