Many luxury cruise ships with thousands of international tourists on board are visiting Vietnam each week, Thanh Nien newspaper reported.

The cruise ship Sapphire Princess is seen at Phu My Port in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. A slew of luxury cruise ships are visiting Vietnam each week

Statistics from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism indicate an estimated 1.4 million international tourists arrived last month, surging 4.2% against the previous month.

Of the figure, tourists arriving by air rose by 5.9%, while those traveling by road fell 10.3%. The number of tourists arriving on cruise ships surged 120.5%.

Phan Xuan Anh, chairman of Viet Excursions Tourism Company, said that his firm is preparing to receive 900 international passengers from U.S. luxury cruise ship Crystal, which is expected to dock at Hiep Phuoc Port in HCMC tomorrow, May 3.

As these tourists are mainly high-profile, readily spending up to US$250,000 on a three-month sea excursion, they tend to require high-quality services. As a result, the firm is in the process of carefully prepping everything from food, drink and entertainment services to tourist sites.

Since the start of the year, Viet Excursions has received one cruise ship every two to three days, Anh said, adding that his firm and Saigontourist Travel Service Company on April 16 welcomed two cruise ships, Ms Europa 2 and Genting Dream, which docked at Saigon Premier Container Terminal in HCMC and Nha Trang Port, respectively, with a combined 4,100 passengers on board.

Vietnam boasts high potential for sea-tourism growth with its long coastlines and seaports in most of its coastal cities, allowing travel firms to gain ground in the cruise tourism sector, Anh pointed out.


However, Vietnam is still seeing slow growth in the cruise tourism sector, which has reportedly yet to create any breakthroughs.

Among the Asian countries receiving the most international cruise ships, Vietnam comes fourth, after Japan, China and Thailand. The number of visitors on cruise ships arriving in the country, however, averages out at 300,000 per year, accounting for a mere 2.5%-3% of the total international arrivals in Vietnam, according to statistics.

Speaking at a seminar called “State Management of Tourism in HCMC—25 Years of Success and Challenge” organized by the HCMC Department of Tourism last year, Ha Bich Lien, advisor at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., attributed the slow growth to poor infrastructure for the sea tourism sector.

Lien said that the cruise ship Ovation of The Seas with 4,000 passengers and 1,600 crew staff on board arrived on April 16, 2018, at Phu My Port in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province but remained offshore, even though it had registered 18 months in advance, as the port was busy receiving container vessels.

Lien added that the cruise ship Voyager of the Seas carrying 2,800 passengers to HCMC on September 1 last year cancelled its visit due to the lack of room for docking. Meanwhile, the cruise ship Ovation of The Seas transporting 4,800 passengers to HCMC on October 7, 2018, faced the same fate.

The lack of wharves and ports for large ships to dock prevents more cruise tourists from coming to HCMC and Vietnam in general, Lien said, proposing that State authorities quickly address the problem. SGT