Vietnam says cruise ships are welcome

HANOI, 19 February 2020: Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam admonished Quang Ninh Province authorities at the weekend for turning away a cruise ship that visited Halong bay.

According to a VN Express news report, the Italian vessel Aida Vita, operated by AIDA Cruises, was scheduled to dock in Halong port close to the UNESCO world heritage Halong Bay, last Thursday.

Authorities denied permission for passengers to disembark for fears they could be carrying the Covid-19 virus.

The Vietnamese news services said the deputy prime minister warned local authorities in other localities “not to repeat this act”.

He was quoted saying “port authorities need to strictly implement immigration and quarantine procedures with respect to foreign visitors and vessels coming from epidemic-affected areas, but they must ensure they do not affect tourism and business activities.”

Also at the weekend, Holland America Line’s Westerdam docked in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, after being turned away by four Asian countries (Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand) and the US territory Guam.

Based on the negative response at Halong bay, the Aida Vita with more than a thousand passengers on board aborted all port of calls in Vietnam. It is now docked in Singapore according to the ship tracker Marine Traffic.

Tictours International handled the ground arrangements for Aida’s cruises in Vietnam said  “refusing the Aida Vita permission to dock in Halong hurts the industry’s reputation.”

Around 95% of the passengers onboard the cruise ship were German. The ship visited nine ports in Asia including Bali in Indonesia, but not mainland China or Hong Kong.

Aida Vita left Vietnam last Friday and docked in Laem Chabang Port in Thailand on Friday night where, after health screening, some passengers disembarked to connect with flights out of Thailand. It then left for Singapore where it home-porting for the current season ending next month.

Another ship Aida Bella is currently sailing in the Gulf of Thailand, near Samui Island, while ship trackers indicate the SilverSea cruise line’s Silver Spirit is in Vietnam waters and Crystal Symphony called in at Cam Ranh a popular coastal town with beach resorts.