Literally, it’s hard to move on during the pandemic. Living within the community quarantine bubble means very limited movement for everyone. The Wandering Weekend Warrior hasn’t been traveling outside the bubble since the lockdown has been called last year. Staycation in hotels are almost impossible even in an eased lockdown because hotels are exclusively being utilized as quarantine hubs for travelers. We’re grounded at home until the curve is flattened and we achieve herd immunity.
But the opportunity to travel came to me. That is to be part of the maiden voyage of M/V 2GO Maligaya. Since safety protocols are ensured to be followed, I took the chance. After 14 months of no travel, sailcation it is. My plan is to remain on board even though travelers are allowed to disembark in Cebu or in Cagayan de Oro as long as the conditions set by the local government unit are met. So after I got my antigen test result and was certified I’m not a carrier of the virus, I’m so ready to go.
M/V 2GO Maligaya
The moment I saw the vessel docked in the pier, I didn’t doubt M/V 2GO Maligaya being marketed as the largest passenger ship in the country. It’s humungous! The fresh livery of the ship is inviting which excites me to know more what’s on board. It’s a game changer in the industry as it offers a unique cruise experience to the travelers. MLG, the three-letter nickname of the vessel, not only boasts its size, but is also proud to hold the title of being the fastest. Going to Cebu from Manila used to take a whole day by a ship but with MLG, the national capital is just 17 hours away from the Queen City of the South. It is also powered by the most advanced technology in navigation so far in the Philippines. MLG, a roll-on roll-off passenger (ROPAX) and cargo vessel, operates on a Manila-Cebu-Cagayan de Oro route twice a week.
Truly, Merrily, Deeply
It wasn’t my first time to aboard in a local ship. In fact, I used to sail on 2GO vessels named after the saints. This time, as part of their rebranding and their mission to level up the sea travel experience, 2GO has chosen Filipino values for their new fleet. Maligaya is the very first. Maligaya is word with a sense of deeper joy and youthfulness contrasted to Masaya or a happy feeling. What makes it more special is the coincidence of its launch in time of the pandemic. The vessel was ordered even before the pandemic happened and now it carries the hope as it sails on the sea of uncertainties caused by COVID-19.
A Cruise for Every Juan Dela Cruz
This is the most enjoyable sea travel I’ve experienced so far. The ship offers a number of amenities and facilities which includes a convenience store. prayer room, shower rooms, clinic, salon, and even KTV entertainment rooms. If you’re looking for place to eat, pray, and possibly love, they’ve got it all for you. Trivia: SM Investments Corporation takes over the majority of 2GO Group Inc. So that tagline fits.
Most of the original configurations of the Japanese ship were retained. Thus the minimalist feel, together with some elements of luxury, is still very prominent in the interiors. The Pinoy fiesta vibe is also present in decals and other decorations.
Whether you’re a COVID-conscious solo traveler or you’re traveling with your family, there’s an accommodation type that suits your lifestyle. One can choose from a state room, business premium, tourist premium, business class, tourist class, and the tatami. Brownie points for Japanese aesthetics!
I was privileged to be invited in a dinner with the captain and the executives. More than just a courtesy call, the evening became a learning class for me as I welcomed new facts about maritime among the ship enthusiasts. Also boarded in the ship were members of the Philippines Ship Spotters Society who affirmed M/V 2GO Maligaya as a trailblazer of the local shipping industry. 2GO Vice President and Head of Sea Solutions Dan Fernan shared how the company put their vision into a reality. Backed up by the love for country, some of the executives went back to the Philippines to rise to the challenge. If Philippines is already sending Filipino seafarers to the world, which is the second largest share in the maritime industry globally, can the country offer a world-class ship? M/V 2GO Maligaya is their answer.
The Philippines’ largest ferry operator acquired the Mitsubishi Shimonoseki-built M/V Stena Nova and is now under its 2GO banner. The ship is being propelled by engines from Germany-based Wärtsilä to a 23.5-knot service speed. The state-of-the-art vessel has advanced fire alarms systems, integrated navigation and control system, and collision mitigating support system. With these advance technologies, M/V 2GO Maligaya can operate long-haul services fast and safely.
One of the highlights of the exclusive tour is the walkthrough in the engine room. I just realized that we’re actually below sea level as we navigated the bottom deck of the ship.
All good things must come to an end. But my sea travel experience with M/V 2GO Maligaya is one for the books. While the ship isn’t the fastest option to get you to Visayas and to Mindanao, choosing sea travel is must-try for wanderers who are craving for new experience especially for those who have all the time in the world. I also recommend to travel with 2GO for travelers who want to disconnect (or to leave something behind, oh no) but still like to enjoy me-time. Pampering in a salon perhaps, or singing your heart out in a KTV, or jam with the live band. Boredom has no room while in the middle of the sea that even people watching despite the social distance is enjoyable for me too.
The good in stay-at-home directives was worth the wait. Now, we’re ready to go.
M/V 2GO Maligaya leaves Manila every Wednesdays and Sundays. To book your tickets, go to 2GO Travel’s website at https://travel2go.com.ph, or call their hotline (02) 8 528 7000, or email them at travel@2GO.com.ph, or visit any 2GO outlet and SM Business Centers.