Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I’ve heard the concept of “Manila Bay Cruise Buffet Dinner” a long time ago, but it was only last October 8, 2011 that I gave it a shot (I have actually tried Buffet Lunch while cruising at Loboc River in Bohol, Philippines but I was with friends that time).

For our 5th Monthsary, John Neil and I decided to catch the world famous Manila Bay sunset and have a romantic dinner while cruising along the shoreline of Manila Bay. Well, it was intended to be a sunset dinner cruise but the skies were overcast after a light rainfall. Bad timing Mr. Rain!


We were aboard the dining yacht of Prestige Cruises Inc. With former boarding terminal at the SM Mall of Asia Jetty Terminal, boarding location was recently transferred to CCP Bay Terminal A at CCP Complex, near Coconut Palace and Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas (Folk Arts Theater).


With our cruise schedule, registration started at around 4:30 PM. We were stamped “BUFFET: Your Cruise Schedule” as passes to the buffet dining.

We took the ship that embarks at 5:30 PM, sets sail at 6:15 PM, and docks at 7:30 PM. The management goes by their timetable. And since a hundred passengers are boarding per cruise schedule, you need to register at least 30 minutes earlier to board the ship, not only to find a good seat but more importantly because you have to sign a passenger manifest which is submitted to the Coast Guard before the ship sails (a passenger manifest is a very essential document not only to account for the authorized number of passengers but also to ensure that all the passengers on board would have adequate provisions for accommodation and lifesaving equipments). Once the crew submits the authorized number of passengers, you can no longer board and you have to wait for the next scheduled cruise (if there are less than a hundred guests reserved). 

Keep in mind that you need to make reservations 2 months ahead of time if you want to cruise during the "-ber" months.


The ship sets sail towards the direction parallel the SM Mall of Asia (I bet this one’s for the fireworks display on weekends), track towards Roxas Boulevard then turn around and head back to the terminal.


I wasn’t really amazed by the appearance of the vessel, or maybe I’m just an exaggerated hopeful for a luxury yacht. It’s a 200-passenger ship named MV Spirit of Manila II, with two open-air decks and a top deck. The lower deck contains the buffet table and 6 dining tables only. The upper deck contains the rest of the tables (looks like a jam-packed food court), a live entertainment, and a mini bar. The top deck contains 4 tables and the captain’s chair. FYI, they offer the top deck for dining, only for an additional Php 100.00 charge since this is “the most romantic spot.” But because of the just finished rainfall, they didn’t allow guests to use the top deck during our cruise schedule.


I am a self-confessed hydrophobic with no swimming skills so I was anticipating some safety demonstration before the ship leaves the dock – but none. I was even bothered because I didn’t see any life saving equipments within the boat. Boyfriend however assured that there were life jackets and floating devices within the vessel, or else the ship won’t be allowed to sail.

One advantage of Prestige Cruises Inc. is they don’t exceed the ship’s capacity. It can handle up to 200 passengers but they only allow 100 guests per cruise schedule so as to avoid overcrowding (according to the crew, this is strictly implemented to ease their passengers’ minds during the cruise).


On board, you will be embraced by the cool breeze – wooohooo BER months!

While cruising, a splendid view of Manila Bay and the Manila skyline will be witnessed. This is actually what you are paying for.

A buffet dinner along with live entertainment in the upper deck is provided.


We were seated at the lower deck, just beside the buffet table and the railings of the ship. I was initially seated on the upper deck but John Neil preferred to sit on the lower deck because it’s more romantic down there. It’s a very peaceful deck, apart from the crowded and loud music from the upper deck. It’s very noticeable that couples of all ages were seated on the lower deck. Those with friends and family chose the upper deck.

 The first thing you see in the lower deck is this ugly buffet table. No offense to Prestige Cruises Inc. but can you please tell us where’s the “prestige” in this unattractive buffet table? A table draped in pistachio green skirts and navy blue accent. I thought to myself “I bet the food isn't any good either" but I was starving so I had no choice.

To Prestige Cruises Inc.: did you know that the design of the table and the food goes hand in hand? A buffet table in the very first place should capture your guests’ attention and make their mouths water. But hey, the table didn’t look good, the food didn’t look good as well. I just wished the food taste good.

The interior is a major displeasure especially if you’ll dine here with your loving partner, as they use monoblock chairs and tables for your supposedly “romantic dinner.” A minor effort to clad the tables with linens, and no seat covers at all ---- booooooo!

Prestige Cruises Inc. should improve their buffet dining service by dressing the table in vibrant colored linens and coordinated skirting. Aluminum food containers should also become more sophisticated. And most importantly, seat covers must be provided as chairs looked so ordinary.


Before I boarded the ship, I was looking forward to indulging our taste buds on a bountiful buffet filled with a variety of sumptuous foods delectably prepared and brimming in wonderful aromas and flavors, and beautifully garnished that I can’t wait to have a plateful. But to my disappointment, even the buffet table didn’t look wonderful. So shall I expect the food to taste great? Hmmmmm I didn’t think so.

There was a limited selection of dishes. So this is what they call buffet? Feels more like “ration” as the servers give you a small portion of each dish. Tsssss

The dinner buffet offered a limited selection of dishes such as Cream of Mushroom Soup, Vegetable Salad, Buttered Vegetables, Chicken Breasts in White Sauce, Rotini Pasta with Pork and Mushroom, and Brownies.

PS. They didn’t put labels per dish, so I named those myself. Hahaha!

I am a huge fan of KFC’s mushroom soup so when this CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP was served, I wanted to try the soup only for comparison. To my surprise, it’s a great copycat of KFC’s mushroom soup! The taste was 99% the same, even the bread crumbs looked and tasted the same. The only obvious difference was Prestige Cruises Inc. soup’s added texture.

VEGETABLE SALAD or vegetable trash? Though veggies were wonderfully sliced, how do you call a plate of veggies without a dressing? Is this salad?!! No dressing of olive oil, vinegar, salt, or pepper?!! Seriously, what is this? Left-over veggies with bread crumbs? Errrrr

The BUTTERED VEGETABLES served on the side consisted of corn kernels, green peas, diced carrots, and chayote squash. In all honesty, I loved the buttery flavor but peas were somewhat overcooked. Carrots and chayote squash on the other hand were perfectly cooked but poorly diced. Veggie samurai please?!

This is what I call ROTINI PASTA WITH PORK AND MUSHROOM. Pasta was al dente but tasted more than ordinary. Pork and mushrooms were wonderfully cooked as well.  But I didn’t know why this wasn’t seasoned very well. The pork must have been noteworthy but it tasted like steamed pork. So, please tell me if this was supposed to be a pasta dish or a viand?

CHICKEN BREASTS IN WHITE SAUCE didn’t look appealing but mind you, this one’s a good chicken dish! Chicken were tender and complimented by the creamy and flavorful white sauce, plus an Italian flair was added to the chicken because of the pinch of pesto. Yum!

I am a big critic of sweets as I get to taste a lot of them. BROWNIES aren’t exceptions. I like brownies moist, dense, and nutty. I won't eat them if they don't have nuts but these served were but plain brownies. I had to taste it for my readers’ sake, and again to my surprise they were really yummy! They weren’t too cakey and not too dry. The caramel and chocolate frostings were of perfect amount to top the brownies.  These may not be the perfect brownies, but sure I can say this home made brownies tasted fabulous. I had to ask for more, but another set of brownies will cost you Php 25.00. Buffet, really?

The ship also had a mini bar that sold expensive beverages. We ordered Sprite-in-Can which cost Php 75.00. Seriously?? Each softdrink in can costs Php 25.00 only. Is this a luxury ship to overprice beverages? Oh come on!


The dazzling lights of the boulevard seemed more attractive when seen from a distance. The Manila skyline was divine!

At around 7:00 PM, the ship passed by the SM Mall of Asia. It’s a wonderful timing because we got the best view of the scheduled fireworks display – for free! This was very romantic, made our night :)


Very luckily, we didn’t get distracted from the unpleasant “Manila Bay aroma” wafting from the water during our cruise, the winds traveled the perfect direction!

The ship also traversed the bay very smoothly that I was able to explore the ship and take a lot of pictures.

It’s a mediocre romantic date. But we sure did enjoy the cruise, the bay breeze, and the fireworks display. If you plan to have a romantic date through dinner cruise, I recommend you take the lower deck where you can have a peaceful talk while cruising.

We wanted adventure, we wanted experience, we wanted to be wowed, WE HAD THOSE. Except the food. The food is just so-so.


You need to take a lot of pictures because you pay for the experience! This one’s a photo of me taken by my boyfriend before the ship sailed.

Happy 5th Monthsary to my dear boyfriend, John Neil :) Much love!

**Prestige Cruises, Inc.**

Dinner Cruise Fee:
Php 545.00 per person for a Manila Bay Cruise with Buffet Dinner

Daily Cruise Schedules:
6:00 PM (5:30 PM boarding)
8:00 PM (7:30 PM boarding)

Boarding Area:
Unit 1, CCP Bay Terminal A, CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Brgy. 719, Zone 078 Malate, Metro Manila, Philippines, near Coconut Palace and Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas (Folk Arts Theater)

Contact Numbers:
+632 832 8967
+63 917 525 5455
+63 927 555 5502