Seatrade Cruise News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vietnam's Halong International Cruise Port off to a flying start

Halong Bay port
Halong International Cruise Port attracted 56,000 passengers in first four months of 2019
Last year Vietnam ranked fourth most popular cruise destination in Asia after Japan, China, and Thailand with Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Long and Da Nang/Hue the three big draws.

Vietnam's long coastline of more than 3,260km, with more than 3,000 big and small islands, and natural landscape presents huge potential for cruise tourism.

Since it officially began operations end of 2018, Halong International Cruise Port - the first dedicated cruise port in Vietnam, has become a focal point for Quang Ninh province’s tourism drive.

In the first four months of 2019 the port welcomed approximately 56,000 visitors, accounting for 47% of the total number of international visitors to Vietnam by sea.

Ship calls are mainly vessels sailing from Hong Kong and Singapore.

More room for improvement

Elsewhere port facilities and shore offerings still lag behind.  Phạm Văn Hiệp, md, Halong International Cruise Port told SCN most cruise ships calling in Vietnam tie alongside cargo berths.

He said  berthing windows for cruise vessels are sometimes only confirmed a few weeks ahead.

He referenced the  incident last year when Ovation of the Seas carrying 4,000 visitors and 1,600 crew members instead of docking at Phu My Port (HCMC) could not berth due to cargo ships fully occupying the port.

On the bright side, he said,  port facilities and infrastructure are developing fast to catch up with cruise passenger needs. ‘Investors are pouring in capital to build new ports in different cities.’

So far there has been some VND 1,100 billion's worth of investment in the inland Halong cruise port,  which has four berths and a three - storey terminal with an area of 13,500 sq mtr which can accommodate  up to 2,000 people.

According to Phạm, Halong Bay is the fastest developing tourism destination in Vietnam. He attributes this to the infrastructure development  over the last couple of years.

Besides Halong’s International Cruise Port, there is  the nearby Vandon International Airport and  Sun World Halong Complex  with  Vietnam’s largest  theme park and water park.

The Hanoi – Halong highway  also cuts travel time from Hanoi to Halong by half, from four to two hours.

‘As a UNESCO World Heritage, Ha Long naturally attracts many tourists every year. Located nearby is Lan Ha bay with similar features to Ha Long. Another emerging destination is Ninh Binh, about three hours away from Ha Long, good for an overnight excursion. And from Da Nang, attractions within reach include Hue, Hoi An and My Son. Phu Quoc is also an untapped potential for cruise ship,’ he says.