Cruise ship denied docking rights in Ha Long due to coronavirus fears

By Vi Nguyen, Hoang Phong   February 13, 2020 | 01:37 am PT
Cruise ship denied docking rights in Ha Long due to coronavirus fears
Italy's Aida Vita cruise liner floats at sea. Photo courtesy of Aida Vita.
With over 1,100 European tourists, Aida Vita was denied permission to dock in Quang Ninh Province over fears passengers may be infected by the new coronavirus.

The ship, sailing under an Italian flag and operated by German company AIDA Cruises, was scheduled to dock at Cai Lan Port in Ha Long Town, home to UNESCO world heritage Ha Long Bay, on Thursday.

However, authorities in Quang Ninh Province, sharing a border with China, epicenter of the Covid-19 epidemic, decided against granting the license.

Nguyen Quang Thang, general director of Tictours International Travel Company, said the cruise ship management has decided to cancel the entire journey in Vietnam, which included Ha Long, Da Nang City (February 15), Nha Trang (February 17) and Ho Chi Minh City (February 18). Tictours was scheduled to receive tourists from the vessel when it docked in Nha Trang.

Earlier, Thang said the passengers were 95 percent German, with no Asian tourists on board. "While the tourism industry actively promotes Vietnam as a safe destination and seeks ways to attract international tourists, refusing the Aida Vita permission to dock in Ha Long would affect the industry’s reputation," he added.

The ship departed from Bali in Indonesia on January 17, visiting nine ports excluding mainland China and Hong Kong.

Quang Ninh authorities reached the decision after 218 passengers onboard the Diamond Princess cruise liner were found to be infected by the new coronavirus. The ship visited Chan May Port in Thua Thien-Hue Province on January 27 before docking at Ha Long International Cruise Port in Quang Ninh a day later.

The Diamond Princess, operated by Princess Cruise under British-American Carnival Corporation & Plc., was placed under two-week quarantine on arrival at Japan's Yokohama City on January 22 after dozens of passengers, out of a total 3,700, tested positive for the Covid-19, Reuters reported.

Recently, the MS Westerdam, operated by Carnival Corporation’s Holland America Line, carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, was turned away by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand over fears some on board may be infected by the deadly virus that killed 1,369 people, almost all of them in China.

Floating at sea for nearly two weeks, the MS Westerdam was finally allowed to dock at a Cambodian port Thursday.

So far, Vietnam has recorded 16 cases of new coronavirus infection, with 11 in the northern province of Vinh Phuc, three in Ho Chi Minh City, one in Khanh Hoa and one in Thanh Hoa, central Vietnam. 

The country declared the novel coronavirus outbreak an epidemic on February 1. Seven patients have been discharged from hospital so far, including a Chinese father-and-son due, a Nha Trang hotel staff member, as well as four workers returning from training in Wuhan.

As of Thursday, the global death toll had climbed to 1,369 and confirmed infections topped 60,000. Nearly 6,000 patients have recovered.

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