Experience The Beauty Of The Philippines With This Exceptional 5-Day Cruise
For those who seek a tropical getaway, get lost and find yourself in a 5-day adventure with Discovery Fleet: Nature Escape, where you’ll come across the breathtaking beauty of the Philippine seas.
Escaping is one way to revive one’s self from the endless hustle and bustle of the city life. From spending most of your days at the office while longing for a time off, we’ve found the perfect revival for the souls who desire to be surrounded by nature.
“Discovery Fleet is a livaboard which means they are like floating hotels for divers and non-divers. The advantage of staying on a ship instead of resorts, you aren’t limited to the dive sites that you can only visit. You can travel quickly because the boat moves fast as it is docked right of where we are scheduled to dive,” shares Yvette Lee, the Vice President for Operations and Director of Marketing and Media Affairs of Discovery Fleet. The company owns two ships—Discovery Adventure and Discovery Palawan—that travel to Visayas from October to December and Apo Reef and Coron from January to March.
In our adventure, we took the Discovery Palawan: Nature Escape with a group composed of 15 individuals. Anticipating an eventful 5-day itinerary, we all geared up to discover the beauty that was about to unfold from the vast waters of the Visayas.
It was a cloudy day in Mactan, Cebu when we arrived, just in time to stop for a quick lunch led by Yka, our lovely PR coordinator. While Cebu traffic is infamously known in the Philippines, it only took us less than 10 minutes to get to the restaurant where lunch awaits. And what better way to start the trip than with a taste of Cebu’s famous lechon and other delectable dishes from Zubuchon.
Yvette briefed us about what to expect from the trip, and upon arriving at the Cebu Port, the Discover Fleet crew helped us with our luggage and sent them directly to our assigned rooms.
It was already late afternoon when we gathered once again for a briefing about the ship’s guidelines and met the ship’s crew members. Unlimited brewed coffee and pastries were served at the top deck of the ship; the perfect combination for a languid, cloudy afternoon.
The scheduled wake-up call is at six in the morning, but my roommate and I were up before the alarm rang—prepped for the day with our cameras, ready to capture all the highlights of the trip. Colin, the boat manager of the ship, did the wake up call with his lively voice that basically set our mood for the day.
We were scheduled to visit two islands for the day: Oslob and Sumilon. Oslob is known for its magnificent whale sharks where the locals feed them everyday to sustain their growth. “Back then, the fishermen knew that it’s whale shark season when they see it in the lunch boxes of the kids. But in the present, the locals found a way to make some profit out of it by feeding them instead of hunting them. [This way, the community] was able to create a sustainable income without harming the whales, alongside the help of private cooperatives in the area,” shared Yvette as we sailed towards the island.
They anchored the ship near the feeding spot and took us to the exact location using speedboats. Excitement was written all over our faces as we patiently waited for the crew to take us to the spot. This was an unforgettable moment for most of us: The chance to swim with these glorious creatures for the first time.
Swimming with and seeing these animals up close alongside other tourists made me realize how lucky we are to shelter such wonderful creation. We found ourselves in awe of its beauty as we watched the locals feed the whales within a fairly close distance to avoid disruption. We spent just a few more minutes swimming with the whale sharks, as we still had another destination lined up for the day.
Sumilon Island is known for its crystal clear water and fine sand. It was the idyllic spot for a nap and we delighted in the serenity of the isolated island.
The next day, we woke up to the sound of the alarm, but this time, it was Kuya Joel, one of the cabin crew members. Before indulging in breakfast, Paula, our official yoga instructor for the trip led us in a morning mediation. The meditation only took a couple of minutes and helped in centering our body and mind for the day. Our mantra for that day was, “I am grateful.” Being surrounded by the sea, good company, and sumptuous meals, we definitely had much to be thankful for with this adventure in our midst.
Kuya Joel - Cabin Crew | Shot by Angelica Montoro
Arriving in Apo Island, the snorkelers changed into the appropriate gear provided by the ship: Goggles, wet suits, and flippers. From yesterday’s swimming with the whale sharks, we are now set to swim with sea turtles and witness the well-preserved coral reefs of the island.
We were given the opportunity to join the Discovery Intro Diving, with Colin as our diving instructor. This granted us the chance to discover a deeper and wider perspective underneath the crystal waters. Following that marvelous experience, we headed to the ship and I was able to schedule a Reiki session with Paula.
Reiki is a Japanese technique believed to reduce stress by balancing the seven chakras of your body: The Root, Sacral, Solar, Heart, Throat, 3rd Eye, and the Crown Chakra. The word reiki comes from "rei" which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and "ki" which is "life force energy.”
Photo from Jecs Cagas | Shot by Joel
That evening, the Discovery Fleet team prepared a special surprise for the guests. The crew took us to Silver Reef Dive Resort in Dauin, Negros Oriental where we gathered for a night of unlimited cocktails and a barbecue buffet. As we enjoyed the night with our new-found friends conversing endlessly about food, life, and travel, we did not realize that it was almost midnight when we went back to our ship.
Instead of the usual six a.m. wakeup call, Colin decided to move the alarm an hour later for us to recover from the previous night’s long and memorable session. It was our fourth day and we were set to dock at Cabilao Island. The morning felt slower compared to the first days of the trip since we were given the whole morning to wander around the island while waiting for lunch to be served.
The Discovery Fleet chef ensures that each guest enjoys their meals, so they do their best to create a menu that would appeal to their guests' palates. “If most of the guests are Chinese, we usually prepare Chinese delicacies, if they’re Filipino—then we prepare Filipino favorites,” says the head chef.
He drove carefully on the sandy and rocky path that led to more coconut trees and houses. Beneath the sweltering heat of the sun and amidst the cool breeze, Kuya Joel pointed out the cacao trees and local nipa houses. It seemed like everything was in slow-motion despite our speed as we passed by through town—a serene territory where you’ll find yourself envious of their unfazed, leisurely way of life. We drove back to our spot just in time for lunch and relished on good food and music right by the beach, while enjoying a freshly opened coconut bought from the local vendors.
One never feels the need to check the time while on a secluded island with weak mobile signal. But realizing that we were nearing the end of this memorable adventure, each of us took the time to fully immerse ourselves in our surroundings. With but a small amount of time left to enjoy this exceptional trip, we relaxed and lingered about—some got a massage, while I opted for an afternoon yoga session by the beach.
It was already five in the afternoon when we started. In sync with the sunset and the crashing sound of the waves, Paula moved gracefully while we followed the sound of her voice. Despite the uneven sand that made the positions quite challenging, we balanced ourselves (with our best efforts) into various yoga positions, while the sun set down on us. We managed to get through the whole session, in a calming and almost prayerful end to a lovely day.
Thinking that a five-day trip is considered a lengthy vacation already, we found ourselves longing for more days as we spent our last morning with the Discovery Fleet. We gathered after breakfast to bid farewell to the crew, making sure to take some snapshots with the whole group. We asked Colin to give us one last quick tour around the boat, to see the our areas in the ship that we might have missed while on board. He willingly granted our last wish before heading out and we were able to capture it all in video.
View from the upper deck | Shot by Angelica Montoro
Looking back, our short but sweet escape on the Discovery Fleet was a great way to celebrate the wondrous waters of the Philippines in the best way possible. As we traveled back to Manila, we followed through with our mantra and continued to be grateful as we switched back to the reality of city life.
See more photos from the 5-day adventure with Discovery Fleet below:
Visit www.discoveryfleet.com to know more about their packages.
Pictures were taken using Fujifilm AX7.