On November 27, 2018, at 6 o’clock, Ha Long International Cruise Port (Bai Chay Ward, Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province) – Vietnam’s first private-owned specialized international cruise port – welcomed its first five-star luxury cruise ship with over 3,000 passengers and crew members.
The first cruise to dock at Ha Long International Cruise Port was the Celebrity Millennium from the American Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. It departed from Hong Kong with over 2,000 passengers and nearly 1,000 crew members of different nationalities for a visit to Ha Long Bay and other tourist attractions in Quang Ninh province.
Celebrity Millennium is a luxurious and modern five-star international cruise ship that serves Asia and South Pacific voyages. The Celebrity Millennium is to leave the port at 1 p.m. on November 28, 2018.
The welcoming of the first international cruise ship marks a turning point for the development of tourism in Quang Ninh and thus enhance international cooperation, economic and tourism development. In the next phase of commercialization, Ha Long International Cruise Port is expected to help attract elite tourists to the city and boost local tourism.
The majority of current ports in Vietnam hold both cargo and passenger ships, which can be inconvenient for domestic and international cruisers. Many ports only play their primal role as stops for ships, lacking well-organized services, and prevent passenger ships from anchoring since cargo ships occupy all the port. Moreover, to reach the ports, passengers have to transit a long distance. This does not only hinder cruise tourism development in Vietnam, but it is also a disadvantage of local tourism.
Meanwhile, the tremendous cost of a specialized international cruise port had made it impossible for localities or private corporations to invest in one. Thus, the pioneering efforts of Quang Ninh to mobilize the private sector’s capital for this project is of great significance for both provincial development and cruise tourism development in Vietnam.
Although a specialized cruise port may not be profitable in the first several years, it attests to Quang Ninh’s strong commitment to restructuring its economy from agriculture-based to service-based. This is also one of focal projects in transportation infrastructure for Quang Ninh to set its goal in transportation enhancement, which in turn helps the province attract more investment capital for socio-economic development.
Mr. Nguyen Duc Long, Chairman of the Quang Ninh People’s Committee, recognized Ha Long International Cruise Port as an important factor contributing to the province’s economic development. “The public-private partnership model is an effective investment model and will be deployed in many major transport projects in the province. Constructed in over a year, the International Cruise Port is one of the most advanced of its kind, which can hold two cruises at a time. Ha Long International Cruise Port is going to be the highlight of tourism in Quang Ninh,” said Mr. Long.
Earlier, on November 22, 2018, the Vietnam Maritime Administration issued the official document approving the operation of Ha Long International Cruise Port. Located on the left of Hon Gai – Cai Lan channel in Bai Chay Ward, Ha Long City, the Port has a total investment capital of VND 1 trillion. It is of a major transportation project and is the first specialized international cruise port in Vietnam, which is designed to hold up to two cruise ships at a time, each of which ship has a capacity of up to 225,000 GRT and 8,460 passengers and crew members.
Major infrastructures of the project include wharfs, a pier, a cruise port, a passenger terminal, and an administration building. The 406-meter-long pier consists of 6 anchor posts; the visitors’ lounge is 130 meters in length and 30 meters in width; the modern port can accommodate up to 8,460 passengers and crew members.
The three-story passenger terminal, which covers 4,500 square meters and has a total area of 13,500 square meters, was designed by Bill Bensley, who is of the top five best architects in the world. The terminal features the quintessence of both Vietnamese and European culture and architecture. To be specific, its exterior resembles a corner of Hoi An, while its sophisticated interior décor indicates a 13th-century vessel with wooden poles and steel and wooden ceilings. Also, the terminal walls is prominent with 27 pictures depicting nautical charts and vintage ships.
Ha Long International Cruise Port is expected to welcome 10 international cruises by the end of 2018, laying the premise for the province to usher in a new chapter of tourism development with domestic and international arrivals surpassing the 2018’s goal of 12 million arrivals (with 5.2 million international arrivals).