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Cruise passengers enjoy Da Nang sans coronavirus jitters

By Nguyen Dong   February 22, 2020 | 05:57 am PT
Passengers on a luxury cruise ship that docked Thursday in Da Nang, one of Vietnam's top tourism destinations, were relaxed and devoid of Covid-19 fears.

The U.S.’s Crystal Symphony, owned and operated by Crystal Cruises, docked at Tien Sa Port, and 145 passengers disembarked to explore Da Nang. Their temperatures were checked on arrival and they were offered the use of hand sanitizers.

Some passengers of Crystal Symphony cruise at the immigration point at Tien Sa port, Da Nang. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Van.

Crystal Symphony cruise passengers at the immigration point at Tien Sa Port, Da Nang. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Van.

They took a tour of famous tourist sites in the central coastal city and went shopping at traditional markets. Most of the visitors didn’t wear facemasks and enjoyed walking along the Han River in the sunlight.

Robert Mann from Los Angeles said he was a little worried because the novel coronavirus has killed many people [in China]. But when he arrived at Vietnam, all his anxiety went away.

Mann said he felt great and considered Vietnam a safe place for tourists.

Karry Charles of Canada said he saw people wearing masks on the streets of Da Nang as a precautionary measure to protect the community.

Another cruise passenger, Jack Davis of California, said Da Nang was not too crowded, the weather was nice and the people friendly. He felt no danger and was happy to be in the city, Davis said.

An American tourist who did not want to be named said they, the cruise passengers, had no problems getting their body temperature checked or making medical declarations. She said it was an acceptable measure.

Jack Davis, one of the passengers of Crystal Symphony cruise on his day trip in Da Nang. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Van.

Jack Davis, a passenger on the Crystal Symphony cruise, said he enjoyed his day trip in Da Nang. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Van.

Vo Van Luat, a tour guide at Tan Hong Travel Service Company, said the tourists are very much at ease. "They don't pay much attention to the epidemic because they believe Vietnam has done a good job of fighting it," he said.

Crystal Symphony had come to Vietnam from Singapore. It had docked at the Chan May Port in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue on February 19, before coming to Da Nang. Its next destination is Ho Chi Minh City.

Crystal Symphony has been voted one of the world’s 10 most luxurious cruise ships by Cruise Lines International Association. It mainly carries passengers to destinations in Europe and Asia, including Vietnam, Singapore and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Earlier, on February 18, Da Nang had received Silver Spirit, operated by Silversea Cruises and sailing under the Bahamas flag. Their passengers and crew members visited the ancient town of Hoi An and the Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture. No passengers reported any medical issues.

Local authorities say the number of sea passengers and tourists flying from Europe have not dropped much as a result of the country's Covid-19 epidemic.

The Da Nang Department of Health announced Friday that the city has no confirmed infection. 

The goverment declared the Covid-19 outbreak an epidemic on February 1. Vietnam has so far recorded 16 infections, of whom 15 have recovered.

Nguyen Xuan Binh, deputy director of Da Nang Tourism Department, said that the city registered many suspected infections, so it had cancelled visits of ships coming from the areas hit by Covid-19 until the end of February.

He said Silver Spirit and Crystal Symphony had arrived in Da Nang after changing their original schedule.

"Many Europeans visit Vietnam this season. The city has made great efforts to ensure Da Nang has no novel coronavirus infection and is safe for travel," Binh said.

He said Da Nang will continue doing a good job of preventing the outbreak, checking visitor’s health and asking for medical declarations.

The city, which is currently home to 1.2 million residents, is home to the beautiful My Khe Beach and a neighbor to the popular UNESCO-recognized ancient town of Hoi An. It is one of most well-visited destinations in Vietnam.

Last year, the number of foreign tourists in the country reached an all-time high of 18 million, up 16.2 percent year-on-year.

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