Why go to Manila?
Pasig River mouth hosts the port and the city's sights and shopping mall are just a taxi away
Cruise ships dock at a busy container port with very heavy traffic moving into the city
There's little to see within the immediate vicinity, though it's close to historic Intramuros and Rizal Park
Manila Cruise Port Facilities?
Don't bother hanging around. There isn't much to do, but if you don't feel like venturing far, head for the Manila Hotel (just across from the port). It opened in 1912, making it the city's oldest hotel. It was a regular haunt of former first lady Imelda Marcos, and it's a great place to have a drink while taking in the views of the bay.
Otherwise, you can stroll around the well-tended Rizal Park or head for nearby Manila Ocean Park, which offers marine life attractions, retail outlets and amenities. (Behind Quirino Grandstand, Luneta; +632-567-7777; www.manilaoceanpark.com)
Good to Know?
The traffic, as in many Asian cities, can be horrific, so if you're taking a taxi anywhere, factor this slow crawl into the equation.
Be prepared for window knockers as the slow crawl puts your patience to the test. Some will be selling snacks or DVDs, while some will be begging. If you're not interested, a polite "no" should suffice.
With the port slap-bang in the center of the city, it's easy to make your way from the ship on foot. The main tourist area of Intramuros is just a short walk from the port.
Temperatures in Manila can soar as high as 97 degrees Fahrenheit (about 36 degrees Celsius), so to slightly farther, you may find it more comfortable to go by taxi. There are also autorickshaws -- similar to those you might find in other parts of South East Asia, but with a sidecar twist. Or take a jeepney, a kitschy and colorful elongated Jeep originally made from U.S. military vehicles left over from World War II. They're now a national symbol.
If Intramuros is your planned destination, you can explore by bamboo bicycle with Bambike Ecotours or take a horse and cart ride. (Bambike Ecotours; www.bambike.com/ecotours)
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The Philippine Peso is the local currency. Check out www.xe.com for the latest rates. There should be a money changer in port upon arrival, but you can draw currency easily from ATMs, which can be found around town and in the major hotels. Credit cards are also widely accepted, but for smaller shops, cafes and restaurants, cash is best.
Although once officially a Spanish-speaking country, Filipino and English are now the national languages. Most people in Manila speak excellent English albeit with an American twang, thanks to the U.S.'s long-running involvement in the country.
Where You're Docked?
There's not a lot going on at the terminal at South Harbor, which is still primarily used by cargo ships. Temporary souvenir stalls and a money changer are set up when a cruise ship sails into town, but they won't keep you occupied for long.
The port is well located in Manila Bay, close to the old colonial city of Intramuros and the Rizal Park. A short taxi ride or even a stroll can take you to some of the city's most vibrant areas and key tourist sights.