MANILA Who goes there: Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, Oceania Cruises, P&O Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea.
Cruisers like: The densely populated capital has been a fortified trading centre since the 13th century. History spans centuries, from the walled Spanish settlement of Intramuros and the 16th-century San Augustin church to the tranquil Manila American Cemetery and Memorial with graves of thousands of Americans who died in WWII. Keen shoppers should head to the many malls or the indooroutdoor Greenbelt haven of Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, south-east of central Manila.
Best for: All ages, bargain hunters.
Getting around: The cruise terminal is within walking distance of Old Manila. There are taxis in town, just be sure to agree on a rate before you go anywhere.
BORACAY Who goes there: Celebrity Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea.
Cruisers like: Guests may choose to simply relax and enjoy the beautiful beaches, especially the well-sheltered White Beach on the western side of the island. Cliff-diving from Ariel’s Point offers an adrenalin rush, while Bulabog Beach’s reef-protected waters offer windsurfing, kiteboarding, sailing, snorkelling, diving and jet skiing. There’s trekking and mountain biking for access to remote villages in the island’s interior. Talipapa market is good for souvenirs and seafood. To see it all, take a helicopter ride over the island.
Best for: Couples, active people.
Getting around: Caticlan is Boracay’s main port and only small ships can dock here. It is a 30-minute drive from the jetty to the island. There are plenty of taxis.
CEBU Who goes there: Cunard, P&O Cruises.
Cruisers like: The 225-kilometrelong island, surrounded by 167 smaller islands, is photographers’ and divers’ heaven, with spectacular reefs and colourful sea life. Its white beaches are ideal water activities. In the south, Tumalog and Aguinid waterfalls are worth a visit. Modern Cebu City offers high-rise excitement with the Sky Experience Adventure at the Crown Regency Hotel, including the Sky Walk and Edge Coaster. The quirky and very traditional Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House offers a peep into Cebu’s rich and gracious history.
Best for: Couples, adventure lovers, active types.
Getting around: The only way for tourists to get around is by taxi or colourful jeepney buses, which are safe and reliable. It is best to avoid private taxis as they will charge five to 10 times the normal fee.
EL NIDO Who goes there: Azamara Club Cruises, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea.
Cruisers like: The fishing village on the northern tip of Palawan is protected by towering limestone cliffs and overlooks a bay dotted with islets. There are 30 dive sites and clear waters filled with coral reefs and caves, ideal for all skill levels of scuba diving. Sea life includes dugongs, turtles, rays and numerous fish species. There are 50 beaches (Nacpan is clean and quiet) and Big Lagoon is a long canal of clear water, which is good for kayaking. Burial sites in limestone caves reveal centuries of habitation. Food-lovers are well catered for at the many restaurants in town. Helicopter Island has wide white sands and good waves.
Best for: Couples, active people, water lovers.
Getting around: Local operators offer island-hopping day tours.