Vietnam fines cruise ship for service scam reported by Australian tourist

Owner of a cruise ship in northern Vietnam has been fined VND15 million (US$660) following complaints from an Australian tourist of "horrific" experience during a tour on the famous Ha Long Bay.

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Lynne Ryan (R) among a group of Australian tourists tour Ha Long Bay in May 2018, in a photo posted on Facebook.
Tourism officials in Hai Phong said on May 25 that they have fined the tour operator after confirming that the tourist's report was "valid."

Lynne Ryan, who was among a group of six Australian tourists visiting Vietnam early this month, came back with disappointment. "Horror trip, Ha Long Bay," she wrote in a Facebook post which drew the attention from many news outlets who published the story last week.

Ryan said her group booked a cruise tour on Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province, which neighbors Hai Phong, with a travel company in Hanoi. She said she had been shown a glossy brochure with beautiful pictures of a boat and its services, but they were not what she and her friends actually received.

They had a "junk boat," she said, listing a rat house under the sink in the bathroom, a rat coming through a window, and rat droppings in the room. One of their rooms had the toilet, door and air-con all broken down.

"Sun decks on the top of boat had wood borers and were falling to pieces," she said, as cited by News.

Her group described their Ha Long Bay tour as a "nightmare" trip.

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Hai Phong authorities said the ship providing the tour was registered in the city and has operated in Ha Long Bay without permission. They confirmed that the ship has been downgraded with poor hygiene in the kitchen and rooms for passengers.

The ship was suspended earlier this week and Hai Phong authorities have also ordered the operator to apologize and compensate the tourists.

Ha Long in Quang Ninh Province is one of Vietnam's biggest tourism magnets. The bay has been hailed by the U.S. travel guide site Smarter Travel as one of the best ecological spots in the world, while Business Insider said that an overnight Ha Long cruise trip is a must-try” travel experience in Asia. The bay welcomed more than 28,000 foreigners during the first four months this year, according to Quang Ninh's tourism department.

Australia is one of the biggest source of foreign tourists to Vietnam. The country received nearly 147,600 Australian visitors in the first four months this year, up 13% from a year ago.


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