Pakyaw held a widely-popular promo for Sun Cruises' Manila Bay Cruise (Regular price: P550, discounted price: P188). It was for a 1 hour and 15mins cruise of the Manila Bay waters, with live music and a set dinner included.
A lot of people availed the promo (13805 vouchers were sold) but there were three sailing schedules everyday from Sept 23, 2011-Jan 31, 2012 (excluding holidays) so everyone could be accommodated. A month after purchase, Pakyaw sent emails to the voucher holders, informing us that for safety and legal reasons, pregnant women on their 4th month and up would not be allowed to take the trip unless they had a medical certificate and were willing to sign a waiver. It would have been better if that info was posted in the deal's terms so that such pregnant women would have known that limitation before they bought vouchers, but it was good that Pakyaw took the time to email that update to the buyers.
Voucher holders were asked to call for reservations at least 3 days in advance (6 numbers were given - 5 landline numbers and 1 cellphone number) but the reservation was not without hassle. I texted the cellphone number and got no reply. I called around 4:30pm to confirm if my text reservation was scheduled but the person who answered the phone told me that reservations were handled by another department and were only entertained before 4pm. I called again the next day to reserve two slots, but the reservations agent gave me their email address and asked me to email our voucher numbers, order number, and our names, ages, and nationalities. Then why did they bother to post a lot of numbers in the deal's terms? They should have spared the buyers as well as their staff the hassle and just posted that buyers should email them the needed info to book for reservations. I also wondered why they asked for our nationalities, but bf said that it could be for statistics or marketing purposes. Fine!
Sailing schedule was as follows: 1st sailing 4:30pm-5:45pm, 2nd sailing 6:15pm-7:30pm, and 3rd sailing 8:00pm-9:15pm. Buyers should be at the docking area behind Folk Arts Theater at least 30 minutes before sailing time. We arrived around 4:30 and since it was such a beautiful day, we used the extra time to walk around the area - stalking cats, eating barbecue, and taking pictures of plants and the surroundings.
At around 5:45pm, passengers began boarding for the 2nd sailing. The girl manning the Sun Cruises booth looked stressed out and annoyed, we weren't sure why. The other staff we encountered as we boarded the ship were in a better mood, though. They greeted us and looked ready to assist passengers if needed.
We were instructed to go to the upper deck. There were several tables and chairs there, and soon enough, the other passengers arrived and we were ready to go. A member of the staff stood in the middle and demonstrated how life vests were worn. When that was over, our food was served - a clear soup, a rice meal, and dessert served in a small glass. Beverages were not included in the deal but they served water so no need to pay extra. You could also order softdrinks, mineral water, beer, and fruit juices (in cans) or a bottle of red or white wine. A female singer and a male guitarist provided live music while we ate and cruised. I normally disliked contemporary pop music, but the singer had a cool voice and sang softly (no annoying "birits") so it was okay. They accepted requests and later on asked if anyone in the audience wanted to sing.
The good weather continued and so we had an enjoyable cruise - not too warm but also not too windy or chilly. The live music was not disrupting and the other passengers were nice, even if several kids were onboard. I was a bit worried earlier that kids would be running around and screaming. Thankfully, our co-passengers were considerate and their kids were well-behaved. The lights were turned down low but visibility was not a problem. The food was average but the trip was smooth and peaceful. The families got to have fun, the couples out for a romantic evening looked satisfied as well. For those who like being by themselves, I think the cruise will also be a good opportunity to just relax and clear your head.
As a bonus, the SM Mall of Asia's weekend firework display coincided with our cruise time, so we were able to see that.
Manila Bay Cruise
Sun Cruises Inc.
21F Times Plaza Bldg.,
Ermita, Manila, Metro Manila