Manila Bay Dinner Cruise – Is it Worth Your Time and Money?

Manila Bay CruiseWhen was the last time you’ve been on a cruise? or if you’re a Manila native, when was the last time you’ve given yourself a chance to appreciate Manila Bay?

Can’t recall? In my case, I do remember riding a ferry in Manila Bay with my family more than a decade ago. So as I brainstormed my next article, I figured it was high time to get out in the ocean and experience Manila Bay once more.
manila bay cruise My ocean adventure began at the seaside esplanade behind the Mall of Asia (MOA) complex. As advised, I arrived 30 minutes prior to the 6:00PM sailing. After checking in at the Sun Cruises counter, I immediately surveyed the esplanade for photo opportunities while waiting to board.
manila bay cruise
manila bay cruise

The Jetty Terminal on the west side of Mall Of Asia

The view of the ocean was amazing but it was difficult to appreciate because of the stench from the bay. So, I decided to walk back to the waiting area and as I did the rain poured down heavily giving me just a few seconds to save myself and my camera from the outpour. A few minutes later we were advised to board.
manila bay cruise

On the ferry a crew asked for my seat number. I didn’t realize there were seating arrangements. I flashed my ticket and she led me to the upper deck. I was pleased to be seated up there rather than at the lower deck which was enclosed. Considering it was a weekday, I didn’t expect a full house or boat. But, a large group celebrating a company event happened to book the same trip and the crew bustled around in preparation.

The group was caught in traffic so we had to wait awhile longer. The outpour had drenched some of the seats and plastic curtains were pulled down on each side of the deck. A few more minutes of waiting goes by. It continued to drizzle, then a waiter asked me to move to a corner table to give way to the coming passengers. I began to have a sinking feeling the evening wasn’t going to be quite what I had hoped it would be.
manila bay cruise
manila bay cruise Finally they arrived and as soon as everyone had settled in, the ferry gently floated away from the wharf. We set out in time for sunset viewing and at last the breeze was much fresher out in the open sea. My spirit was revived as I found my way to the front deck to take in the fantastic sceneries.

Looking out at the horizon I saw the bright orange sun, slowly sinking behind some thick dark clouds. On the other side, haze loomed above the city creating a dramatic skyline. It was as photographer’s call it “the golden hour.” The sky was coated with hues of purple, pink and orange. It was my favorite time of day and I snapped as many photographs in an attempt to capture the moment.
manila bay cruise
Manila Bay Cruise

Our ferry sailed north following Roxas Boulevard. We sailed out for about a kilometer and paused in a spot where the view of the city was astounding. You could see the stars by then and from the sea, the city lights were brilliant against the deep blue twilight sky. Inside the crew began to serve each table.
manila bay cruise (31)
manila bay cruise

The Manila Bay Dinner Cruise is an all week activity with 2 to 3 scheduled trips depending on weather conditions. A set meal is served for the Monday to Thursday cruise and a buffet dinner from Friday to Sunday. On a weekend cruise you have the added treat of watching a brief fireworks show held near Mall of Asia. Most likely you can catch it on the 6:00 PM cruise.
manila bay cruise

I settled back at my table and there before me was dinner. It was composed of a bowl of soup and a plate with a slice of pork with some kind of barbeque sauce, breaded fish with mayonnaise, a cup of rice, and some corn and carrots on the side. It was served all at once along with a bowl of Buko Pandan Salad for dessert. The meal was simple, nothing extraordinary, just like your everyday lunch at the cafeteria. Drinks can be ordered ala carte.
manila bay cruise
Soon we began sailing south toward Mall of Asia. It was pitch dark by then, and from the ocean you could view the bright lane of restaurants that have through the years popped up like mushrooms along Seaside Boulevard. At the center was the glowing MOA Eye, Manila’s version of the London Eye, which I must say was a marvelous spectacle at night.
manila bay cruise
manila bay cruiseAlthough it was a weekday, the boulevard was very alive with music and chatter from mall goers and yuppies enjoying a few drinks before heading home. The light and carefree ambiance was contagious, so I decided I would take a stroll along the coast after the cruise.
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Manila Bay Cruise
manila bay cruise

Our ferry slowly navigated back to the wharf where we disembarked momentarily, and that concluded our 90-minute cruise. To answer the question, ‘should you give this a try?’ Being a dreamer and a wanderer at heart, I welcome almost any new adventure, so it’s a YES for me. Cruising is a rare activity for most of us, and anything rare has something unique to offer. Even if you are a Manila native and you feel that you’ve seen everything the bay has to offer, it’s still an experience that’s worth trying at least once.

The main take away for me was the opportunity to enjoy a glorious sunset and savor the brilliant evening lights as our ferry swayed on the gentle waters of Manila Bay.

Are you heading for Manila soon?
Discover the city’s treasures with this amazing line up of Things to do in Manila by BeMyGuest

If you enjoyed reading this article, please pass it on.

If you’d like to walk down history lane, check out my blog post about the Corregidor Island Walking Tour here

Manila Bay Cruise

Photographs by Iza Sanchez, Take the Travel © 2017

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manila bay cruise (105)

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Iza Sanchez

Iza Sanchez is a freelance ESL Teacher, adventurer and moderator of Take The Travel. She writes about solo-backpacking, travel saving tips and other awesome travel resources.

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11 Responses

  1. Zee says:

    hi mam iza! I was browsing the net and I found your blog and fell in love with your adventures. I wish I have much time and have purchasing power as I go into a journey like this. Keep traveling and sharing your awesome adventures! 🙂

    • Iza says:

      Hi Zee, thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed browsing my site. It’s always a pleasure to share a travel experience. I wish you many adventures too. Cheers!!

  2. Nadia says:

    Hi ms. Iza. I enjoyed your article. I’m planning to go with some friends. I would like to ask if the lower deck is better or upper deck? Is there an irritating smell if we want to sit outside? Thank you.

    • Iza Sanchez says:

      Hi Nadia, the upper deck is better for sightseeing. The stench I mentioned was quite strong at the port but once you’re out in the open sea the air is okay. You might want to bring a shawl or a light jacket since it gets much cooler after sunset. Enjoy!!

    • Iza Sanchez says:

      Hi Nadia,

      Yes, I recommend seating at the upper deck. You’ll enjoy the views better. You won’t have to endure the foul smell at the wharf once you are out in the open sea. Have fun!!

  3. nf says:

    happy new year
    ms. iza

    i was looking for a date venue for our wedding anniversary, when i come across your blog. its really interesting to try this one out. do you think it will be worth to bring my wife here and experience this?

    thank you.

    • Iza Sanchez says:


      Thank you for visiting and I’m glad you like the article. I guess it depends on your wife’s preferences. If she likes being outdoors and enjoys sightseeing I think she’ll appreciate the experience. I must warn you, the food isn’t great but what I enjoyed the most was watching the sunset and the view of Manila’s skyline during twilight. After the tour you can walk to MOA and enjoy a hot cup of coffee and some dessert at some cafe near the bay. Hope that helps! Wishing you a happy anniversary. 🙂

  4. Blossom says:

    How did you get the ticket? How much does it costs? Please let me know

  5. Nicole says:

    Are pets allowed

  6. Manuel Bay says:

    Hi Iza, I came across your page as I am looking for reviews about manila bay dinner cruise since my girlfriend and I will be celebrating our anniversary in October. As compared to Prestige Cruises, do you think Sun Cruises is good enough? Food tasting wise? Experience wise? Our chosen sailing time would be 6:15pm with Sun Cruises. Do you think we’d be able to see the sunset while sailing in the open sea? I’d really like to get an opinion cuz I don’t want my gf to be dismayed. Thanks for your response.

    • Iza Sanchez says:

      Hi Manuel, so sorry for the delayed reply. The cruise was fine, I enjoyed it. Although, at the port the breeze can smell really bad. But, like I mentioned in the article above, once you are out in the open sea, the air smells fine. The sightseeing was fun, take the 5:30 p.m. trip if you’d like to enjoy the sunset. The food was not impressive, so I suggest do the cruise then take your girlfriend to a fancy restaurant in MOA afterwards. There are a lot options at the mall. Hope that helps. Thanks and have fun! 🙂

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