More cruise ships to visit Vietnam ports

More cruise ships will sail to Vietnam from late this year as an extension of their itineraries in Asian countries including China, which has emerged as an appealing market for international cruise lines, according to local travel firms.

Guests relax at the pool of a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship at a port in Vietnam. More cruise ships are expected to call at Vietnamese ports from late this year

HCMC-based travel firm Viet Excursions has in recent months been busy training staff and arranging services for Chinese-speaking visitors. Chairman Phan Xuan Anh said the company expects to serve tens of thousands of Chinese-speaking guests from late 2016 to early next year.

Anh said the growing appeal of the Chinese market has led partner cruise lines of Viet Excursions to extend their trips from Malaysia and Singapore to China and Vietnam.

A source from the U.S.-based cruise line Royal Caribbean International in Vietnam said the growing Chinese market has made it possible for Vietnam to woo more cruise tourists in the coming time.

“China has become a magnet for cruise lines and they will explore opportunities in China and Vietnam as well. It is obvious that Vietnam has many tourist attractions,” the source said.

The source cited cruise tourism websites as saying that cruise ships will make around 160 trips to Vietnam next year, up 15% over this year. Most of the trips are planned for coastal cities like Halong, Danang and Nha Trang as well as HCMC.

Royal Caribbean International has established a strong presence in China. Early this year, the firm sent its cruise ship Ovation of the Seas to China to increase the number of Chinese to 40% of its total customers.

Vu Duy Vu, deputy general director of Saigontourist Travel Service, is pinning high hopes that the number of cruise ship voyages to Vietnam in the coming time will be bigger than 160 as websites featuring shipping lines may not calculate all cruise ships calling at Vietnam ports.

“Some major cruise lines will send their ships to China. Vietnam is one of the important stopovers in their itineraries apart from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan,” Vu said.


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