The SuperStar Aquarius ship of the Star Cruises Hong Kong Limited will come back to Quang Ninh Province’s Halong City on April 3, nearly three years after the cruise line suspended Halong’s calls.
According to the local service provider of the ship, Saigontourist Travel Service Co., the ship will bring around 2,200 crew members and passengers to Halong, which is known for the UNESCO World Heritage-listed bay of the same name.
The passengers, mostly from China and Hong Kong, will tour the bay that features thousands of limestone karsts and isles, shop at the Halong market, and drop by some other attractions in the city.
The ship will leave the bay for Hong Kong in the evening the same day.
Le Quang Thang, manager of Saigontourist’s Shorex & Port Agency Department, said he expected the cruise line to arrange regular trips to the city after the SuperStar Aquarius visit. “The Star Cruises will come to the bay every month if things are fine.”
Before December 2007, the Star Cruises did not include Halong in its ships’ Vietnam tour programs for three years and repeated its exclusion of the city in July 2008. From late 2007 to mid-2008, the company brought 1,000 to 2,200 foreign passengers to the bay a week.
The Star Cruises ships made only two trips to the country last year but Halong was not on their itinerary.
Saigontourist last Friday welcomed the Princess Daphne cruise ship to Halong with 500 crew members and cruise passengers on board. The Portuguese-flagged ship is taking a trans-Vietnam tour for seven days, which takes in Halong, Danang, Hoi An, Hue, Nha Trang and HCMC.
The company has estimated that it will receive around 20,000 international cruise passengers in the first quarter of this year, up 8% year-on-year.
* In related news, Saigontourist and another travel firm, Lua Viet, are promoting river tours from downtown HCMC to Can Gio and Cu Chi. The tours may be extended to neighboring Cambodia.
Lua Viet is focusing on budget travelers such as students and workers. It offers a three-hour sightseeing tour without food on the Ben Nghe boat that traverses the Saigon River between Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 and Nha Be District. The tour costs only VND20,000 per guest.
Saigontourist has put on six tours, including river and water-and-land tours. A daily tour to explore the Saigon River at night plus a water puppetry show costs VND735,000 per person.
A tour running from Bach Dang Wharf to Binh Quoi Tourist Village in Binh Thanh District is available on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and costs VND735,000 per tourist.
For the day-long Cu Chi District tour, travelers take a high-speed boat ride to the district and come back to the city center by road at a price of VND2.2 million per traveler.
Two-day tours of Can Gio cost nearly VND2.4 million and tourists travel by both water and land. Visitors can opt for a one-day tour by boat at a price of VND995,000.
A five-day tour of the Mekong Delta’s Chau Doc City and then Cambodia’s Phnom Penh and Siem Reap by water and land costs nearly VND8 million per tourist.