Phan Xuan Anh, chair of Viet Excursions, in Vietnam is called the ‘godfather of cruise tourism’. Anh these days has been making shuttle trips among the ports of Ha Long, Da Nang, Nha Trang and Phu My to receive cruises. And he works hard all day to prepare for bidding for the new year-end travel season.
“Cruises have arrived since the beginning of the year. We receive 2-3 cruises a week,” he said.
However, many large travel firms cannot develop cruise tourism, while others have given up after a short time of providing the service. Viet Excursion, with 25 workers only, has been ‘living well’ for years.
“Cruise tourists always set very high and detailed requirements. You won’t have to warn normal travelers that there are 10 three-step staircases to the temple, but you have to do this with cruise tourists,” he said. “You even have to inform them if the toilets in destinations are designed in Asian or European style.”
“Every service needs to be provided exactly as scheduled. If you are late, just 15 minutes, you will fail, because the cruises always leave punctually,” he explained.
The experienced tour operator said it is not difficult to serve cruise tourists, but operators need to be meticulous.
Because of very strict requirements on service safety, quality and insurance, tour operators must take care of everything and must be sure everything is perfect.
In principle, travel firms buy international insurance policies for clients. However, if accidents occur and insurers find that the travelers took an uninsured boat, they will refuse to compensate. In this case, it is the travel firm which will have to make compensation.
“If you cannot work with detailed plans, you will never be able to receive cruises,” Anh said.
More cruises are arriving in Vietnam and more travelers choose Vietnam as a leg to stay during their itineraries.
If Vietnam can provide high-quality fashionable services which allow travelers to come closer to the nature and local people, it will have a very large market.
Cong Thuong newspaper cited a report as showing that about 500 cruises dock at Vietnam’s ports each year, bringing 300,000 foreign travelers to Vietnam. However, the figure just accounts for 2-3 percent of total number of foreign travelers to Vietnam.