Cruise ship's agent, operator responsible for 'chaos' in Port of Manila - PPA
Cruise ship's agent, operator responsible for 'chaos' in Port of Manila - PPA
Cruise ship's agent, operator responsible for 'chaos' in Port of Manila - PPA
by Ellicia Del Mundo15 December 2023

The ship agency and operator of the viral Norwegian Jewel cruise ship were primarily responsible for the “chaos” that occurred at the Port of Manila last Nov. 30, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Santiago said.

Interviewed during DZRH Dos Por Dos on Friday, Dec. 15, Santiago said the Ben Line Agencies (ship agent) and Asian Terminal Inc. (ATI) (operator) failed to deploy a sufficient number of porters for traffic management as agreed earlier in a pre-arrival meeting.

“Ang inaasahan sana natin ay merong tutulong na mga magbubuhat o porters. Kaya lang sa kasamaang palad, dahil sa kakulangan ng preparasyon at pagtitipid, yung pribado na nag-operate diyan at ship agency, eh ang dineploy lang nilang porter ay 20. At hindi pa naka-uniporme,” he said.

Santiago explained that the traffic worsened inside the port as the 2,300 disembarking passengers were met by 2,505 embarking passengers, who came to the port as early as 8 AM.


“Sa pagkakataong iton, hindi karaniwan, nagbaba ng pasahero ang cruise ship, at the same time sila naman ay nagpasakay ng halos parehong numero ng pasahero. Meaning, galing Pilipinas, mag bo-boarding, nagsalubong. May nag-disembark at sasakay,” the PPA General Manager said.

He also mentioned that only nine buses were deployed to cater to travelers.

“Maliban doon, nag-deploy sila ng siyam na bus. Kaya lang, dahil sa scheduling nila, out of 2,300 na katao, tatlumpu't lima lang ang sumakay sa siyam bus,” Santiago said.

The PPA General Manager said they have already issued a warning to ATI and Ben Line, stressing that their operations would be suspended if such an incident occurred again.


“Kasi kung hindi naman nila kakayanin, ay kahiya-hiya po. Kung ang mga pribado ay hindi susundan yung ganong kalidad na serbisyo ay mabuti na itigil na iyan,” he added.

In an official statement, PPA management regarded the chaos as an “isolated incident” since it said that many cruise operations had docked successfully at the Port of Manila this year and in the past years.

It also echoed the statement of its General Manager that both ATI and Ben Line Agencies Inc. failed to fulfill their commitment to "provide personnel for traffic management and the deployment of the porters."

"Only 20 civilian porters (not in uniform) have been provided to assist 2,353 disembarking passengers and 2,505 embarking passengers,” PPA management said.


"To help the improper coordination and poor handling of ATI and Ben Line Inc., PPA assisted by issuing 1,150 temporary vehicle pass[es] and making sure Malaskit Help Desk provided assistance due to the failed commitment of Ben line Inc. to ensure the smooth travel of the passengers," it added.

The ports authority’s management said both the ship agent and operator have yet to respond to its request for an explanation on the complaints.

Photo courtesy: PPA / Facebook page

The viral cruise chaos was raised by Nelson Terible, one of the passengers disembarking Norwegian Jewel cruise ship after a 10-day Southeast Asian Cruise.

In a Facebook post last Dec. 8, he recounted their “sad, pitiful, and traumatic experience” at Pier 15 in Manila.


“No porters or luggage carts were provided. I think there were approximately 20 porters to service 2,500 passengers, mostly seniors with full luggage (hand carry and the usual 20 kgs maletas),” Terible said.

He claimed that it took them "at least 1.5 hours" to get out of Pier 15’s narrow exit, adding that no authorities were “manning” and “ensuring order” the area.

“There was an absolute lack of concern on the part of PPA personnel to ensure a safe, comfortable, and pleasurable disembarkation experience. If anybody panicked or had a medical emergency, the congestion would have made it impossible to get help, especially since we didn’t see anyone to ask help from,” he said.

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